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Tags: qatar | israel | world cup | middle east

Come November All Eyes Will Be Focused on Qatar

the trophy in the sand
The FIFA World Cup trophy (Dreamstime)

Micah Halpern By Monday, 13 June 2022 10:16 AM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

Come November, eyes around the world will be looking toward — Qatar!

Because that’s where, from November 21st through December 15th, a phenomenon most Americans know very little about — and most of the rest of the world worships with a reverence reserved for sports — will be hosted. And it’s called the World Cup.

Fans around the world will be looking at and following and cheering for their favorite teams in a sport most Americans dismiss as just another soccer tournament, a sporting event that, like the Olympics, takes place every four years.

Although this is technically correct, it does not explain the term that I’ve applied. It doesn’t explain the term “phenomenon.”

This one detail will help.

3.57 billion people watched the last World Cup.

3,57 billion is over half the population of the entire world. 1.1 billion people watched the final.

In comparison, only 15.36 million people watched America’s favorite, the Super Bowl. 3.57 billion compared to 15.36 million. The World Cup is truly a phenomenon!

Israelis, like most of the world, love the World Cup. And Israelis, like fans around the globe, look forward to not just watching it on TV, but picking up and travelling the globe to sit in the stands during World Cup tournaments.

But this year’s event was different. This time around, Israel spent months and months negotiating for — and finally obtaining, permission for Israeli fans to sit in the stands and participate in this phenomenal event.

Qatar, the country hosting the World Cup and Israel, the Jewish State, do not have diplomatic relations. More than that, Qatar is a major supporter of Hamas and Iran. And Hamas and Iran have sworn to destroy Israel.

But through the mediation of Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the World Cup supervising agency, it was agreed that Israelis would be able to enter Qatar and watch the World Cup.

Once that hurdle was overcome, new talks began and are ongoing to permit direct flights from Israel to Qatar during the games. It’s a very short flight, actually, much like a commuter flight would be.

But we all know that actual distance is not the sticking point in these negotiations. At this point, despite the success of the first agreement — I think that direct flights may be too much to hope for. But there are still 5 months before kickoff.

Stranger things have happened.

Tens of thousands of Israelis are expected to travel to Qatar — even though at this point it means travelling through a third country to get there. That small detail is not hampering anyone’s enthusiasm.

Israelis, everyone including the politicians who were part of the negotiations, are elated that they will be able to attend just like everyone else. Yair Lapid, Israel’s Foreign Minister, displayed his delight through a tweet:

"A political achievement that fulfills the hearts of fans! After hard work alongside [Defense Minister Benny Gantz] and [Culture and Sports Minister Hili Tropper], this welcomed agreement has ripened and Israelis will be able to fly out to watch the World Cup in Qatar."
"The love for soccer and sports connects people and countries and the World Cup in November opens a door to new, cordial relations, I thank all those who made this happen, and can't wait for kick-off."

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz put it this way:

"Qatar is a country of international importance, which also contributes to maintaining stability in our region. I hope Israelis traveling there would strengthen the familiarity between the citizens of both countries."

Despite the figurative diplomatic “high-fives” now going around, there are, of course, serious worries to contend with.

Iran has promised to attack Israel and Israelis. There is currently a travel warning from the office of Israel’s prime minister warning Israelis not to travel to Turkey because Turkey is an easy place for Iran to organize and act. Qatar is even easier.

Qatar will most certainly warn Iran not to disturb, disrupt or defile their World Cup. And Qatar will be working very hard to make sure that the monthlong sporting event is safe.

Any terror attack would be a terrible embarrassment to Qatar. An attack traced back to Iran, which is Qatar’s ally, against Israel, or an attack against the United States, Qatar’s friend and Iran’s nemesis, would be enough to shatter the relationship and push Qatar away from Iran and back into the fold of the Sunni Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia.

Israel will do its best to coordinate with Qatar and with intelligence agencies from all the other countries. The hope is that they will be able to keep everyone, not just Israelis, safe.

The World Cup, like the Olympics, like the World Series, like the Super Bowl, are all targets for terrorists. Especially for Iran, a country that sponsors terrorism. The bigger the event, the more eyes watching.

And that’s exactly the goal of the terrorist. If an attack were to take place, their message would grab the immediate attention of the world.

Micah Halpern is a political and foreign affairs commentator. He founded "The Micah Report" and hosts "Thinking Out Loud with Micah Halpern," a weekly TV program, and "My Chopp," a daily radio spot. Follow him on Twitter @MicahHalpern. Read Micah Halpern's Reports — More Here.

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Qatar, the country hosting the World Cup and Israel, the Jewish State, do not have diplomatic relations. More than that, Qatar is a major supporter of Hamas and Iran. And Hamas and Iran have sworn to destroy Israel.
qatar, israel, world cup, middle east
Monday, 13 June 2022 10:16 AM
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