INN spoke with the spokesperson for the delegation helping Israeli visitors in the Arab country
By: Yoni Kempinski
The 2022 World Cup kicked off in Qatar on Thursday, in a special interview with Israel National News, Alon Lavi, the spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s delegation to the tournament, discussed the delegation’s job in the Arab country which has no official ties to the Jewish state.
Lavi opens by pointing out the historic fact that an Israeli plane landed in Qatar, “There will likely be problems, even basic ones, from lost travel documents and medical issues to more complex problems. Therefore there is a need for a consular delegation that can assist. Therefore in the agreement between Israel, Qatar, and FIFA, we found a solution by having a consular team in Qatar that can assist.”
Lavi says that there is a cooperation between the Israeli team and the hosts and that all sides understand the importance of the Israeli delegation.
Lavi mentions the campaign which was run by the Foreign Ministry and the Sports Ministry, together with the Israel Football Association and the Airports Authority, titled “A Safe World Cup”, which provides simple instructions and phone numbers in case of an emergency. “We have to remember that we are guests in a traditional Arab country that has no diplomatic ties with Israel, and therefore, if you always need to act properly overseas, here you have to be more careful to avoid friction, and make sure to follow the rules regarding alcohol and drug use, behave properly, and do anything that is required to do so.”
This is Lavi’s first time in Qatar and he admits that it is different for him. “In Latin America saying that you’re from Israel is a good way to start a conversation. Here, you have to be more careful, and not just for security reasons. People are marching with Qatari flags, there are delegations from Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey, and other nations that won’t all be happy to see that we’re from Israel.
It’s very interesting to meet people from all over the world. 85% of Qatar are foreigners who aren’t Qataris, they’re from Pakistan, North Africa, Syria, and so on, it’s interesting to ride an elevator with a worker who came from Tunisia, Pakistan, or Afghanistan. In the meantime everything seems fine, we need to pay attention to these things.”
According to Lavi, following the rules which were published by the Bureau for Counter Terrorism will provide protection from different security risks. “You have to think, but in the end, these people are here to enjoy soccer. You have to remember that the Qataris will do everything so the games go peacefully.”
Authorities in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar are prohibiting Jewish visitors from purchasing cooked kosher food or organizing prayer groups during their stay in the country for the World Cup, leading Jewish groups to accuse Doha of reneging on its promise to protect the religious rights of sports fans during the World Cup.
Qatar has no diplomatic relations with Israel, but as a condition of its hosting the World Cup, FIFA mandated that Qatar not bar fans based on their nationality.