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Israelis welcomed in Doha Forum in Qatar

The last thing I would have expected in Qatar was to hear Hebrew as I walked through the corridors of the Doha Convention Center. The next scene was no less bizarre, in a country where few Israelis and Jews visit: Rabbis with kippahs on their heads. The Israeli and Jewish presence seemed acceptable and even natural at the Doha Forum, which is organized by the United Nations Alliance for Civilizations.

Israelis are not only attending the conference, but also speaking. Israeli representatives from academia, civil society, human rights organizations and religious groups were all among those speaking at the conference.

I find it significant that Israelis were fully welcomed at the conference. Israel has the potential to be a natural part of the Middle East. It is not as hated as some Israelis believe. I saw Arab participants intrigued by the Jewish and Israeli presence, and curious to ask questions and learn about Judaism and Israel.

Such a relationship is important step toward an alliance of civilizations. These encounters create an opportunity for people to overcome the stereotypes.

The extreme right in Israel is so fixed in its ideology that Arabs will never accept Israel, that it fails to see that many Arabs are willing to do so. It is the occupation that they refuse to accept. Many right-wing academics absurdly claim that the occupation has nothing to do with Arab anger against Israel, and instead label any opposition to the occupation as anti-Semitism.

At the Alliance of Civilization conference in Doha, I saw what the future of the Middle East could look like: The desire to build a better future for our people can overcome the desire to dominate one another.

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    1. Richard Witty

      “At the Alliance of Civilization conference in Doha, I saw what the future of the Middle East could look like: The desire to build a better future for our people can overcome the desire to dominate one another.”

      !!!!

      Reply to Comment
    2. Shua Frazer

      As an eternal optimist, it did my heart a lot of good to read this. I’ve always thought that Israel could engage more than the right-wing lets on. Thanks for sharing this Aziz!

      Ps: I don’t suppose you saw any models for the World Cup stadiums while you were in Qatar? They’re supposed to be out of this world!

      Reply to Comment
    3. Ed Frias

      How many Jews live in Qatar?
      Or should i say, how many Jews are allowed to live in Qatar? ZERO

      Reply to Comment
    4. Ed Frias

      Occupation of what.
      There was never in history any state called Palestine governed by Palestinians.
      Jerusalem was never the capitol of any Arab country.
      Even with that, Barak and Olmert offered the Pals a state only to be rejected.
      2nd, last month Saeb Erekat confirmed Olmert had offered a final peace settlement that would include territorial concession equivalent to the entire West Bank and the division of Jerusalem.
      The Palestinians also control 100% of Gaza.
      http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/erekat-olmert-offered-palestinians-territorial-equivalent-of-west-bank-1.393484

      The problem is Palestinian Rejectionism.
      They deny Israel’s right to exist,
      http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=433

      Promote terrorism and glorify terrorists who murder innocent Jews;
      http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=455

      Promote virulent antisemitism in their schools, mosques, and popular media; and deny the Holocaust suddenly have discovered the dangers of incitement!
      Case Study: Portraying Jews as “Apes and Pigs”
      http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=786

      See the sickening hatred the Palestinians teach their kids in their schools and camps.
      http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=339

      Reply to Comment
    5. handfed

      My cousin lives and works in Qatar. Make that zero + 1.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Edithann

      Never mind Qatar and being an eternal optimist. Start working on your society and show the world you’re worth their/our time.
      Seems to me you all waste too much time inspecting your navels for mites, when your society is rampantly infected with serious mind altering behavior problems that you all overlook.

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/12/one-of-most-disturbing-days-i-have-ever-experienced-an-eyewitness-account-of-the-israeli-attack-on-mustafa-tamimis-funeral.html

      TATA

      Reply to Comment
    7. Sinjim

      Khawanah.
      .
      Zakkirni ya Aziz, akam min Falastini bi2dar yodkhol balado u akam min Falastini ma7roum min il dokhoul. Zakkirni akam min 3arabi bi2dar yodkhol Falastin u akam min 3arabi ma7roum min il dokhoul.
      .
      Israil btid3as 3a rousna u inta mabsout inhom bi2daru yirou7u wein ma bidhom? Shu hal habal had? Abel ma tsabbi7 u thallel hal 7uriya lil-Israiliyyeh, itzakkar sha3bak illi ma7roum min 7urriyto. Itzakkar inno lissathom ma 3indhom 7ouqouqhom. U i3raf inno illi bti3malo inta huwwa mish ra7 yijeebilhom 7ouqouqhom.
      .
      Hada tashree3 il i7tilal u il zolom faqat.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Jalal

