In the week before the World Cup kicked off in Qatar, 21 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip after a deadly house fire broke out during a family event.
Among the victims were mothers and grandmothers who were trying to protect their children from the flames. The conflagration spread rapidly after a faulty generator ignited the gasoline reserves the family used during blackouts in Gaza, which lacked power, leaving family members with little chance of survival.
Hosting the World Cup in Qatar has cost the Gulf nation between $220-240 billion. Housing projects for the two million Palestinian residents of the Palestinian enclave, along with two additional power plants, would have cost $10 billion, just 4% of what Qatar spent on eight stadiums, hotels and public transport infrastructure that likely They will turn into white elephants after the games are over. up in a month.
Not a single Palestinian construction worker found employment on these projects, and not out of fear of terrorism, but because the Qatari authorities did not want to flaunt the enormous costs of hosting the world’s biggest football spectacle in front of the Palestinians.
The World Cup extravaganza symbolizes the death of the little interest other Arab and Muslim nations had in the fate of the Palestinians over the past two decades. This lightning rod for attention will go down in Middle Eastern history as the clearest sign that the oil-rich Arab countries are turning their backs on their Palestinian brethren.
Energy prices have skyrocketed as a result of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. According to estimates by the International Monetary Fund, Arab countries’ revenues from oil and gas production and exports are expected to rise from $3 billion to $5 trillion in 2022 and 2023.
Its revenue is expected to increase by $2 billion in one year and $4 billion in two years. A fraction of that would be enough to stabilize daily life in Gaza, provide quality healthcare and education systems, as well as ensure electricity and water infrastructure for millions of Palestinians in Gaza. This will not happen, of course. The Arab oil and gas barons will hang on to this windfall or spend it on opulent vain projects.
They justify their unforgivable egotism with the laughable excuse that such aid to the Palestinians is tantamount to meddling in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in favor of the Jewish state. The hypocrisy in this statement reeks to the skies.
Those spendthrifts should visit Gaza’s refugee camps and tell their residents that they are not willing to help them because the perpetuation of their destitution, neglect and misery is the Arab world’s best card against the “occupying Zionists”.
Try to tell the Palestinian people that the absence of aid is part of a clever political scheme to help them politically. Try explaining to them why they build museums, shopping malls and stadiums to the tune of billions of dollars every year in their own countries, but they won’t build hospitals, sports centers and kindergartens for Palestinian children for a fraction of that, which is mere pocket change for you. You won’t convince any of them.
And after all that, FIFA President Gianni Infantino comes out with a long-winded self-righteous and hypocritical speech, riddled with historical inaccuracies, in which he demanded that the activists who criticized the Qatari authorities for their abuse of migrant workers apologize to the leaders of the host country.
Why? Tell me please. Because he believes that the Europeans have persecuted the Arabs for 3,000 years. What kind of history books did Mr. Infantino read, if any?
But when it comes to apologizing, Europeans should first apologize to the Jews, whom the FIFA president forgot to mention, followed by Native Americans and Australia’s Aborigines.
FIFA should apologize to soccer fans for its error in judgment in holding the World Cup under the scorching sun of a small, gas-rich, undemocratic nation that lacks a local soccer culture.
The Qatari leadership, seeing their ostentatious improvidence, should also apologize to the Palestinians, starting with the victims of the house fire in Gaza.