Qatar Goes After Pro-Israel Jews
It was the eve of Yom Kippur. I had just finished a public event in Los Angeles, when a story suddenly broke on Bloomberg News. It said that Qatar had targeted the personal email accounts of hundreds of American citizens, including both me and my wife, apparently to punish me for my criticism of the terror-funding Emirate.
Qatar allegedly orchestrated large-scale campaigns of cyber-warfare to be waged not only against hostile countries, but also against critics of the regime, including private American citizens. According to Eli Lake, who broke the story in Bloomberg, “The scale of the operation, as well as the targets, suggest this was a state operation.”
Though the hackers generally employed virtual private networks to mask their IP addresses, there were a few times when they did not. In such cases, the addresses all linked back to the same internet service provider, Ooredoo, which is majority-owned by Qatar.
More than 1,200 individuals were allegedly targeted, most of them, according to The New York Times, “well-known enemies of Qatar: senior officials of the U.A.E. and also of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Syria; American, British and Dutch commentators known for their criticism of Qatar; and two former employees of a Washington public affairs firm with U.A.E. ties … [and] outspoken critics of Qatar, including the American Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.”
These discoveries were all made by way of the ongoing litigation being waged against Qatar by Trump donor William Broidy. His personal email accounts were hacked and leaked to the Associated Press and The New York Times, who soon ran negative stories about him. Broidy sued both the nation of Qatar and their orthodox Jewish agent Nick Muzin, who took millions of dollars from Qatar in exchange for trying to influence Jews and Jewish organizations. The Wall Street Journal ran a deep-dive expose of Muzin and his partner’s efforts, titled, “Qatar Targeted 250 Trump Influencers to Change U.S. Policy.”
For the more hostile influencers, they resorted to outright intimidation.
According to The New York Times, Nick Muzin cryptically warned a former colleague who had become a critic of Qatar to “be very careful.”
Qatar is the principal funder of Hamas, which is sworn to the annihilation of the Jewish people. Many of the Jewish leaders who disgraced themselves by participating in the Qatari whitewash, and who traveled to Doha — some of whom were paid — have yet to express remorse for their actions or repudiate their participation in Qatar’s scheme.
The US authorities must thoroughly investigate this growing story, and expose whether Qatar sought to destroy its critics.
In the waning days of the 2014 Gaza war, I traveled to Israel to show support for the Jewish state in its existential battle against the Hamas terrorists. We attended memorial services for murdered IDF soldiers and walked through hospitals filled with dozens of young IDF soldiers who lay blinded, maimed, and disabled by a campaign of Hamas terror funded largely by Qatar.
I’ve also witnessed the incessant, bitter, and virulent antisemitism broadcast across the world by Qatar’s state-funded news agency Al Jazeera. And yet when I dared to speak out against Qatar, a Chabad Rabbi on a prestigious campus who is a close friend to Muzin warned me by email, “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 supporters] may not be able to bail you out of this one.” Did he know what Qatar was planning?
The United States must take very seriously the growing and dangerous threat of state-sponsored hacking, especially any efforts directed against private citizens and critics of terrorism.
Just this past Saturday, the Netherlands announced that it had caught four Russian hackers red-handed inside a car parked beside the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague, trying to hack into the Wi-Fi. This came just hours after the US Department of Justice announced sweeping indictments against seven officers of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency. The charges described in extraordinary detail how these men had used cyber-attacks to target top Olympic athletes, anti-doping organizations, and chemical weapons monitors probing Russia’s alleged use of these weapons in Syria.
At last, the Qatari whitewash campaign is finally coming undone. With a string of subpoenas, Broidy’s lawyers have managed to extract a horde of damaging information laying out just how far Qatar had gone to manipulate and even buy off American Jewish leaders. They’d handed out large donations to right-wing Jewish organizations and even paid pro-settlement fundraisers to work outright on their behalf. They also arranged luxury trips to the emirate for the American Jewish community’s top brass. Some of these leaders even invited members of the Qatari royal family to their children’s weddings, all while Qatar continued to fund Hamas and spew antisemitic bile through Al Jazeera.
As the smoke finally begins to clear, we in the Jewish community are overdue for a reckoning of what transpired. This debacle has left us increasingly confounded with questions. It’s time we finally received answers.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America,” is founder of The World Values Network, a leading organization defending Israel in global media. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.