      This is probably the most naive and offending piece I’ve read all day.
      Right, Israelis are the victims of this conflict, Palestinians have suppressed them for too long!
      Israelis deserve to be normal, they deserve to be able to travel! This promises a better future for the region when I see an Israeli freely welcome in Qatar while 1.5 Palestinians are trapped in one open-air prison by this same state, and another 2.5 million Palestinians are trapped in another open-air prison but are slightly given the opportunity to (even if they have to go through the most humiliating and degrading treatment) leave and enter the blockaded West Bank.
      Those same millions of Palestinians living few kilometers away from Jerusalem are not even allowed in to observe their religious holidays! what freedom is it when less than 10% of those who apply for permits to enter Jerusalem are actually granted the permits?
      this is just ridiculous, absurd, and the worst kind of normalization of a conflict that cannot be solved or even helped by this kind of action.
      You make it look like the Palestinians are in conflict with the Israelis, like we oppress them as much as they oppress us. This conflict is fucking Oppressor vs. Oppressed.
      Please Aziz, think of both sides, think of both peoples. I admire your ideas, but this kind of normalized blabbering is simply a joke.

      “The desire to build a better future for our people can overcome the desire to dominate one another.”

      The better future will not come when Israelis are treated like anyone else in Qatar, this isn’t even part of the problem. It is just ridiculous thinking of the millions who live inside the West Bank and Gaza and Millions others abroad who are mostly even denied their right to visit their families here.
      sheesh

      Reply to Comment
    9. DebG

      Look,we can’t turn all discussion into an Oppressor/Oppressed routine. The situation of the Palestinians is terrible, and many of us are trying to push for a decent solution. On the other hand, doesn’t our delight in being accepted in Doha tell you anything about how unwanted and scared we feel? And that, too, is part of the problem that needs solving.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Adil

      Sorry to burst your bubble Aziz, but Qatar is a client imperial state of the United States and if they weren`t led by a regime of total despots that are happy to house America`s biggest military base in the Middle East, then Israelis would never be allowed to attend this conference. It does not serve the dignity and civility of the Arab and Muslim people to act as though we can someone have normal relations with a state that practices the institutionalized racism, discrimination and theft that Israel does against us and our people.

      This reflects nothing of the attitude of the Arabs of the Middle East that hold nothing but deep hatred and disdain for a state and a people that continues to brutalize the Palestinians and on a daily basis threaten the sanctity of Haram al Sharif and Msajid al Aqsa. No matter how much despotic American puppy dogs try to present some sort of Disney World Fantasy to the world that this relation is changing, the fact of the matter is that the hatred towards Israel amongst Arabs in the Middle East and Muslims across the world is only deepening with every dead and humiliated Palestinian that piles onto of the already tens of thousands of our martyred brothers and sisters.

      Thanks, but no thanks!

      Reply to Comment
    11. Sinjim

      The “situation” of the Palestinians is caused by you, DEBG. You and the rest of Israel are a responsible for it, so you don’t get to say now’s not the time to discuss it. The absolute chutzpah of you, in all your Jewish privilege, to call this a “routine.” Who the hell do you think you are?
      .
      You want normalization? Treat Palestinians with respect and dignity. No matter what the dictatorships accept, the people will never accept Israel until you do. And il hamdulillah for that.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Andrew

      Ed, I live in Qatar and have several Jewish friends here. Check your facts.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Matan Lurey

      I see Jalal from Intifada is lurking to snipe any and all Palestinians who suggest that Israelis can be accepted in the Middle East once they end the occupation. Great.

      Wonderful reporting Aziz, truly inspirational.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Palestinian

      @Aziz , it seems the bast majority of us “Palestinians” dont and cant support your view.Lets forget about Qatar UAE ,KSA and other Arab countries that deal with Israel and Israelis on/under the table.And its stupid to think that we can separate between Israel as a country and government, and the Israelis themselves because they are the same entity.

