Jewish Leaders Must Not Meet With Emir of Qatar — Whose Country Funds Hamas Terrorism
The emir of Qatar is coming to America, and he is bearing gifts.
As in years past, the emir will use the podium of the UN General Assembly to falsely present his extremist, terror-funding regime as one that is defined by balance and moderation.
This year’s visit, however, will present something of a novelty. Whereas the emir sought previously to con the world, this year he seems to be taking the bolder step of focusing on conning American Jewry.
If Qatar were to truly change its stance and stop funding international terror and using Al Jazeera to incite the world against Israel, we would be right to welcome their transformation. But in place of real change, they have chosen an artificial PR makeover. This year, the richest per-capita country on the planet will seek to soothe American Jews in much the same way that they engage almost all of their problems — with money.
As part of the emir’s attempt to end the isolation imposed on him for funding terror, Qatar has hired a Jewish PR and lobbying firm — and a succession of high-level meetings are being arranging between the emir and Jewish leaders during his visit to New York.
It seems incredible that Jewish leaders would meet with the leader of a country that finances the murder of Jews. That’s why my organization, the World Values Network, took out a full-page ad in the New York Times this weekend to condemn the PR effort, stating clearly, “Meeting with Qatar condones murder.”
Since there has been no substantive change in Qatar’s actions — nor its financing of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s moves are nothing but a halfhearted attempt to white-wash their notorious sponsorship of worldwide terrorism and antisemitism.
Qatar has emerged, in recent years, as the undisputed chief financier of Hamas, which is the foremost antisemitic terrorist organization in the world. Hamas is dedicated not only to the destruction of the state of Israel, but to the murder of world Jewry “whersoever they may be found,” to quote their founding charter.
In 2012, the previous Qatari emir pledged $400 million dollars to the Gaza-based terror group. His cynical efforts paid off. Just two years later, Hamas launched a war against Israel with a lavish arsenal of more than 5,000 rockets aimed at Israeli civilians. During the war, Hamas showcased a network of complex and deadly tunnel projects that were built to kidnap, murder and terrorize Israeli civilians and soldiers.
Though Hamas had clearly used Qatar’s funding to arm themselves with weapons of war, Qatar refused to repudiate or cut off the terror group. On the contrary, Qatar doubled down. Following the Gaza War of 2014, Qatar pledged $1 billion to Hamas.
Qatar has also offered asylum to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal since 2012. Furthermore, it has also offered him its state-run Al Jazeera network as a platform for his sermons. One of these recent speeches featured the humanistic gem that “before [the Israelis] die, they will experience humiliation and degradation every day.”
Ismail Haniyeh, Mashaal’s replacement as Hamas’ political chief, moved to the Qatari capital of Doha shortly after his election, and continues to reside there today. He was one of the only political leaders on earth to condemn the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, a man whom he lauded as an “Arab holy warrior.”
Al Jazeera has also proven itself as less a reliable news service, than as a conduit by which to introduce the most antisemitic rhetoric into the mainstream media. In a sermon aired by the network in 2009, Sheik Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi said, “Allah imposed Hitler upon the Jews to punish them.”
Earlier this month, Israel decided to shutter Al Jazeera’s operations in the country. Far more telling, however, is the fact that the United Arab Emirates’ Anwar Gargash defended the decision by the UAE and its allies in the Gulf to cut off Al Jazeera by claiming that the network is a platform for antisemitism and terrorist incitement.
Furthermore, Qatar’s funding doesn’t stop with Hamas.
Though it’s unclear whether they fund these groups directly, Qatar certainly harbors fundraising operations for the Taliban, al-Nusra Front, and ISIS — all of which are allowed to freely seek private donations within the emirate’s borders. There is also evidence of the Qatari royal family playing a role in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. According to a Congressional Research Service report, former Qatari Interior Minister Shaykh Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani personally sheltered Khalid Shiekh Mohammad, the mastermind of the attacks, and provided him with a Qatari passport to avoid capture following 9/11.
While he was alive, Shimon Peres said Qatar was “the world’s largest funder of terror.” And Israel’s former UN Ambassador Ron Prosor put it more pithily. In an op-ed for the New York Times, he called the Persian Gulf state a “Club-Med for Terrorists.”
No Jewish leader should agree to meet with a man who bankrolls the proliferation of such violent evil. If the emir wants a meeting, let him force Hamas to release the bodies of murdered IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, so that their families might finally pray at their graves.
Let him purge Al Jazeera of its antisemitic correspondents. Let him expel Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh, and send them to the ICC, where they should be tried for their use of Palestinian children as human shields and targeting of Israeli civilians, which even the left-leaning Amnesty International has determined to be war crimes.
When it comes to the revaluation of international and Jewish relations with Qatar, we must demand tangible signs of real, measurable change. Whether Qatar will take these steps is doubtful. But when it comes to Jewish leaders, we must show Qatar that money won’t do the trick.
Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is founder of the World Values Network and is the international best-selling author of 30 books, including “The Israel Warrior.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.