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Palestinian Rage Over Qatar’s Massive Spending On the World Cup



Tiny but very rich Qatar has spent between $220 and $240 billion on hosting the World Cup, which it hopes will put it on the map, boost its image in the world, win friends and influence people. That “boost to its image” is clearly not going to happen. Instead, the world media have been full of criticism for Qatar’s bribery of FIFA officials in order to be awarded the 2020 venue to host the games, and full, too, of harrowing stories describing, and deploring, Qatar’s savage mistreatment of the tens of thousands of migrant workers from South Asia who were imported to build seven new stadiums, as well as roads, hotels, and a new airport. Some 6,500 of those workers died while working in Qatar, from overwork – 80-to-90 hours a weeks – and from extreme heat. Qatar’s bribery of FIFA officials, and its mistreatment of the 30,000 migrant workers who built the infrastructure, turn out to be the two main stories — other than the soccer matches themselves — that the world media has focussed on, much to Qatar’s chagrin.

The Palestinians, however, have a very specific grievance against Qatar. That very rich country has spent scarcely believable amounts on hosting the World Cup, but comparatively little — derisory sums — on the Palestinians. A report on the Palestinians’ deep unhappiness at that state of affairs is here: “Qatar World Cup proves that Arab support for Palestinians is nothing but hate for Israel,” Elder of Ziyon, November 21, 2022:

Palestinian media is very happy at videos of football fans in Qatar who insult Israeli reporters.
But one writer sees that Qatar and the other Gulf countries only pretend to support Palestinians. This article shows that Palestinians see the difference between real support for Palestinians and the Arab version of virtue signaling.

Hosting the World Cup Qatar cost the Gulf states 220-240 billion dollars. Housing projects for two million Palestinians in the Palestinian territories and two additional power plants would cost $10 billion…

How little it would take to provide two million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza with brand-new housing and two power plants to boot, which could end current power blackouts. What’s ten billion dollars to a country like Qatar, that has just spent $220-$240 billion on World Cup infrastructure, to spiff up its international image?

The splendor of the World Cup marks the demise of what little concern other Arab and Muslim countries had for the fate of the Palestinians over the past two decades. This attention will go down in the history of the Middle East as a clear sign of the oil-rich Arab states turning their backs on their Palestinian brethren.

Here is Qatar, spending nearly a quarter of a billion dollars on the World Cup, and all it can manage to give the Palestinians this year is a few hundred million dollars. And that is the most that any Arab state gave to the Palestinians this year. Saudi Arabia, which receives one billion dollars a day in oil revenues, gave the PA in 2022 only $27 million. Before that, the last Saudi donation to the Palestinians had been in 2019 – when Riyadh gave a paltry $50 million. Almost all of the oil-rich Arab states have cut their contributions to the Palestinians way down or have eliminated them altogether. Some of the Arab countries are tired of the constant Palestinian demands for more aid. There is donor fatigue. There is the knowledge of just how corrupt the PA and Hamas leaders have been and continue to be, in stealing so much of the aid money that is meant for the people they claim to care for. The scope of that corruption is scarcely believable: Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Mousa bin Marzouk have each socked away fortunes of $2.5 billion, while the business empire owned by Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons Yasser and Tarek is worth $400 million. There is the increased distrust of the Palestinians for their ties to Iran, the mortal enemy of the oil-rich Arab states of the Gulf.

They justify their unwarranted self-interest with the absurd pretext that such aid to the Palestinians amounts to interference in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on behalf of the Jewish state. The hypocrisy in this statement stinks to the high heavens.

Apparently Arab states now explain their refusal to provide aid to Palestinians as “interfering” in the Israel-Palestinian conflict “on behalf of the Jewish state,” and therefore they shouldn’t do it. There’s a grain of truth: the Israelis have in the past, on a few occasions, urged some Arab states to provide the PA, and even Hamas in Gaza, with money, in order to help prevent both regimes from collapsing into chaos that would force Israel to reassume control, something Israel does not want. So if Israel has at times wanted Arab aid to help Palestinian governments on the verge of collapse to survive, those rich Arab donors are now claiming they don’t want to do anything that would “help the Jewish state.” If this excuse sounds crazy, it is because it Is crazy.

These wasteful people [the Qataris] should go to the refugee camps in Gaza and tell their inhabitants that they are not ready to help them because their poverty, neglect and suffering are the best card in the Arab world against the “occupying Zionists.”

Here the embittered Palestinians mordantly express the excuse they have heard before from reluctant Arab donors: the more wretched you Palestinians are, the better you will serve as propaganda against the Zionists. It’s the same reason why Palestinian “refugees” are kept for generations in miserable camps in Arab countries: to win the world’s sympathy, in the unending struggle to undermine the Jewish state. Their welfare is being sacrificed to score political points against the Jews of Israel.

Try to say that the lack of aid is part of a clever political plan to help the Palestinian people politically. Try to explain to them how you build museums, malls, and stadiums in your countries at a cost of billions of dollars each year.

The fantastic sums spent by Qatar on the World Cup games are also spent by the other Arab oil states on their own showy infrastructure of museums, giant malls, and stadiums. Think of the trillion dollars the Saudi Crown Prince is planning on spending on his grandiose Vision 2030, with $500 billion of it going just to build the megacity NEOM.

The Palestinians don’t want to be kept in misery so as to be exploited as a more effective political tool against the Zionists. Their lives are now.

There was a lot of bitterness in Palestinian media after the Abraham Accords, but there is a lot more just now, over Qatar’s expenditures on the World Cup.

In 2020, Qatar gave Gaza $240 million, and has since raised that amount by 50% to $360 million for 2021 and 2022. But the Palestinians, far from being grateful, compare what they are getting from Qatar to what Qatar could be giving them, considering how many hundreds of billions of dollars – between $220 and $240 billion — it has spent on preparing infrastructure for the World Cup. The Palestinians know that for less than one-twentieth that amount, about $10 billion, two million homes could be built for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Qatar’s priority is the impact it thinks it can have in the world through its vast expenditures on the World Cup games. The Palestinians no longer loom large in Doha’s calculations. And the Palestinians, infuriated but helpless to change the minds of Qataris and other rich Gulf Arabs, know it.