      Matan , which occupation 48 or 67 or both ? I am not sure if we wanna go through the exact same argument (aka fight)that we (Palestinians and Zionists) go through every single day.My message is the only viable solution is the one that not brings comfort to both sides (which doesnt even exist) but the one that achieves justice.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Kevin Morrow

      While I understand the reluctance of many Palestinians to “normalize” relations with Israelis, it seems to me that the only way that peace will go forward is if both sides get to know one another as human beings. This is already happening between the Palestinian popular resistance activists and Israeli solidarity activists. The more decent people on both sides can make common cause together, the easier it will be (in the long run) to leave the fanatics on both sides exposed as the crazy minority that they are. I even think that the necessary actions of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel as a nation shouldn’t prevent us from treating individual Israelis with decency and humanity, and when we do, most will respond back in kind. That has certainly been my experience.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Palestinian

      Kevin , its bcz those activists have already acknowledged the crimes of Israel and they arent part of it .But do you expect me to shake hands with an IDF soldier who just shot a Palestinian kid or man or woman ? someone who demolished a Palestinian house …and the list goes on ,so as you said those activists are human beings , decent human beings unlike others.So it is not about “moderate,as they call them” peoples on both sides stuck in between the extremists ,bcz the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are on the extreme according to your understanding of extremism (in case I got your point) so if you define someone who will never ever give up his/her ROR as an extremist then the majority of us are extremists ,that applies to the Israelis as well.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Michele

      The Qataris have had relations with Jews and Israelis for a very long time. In the mid-90s, I, an Israeli-American journalist, traveled to Qatar with the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. The group members were guests of the Emir and given a royal reception. They were permitted to bring kosher food and even a Torah scroll, and held Shabbat services in Doha.

      Reply to Comment
    18. AYLA

      palestinian readers objecting to this post: what I read here is that Aziz–whose target audience here is Israeli– is in touch with the fact that Israel’s right wing ideology, which is keeping this country stuck in this occupation and committing the very crimes that upset us, stems from the misguided, fear-based idea that no matter what Israel does, our neighbors hate us and want to wipe us off the map. This fear-bred ideology is a big part of what keeps us stuck in this conflict. Since he had an experience in Qatar that is contrary to that belief and demonstrates that there is hope in this region for us all to, you know, get along (to put it simply), he’s sharing that reality with us, as he understands that if Israelis see/hear this and internalize it, that is the kind of thing that can actually lead to ending the occupation.
      *
      Do you want to see leaders in Qatar refusing to welcome Israelis under the present circumstances? If so, I understand that emotion, but you need to understand that that emotion, too, is keeping us stuck where we are.
      *
      I agree with @Kevin Morrow, and would add: think about the word “normalization”. to make or experience a group of humans as normal, or to experience them normally. This is the problem on all sides. People believe that to ‘normalize’ with Israel is to accept the occupation, but if we can’t all experience each other’s humanity, then what?

      Reply to Comment
    19. Ed Frias

      As i’v mentioned before, the Palestinians can have a state tommorow, but they dont want one.
      The Arabs want the Jews to live but not ruling a sovereign country like Israel is today. Of course they would love to see the Jews as the dhimmi they were among the Arabs before 1948, paying taxes for not being Muslims and be like the Kurds, Coptics, Black Christians of Sudan and Berbers today. 2nd class citizens stripped of any Judicial rights. That’s the reason they won’t distinguish Israel as a Jewish State.

      Reply to Comment
    20. AYLA

      @Ed… 1) I was going to say before that your post about there being no Jews in Qatar is proof of the widespread mentality this post speaks to, so I’m happy you posted. 2) oish. So much problematic content, so little time. Setting aside your assessment of Jewish life here pre ’48, you, Ed Frias (I appreciate the real and full name), are speaking for all “the Arabs”? And, so it’s better if we have a Jewish State where Palestinian-Israelis (not to mention those in the West Bank) are second class citizens? You do realize that they are, right? Better them than us?

