Palestinian anger over Qatar’s massive World Cup spending

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Small but very rich Qatar has spent between $220 and $240 billion 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 “image boost” is clearly not going to happen. Instead, the global media has been full of criticism of Qatar’s bribing of FIFA officials into being awarded the 2020 venue to host the games, and full, too, of harrowing stories describing and deplore Qatar’s savage mistreatment of tens of thousands of people. 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 hour weeks) and extreme heat. Qatar’s bribery of FIFA officials and the mistreatment of the 30,000 migrant workers who built the infrastructure turn out to be the two main stories, aside from the football matches themselves, that the media have focused on. world cups, to the great regret of Qatar.

The Palestinians, however, have a very specific grievance against Qatar. That rich country has spent barely credible amounts on hosting the World Cup, but comparatively little, paltry sums, on the Palestinians. A report on the deep discontent of the Palestinians over that state of affairs is here: “The World Cup in Qatar proves that Arab support for the Palestinians is nothing more than hatred for Israel”, Elder of Ziyon, November 21, 2022 :

The Palestinian media is very happy with the videos of soccer fans in Qatar insulting Israeli reporters.
But one writer sees that Qatar and the other Gulf countries only pretend to support the Palestinians. This article shows that Palestinians see the difference between real support for Palestinians and the Arab version of virtual signage.

Hosting the World Cup in Qatar costs the Gulf states between $220 and $240 billion. 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 new housing and two power plants to boot, which could end the current power cuts. What is ten billion dollars for a country like Qatar, which just spent between $220 and $240 billion on infrastructure for the World Cup, to embellish its international image?

The splendor of the World Cup marks the disappearance 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 Middle Eastern history as a clear sign that the oil-rich Arab states are 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 give the Palestinians this year is a few hundred million dollars. And that is the most any Arab state gave to the Palestinians this year. Saudi Arabia, which receives a billion dollars a day in oil revenue, gave the Palestinian Authority 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 reduced their contributions to the Palestinians or eliminated them entirely. Some of the Arab countries are tired of the constant Palestinian demands for more help. There is donor fatigue. There is knowledge of how corrupt the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have been and continue to be, stealing much of the aid money that is meant for the people they claim to care for. The extent of that corruption is barely believable: Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Mousa bin Marzouk have amassed fortunes of $2.5 billion each, while the business empire owned by Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons Yasser and Tarek has a value of $400 million. There is growing mistrust of the Palestinians over their ties to Iran, the deadly enemy of the oil-rich Arab states in the Gulf.

They justify their unwarranted self-interest on 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 reeks to the skies.

Apparently, the Arab states now explain their refusal to provide aid to the Palestinians as “interference” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “on behalf of the Jewish state,” and therefore should not do so. There is a grain of truth: the Israelis have in the past urged, on a few occasions, some Arab states to provide money to the Palestinian Authority, and even to Hamas in Gaza, to help prevent both regimes from collapsing into chaos that it would force Israel to retake control, something Israel does not want. So if Israel has at times wanted Arab aid to help collapsing Palestinian governments survive, those wealthy Arab donors now claim they want to do nothing to “help the Jewish state.” If this excuse sounds crazy, it’s because she’s crazy.

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

Here the embittered Palestinians scathingly put forth the excuse they have heard before from reluctant Arab donors: the more miserable you Palestinians are, the better you will serve as anti-Zionist propaganda. It is the same reason why Palestinian “refugees” are kept for generations in squalid camps in Arab countries: to win the sympathy of the world, in the never-ending struggle to undermine the Jewish state. Their well-being 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 museums, malls and stadiums are built in their countries at a cost of billions of dollars every year.

The fantastic sums spent by Qatar on World Cup games are also spent by the other Arab oil states on their own flashy infrastructure of museums, giant shopping malls and stadiums. Think of the trillion dollars the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia plans to spend on his grandiose 2030 Vision, with $500 billion earmarked just for building the NEOM megacity.

The Palestinians do not want to be kept destitute in order to be exploited as a more effective political tool against the Zionists. Their lives are now.

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

In 2020, Qatar gave Gaza $240 million and has since increased 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 with what they Qatar could be giving them, considering how many hundreds of billions of dollars, somewhere between $220 and $240 billion, it has spent preparing the infrastructure for the World Cup. Palestinians know that for less than a twentieth of that amount, some $10 billion, two million homes could be built for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. Qatar’s priority is the impact it believes it can have on the world through its huge spending on World Cup games. The Palestinians no longer figure prominently in the Doha calculations. And the Palestinians, enraged but powerless to change the minds of the Qataris and other wealthy Gulf Arabs, know it.

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