NO HOLDS BARRED: An open letter to the emir of Qatar

I write because I care about whether or not you finance terrorism, especially against Israel.

QATAR’S EMIR Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attends Qatar’s National Day celebrations in Doha in December. (photo credit: QATAR NEWS AGENCY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
QATAR’S EMIR Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani attends Qatar’s National Day celebrations in Doha in December.
Dear Sheikh Tamim,
You have recently invested a fortune in a PR campaign aimed at the Jewish community in the United States in the hope of using Jewish influence to end the boycott of your country and stop its growing isolation, which threatens the very continuity of your regime.
Newspapers are filled with reports that you have hired an Orthodox Jew, Nick Muzin, of Stonington Strategies, and his partners, as agents of Qatar to promote your image among American Jews and lobby the US government. The talk in New York City for months has been of meetings offered with you and your brother, the crown prince. There is non-stop chatter of rabbis, writers and community leaders accepting free trips to Doha, which is big news because your regime funds Hamas which is responsible for an endless stream of funerals in Israel.
There is especially a great deal of talk of Qatar offering massive investment opportunities in the companies and deals run by influential Jews, all in an effort to curry influence and make friends.
Even you must be surprised at how successful the effort has been so far. Orthodox Jewish lobbyists agreeing to work on behalf of the foremost funder of Hamas, an organization dedicated to the annihilation of the Jewish people? Wow, you probably thought you’d be turned down. And when your hired agents went out to the community with promises of meetings with you, Hamas’ biggest funder, surely you were certain the invites would be declined. But no, community leaders are running to the Middle East to accept your hospitality and who knows what else.
I have to admit, this is all kind of embarrassing. Jews being prepared to accept money even if it undermines the security of Israel? I didn’t think it would happen. Jews being prepared to accept free trips from you that help scrub your reputation clean? I didn’t think there’d be takers.
Still, your efforts are going to fail, which is why I’m writing.
Not because I care about you wasting your money.
Indeed, many of the people taking it have told me better it go to them then to Hamas. You have no idea how they openly mock you.
Rather, I write because I care about whether or not you finance terrorism, especially against Israel. And your current efforts to buy the Jewish community, amid the current crop of what many consider sellouts, is going to hit a wall.
First, your calculation is based on the antisemitic premise that Jews are all-powerful and control America and the world. This is almost straight out of the Elders of Zion. The Jewish people taking your money must be laughing that you actually believe this, even as they cash your big fat checks. You seem to believe that Jewish businessmen are going to pull strings to get you back in and that showing the administration that a couple of Jewish leaders like you will mean you’re not so bad.
Now, it’s true that American Jews have some influence.
And it’s also true that some will help you improve your image for cash. But end your isolation across the Middle East or cause the American government to turn a blind eye to your support of Hamas and Iran? Are you kidding me? Don’t be fooled by the fact that some Jews have been willing to accept hefty retainer fees to lobby other Jews on your behalf. They are not your friends or allies. They are opportunists.
So how can you trust them? If they’re prepared to sell out their own people, just imagine how quickly they’ll turn on you. And who is to say that even now, as you continue to pay them a king’s ransom, they aren’t talking to your enemies and selling you out for an even larger sum? Once someone demonstrates that they have no allegiances, then they are fundamentally untrustworthy.
The same can be said of the Jews who have visited Qatar or agreed to do business deals with you. You may have made back-room deals with them, but this will also backfire.
Jews who have accepted payoffs without first demanding a change in your behavior have sold out Israel. And you should be wary of such amoral individuals because the only thing they’re loyal to is money.
But strangely enough, you can trust those who have criticized your policy and cannot be bought. I know men of your wealth, power and prestige are often surrounded by sycophants who are afraid to speak frankly out of fear of offending you and losing their access. Great leaders, however, respect people who speak honestly because their advice is often wise even if it is difficult to hear.
I am reminded of Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, author, Nobel Peace Prize laureate and human rights champion. He stood up to president Ronald Reagan and famously said it was necessary to speak truth to power.
While I do not presume to compare myself to Wiesel, I too believe in speaking truth to power and that is why I say to you, emir, it is time to halt funding for international terrorism, cease using Al Jazeera to incite the world against Israel, and stop supporting an Iranian regime that seeks hegemony in the Middle East and threatens Israel with genocide.
If you don’t stop, you will lose the support of the international community and there will be regime change in Qatar. I know that right now your family controls some $350 billion in Sovereign Wealth Funds and investments.
But if you’re toppled, you’ve lost it all.
Is Hamas worth it? Is paying for rockets against Jews worth it? What did my people do to you that are so hellbent on our destruction that you would risk your own? You can take significant steps to demonstrate that Qatar is on a path to transformation. Like your Saudi neighbors, you can turn away from Iran and be willing to condemn their sponsorship of terrorism against your fellow Muslims as well as others around the world.
You can command that Al Jazeera cease to demonize Israel and promote violence against the Israeli people. You can immediately ban the virulent Islamic extremist Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the world’s foremost Jew-haters, from the airwaves which you fund.
When it comes to terrorism, there are no half-measures.
You must cease all funding for Hamas until it renounces its charter goal of annihilating Israel. Please stop the silly lectures about how you are only funding construction in Gaza when everyone knows Hamas uses the money for tunnels and rockets. And you must expel the leaders of Hamas that you shelter, Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal. By doing so you would gain immediate credibility with the international community for being serious about cracking down on terrorism. The same is true were you to use your influence to release the four Israeli hostages Hamas holds. Surely, as a Muslim, you cannot condone the refusal of Hamas to return the bodies of the two dead hostages to their families.
Reopening the Israel trade office would be an especially positive move that would demonstrate to Israelis that Qatar is a country that wants to sow harmony in the Middle East. Qatar will also benefit directly from exposure to Israeli technological and other commercial innovations.
Your isolation is likely to only grow if you persist in your current policies. Those Jews who accepted junkets to Qatar did not bring your country the positive publicity you were no doubt promised by your PR agent. Even those who wrote positive articles about you barely got noticed. Rather, all it did is expose those people willing to be influenced with a free tip, for which we Jews are also grateful because we now know whose opinion on Qatar is suspect.
Look around the region at what has become of Islamic State, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi. Your wealth will not save you if the world, led by the United States, calls for regime change due to your obstinance.
I’m sure a first-class, all-expenses paid trip to Qatar or a large retainer as a consultant is something much appreciated by the people to whom you’ve offered it. But I have given you good advice at no charge. You must change and stop supporting terrorism. Period. You will be applauded for transforming your country, not through shallow and ineffective PR with people who take advantage of you, but through real changes in policy. The best part is that Qatar’s national interests will be served by concrete action. Real changes in policy and away from funding terrorism will enhance your security, your international standing, and your image in America, Israel and the Jewish community.
And your legacy would be one of peace and transformation rather than that of just another rich guy who decided to abuse his money paying others to kill people.
You and I both know you’re better than that.
Peace be with you.
The author, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the international best-selling author of 31 books including his most recent, The Israel Warrior’s Handbook. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.