On March 8 The World Values Network will be posthumously awarding the Elie Wiesel Prize – chosen and presented by Marion and Elisha Wiesel – to Yonatan Netanyahu and Taylor Force, two heroes who defended liberty and were murdered by terrorists. Yonatan Netanyahu is arguably Israel’s most revered military hero. Taylor Force was a West Point graduate who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and was murdered in Tel Aviv by a Palestinian terrorist on March 8, 2016. The award being presented at the Plaza hotel at our WVN gala will occur two years to the day since his murder and will be received by his parents.
Congress is now considering The Taylor Force Act to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority for paying large stipends to terrorists. In the same way that we hold Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accountable for funding terrorism, we should be no more tolerant of the emir of Qatar’s payments to Hamas, which allow Hamas to engage in acts of terrorism against Israel and Americans.
Prominent pro-Israel American Jews who accepted junkets to Qatar have persisted in suggesting they went to Doha with the Israeli government’s approval. Ambassador Ron Dermer shot down this argument months ago in an interview with Forbes magazine, then followed up with a statement from his embassy to Haaretz just weeks ago: “We oppose this outreach effort in the Jewish and pro-Israel community... Anyone claiming that these trips received the ambassador’s blessing is not saying the truth.”
Now the prime minister himself has stated his objections to the amateur diplomats giving legitimacy to Israel’s enemies.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his remarks to the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations last Wednesday in Jerusalem. It was notable because they were made in the presence of Conference head Malcolm Hoenlein, one of the people who went secretly to Qatar and met with the emir. Netanyahu said:
“So, Iran is the most destructive force in the Middle East, and all the other forces understand this and there’s a natural banding together, because there are constructed [sic] forces in the region. I think engaging them is very important. I think you’ve just seen some of those constructive forces in your visit to the Gulf, and by the way, I’m definitely not talking about Qatar, but I am talking about the place where you just visited and many others. They want a better future for their people. They do not support terrorist groups like Hamas. They do want to engage with the positive forces to block Iran’s aggression. And I have to be very clear about that.”
Netanyahu made clear that he believes the UAE is a constructive force in the region and Qatar is not, and that he rejects the embarrassing visits there, because the emir supports terrorist groups such as Hamas and is engaging with rather than isolating Israel’s principal enemy, Iran.
It’s also worth reminding Alan Dershowitz, who came back from his all-expense paid visit to Doha defending Qatar’s propaganda service, Al Jazeera, that a few months ago Netanyahu sought to ban the network from Israel because it was inciting violence in Jerusalem. Dershowitz subsequently defamed Israel in the pages of The Hill by comparing Israel, a righteous democracy, to Qatar’s terror- funding autocracy.
The extent to which some of the Jews who have gone to Qatar have acted against the interests and expressed wishes of the government of Israel has taken on mafia-like overtones. A Chabad rabbi from a prominent campus, who – despite the Rebbe’s famous opposition to legitimizing Arab leaders with Jewish blood on their hands – publicly bragged about meeting the emir, threatened me, saying I should “tread very carefully.” He warned, “This may get very expensive for you and even [your rich friends] may not be able to bail you out of this one.” This is just one of several threats I have received from people associated with Qatar for condemning Jewish legitimization of the emir. They are mistaken if they believe they can silence me.
While Nick Muzin, Qatar’s $300,000-a-month PR agent, was soliciting the “Qatari Sextet” of Jewish leaders – Malcolm Hoenlein, Jack Rosen of the AJC; Rabbi Menachem Genack of the OU; Martin Oliner; Mort Klein of the ZOA, and Alan Dershowitz – Al Jazeera was engaging in espionage by planting an intern to secretly film and gather dirt on pro-Israel organizations in the US.
We also know from a lengthy and damning expose on Muzin’s efforts in Tablet magazine that Al Jazeera has now sent letters to the individuals caught on camera giving them three weeks to respond. This state-sponsored espionage has sparked a bipartisan effort in Congress, led by Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Lee Zeldin of New York, to force Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent.
Now, if Qatar was secretly filming Jewish activists in Washington, does it not stand to reason that they did the same with Jewish leaders visiting Doha?
Mort Klein has already revealed in The Jerusalem Post that the emir asked him to lobby American lawmakers and offered to arrange a meeting for him with Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal. Red flag, anyone?
Dershowitz naively listened to Qatar’s lies during his junket to Doha and, rather than call them out, his response was to call for an investigation. I now agree with Alan on the need to investigate Qatar, but not for its well-documented involvement in financing terrorism, collaborating with the genocidal regime in Iran, and incitement against Israel through Al Jazeera. No, we need a serious congressional investigation into Qatar’s duplicity and the targeting of American citizens by Al Jazeera. Here are the questions that need to be answered:
• Does Al Jazeera – entirely funded by Qatar – sending spies to compromise American pro-Israel activists qualify it as a foreign agent?
• Is Al Jazeera trying to paint American Jews as unpatriotic or engaged in wrongdoing by exercising their constitutional right to petition their government to strengthen US-Israel ties?
• The emir appears to hold the antisemitic view that Jews have so much power they can convince the US government to help end the blockade imposed by Qatar’s neighbors. Is the Al Jazeera documentary designed to present evidence that Jews are indeed influential, but only through nefarious activities?
• Reportedly, Nick Muzin’s firm was given a raise, from a $50,000 monthly retainer to a whopping $300,000. What was the reason for the dramatic increase?
These are serious questions that need answers as Jews are clearly being targeted, both as potential dupes for the emir and as a group the emir wishes to demonize.
American interests are at risk. Qatar is lobbying our government to ignore its involvement in terrorism. It is undermining our interest in Israeli-Palestinian peace by at least indirectly bankrolling Hamas’s war against Israel. It is threatening some of our Arab allies by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. It is inciting antagonism toward our ally Israel. And it is undercutting the administration’s efforts to isolate and weaken Iran by allying with the mullahs.
Congress must investigate these attacks on our democracy and our interests, and action must be taken to protect both.
As for the Jews who were seduced by Muzin and his partners – identified in Tablet – it is time for them to repudiate the false pretense that they are acting with the approval of Israel when its prime minister has now publicly them directly to their faces. By doing so they will help to reunify the pro-Israel community in the US, which has been torn apart by this shameful and destructive Qatar whitewash.The author, “America’s rabbi,” whom
The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America” is the author of The Israel Warrior. Tickets to the WVN gala on 8 March are available at www.thisworldgala.com.