      Reply to Comment
    21. AYLA

      p.s. @Ed (and everyone)–when I wrote back to you, I hadn’t seen you “occupation of what” post. I’m sorry, now, that I responded to you. Not worth my energy. To me, that’s a hate post.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Edithann

      What the heck are you all doing and why? Has it been productive, has it been working for you?

      I would imagine some on this comment line are parents..Do you know what your children are learning in school? Are they being prepared for a life time of fear and ‘hatred of the ‘other’ or are they being prepared for a life of peace and harmony with neighbors?
      It starts with you! What are you teaching your own children about Arabs and/or others?
      This constant going back and forth amongst yourselves is childish…’you go first, not unless you go first, no,you go first, no,you go first’..is exactly what you do..and it’s not only boring, and repetitious, it’s mindless and leads nowhere. But it’s exactly the blue print of the present and obvious for your future. In my world it’s called ‘navel gazing and looking for lint’…get over it and offer solutions!!! Try something, anything.. Try practicing a mantra outloud, ‘what would make it better for all concerned? Can I do something to make it better’? Keep repeating those kinds of questions and pass them on to your children. All those Nobel Prizes and you geniuses can’t think of anything different?
      Are you so petrified of each other? If so you must ask why?

      Did you ever think that apologizing to the Palestinians might be a start? I know it sounds outrageous and very foreign..but don’t forget, they are willing to allow you to stay..
      So what’s your reaction..Defending what you’ve done isn’t working and never will…

      It may sound Pollyanna, but believe me, you Israeli’s are a case history of: How to survive for thousands of years, being hated by everyone, including your own, yet still unable to accept responsibilty for any of it!

      TATA

      Reply to Comment
    23. Sinjim

      @Ayla: The problem is that what this actually does is highlight the injustices of this conflict. In Arabic, I asked Aziz, who I’ve never seen engage with the Palestinians on this forum, how many Palestinians are prevented from entering their homeland and how many other Arabs are prevented from entering Palestine. Yet, Qatar allows Israelis to come and go as they please?
      .
      I disagree with you, ya Ayla, about what’s keeping us “stuck.” The stickiness is coming from the idea that if we just allay Israeli fears, things will get better. This is the underlying principle of everything the PA in the West Bank has been doing. They’ve agreed to letting Israel have most of the settlements, to a demilitarized state, to Israel retaining control over large swathes of Palestinian Jerusalem. Yet this hasn’t resulted in a single improvement from the Israeli side. In fact, almost as if encouraged by these concessions, Israel has been demanding more and more.
      .
      So when we Palestinians see stories like this, it only highlights for us the imbalance of power. How Israelis are in fact free, while our people languish under occupation and exile. That not a single one of us has anything good to say about this piece by Aziz should tell you something.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Ed Frias

      WOW Edithann AKA Tata is on here.
      The famous holocaust denier Edithann that was kicked off Warwithoutend

      Reply to Comment
    25. Aziz Abu Sarah

      @SinJim
      “I asked Aziz, who I’ve never seen engage with the Palestinians on this forum, how many Palestinians are prevented from entering their homeland and how many other Arabs are prevented from entering Palestine. Yet, Qatar allows Israelis to come and go as they please?”

      First, I am sorry I couldn’t answer you while on a plane from Qatar to Washington (wifi is not available on the plane). Also, I often cannot tell from names if one is Palestinian or Israeli and the accusation that I don’t engage with Palestinians is absurd considering that I am a Palestinian Jerusalemite myself.

      Now to the matter of the discussion, you and others have overlooked a main point. I said – “The extreme right in Israel is so fixed in its ideology that Arabs will never accept Israel, that it fails to see that many Arabs are willing to do so. It is the OCCUPATION that they refuse to accept.”

      I didn’t overlook the occupation and injustices against Palestinians but I wanted to communicate to Israelis that Muslims and Arabs don’t hate Jews or Israelis. They hate the OCCUPATION and if the OCCUPATION was to be over, what I saw in Qatar will become reality in the Middle East.

      Your question of how many Jews allowed to Qatar vs. How many Palestinians NOT allowed to Israel doesn’t make sense to me. Israelis can argue with you that thousands of Palestinians get permits to visit and even work at Israel. Is that what you want? Permits to visit and work????

