Over the past year, we’ve watched as the shameful campaign to whitewash Qatar – one comprised of, and aimed at, prominent American Jews – grew, spread and corrupted. Over the past few weeks, we are witnessing its rapid implosion. On Friday, the Zionist Organization of America announced that they will be returning $100,000 of Qatari money which was received through a middleman. The ZOA maintains they did not know the money came from the Emir. The other ostensibly pro-Israel organizations and individuals who were disclosed in FARA filings of having received large amounts of Qatari cash have not yet disclosed whether they will be returning the money to the Hamas-funding government. There can be no question that they must return these ill-gotten gains if their credibility is to be maintained. Better yet, they should give the money to Israeli victims of Hamas terrorism.
When I first heard that Qatar had hired a PR firm owned by two Orthodox Jews to lobby influential right-wing, pro-Israel American Jews, I reacted with disbelief.
Sure, Qatar faced a crippling blockade and there was no question as to how much they’d spend for US President Donald Trump’s sympathy in the dispute. But at the same time, this was the country that had bankrolled genocidal Hamas’ onslaught against the Jewish state, pledging $400 million to the terrorist group before its 2014 war against Israel, and then another $1 billion after. Qatar had offered refuge and legitimacy to Hamas’ terrorist leaders, providing them with both a safe haven and an international platform in its capital of Doha. Qatar’s state-run media outlet Al Jazeera engages in incessant anti-Israel incitement and crude antisemitism, with its Arabic service airing sermons calling for a second Holocaust and its English service launching unending broadsides against the Jewish state.
Could the Emir really be so foolish and cynical as to believe that he could make pro-Israel activists – and right-wing Jewish leaders at that – “forget” his countless and continuing offenses? Would any pro-Israel leader really fall for this canard?
It would soon become clear, however, that the Emir was no fool and Jewish leaders could be duped.
Almost immediately, reports began to pile in of key Jewish figures embarking on all-expense-paid junkets to Doha, among them the heads of the Conference of Presidents, the Orthodox Union Kashrut Division, the Religious Zionists of America, and the ZOA. One prominent pro-Israel activist went so far as to pen an op-ed in which he called Qatar “the Israel of the Gulf States.”
The World Values Network condemned the Qatari charm offensive from the outset, even taking out two full-page ads in The New York Times
stating, “If Qatar Wants a PR Makeover, Stop Funding Terror.” The ad concluded by stating, “Meeting with Qatar Condones Murder.” The Jewish community could not lend legitimacy to such a staunch enemy of Israel without real, concrete concessions. Our words were not hostile but reasonable. Still we found ourselves under vicious attack by yet more Jewish leaders who had met with the Emir. One prominent Chabad rabbi on campus resorted to threatening me. “I suggest you tread very carefully,” he wrote in an email, “or you may approach the point of no return… Even [your most influential friends] won’t be able to bail you out of this one.”
As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one. According to The New York Times
, Nick Muzin, the Orthodox-Jewish Qatari lobbyist behind the campaign, allegedly told another of his critics to “be very careful” with his words, lest he find himself “in danger.” Muzin, whose reputation has suffered catastrophic and arguably irreversible damage, is now on the defensive against extremely serious allegations of defaming Qatar’s critics.
These shocking developments spurred widespread suspicions that hefty donations and investments were being made to Jewish organizations and their donors. These concerns felt all the more justified recently when news broke that the otherwise hawkish and pro-Israel activist, Dr. Joseph Frager, vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, filed as a foreign agent of Qatar, admitting that he’d been paid $50,000.
The crusade for Jewish support, however, could only go so far. As with anything built upon lies and deception, collapse was inevitable.
Two weeks ago, Muzin suddenly announced that he’d ceased his work for the Emirate. His partner, Joey Allaham, also called it quits. Allaham, to his credit, repudiated the nation that allegedly paid his firm over three million dollars in the past 10 months, stating that although “Qatar enjoys portraying themselves as the purveyor of peace in the region… this could not be further from the truth.” Allaham registered as a Qatari agent and revealed in his filings that he paid out large amounts of Qatari cash to various pro-Israel charities.
THESE SUDDEN moves are, in all likelihood, connected with the recent lawsuit launched by Republican fundraiser Elliot Broidy against the nation of Qatar — and Nick Muzin. Broidy’s lawsuit claims that Muzin actively assisted in the circulation of compromising information stolen from his personal email server by Qatari-commissioned hackers. The release of the illegally obtained emails to the Associated Press and New York Times
represents a truly frightening episode of alleged digital espionage and political sabotage against a private American citizen, and, according to the New York Times
, has caught the attention of the FBI, which has launched an investigation. Last week, the judge overseeing the case demanded that Allaham hand over any information relating to his work for Qatar and set a deposition for last week – a crucial victory that might just have ignited Allaham’s sudden rift with the Emirate.
In all, the shameful Qatari whitewash effort represents a major trial of the American Jewish leadership. We had here a nation with an astronomical GDP of $150 billion coupled with a small populace of only 300,000 citizens, conditions that have allowed it to amass a sovereign wealth fund worth more than $350b. It’s an incalculable fortune that they’ve used to buy properties like fashion-giant Valentino, The Paris Saint-Germain football club, a major stake in the Empire State Building, and even Heathrow Airport – to name just a few. But when these assets proved worthless in disrupting a multi-national blockade, Qatar decided to turn from the business of buying things to the shady trade of allegedly buying people.
Therein lay the test: whether or not Jewish leaders would allow themselves to be ensnared into this devious scheme. It’s hard to say we didn’t fail.
We must now work to undo the damage done. The first step must be the repudiation of Qatar by any and all Jewish leaders who’ve been taken in. I believe strongly that these Jewish leaders must be forgiven for their errors, which I trust were made with a purity of heart.
But they must repent of their actions. They must come forward, admit to any funds received from Qatar – even indirectly – and write statements expressing the truth about the Qatari Emir, a man who plates Hamas in gold, peddles antisemitism through Al Jazeera on international airwaves, and offers political and financial support to the Hitler-mimicking mullahs of Iran.
Mort Klein of the ZOA has already courageously taken this crucial step, issuing a statement condemning Qatar for its evils and taking responsibility for any role he played in adding to their legitimacy. The other Jewish leaders who were duped by Qatar should follow suit.
As we witness the disintegration of these pro-Qatari efforts, the Jewish community must now rise and brush off the dust from this unsavory affair.
I return to the clear message we propagated in our full-page New York Times
ad. If Qatar wants a PR makeover, attempting to manipulate Jewish leaders, or buy the Jewish community, is not the way. Rather, stop funding Hamas and the Muslim brotherhood, expel terrorist leaders from Doha, cease Al Jazeera’s incitement against Israel and distance Qatar from Iran. Only then – through action rather than PR – can Qatar be said to have joined the ranks of civilized nations.The writer, “America’s Rabbi,” whom
the Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America” is the international best-selling author of 32 books, including
The Israel Warrior, and is the founder of “The World Values Network.” Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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