The first responsibility of us rabbis is to know the difference between right and wrong.
The news report in The Jerusalem Post that a group of prominent rabbis and Jewish leaders, led by Rabbi Menachem Genack, have traveled to Qatar to meet with the emir, the foremost funder of the Hamas terrorist organization, is shocking and heartbreaking.
Here you have the Qatar, largest funder of an organization dedicated to the annihilation of not just Israel but Jews wherever they are to be found, being whitewashed by Orthodox rabbis. And not just Orthodox rabbis, but the very head of the Orthodox Union’s global kashrut authority.
That’s pretty ironic.
You can kosher cheese and you can kosher steak. But how can you kosher the financing of terrorism? The first biblical rule of kosher food is that blood is not kosher (Leviticus 17:10-12).
How can rabbis in America condone the killing of Jews in Israel by meeting and legitimizing the government that pays for their murder? A few weeks ago I was invited to meet the emir by the man organizing the whitewashing effort. My organization responded with two full-page ads in The New York Times
declaring, “If Qatar Wants a PR Makeover, Stop Funding Terror.” On the bottom we added the headline: “Meeting with Qatar Condones Murder.”
Why? Because this is exactly what Qatar wants. To finance the slaughter of Jews without paying a price in international diplomacy.
Who would have thought that Orthodox Jews would be at the forefront of this effort? To clarify, Qatar isn’t just any Arab state.
It is, rather, the world’s number one funder of an organization dedicated not only to the annihilation of Israel, but to the murder of all Jews “wheresoever they may be found,” to quote Hamas’ founding charter. In 2012, Qatar pledged $400 million to the terrorist group. Apparently pleased to see Hamas had used this money to launch over 5,000 rockets at Israeli civilians, Qatar would ratchet up its commitment by promising another billion dollars to the blood-thirsty leadership of Gaza in 2014.
As if their Jew-hatred couldn’t be more clear, Qatar hosts not just the Hamas leadership, but the man who may be described as the world’s number-one antisemite: Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Qaradawi has praised Hitler for his slaughter of European Jews and prayed that Allah helps him finish the job. “Oh Allah,” he cried in a sermon, “take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people... count their numbers, and kill them down to the very last one!” Qatar didn’t just tolerate that kind of genocidal hate-speech, it actually broadcast it on its own Al Jazeera network.
I’m not saying Qatar should never be allowed to repent. If the emir of Qatar wants to be brought back into the community of nations, all he needs to do is announce the immediate cessation of all monies being sent to Hamas and repudiate its genocidal killers.
He should immediately expel Qaradawi and Hamas terror leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal, who have been granted sanctuary in Qatar.
And he should stop the daily demonization of Israel that takes place on Al Jazeera, a veritable glut of antisemitic poison designed to make the world hate the Jewish state. Until such steps are taken, Qatar cannot be allowed to whitewash its crimes.
This is not the first time Rabbi Genack and I have clashed over Israel. We live in the same community in New Jersey and I have always respected Rabbi Genack as a scholar and friend. Years ago I invited him to my home to meet my close friend Cory Booker, at the time mayor of Newark and now the junior senator from New Jersey. Cory had served as president of my Oxford student organization, the Oxford University L’Chaim Society, and regularly attended our Shabbat dinners in Englewood.
Later, when Cory shattered American Jewish hearts by voting for the Iran nuclear deal, amid Iran’s daily promises of a second Holocaust of the Jews, Rabbi Genack was one of the Jewish leaders instrumental in trying to protect Cory’s reputation in American Jewry and hold on to his quickly vanishing Jewish support.
This led to serious pain in my relationship with Rabbi Genack. It was just beginning to heal when I suddenly saw this shocking story about Qatar.
The Orthodox Union put out a statement that Rabbi Genack is in Qatar in a private capacity and that his actions do not reflect on the organization at all.
Sorry, that won’t cut it. You cannot have a top executive of the most prominent Orthodox Jewish organization in the United States playing global diplomat with anti-Jewish terrorism financiers and say that his actions have no reflection on his organization, where he occupies one of the most senior posts.
Protectors of Qatar, especially those who are on its payroll, are attempting to portray the isolation of Qatar as a Middle East power play and dispute with Saudi Arabia. They’re saying that the Saudis are just as bad, so why is Israel growing closer to them? Obviously, no one is saying that the Saudis are blameless, and indeed Saudi Arabia has a long way to go to so show that its current reforms actually bring about a moderate Islam that never again incites the faithful.
But Saudi Arabia is not funding Hamas. It is not financing the slaughter of Jews through a genocidal organization committed to Israel’s destruction. And it is not cozying up to Iran, which is both its as well as Israel’s archenemy.
The concept of kashrut is more than just an examination of body parts and mixing milk and meat. It communicates the vital idea of taking something as mundane as meat and elevating it to the realm of holiness. It conveys the human capacity to live a sacred life in accordance with God’s will.
Rabbis cannot – dare not – kosher countries like Qatar. The emir can only kosher himself by immediately ceasing all funding of terrorism against Jews.
No matter how much you package it, blood is never kosher.The author is the international best-selling author of 31 books, most recently The Israel Warrior. The winner of the London Times Preacher of the Year Award, he has been called by Newsweek “the most famous rabbi in America” and named by The Jerusalem Post as one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.