      I on the other hand want an end for the occupation and not a visa to visit Israel. Therefore, I don’t want to compare Qatar to Israel and it is a mistake to do so. Qatar is not occupying Israel.

      I don’t expect every Palestinian to agree with me on my approach and analysis. I hope that as Palestinians we can continue to allow for multiple opinions without name calling and accusations. And just to be clear, There were Palestinians who told me that they agree with my analysis. So, just because they didn’t write it on the forum here doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Sinjim

      You think I’m upset with this piece because Palestinians don’t have visas to visit their homeland or work permits to labor in Israel, ya Aziz? You think that’s my goal? Ya 7aram 3aleik.
      .
      You’re touting this free normalization, this appeasement as a good thing even as Israel tightens its grip on the occupied territories. You pretend that Israelis being allowed into Qatar will somehow end this conflict and better the lives of Palestinians, as if this is some personal squabble that can be resolved by holding hands and not a political, armed conflict. I asked you to tell me how many Arabs Israel gives similar privileges to, not because I believe this is the goal, but in order to highlight the asymmetry of this behavior. The Qatari dictators bend over backwards to appease the West and its idea of “moderation,” while Israel continues to treat Arabs, be they Palestinian or not, as uniformly dangerous vermin.
      .
      This normalization means it doesn’t matter what Israel does to Palestinians because there will be no negative consequences, and your piece gives others the opening to accuse the rest of your fellow countrymen of extremism for opposing your methods. They can point to you as the reasonable moderate and the ideal Palestinian, while we are painted as extremists who want to get rid of Israelis. Just look at @Matan Lurey’s despicable attack on Jalal, a fellow Qudsi of yours.
      .
      So good for you and the Palestinians who agree with you. Israelis have been able to visit Arab countries with no problem for years now, and not a single Palestinian life has improved as a result, of course. Don’t let that get in the way of your analysis.

      Reply to Comment
    27. In his ‘Letter to a Young Activist’, Thomas Merton wrote, “In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.” That line has stuck with me ever since I read it, and sometimes it comes back to me when I see Israelis visiting Palestinian communities for the first time, often in defiance of their upbringing, expectations, and fears. This is the sort of contact that has possibilities for peace – because it undermines the government and the segregation fostered by that government. The Doha Forum legitimises them both. There is a significant difference between engaging with individuals and engaging with a state. The Doha Forum has just provided a figleaf for Israel as a state. I can’t see how this is compatible with support for a just peace, for all the reasons that Sinjim expresses in his last comment.

      I say this as someone who has the highest respect for Aziz and the work he’s done with the Parents’ Circle. I just think he’s missed the mark with this post. If he’s trying to express what Ayla describes, then there are many genuinely fruitful encounters between Arabs and Israelis that he could have chosen. Why the Doha Forum, of all things?

      Reply to Comment
    28. Aziz Abu Sarah

      @Vicky
      I am trying to understand your point. Are you saying inviting groups like the Parents Circle, or professors like Ayal Naveh or Jewish Rabbis who promote peace and justice helps the Israeli government and are not fruitful because it is in Doha?

      These were among the main speakers and attendees of the conference. You are right that I still fail to understand how could this be a bad thing. I don’t simplify things where I see every Israeli as my enemy or even my occupier. There are Israelis that joined Palestinians struggle for freedom and I refuse to associate these people with the actions of the Israeli government or the actions of settlers.

      Before talking about DOHA, lets talk about the Israelis who live in Ramallah whom very supportive of the Palestinian people. Should those be deported because working with them or talking to them is normalization? I don’t think so.

      The mere fact that those Israelis continue to live in Ramallah safely and without problems is a an evidence that Palestinians understand the complicity of normalization and it is not simple to generalize against all Israelis.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Aziz Abu Sarah

      @Jalal

      It is important to define normalization before making all kind of baseless accusations. For example, some Palestinians might think of you as a normalizer for writing with Israelis on 972.
      However, you are fine with that. So, just because you think Israelis in Qatar constitute a normalization doesn’t make you the authority on the issue.

      Most of the Israelis I saw in Qatar were involved in Peace work and activism. So, are you against Israelis joining Palestinians in nonviolent protests? Isn’t that dealing with Israelis? would that be normalization?

