It’s Time for Jewish Leaders to Stop Legitimizing Qatar
Just as Israel is battling Iranian aerial encroachment from Syria and Iranian expansion across the Middle East, more and more Jewish leaders and businessmen are disgracing themselves by traveling to Iran’s close ally Qatar. Is the allure of a $350 billion sovereign wealth fund just too much to resist?
Last week, I received a threat from a Chabad rabbi, warning me to stop writing criticisms of Jewish leaders who visit and whitewash Qatar. He wrote: “[I] highly suggest you tread very carefully. You may be opening yourself up to a point of no return. This may get very expensive for you and even [your rich friends] may not be able to bail you out of this one.”
The rabbi in question had already published a column admitting that he, too, had embarrassed himself by agreeing to meet the Emir of Qatar — a leader that this rabbi admits is “the head of a country that funds Hamas, a terrorist organization that seeks the destruction of the State of Israel, had founded Al Jazeera,” etc. Nevertheless, he noted that he attended a meeting with the Emir and “was pleasantly surprised.”
The Israeli government, it turns out, was not as pleased.
In a blunt statement to Haaretz, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington said: “We oppose this outreach effort in the Jewish and pro-Israel community.” The spokesman then added, “Anyone claiming that these trips received the ambassador’s blessing is not saying the truth.”
Pretty harsh words — to basically call all those who have been hiding behind the excuse of “I’m-meeting-the-Emir-because-Israel-asked-me-to” a bunch of manipulators.
The bigger question is how an official representative of Chabad met openly with the foremost funder of Hamas. How was he not reprimanded by the leaders of the movement — Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky and Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky? After all, the Rebbe was famously and vociferously opposed to any and all Jewish figures granting legitimacy to Arab leaders who had Jewish blood on their hands. He castigated even great heroes like Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir for meeting with Arab leaders who had threatened Israel.
The Rebbe mourned every Jew murdered by Arab terrorists. He would have been appalled that one of his emissaries publicly crowed about meeting the Arab leader who has stood behind so much of the murder and mayhem of Hamas.
And it gets worse.
I believe that while Jewish PR mogul Nick Muzin was soliciting the “Qatari Quintet” of Jewish leaders — Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, who upon his return from Doha invited the Emir’s brother to his daughter’s wedding; Jack Rosen, of the American Jewish Congress; Rabbi Menachem Genack of the Orthodox Union, who is allegedly returning to Qatar; Martin Oliner of the Religious Zionists of America; and Alan Dershowitz, who upon his return publicly compared Qatar to Israel — Qatar might actually have been secretly filming these leaders.
In fact, my friend Mort Klein of the Zionist Organization of America — who himself decided to accept a trip from the Emir — provided important and valuable information about the meetings. In an interview with Seth Frantzman of the Jerusalem Post, Mort revealed that the Emir had actually asked him to lobby American lawmakers:
The Qataris did ask [Klein] to meet with members of Congress. Klein says he won’t do that until there is real change. A junior official even hinted that a meeting could be arranged with Hamas’ Khaled Mashaal.
Doesn’t this sound like a set-up? The foremost funder of Hamas asks the head of a renowned pro-Israel organization, in the privacy of his palace, to become his lobbyist to Congress — and, in addition, to meet with the very head of Hamas, who has been granted sanctuary in Qatar.
Thanks to Mort, we learned other important things. The Emir is also a liar. He told Mort that the trip would be kept secret, but Qatar leaked it anyway. And why wouldn’t they, since it’s critical to their propaganda efforts to show that Jewish leaders are prepared to undertake, as Mort put it, “an exhausting 13-hour plane ride each way” just to meet the Emir.
Not surprisingly, the Emir also lied to Mort about Qatar’s support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Qatar has no intention of changing its policies that threaten American interests and undermine our values. The only concession that the Emir agreed to was to get rid of antisemitic books at the Doha book fair. That’s nice, but it doesn’t come close to stop funding terror or curbing the Emir’s alliance with genocidal Iran.
It’s time for Jewish leaders to stop legitimizing Qatar.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America” is the international best-selling author of 31 books including his most recent, The Israel Warrior. For tickets to The Champions of Jewish Values Awards Gala on March 8, go to www.thisworldgala.com.