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June 13, 2019 7:38 am

Why Does the Trump Administration Want to Give American Weapons to Antisemitic Governments?

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow / JNS.org

Opinion

US President Donald Trump meets with the Emir of Qatar during their bilateral meeting on May 21, 2017, at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Photo: Official White House Photo/Shealah Craighead.

JNS.orgAt a time when violence against Jews is on the rise around the world, should the United States provide advanced weapons to a government that actively promotes antisemitism?

That’s the question we need to consider as the Senate debates Joint Resolution 26, which would block the Trump administration’s plan to provide Qatar with 24 attack helicopters, 2,500 Hellfire missiles, and other sophisticated military hardware.

Qatar is the world’s leading financier of the Hamas terrorists. Qatari money pays for the missiles that Hamas fires at kindergartens in Sderot. It sponsors the flaming kites and incendiary balloons that have destroyed thousands of acres of Israeli forests and farm land in the nation’s south.

Qatar also assists other anti-American terrorist groups. According to The New York Times, Qatar provides groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban with “safe haven, diplomatic mediation, financial aid and, in certain instances, weapons.”

As a result, numerous Arab countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar and closed their air space and shipping lanes to Qatari air and sea traffic.

For those reasons alone, American Jewish organizations should be actively lobbying to prevent arms going to Qatar. But it is also important to consider the fact that Qatar is one of the leading purveyors of antisemitism in the world today.

The government of Qatar finances the Al Jazeera international media network. According to the Anti-Defamation League, Al Jazeera has “a troubling record of providing a platform to all manner of virulent anti-Israel and even antisemitic extremists and of serving as a propaganda tool against the State of Israel.”

The recent international book fair in Qatar’s capital, Doha, featured books such as The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers and Lies Spread by the Jews, and an Arabic-language translation of Awakening to Jewish Influence in the United States of America by white-supremacist leader David Duke.

According to the ADL, Qatari government-controlled media outlets regularly publish editorial cartoons that “blatantly demonize Jews” and “cross the line from legitimate criticism of Israel or its policies into overt anti-Semitism. … These cartoons draw on the worst kind of anti-Semitic themes and give them new life, including conspiracy theories of Jewish world domination; blood libels; the association of Zionism with Nazism; the demonization and dehumanization of Israel and Jews; the invocation of William Shakespeare’s Shylock; and the use of stereotypical medieval Jewish imagery.”

A study by MEMRI found that the textbooks used in Qatari schools “feature anti-Semitic motifs, presenting Jews as treacherous, dishonest and crafty, and at the same time as weak, wretched and cowardly.”

One of the assignments in the books requires students “to compare the Jews’ attitude toward the Muslims in the time of Muhammad and their attitude toward the Muslims today, in light of the material learned in the lesson. The students are apparently expected to infer that the traits ascribed to the Jews in the chapter — treachery, cowardice, etc. — are also applicable to the Jews today.”

At a time when the murders in Pittsburgh and Poway are still fresh in our memories, when Jews are being violently assaulted in the streets of Brooklyn, and when hate groups are on the rise at home and abroad, what kind of message will it send if the United States provides weapons to a government that actively promotes antisemitism?

I am troubled that American Jewish and Zionist organizations have not spoken out against the proposed arms sales to Qatar. I hope their silence has nothing to do with the visits that some leaders of Jewish organizations made to Qatar not long ago, or the hefty donations that Qatar has made in and off the Beltway.

This is not a time for Jewish silence. The Jewish community needs to unite around the principle of “No Weapons for Antisemites!”

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terror.

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