      I think it is time to stop this nonsense of self righteousness and accusations for things according to each one baseless opinion.

      First, lets clarify what is Normalization?

      Second, lets talk about the consensus on the topic, unless you think you speak for all Palestinians

      Third, Do you think Palestinians should all agree with your definition. Even if you think the majority of Palestinians agree with your definition on Normalization what do you do with those who disagree? Are they traitors for working for peace with Israelis? What do you think the punishment of someone like me who is willing to meet Israelis and work with them to end the occupation?

      Maybe we could as civilized people debate this topic on 972. I invite you to make your case in a post and I will respond to it. (As long as you don’t consider 972 a tool of normalization.)

      Reply to Comment
    30. Aziz, I apologise. I didn’t see the list of invitees to the Doha Forum, just that it was organised under the auspices of UN Alliance of Civilizations. I assumed that as with many UN events, participants from each country would be viewed as informally representing that particular state. Sometimes the invitees to these events are even handpicked by official government bodies, and to me it would definitely be normalisation to participate in an event of that sort.
      .
      If people attend as interested individuals, or as representatives of peace and justice groups that have a clear track record of promoting genuine equality and freedom, then I don’t see a problem. That is not whitewashing the occupation, that is challenging it, and I’m in full support. But I don’t think the nature of the event is totally clear from your post, so I can see where people’s concerns arose.

      Reply to Comment
    31. Sinjim

      Normalization is several things. It is treating Israel as a state with whom another has normal relations. It can also be giving Israeli representatives or apologists a chance to spew hasbara.
      .
      The problem here was never about the individuals themselves. You never specified who those people were, and I had no way of judging whether they were apologists or not. So it’s irrelevant who they are because even if every last one of them were so left they would make Azmi Bishara look like Liberman, it is still normalization.
      .
      This is why your analogy with Israelis living in Ramallah fails. When Israelis live in Ramallah or when they go to protests in solidarity with Palestinians, there is no need to interact with the Israeli state. It isn’t being legitimized. In order to allow them in, however, Qatar had to deal with the Israel as a normal state, and not as a state that is occupying and brutalizing the Palestinian people. How is that anything other than normalization?
      .
      And frankly, I think it’s naive of you to really believe that the only Israelis in Qatar are the ones who believe in justice. There are official representatives of the state there, too. There are probably representatives in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as well. This is not about advancing justice or coexistence, but about an alliance against Iran.
      .
      If there were a way to give Israelis who believe in justice a chance to go to Qatar to talk about their efforts and their vision for a better future, without ever giving legitimacy to the state of Israel, that would be a different story. But that’s not what’s going on, and that’s why it’s wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Aziz Abu Sarah

      @SinJim
      you should read what I said before jumping to conclusions and commenting. You also could ask clarification before throwing away accusations. I SAID IN THE POST THAT THE ISRAELIS PRESENT WERE from Academia, CIVIL SOCIETY, HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS and RELIGIOUS GROUPS.

      At no point did I mention politicians or Formal representatives. I don’t know if they were there or not, but I didn’t see them and I didn’t talk about them in my post. You made assumptions and these assumptions are wrong.

      Reply to Comment
    33. Aziz Abu Sarah

      @Vicky
      Thank you. I appreciate your response.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Sinjim

      And you should read what I said, ya Aziz. I’m saying it doesn’t matter who they are because it’s not about them as individuals. It’s about normalizing relations with the state of Israel, not the people of Israel.
      .
      I’m all for forming connections between Palestinians and Israelis to fight against the occupation and the discrimination. That’s entirely different from legitimizing the state.

      Reply to Comment
    35. 1) Reminder that Bahrain’s Ambassador to Washington is a Jewish female.
      2) As a visitor in the Arab Gulf, it is probably better to be Jewish (and/or Israeli) than South Asian. The latter is exploited and dehumanized like no one’s business.

