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February 27, 2018 10:39 am

Netanyahu Rebukes Jews Who Whitewash Qatar

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

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Doha, Qatar. Photo: StellarD via Wikimedia Commons.

Next week, my organization will present posthumous awards to Yoni Netanyahu and Taylor Force, two heroes who defended liberty and were murdered by terrorists. Yoni is arguably Israel’s most revered military hero. Taylor Force was a West Point graduate who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and was murdered in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist on March 8, 2016.

Congress is now considering The Taylor Force Act, which would cut aid to the Palestinian Authority for its policy of paying large stipends to terrorists. In the same way that we hold Mahmoud Abbas accountable for funding terror, we should also hold the emir of Qatar responsible for his government’s payments to Hamas, which allow the terror group to engage in attacks against Israelis and Americans.

Prominent pro-Israel American Jews who accepted junkets to Qatar have persisted in suggesting that they went to Doha with the Israeli government’s approval. But Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer shot down this argument months ago in an interview with Forbes, then followed up with a statement to Haaretz just weeks ago: “We oppose this outreach effort in the Jewish and pro-Israel community… Anyone claiming that these trips received the ambassador’s blessing is not saying the truth.”

Now Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also objected to the visits. Netanyahu made his remarks to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations last Wednesday in Jerusalem. It was notable because he spoke in front of Conference head Malcolm Hoenlein, one of the people who went secretly to Qatar and met with the emir.

Netanyahu said:

So, Iran is the most destructive force in the Middle East, and all the other forces understand this and there’s a natural banding together, because there are constructed [sic] forces in the region. I think engaging them is very important. I think you’ve just seen some of those constructive forces in your visit to the Gulf, and by the way, I’m definitely not talking about Qatar, but I am talking about the place where you just visited and many others. They want a better future for their people. They do not support terrorist groups like Hamas. They do want to engage with the positive forces to block Iran’s aggression. And I have to be very clear about that.

I’ve added the emphasis, which made clear that he believes that the UAE is a constructive force in the region — and that Qatar is not. Why? Because the emir supports terrorist groups such as Hamas, and is engaging with Israel’s principal enemy, Iran.

It’s also worth reminding Alan Dershowitz — who took a trip to Qatar and now defends the country’s Al Jazeera network — that Netanyahu recently sought to ban the network from Israel because it was inciting violence. Dershowitz subsequently defamed Israel in the pages of The Hill by comparing Israel, a righteous democracy, to Qatar’s terror-funding autocracy.

Mort Klein has already revealed in The Jerusalem Post that the emir asked him to lobby American lawmakers — and offered to arrange a meeting for him with Hamas’ Khaled Mashaal. Red flag, anyone?

Dershowitz naively listened to Qatar’s lies during his junket to Doha, and — rather than call them out — his response was to call for an investigation.

I now agree with Alan on the need to investigate Qatar, but not for its well-documented involvement in financing terror, collaborating with the genocidal regime in Iran, and incitement against Israel through Al Jazeera. No, we need a serious congressional investigation into Qatar’s duplicity and the targeting of American citizens by Al Jazeera.

These are serious questions here that need answers — as Jews are clearly being targeted, both as potential dupes for the emir, and as a group that Qatar wants to demonize.

American interests are at risk. Qatar is lobbying our government to ignore its involvement in terror. It is undermining our interest in Israeli-Palestinian peace by at least indirectly bankrolling Hamas’ war against Israel. It is threatening some of our Arab allies by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. It is inciting antagonism towards our ally, Israel. And it is undercutting the Trump administration’s efforts to isolate and weaken Iran by allying with the mullahs.

Congress must investigate these attacks on our democracy and our interests, and action must be taken to protect both.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America” is the author of “The Israel Warrior.” Tickets to the WVN Gala on 8 March are available at www.thisworldgala.com.

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