Israeli comedian flees Qatar after video against him goes viral

After multiple reports about a hostile environment for Israelis at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, an Israeli comedian cut his visit short for fear of getting hurt.

 FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Preview, Doha, Qatar - November 18, 2022 The FIFA World Cup logo is pictured on the Corniche Promenade ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Preview, Doha, Qatar - November 18, 2022 The FIFA World Cup logo is pictured on the Corniche Promenade ahead of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/FABRIZIO BENSCH)

Israeli comedian Guy Hochman, who flew to the Qatar World Cup to make videos, was forced to return urgently to Israel for fear of being attacked after videos he made were seen by people from Arab nations and were met with contempt and threats.

In one instance, Palestinian-American journalist Samar Dahmash-Jarrah published on her Twitter a video titled "Expose them. They're criminals" where she introduces Hochman as a soldier in the "Israeli occupation's army". The video opens with the question "peacemaker or murdering soldier?" 

Later in the video, Dahmash-Jarrah - who used to be an editor for CNN - publishes information about Hochman, saying that he is 34-years-old, and served at the Nahal 932 battalion in the IDF. She also wrote that Hochman served in a unit that "killed thousands of Palestinians during the First and Second Intifadas" and that his unit took part in wars during which they killed Palestinian families. The video took issue with Hochman presenting himself as a man of peace even though he was a soldier in the IDF.

The video ended by saying that "this is the face of Israel at the World Cup."

  A fan displays a Palestine flag in the stands during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, November 23, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/SUHAIB SALEM) A fan displays a Palestine flag in the stands during the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, November 23, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/SUHAIB SALEM)

Some of the comments on the video claimed that Hochman is a Mossad agent. Others wrote that he is just a comedian who laughs at everyone. Hochman's public relations said soon after that the comedian, who was meant to stay in Qatar until the end of the week, had booked an immediate flight leaving on Monday night and returning to Israel as quickly as possible.

Israeli reporters wrote about the hostile atmosphere in Qatar

In the last few days, Israeli headlines have reported bullying of Israeli reporters in Qatar.

"From where I see it, it seems like the Israeli reporters are whining," said Walla's sports reporter Paz Hesdai. "They go looking for troubles and creating provocations Guy Hochman-style and then wonder why those provocations are met with anger and violence. Maybe a perception was created where Israeli reporters are looking for headlines and are happy to get in trouble to say 'I told you so' about the 'violent Arabs' and to be viewed as brave for their commitment to their dangerous work in a hostile environment. All this in order to bring reliable reports to Israelis. 

"Unfortunately, there is no need to provoke anyone to feel threatened. There is no need to jump on tables and scream. It is enough to stand with a microphone with Hebrew letters on it, and the problems come to you. On the lighter side, it's a few men with Palestinian flags who are interfering with your work. In the slightly more difficult case, one of them flicks your neck with his keffiyeh.

"It is enough to stand with a microphone with Hebrew letters on it, and the problems come to you."

Paz Hesdai

"The phenomenon has become a hobby for the locals. The stadiums are filled with more and more Palestinian flags, and social media is full of videos of people taking pride in disrupting the "Zionist" media. Not that bad, but unpleasant nevertheless. Ynet's videographer recommended I do the same as him and take off the identifying sponge that covers the microphone. I guess this is the solution, to conceal our identity, to hide." 

N12's Ohad Hemo has also addressed the hostility felt by Israeli reporters in Qatar saying.

"What we are experiencing here, in short, is "TikTok shaming", and that's a big part of the story.

For the Lebanese person who confronted me (I will mention that I did tell him my identity before interviewing him because transparency is important when you are interviewing someone who might not want to be interviewed by me. Just think about the reaction of a person that will feel like he was misled, if he finds out at the end of the interview that he was speaking with the Israeli media without knowing).

This video was shared throughout the Arab world and got millions of views, and in its center is the young Arab man telling the Israeli the truth of many of them. And you see guys who recognize you, lift their camera and enter the conflict in the hopes of becoming patriotic media stars, and all in one brief video. What's wrong with that?

"And above all this is one floating word, the open wound of the Arab world. It is called normalization. My presence here as a journalist and not as an individual is a sign of normalization for many Arabs (even if it was forced on Qatar by FIFA), and this is where the desire to interrupt us, to say their truth and to confront us comes from.

"The excessive media attention on this subject in the last week might strengthen the already existing perception of "a people that shall dwell alone". Everyone is antisemitic, no matter what we do, the Arab world will hate us. In this context, I say that some parts of the Arab world will never accept Israel as an existent fact no matter what. But I think that they are a minority.

"At the end of the day, the treatment of Israel will be mostly dependent on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."

Ohad Hemo

"At the end of the day, the treatment of Israel will be mostly dependent on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For years now, there has been no dialogue, no conversations, no hope. If the FIFA World Cup in 1994 was held in Israel instead of in the United States, when the hope of a normal future was present, it could be assumed that the experience would be completely different."