      Reply to Comment
    36. AYLA

      @Sinjim–I’m responding to you without reading the rest of the thread, though it very much interests me and I will come back to it when I have time. I certainly do not think that “if (Palestinians) just allay Israeli fears, things will get better.” Of *course* not. Of course more than half of the responsibility falls on Israel, and our favorite EdithAnn is preaching to the 972-choir (when she isn’t espousing poisonous levels of hate and self-involved levels of indignation) when she says that Israel should start with acknowledging her wrongs and take it from there. All I am saying is that this is part of the piece of what is, at heart, and emotional conflict. My perception of Aziz is that his work begins with knowing as much of the whole story–all sides–as he can–which leads him to empathy, which makes it possible for him to relate to all people in this conflict as humans who are not all right or all wrong. Israel is the oppressor du jour; therefore, it is more our responsibility to right our wrongs, and if this is in fact a game of “you go first; no, you go first”, Israel should go first. But Sinjim, honestly, you, too, are clinging to a one-sided narrative. I mean, you’re here,which demonstrates a lot of openness. But you feel that the jewish narrative threatens yours. This makes me sigh aloud. I look forward to the day we can all feel for each other. For now, few things would make me happier than you getting a visa to come to this land, which belongs to you, your heart, your family, your soul. I believe that people sitting in a room together, such as in DOHA, hearing each other, is a step in that direction. And I have to believe that our talking to each other here is as well, or I wouldn’t be here.

      Reply to Comment
    37. Sinjim

      @Ayla: I encourage you to read everything I’ve written here before saying that I’m clinging to a one-sided narrative. My disagreement is not about narratives. It’s not about Israelis as individuals, either.
      .
      This is about Arab countries normalizing relations with the state, and that is something that all Arabs should oppose. Instead, dear Aziz is touting this normalization as a good thing and compares it to Taayush and other initiatives of Palestinian-Jewish cooperation, even though they have nothing to do with each other.
      .
      The state of Israel doesn’t have a right to recognition. It is a privilege, one that it hasn’t earned. So Qatar (and it’s not the only state that’s guilty of this) de facto recognizing Israel as the latter engages in institutionalized racism against Palestinians is not good at all. In fact, it does nothing but reassure the worst elements of the Israeli political class that what they’re doing is fine.

      Reply to Comment
    38. AYLA

      @Sinjim–okay, you’re right, it’s good I read the whole thread. Listen: you’re one of the commenters I most appreciate and respect on this site. Regarding this issue, I can understand why you and so many would call for the boycott of the State of Israel in regional diplomacy. However. I don’t believe it’s the best tactic. I believe it feeds the snowball of victim-mentality. That mentality is NOT your responsibility; it is each person’s responsibility to examine his/her own pain-responses (which all have some reality/truth at their root) and to heal and to respond from a place of wholeness. In a perfect world, all of us would be doing that work. But we live in this world. And in this world, what would be most healing, and productive toward the end of the occupation, would be the kind of work Aziz is doing, which begins with the self. I can’t think of anything more brave. or moving. Or empowering. My guess is that by doing that kind of work, Aziz (and others like him on all sides: bereaved families, combatants for peace…) attract others into their lives who are doing the brave work of opening their hearts rather than closing them in the face of grief, and that they feel hope and strength from each other. From this experience of hope and strength comes vision. And then we just try to put that vision’s fire out with our ideology and/or political certainty. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in the desert, it is this: you can’t draw lines in the sand; there is always wind.

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    39. suad jaber

      Comment deleted by moderator.

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    40. Nizo

      lelelelelleeeeeeeeeeeeee

      That’s my grandmother ululating, the one who is rotting away in a refugee camp in Lebanon. She’s very happy to hear that the Jews who kicked her out of her house are enjoying Arab hospitality in Qatar.

      lelelelelleeeeeeeeeeeeee

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    41. Lutfi

      Are Israelis welcomed by Arabian officials who represent the voice of their nations?
      No.
      So, can we say Arabs accepted Israel?
      No.
      Are some Arabs willing to do so?
      Yes. Some Arabs seem to be part of IOF. They are killing civilians who demonstrate for freedom and democracy and then they are repeating the same IOF speakpeople’s excuses.

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    42. Jalal

      @Aziz
      I couldn’t read other comments, but I read yours mentioning me, sorry I couldn’t reply earlier. I’ll reply quickly to this, and probably I’ll write a piece during the break regarding my views, it’ll be a “civilized” debate.
      You might find this unrelated to the piece directly, but its more of a reply.

