A map of Qatar is seen in this picture illustration June 5, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Qatar is clearly on a mission to win over Americans – particularly American Jews.
In the past few months, the Gulf nation has stepped up its PR efforts in the Jewish community, increasing its spending for a consultant from $50,000 per month to at least $300,000 per month as it continues to attempt to get into the good graces of US Jews. This is not money well invested.
This insulting effort comes from a nation whose support for Hamas and other terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, has led the more moderate Sunni nations of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to blockade it. As US President Donald Trump said in June, “Qatar unfortunately has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level,” and as the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently “criticized Qatar for having backed Hamas and hosting senior members of the militant group,” Qatar has an uninspiring record.
Yet on Tuesday, Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani boasted in a meeting with President Trump, “We do not and we will not tolerate people who fund terrorism. We’ve been cooperating with the United States of America to stop funding terrorism around the region.”
What a remarkable statement.
If that were the case, several terrorist organizations wouldn’t have been able to continue their operations – operations that are destabilizing the Middle East and target Israel. Qatar, let’s remember, is the nation that Ron Prosor, then Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, dubbed “Club Med for terrorists.” It harbored Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued a fatwa endorsing suicide attacks, and former Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
It is a nation that provides some $1.4 billion to Hamas, which rules Gaza, and offers a safe haven to the organization’s terrorist leaders.
Leaders, mind you, of an Iranian-backed group that both the US and the European Union have designated as a terrorist group.
And, it is a nation that supports a terrorist organization in Hamas that has murdered more than 500 Israeli civilians in suicide bombings, teaches its children to hate Jews, maintains a charter that calls for Israel’s annihilation, has fired more than 17,000 rockets into Israel since 2001 and is responsible for the death of numerous Americans.
Among the Israelis it has killed are Lt. Hadar Goldin, 23, and Sgt.
Oron Shaul, 20. The two were killed in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 2014 defensive war against Hamas. Goldin’s killing came just two hours after a cease-fire went into effect. Hamas has been holding the remains of both soldiers, hoping to use them as a horrific bargaining chip in a future prisoner exchange. Meanwhile, the Goldin and Shaul families face the anguish of not being able to bury their children.
Given its leading support for Hamas in Gaza, Qatar clearly has significant leverage over Hamas. If Qatar truly wants improved relations with American Jews, it should stop paying hundreds of thousands of dollars per month to a consultant to target our community. Instead, it should start with a goodwill humanitarian gesture to the Goldin and Shaul parents and get Hamas to return the remains of these two Israeli soldiers to their families for proper burial.
Human remains are not bargaining chips. If Qatar wants to join the family of nations, it should start by using its influence to release – unconditionally and immediately – the remains of these two young men.
And it’s time for President Trump and the White House to force Qatar to sever its ties with Hamas and all terrorist organizations.The author is executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington.