The emir of Qatar is coming to America.
This year he is bearing gifts.
As in years past he will use the podium of the UN General Assembly to present his extremist, terrorism-funding regime as one defined by balance and moderation. This year’s visit, however, will present something of a novelty.
Whereas the emir sought previously to con the world, this year he seems to be taking the bolder step of focusing on conning American Jewry.
If Qatar were to truly change its stance and stop funding international terrorism and using Al Jazeera to incite the world against Israel we would be right to welcome the transformation. But in place of real change it has chosen an artificial PR makeover. The richest per-capita country on the planet will engage its issues with American Jews in much the same way as it engages almost all of its problems – with money.
As part of the emir’s attempt to end the isolation imposed on him by the Trump administration for funding terrorism, the emir hired a Jewish PR and lobbying group. A succession of high-level meetings are being arranging between the emir and Jewish leaders during his visit to New York.
If it seems incredible that Jewish leaders would meet with the leader of a country who finances the murder of Jews, that’s because it is. Which is why our organization, The World Values Network, took out a full-page ad in this weekend’s New York Times to condemn the PR effort and state clearly that “Meeting with Qatar Condones Murder.”
Since there has been no substantive change in Qatar’s actions, and its financing of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s moves are nothing but a half-hearted attempt to whitewash its notorious sponsorship of worldwide terrorism and antisemitism.
Qatar has emerged in recent years as the undisputed chief financier of Hamas, the foremost antisemitic terrorist organization in the world – one dedicated not only to the destruction of the State of Israel but to the murder of world Jewry “wheresoever they may be found,” to quote its founding charter.
In 2012, the former Qatari emir pledged $400 million to the Gaza-based terrorist group. His cynical efforts seemed to have paid off. Just two years later, Hamas would launch a war against Israel with a lavish arsenal of over 5,000 rockets, aimed at Israeli civilians. In the 2014 Gaza war Hamas showcased a network of complex and deadly tunnel projects built to kidnap, murder and terrorize Israeli civilians and soldiers. Though Hamas had clearly used Qatar’s funding to stock itself with weapons, the emirate would not repudiate or cut off the terrorist group. On the contrary, Qatar would double down. Following the Gaza war of 2014, Qatar would pledge $1 billion to the blood-cartel of Gaza.
Qatar has also offered asylum to Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal since 2012. It has also offered him its state-run Al Jazeera as a platform for his sermons, one of which, airing just a few years ago, offered the humanistic gem that “before [the Israelis] die, they will experience humiliation and degradation every day.” Ismail Haniyeh, Mashaal’s replacement as Hamas political chief, moved to the Qatari capital, Doha, shortly after his election and continues to reside there today. He was one of the only political leaders on earth to condemn the assassination of Osama bin Laden, a man he lauded as an “Arab holy warrior.”
Al Jazeera has also proven itself less a reliable news service than a conduit by which to introduce the most antisemitic rhetoric into the mainstream media. In a sermon aired by the network in 2009, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi said that “Allah imposed Hitler upon the Jews to punish them.” He went on to offer a prayer that “Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”
Earlier this month, Israel decided to shutter Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel.
Far more telling is the fact that even the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates, Anwar Gargash, defended the decision by his country and others to cut off the network, adding that it served as a platform for antisemitism and terrorism incitement.
Qatar’s funding doesn’t stop at Hamas.
Though it’s unclear whether it funds these groups directly, Qatar certainly harbors fundraising operations for the Taliban, al-Nusra and Islamic State – all of which are allowed to freely seek private donations within the emirate’s borders.
There is also evidence of the Qatari royal family playing a role in the worst terrorist attack of all time, which we’ll be commemorating this week. According to a Congressional Research Service report, former Qatari interior minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al Thani personally sheltered Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, and provided him with a Qatari passport to avoid capture following 9/11.
Shimon Peres said that Qatar represents “the world’s largest funder of terror.” Israel’s former UN ambassador Ron Prosor put it more pithily. In an op-ed for The New York Times he called the Persian Gulf state a “Club Med for terrorists.”
No Jewish leader should agree to meet a man who bankrolls the proliferation of such violent evil. If the emir wants a meeting, let him force Hamas to release the bodies of murdered IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, so that their families might finally pray at their graves.
Let him purge Al Jazeera of its antisemitic correspondents. Let him expel Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh, and send them to the ICC where they should be tried for their use of Palestinian children as human shields and for targeting Israeli civilians, which even the left-leaning Amnesty International have determined to be war crimes.
When it comes to the revaluation of international and Jewish relations with Qatar, we must demand tangible signs of real, measurable change. Whether they’ll take these steps is doubtful. But what must be certain is that, with regard to Jewish leaders, money just won’t do the trick.The writer, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is founder of The World Values Network and the international best-selling author of 30 books. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.