      I will be quoting your comment in between quotation marks.

      “some Palestinians might think of you as a normalizer for writing with Israelis on 972”

      That is true, some Palestinians do think that way but I absolutely disagree. You see, normalization is a term to be nuanced. You can take it to the extreme and even call the “Joint struggle” normalization, but you know that isn’t true. Not everyone might think logically regarding this topic; people have to study a certain case pretty well before making accusations.
      Second, no I do not speak for all Palestinians or consider myself an “authority”, I just present my views and what I think is right.
      Defining normalization, I’d say it is to normalize the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to appear as a conflict between two equal sides, two sides which happen to be oppressor and oppressed at the same time, it is to help creating an image of the oppressor as a victim, which is exactly what you did in your piece.

      Regarding this:
      “Most of the Israelis I saw in Qatar were involved in Peace work and activism. So, are you against Israelis joining Palestinians in nonviolent protests? Isn’t that dealing with Israelis? Would that be normalization?”

      Did I even say that anywhere? You certainly didn’t mention that too in your piece, which is a big problem. All you talked about was your surprise to see Israelis in Qatar treated equally and SPEAKING too.

      As for this:

      “I think it is time to stop this nonsense of self righteousness and accusations for things according to each one baseless opinion.”

      Opposing the normalization of the occupation is not “nonsense of self righteousness and accusations” as you call it, and it certainly isn’t baseless. I see in normalization a false portrayal of our struggle, fortunately many Israeli activists agree on this point, especially many of those who are an active part in the joint struggle. They admit the imbalance of this conflict, they don’t seek to normalize it to create cheap one-sided propaganda.

      Now regarding this part which I thought was funny, given you think of me as an extremist for opposing this kind of normalization:

      “Third, Do you think Palestinians should all agree with your definition. Even if you think the majority of Palestinians agree with your definition on Normalization what do you do with those who disagree? Are they traitors for working for peace with Israelis? What do you think the punishment of someone like me who is willing to meet Israelis and work with them to end the occupation?”

      I’d like to tell you, there are three people who I consider my closest friends, the very closest; two of them have already participated in normalization camps which I disagree with. Another close friend who has been my neighbor for my entire life has also participated. Guess what? My friendship with them just got stronger; I have never called them traitors or betrayers as you came to that conclusion alone. We usually have very healthy conversations and discussions regarding issues we disagree with; we talk about the wrongs and rights and eventually both sides of the discussion learn something new from the other. I don’t know who called you a traitor Aziz, but that certainly isn’t my attitude.
      I am fine now just replying to your comment, but I am willing to write a post about it whenever I’m free, this topic is absolutely worth the discussion. It is also worth noting that my position on this issue is one of many different positions and it is based on one understanding. There are various opinions regarding this matter, and all are surely welcome to present their ideas.

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    43. AYLA

      looking forward to your post, Jalal.
      *
      I woke up this morning thinking: I’d like to live in a world where we all normalize with each other. not because the world is okay the way it is; precisely because it is not. The question is: which way to the same end of which we all dream?

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    44. Elias

      I was one of the Jews with kippahs on their heads, and I was very comfortable at the Doha Forum. However, I was frustrated that our Palestinian cousins​ could not link the end of the occupation with the end of the conflict. Anyway, it was very interesting to read your comments. Never I would have thought about the importance of this discussion.

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    45. yasmin eliaz

      thank you aziz for letting us, jewish from israel, to feel comfertable.. u are more than welcome to come over…

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    46. Wendy Wolfe

      I have been visiting several internet forums, informing myself on various subjects regarding Qatar. You see, my husband received a very lucrative job offer and we were contemplating moving there. We are both Canadian. He is white which doesn’t seem to be a problem. I, however, am a Jamaican Jew which, apparently is problematic for many. I speak fluent Arabic, Hebrew, French (and obviously English) and I am willing to accept, adhere to and embrace any civil and cultural requirements, in order to fit in and respect the people of Qatar. Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be good enough.

      In my country, I’m normal, in Qatar, I’m an outcast. Very disappointing.

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