The Qatari newspaper Al-Watan on Monday published an image comparing Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, sparking outrage from expert monitors of anti-Semitism.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) first located and translated the article with the image. According to MEMRI, the image was posted as part of the paper's article titled "The Mask of Democracy Has Slipped."
"Qatari media is heavily censored and such extremist incitement would not be published without government approval," Ghanem Nuseibeh, chair of the Muslims Against Antisemitism NGO, told i24NEWS. "This is not the first or only instance the Qatari government has been peddling anti-Semitism, particularly in Arabic," he suggested.
"The Qatari government has a duty to stop this and instead focus on combatting extremism and helping the Palestinian cause through dialogue and constructive criticism," Nuseibeh added.
In its article, according to MEMRI, the Doha-based Al-Watan paper states: "This is Israel, the country that Western leaders present to their citizens over the media as an oasis of democracy in the Middle East. Since [Israel's] establishment, they have used this [Israeli] mask as an excuse to turn a blind eye to the occupation and to its illegal and inhuman actions. But now, the false mask of democracy has slipped, and even many in Israel admit this, in front of Tel Aviv's Western patrons."
"Cries of 'save us' are being heard, but this time they are not the cries of the Palestinians, who suffer from the occupation and from the silence of the Arabs and the international community," the article continues. "They are the cries of Israelis, who have discovered that their false democracy is [threatened by] the hammer of the extremist right and the fanatic settlers."
The U.S.-based Jewish human rights organization, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, took to Twitter to condemn Al-Watan's use of the Hitler image to attack Israel's leader.
"In the best tradition of the Nazis and other Jew-haters, Qatar continues its campaign to demonize Jews, in this case, the Prime Minister of Israel," the Wiesenthal Center tweeted.
"It should be noted that the image was originally published on February 3, 2023, by the news site arabicpost.net, as part of a different article by the same name, which condemned what it called the 'anti-democratic orientation of Netanyahu's current government'," MEMRI said. The website arabicpost.net was established in 2018 by Integral Media, a company founded by media figure Wadah Khanfar, formerly the director of Qatar's Al Jazeera network, the Institue noted.
Al Jazeera is the Qatari state-controlled media juggernaut that has a broad presence in a number of Arab countries, and Al-Watan – translated as "The Homeland" – is largely focused on Palestinian affairs and is a daily in the tiny oil-rich state of Qatar. According to BBC News, the Al-Watan outlet is a "privately-owned, pro-government daily."
In Qatar, "most media outlets are owned by the state, members of the royal family, or figures aligned with them. Most outlets take a pro-government stance. Journalists practice self-censorship, avoiding critical reporting on domestic and foreign affairs," BBC has said.
In May, Al-Watan's Palestinian columnist Samar Barghouti allegedly incited terror attacks against Israelis, according to MEMRI's translation.
"Hit [them] in the depth of the Jerusalem settlements, in Tel Aviv, and in all parts of the land they stole and whose people they expelled," Barghouti wrote, adding: "Hit [them], and may your hands be blessed. Even if you do not hurt a single one of them, it is enough to terrify them and sow fear among them."
Israel's Foreign Ministry strongly condemned Barghouti's commentary, saying the article called for "Palestinians to carry out terror attacks against Israelis. Such inflammatory rhetoric and glorification of violence are deeply disturbing and contribute to the perpetuation of the hatred and hostility in the region."
Barghouti also wrote: "Had there been someone to hit [them] inside the 1948 territories, the Apartheid State [Israel] would not have continued to exist on our soil to this very day. Had it not been for the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Accords, not a single Zionist would have remained in Palestine [today]."
Qatar's Foreign Ministry and embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to an i24NEWS request for comment, nor did Al-Watan.
Benjamin Weinthal, a Middle East Forum writing fellow, reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Follow him on Twitter at @BenWeinthal.