Some stories are stranger than fiction.
The day after Christmas, Bloomberg News published an article titled “New York Hot Dog Rabbi to Make Qatar Kosher for World Cup.”
A few questions immediately presented themselves.
First, who was this mysterious “Hot Dog Rabbi?” Second, why would any rabbi want to be known by that moniker? Third, hadn’t we had enough of Jewish leaders humiliating themselves by cozying up to Qatar, especially with the sordid stories of how much money had allegedly changed hands? And finally, why would any rabbi be koshering them?
The story got even stranger. At the bottom there was a disclaimer: “An earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled the rabbi’s given name.” Are you serious? Who was the hot dog rabbi that had rushed out a story with Bloomberg so quickly that he had gone against the first rule of journalism that you should at least get your name spelled right?
I was then startled when I read it was my good friend Rabbi Marc Schneier of the Hamptons Synagogue.
In the summer of 2014 I was present as a scholar in residence in the Hamptons when I witnessed Marc raise more than $1 million for Israel as it battled the Hamas terrorists in the third Gaza war, which was started after Hamas terrorists murdered three Israeli teens in cold blood. Hamas fired hundreds of rockets against Israeli cities and murdered 67 soldiers. And the biggest funder of Hamas? Qatar. The same country that till today unapologetically grants refuge to Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh. The same Qatar that owns and operates Al Jazeera, an overflowing fount of Israel hatred and antisemitic bigotry. And the same Qatar that is the closest Gulf ally of Iran.
Why on earth would Schneier be setting up kosher hot dog stands for Qatar at the World Cup?
It was bad enough when Rabbi Menachem Genack, head of the Orthodox Union’s Kosher Division, mysteriously traveled to Qatar without any explanation. We would later discover that his visit was arranged by Orthodox Jewish lobbyist Nick Muzin, who was paid millions to use Jewish leaders to scrub Qatar clean of its well-documented support for Hamas terrorism against Israel.
But where did this bizarre story with the Hamptons Synagogue come from?
The kicker was the prominent picture in the middle of the piece of Schneier actually presenting an award to the Qatari head of the World Cup, Hassan al-Thawadi. Yes, an award.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Another story on Ynetnews reported that this same man, “Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy... met with US Rabbi Marc Schneier... and asked him to serve as an adviser with regards to matters relating to hosting Jewish sports fans who will attend the matches.”
Said Schneier, “This is an exceptional development that attests to the sensitivity that the Qataris show toward Israelis and the Jewish world.... I responded to the request with joy.”
Now, it’s debatable whether funding Hamas – whose covenant calls for the annihilation of Israel and the murder of the Jewish people wherever they may be found – constitutes any particular “sensitivity” toward Israelis and Jews, kosher hot dogs aside.
Oddly, the Bloomberg story said that Thawadi would not confirm anything that Schneier said about Israelis being welcomed at the World Cup, and as the law currently stands they are barred by Qatari law.
Which begs this simple question: We know that Schneier is a good man, very devoted to Israel, and he has built an impressive and wonderful community in the Hamptons. But is he being used?
IS THIS story any different from all the other changes we were promised about Qatar by Jewish leaders silly enough to travel there that never materialized, like Qatar pressuring Hamas to release the bodies of Israeli soldiers, that sadly turned out to be balderdash?
Zionist Organization of America head Morton Klein traveled to Qatar last year and said that he had persuaded the emir to remove antisemitic books from the Qatar book fair. As the ZOA press release put it, “Klein’s meetings in Qatar also resulted, after a two-hour meeting with the emir in his palace, in Qatar agreeing to remove antisemitic books from the Doha book fair.” But this past December 4, the ADL reported that “blatantly antisemitic books are being promoted by the state-run book fair this week in Doha, Qatar, according to Anti-Defamation League’s experts in Arabic language. These antisemitic titles include Lies Spread by the Jews and The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers.
The ADL wrote to William Grant, the US chief of mission at the American Embassy in Qatar, “asking that he leverage the embassy’s participation in the book fair to urge the Qatari government to stop promoting such hateful content.”
The US Embassy did not dispute the charge. Indeed Grant “indicated he and his advisers took immediate action in response to ADL’s letter of concern” and “visited booths at the book fair to identify the antisemitic materials flagged by ADL.... The Qatari government subsequently withdrew certain antisemitic titles from the book fair and issued a circular to participants indicating that intolerant books were not permitted.”
I have no doubt that the ZOA, which later returned a $100,000 donation made through a registered Qatari agent, may have meant well. But it was lied to, as were all the other Jewish leaders whom Nick Muzin brought to Doha as he raked in millions of dollars.
BEYOND THE issue of Israel and Qatar’s steadfast support of Hamas terrorism, there is the ethical – and not just the Jewish – question of whether anyone should be attending the Qatari World Cup, and whether making it easier for Jews to travel there by offering kosher food is indeed virtuous.
CruxNow.com, a leading publication covering the Catholic world, published a May 2018 headline titled, “Pope scolds FIFA for slave labor in Qatar.” The article tells the tragic story of how nearly 2,000 migrant workers are alleged to have already died in near slave-like conditions building Qatar’s World Cup stadiums.
A papal charity called Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes presented the pope with a devastating critique of Qatar’s abuse of the workers and the staggering number of dead. “We gave him this report, and due to our encounter and the reading of the material, His Holiness sent a letter to the president of FIFA [Fédération Internationale de Football Association] through Scholas, asking for an explanation of these allegations.... We know that some 2,000 migrants have died in the construction of the tournament’s facilities already.” The Papal Foundation added, “The situation of the World Cup Qatar 2022 is very particular...” given the “sheer number of forced migrants there, which led the country “to legalize modern slavery through a system.”
To date, FIFA has not even responded to the pope’s letter.
Now, just think about that. While the Pope is leveraging his moral standing to speak up for thousands of workers dying in the Qatari desert heat under near slave-like conditions to make ready the World Cup, New York rabbis are running to make sure that Jews, overlooking Qatar’s support of terrorism, can have sauerkraut and relish on their hot dogs at the World Cup.
I have paid a significant price over the past two years fighting Qatar’s attempt to whitewash its support of terrorism. I have been viciously attacked by many of the Jewish leaders who participated in the whitewash and who traveled to Doha. And Bloomberg News and The New York Times have now reported that Qatar may have hacked me and my wife, a serious allegation that demands an investigation.
But I have no doubt that these efforts, along with those who participated and profited, will be defeated. Because you can only try to kosher the nonkosher for so long before it is exposed.
The writer, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 30 books, including his most recent, The Israel Warrior. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.
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