Backtracking On Qatar


For many months we have wondered why a number of prominent American Jewish leaders were accepting trips to Qatar, one of the leading sponsors of anti-Israel activities, including providing support for the terror group Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Jazeera, the prominent media outlet in the Arab world that portrays Israel in the worst possible light (“Why Are Prominent Jewish Leaders Cozying Up With Qatar?” Editorial, Dec. 15).

Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, the Orthodox Union and the Religious Zionists of America were among those who have made the trip to the world’s wealthiest country and met with the Emir, Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, and other leaders. The rationale among the Jewish visitors, who also included Harvard law Professor Alan Dershowitz, was that they may be successful in convincing Qatar to change its ways. This past week, to his credit, Morton Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America, issued a lengthy statement stating that his mission in January had been in large part unsuccessful. He noted that since his return from Qatar, Al Jazeera “is still horrifically anti-Semitic,” Qatar continues to harbor the leaders of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and to support Iran and does not appear to have had success in obtaining the release of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers held by Hamas. Last week the emir hosted a Muslim Brotherhood preacher who authorized the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Klein said that so far he has not accepted an invitation to visit Qatar again, and that “after taking some steps forward” — namely, holding off the release of “a multi-part, anti-Semitic documentary about the U.S. ‘Israel lobby’” — “Qatar has taken some alarming steps backward.”

Also this week, two American Jews who played a key role in inviting leaders of the Jewish community to visit Qatar in the last year have curtailed their lucrative association with the country. Qatar, which has seen its ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates cut off as a result of its close relations with Iran, had hired Nick Muzin, a former adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), to engage American Jewish leaders in its efforts to improve its image and influence in the U.S. and help resolve the Persian Gulf diplomatic crisis.

Muzin, a Qatari agent operating out of Washington, D.C., is no longer working for Qatar. That’s true as well of Joey Allaham, the New York-based kosher restaurateur, who had encouraged Jewish leaders to visit. Changing his tune, he told Politico that “Qatar enjoys portraying themselves as the purveyor of peace in the region, but this could not be further from the truth.”

This should come as no surprise.