December 18, 2018

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How should Israel take advantage of its Arabic World Cup coverage?

From The Verdict (UK):

In a blow to rival Qatar, Israel has announced it will broadcast free coverage of the 2018 Fifa World Cup throughout the region.

Israel will give soccer fans from Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and the Palestinian West Bank territories, a free-pass to watch the Fifa World Cup tournament on Israeli Arabic channel Makan, meaning Qatar’s subscription broadcast monopoly is likely to suffer.

Football fans can now choose between paying for a subscription to watch the games on Qatari channel beIN Sports, or catching it for free on Israel’s dime.

Israel said they will offer a free Arabic broadcast and commentary of the games, after the Israeli Broadcasting Authority paid £5.6 million for the rights to broadcast the tournament.

Doha had previously said it had exclusive rights to broadcast this year’s Fifa World Cup on its beIN Sport channel, available to subscribers in the Middle East for a $45 fee.

Moran Zagar, an expert on Israel-Gulf relations, told Verdict that Israel is hoping to curry favour with football fans in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and with Palestinians:

It put Israel in an optimal position. Millions of people across the Arab World will be watching the games through Israel’s broadcasting in live stream. That’s a lot of power to deliver a hidden and direct message, and it might sway positive public opinion towards [Israel] within those communities.

She added that charging a Jordanian peasant the equivalent of their monthly salary to watch the games was “an own goal for Qatar”.

Israel would take that opportunity with both hands. Sports is always intertwined with politics and this event is no different.

I assume that companies can buy commercial time on the broadcast. It would be fun to see a Sodastream commercial in Arabic, showing Arab workers making the product, towards an audience that cannot buy it (except for Palestinians.)

But what I would like to see is a simple, two second clips of Israelis of all colors and backgrounds just saying “Shalom.”

And, during the broadcasts of games where Egypt is playing, having average Israelis saying “Good luck Egypt!” in Arabic.

I want to see the backlash from Arab media about how terrible it is to be forced to watch Israelis acting friendly and how it is brainwashing the minds of young Arabs who should properly be hating these people.

(Also, Israelis should might want to illegally broadcast the stream over the Internet, the way all sports broadcasts are, so that Arabs in other countries besides Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon can see this awful propaganda for themselves for free instead of paying the $45 to Qatar.)

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