The Foreign Ministry on Wednesday blasted a Palestinian columnist for the Qatar daily paper Al-Watan who authored a commentary in May calling on Palestinians to carry out terror attacks on Israelis, including calls for Arab countries to go on war footing against the Jewish state. The Middle East Media Research Institute first located and translated the column from Palestinian journalist Samir al-Barghouti.
According to MEMRI, Barghouti wrote “Hit [them] in the depth of the Jerusalem settlements, in Tel Aviv and in all parts of the land they stole and whose people they expelled, from Ras Al-Naqoura [in the North] to Rafah [in the South]. Hit [them], and may your hands be blessed. Even if you do not hurt a single one of them, it is enough to terrify them and sow fear among them.”
Barghouti added that “had there been someone to hit [them] inside the 1948 territories, the Apartheid State [i.e. Israel] would not have continued to exist on our soil to this very day. Had it not been for the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Accords, not a single Zionist would have remained in Palestine [today]…”
In an exclusive statement to The Jerusalem Post, the Foreign Ministry said it “strongly condemn[s]” the article “calling for Palestinians to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. Such inflammatory rhetoric and glorification of violence are deeply disturbing and contribute to the perpetuation of the hatred and hostility in the region.”
"Make it so that they will never be safe – not in Jerusalem, not in Tel Aviv, and not in their settlements."Samir al-Barghouti
The ministry added that “Israel remains committed to the unconditional fight against terror and calls to end any manifestation of this kind of unproductive incitement” and “will continue to work towards meaningful dialogue and cooperation in the region in order to achieve a peaceful and secure future for all people in the Middle East.”
Required government approval for publishing
The head of Muslims Against Antisemitism in the United Kingdom, Ghanem Nuseibeh, told the Post that “Qatar media is heavily censored and such extremist incitement would not be published without government approval.”A Qatar expert, Nuseibeh added that it has been “the most virulent spreader of antisemitism in Arabic-speaking communities and there are no signs this has stopped.
Qatari media says one thing in its English language outlets but in Arabic it continues to incite violence against Jews and those who disagree with it. It is vital that Western nations understand the threat and block such websites from poisoning the minds of Muslim communities in Europe and the US.”
A recent BBC overview of the Qatar media cited Al-Watan, which means “The Homeland,” as a “privately-owned, pro-government daily.” The Doha-based paper was founded in 1995 and, according to its Wikipedia page, it is owned by Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani from the ruling Al Thani family in Qatar. It has been cited by the BBC in its coverage of Middle East affairs.
Press queries by the Post to Qatar’s Foreign Ministry and embassy in Washington, about the commentary by Barghouti and the ownership of the paper, went unanswered. The Post also queried the paper’s editor-in-chief Mohamed Hamad al-Marri, who declined to comment.
Barghouti aligned himself with terrorist movements in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas and the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Memri noted in its analysis of Barghouti’s article that he “called on the Palestinians of all factions to carry out terror attacks throughout Israel, from the North to the South, in order to inflict blows on the Israelis and terrify them. He also urged the Arab countries to open up the fronts against Israel and expel the Israeli ambassadors from their territory, lest it become too late for them to repent. ‘The historical and religious promise regarding Palestine will soon be realized,’ he stated, and therefore it is necessary to keep up the attacks on Israel.”
The media watchdog also located a column by Barghouti in Al-Watan from March 12, titled “The Time Has Come For You To Get Out.” In it, he argues that it is time to expel the Israelis “from Huwara to Tel Aviv... from the river to the sea,” and to fight them in brigades and with lone attackers. “Make it so that they will never be safe – not in Jerusalem, not in Tel Aviv, and not in their settlements,” he wrote.
Al-Watan gears its articles toward Palestinian readers and devotes coverage to the Palestinians.
The religious essence of the Israeli Palestinian conflict
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter and an expert on modern antisemitism, told the Post that “what people have to understand [is that] the essence of the Palestinian conflict with Israel is religious, In other words, it is fueled by Islam, which is the most prevalent religion of Palestinians in Israel and in Diaspora.”Zuroff added that “when a conflict is fueled by religion, there is practically no room for compromise. These articles reflect the desire of Palestinians to murder innocent civilians, which of course, only makes the conflict worse and is a tremendous obstacle to peace. Qatar is not concerned about the prospect of peace in the Middle East.”
While the Sunni Gulf countries Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates normalized diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020, Qatar refuses to follow suit.
The US-based Anti-Defamation League has chronicled antisemitic cartoons that Al-Watan has published over the years, including a 2018 cartoon showing a swastika with a Star of David imprinted on a kind of bulldozer crushing Arabs. The cartoon was by Salman al-Malik. The ADL titled its article “Anti-Semitic Cartoons: A Hallmark of Qatari Newspapers.”
Zuroff said that “there should be no room for articles and cartoons like this.”
The BBC said that “most media outlets are owned by the state, members of the royal family or figures aligned with them. Most outlets take a pro-government stance. Journalists practice self-censorship, avoiding critical reporting on domestic and foreign affairs.
The absence of opposition media has left social media as the only space for expressing discontent. Many outlets are sympathetic to Islamist groups, whose figures maintain a significant media presence.”
The Post has reported over the years on allegations that Qatar’s regime funds the following terrorist entities: Islamic State, Hezbollah, and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.