Qatari company prevents Fox Sports
from putting Israel on map

by HERB KEINON
September 11, 2014 – 9:00 P.M.

First Fox Sports – Middle East wiped Israel off the map, then — following complaints — they simply got rid of the entire map altogether.

The sports network broadcasts in Israel, and a weekly schedule can be found on-line, especially important for football fans interested in knowing what games will be broadcast on any given Sunday.

Up until Thursday morning, the web site had a “select your country” button that accessed a drop-down list of 23 countries in the Middle East, from Algeria, through KSA (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia), all the way down to Qatar and Yemen.

Israel did not appear, though “Palestine” did.

Following an inquiry to the Fox Broadcasting Network by The Jerusalem Post, the web site was changed on Thursday. However, instead of simply adding Israel to the drop-down list of countries, the list was done away with altogether, and now the games are listed according to Greenwich Mean Time.

Scott Grogin, the Fox Networks Group’s Senior Vice President for Communications said from Los Angeles that “Fox is not a political entity, we provide entertainment and sports programming.”

“In order to ensure that all our viewers across the region receive accurate information, we will be eliminating the pull down menu that lists countries and will provide listing in all venues in Greenwich Mean Time,” he said.

Fox Sports – Middle East, it emerges, is administered by a third party – beIN Sports, which is a global network of sports channels that is owned and operated by Qatari Sports Investments (QSI).

QSI, according to its own web site, was founded in 2005 as a 100% Qatari private shareholding company specializing in sports and leisure industries, with the goal of investing in profit-bearing projects within Qatar and internationally. BAYT, a leading Middle East jobs side, listed QSI as a joint venture between the State of Qatar and the Qatar National Olympic Committee.

What is obvious from the elimination of the drop down list of countries on Fox Sports – Middle East, is that the Qataris will go to absurd lengths to avoid listing Israel as a Middle East country.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said that the incident seems an “unfortunate surrender to economic interests with an anti-Israel ideological edge.”

Nahshon said that this issue is not as trivial as it might seem at first. “We are engaged in a long fight against people, organizations and interests who want to delegitimize Israel,” he said.

“Each small step adds up to a very large picture, and we have to be vigilant,” he said. “No fight is too small, because small steps against Israel have an incremental effect and leave the impression that there is something wrong and illegitimate with us.”

Nahshon said that the elimination of the drop-down list because of an unwillingness to list Israel illustrates a cut-your-own-nose-to-spite-your-face obsession with Israel, because it would be much easier for the consumers in each country to pull up their own schedule, rather than having to translate the times from GMT.

This incident, he said, reflected a very problematic state of mind.

Another diplomatic official said the incident raised questions about Qatar’s ability to host the 2022 World Cup, as is currently planned. If the Qataris were unable to even list Israel as a country in the Middle East, how will they be able to host an Israeli team if it “miraculously” qualifies for the premier soccer tournament, the official asked.

Fox News, which like Fox Sports is part of the Fox Broadcasting Company, is widely considered the most pro-Israel English-language news network outside of Israel.

Written requests for comment on the matter to the New England Patriots and New York Giants went unanswered.

The Patriots are owned by Robert Kraft, who has given generously to Israeli programs over the years, including to the Israel Football League and to build the Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem. And the Giants are owned in part by Steven Tisch, who served this year as president of the Tel Aviv International Student Film festival, and whose family sponsored the Tisch Family Zoological Gardens in Jerusalem.

Although neither team directly responded to requests for a comment about the episode, The Post has learned that the Giants immediately contacted the National Football league about the matter, which in turn turned to Fox.

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