Qatar tries the Jewish angle


A strange consequence of the anti-Semitic belief that Jews have undue influence in America is that countries who want to influence the U.S. government try to ingratiate themselves with American Jews, or somehow show support for Israel. This may be behind Qatar’s courting a number of prominent American Jews, as reported by Hannah Dreyfus and Dan Friedman in Mother Jones. The writers detail how a Qatari diplomat and a Jewish restauranteur in New York worked together to court “conservative Jewish Americans who viewed the Arab state located on the Persian Gulf coast as a threat to Israel.” By and large the effort worked. Prominent critics who branded Qatar as a state sponsor of terror included Mort Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America; attorney Alan Dershowitz; and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. According to the article, Joseph Allaham, owner of a now-defunct kosher restaurant empire that included the Prime Grill in Manhattan, worked with Nicholas Muzin, a Jewish, Washington-based lobbyist and one-time chief of staff for former U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), to introduce Qatari officials to influential Republicans. Allaham “offered them trips to Doha, where they could meet with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and other government officials,” Dreyfus and Friedman write. Those who accepted trips organized by Allaham or Muzin included Klein, Dershowitz, Hoenlein, Martin Oliner, the chairman of Religious Zionists of America, and Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s Kashruth Division, which oversees certification of thousands of kosher food facilities around the world. The quid pro quo for the trips is not clear. But a lobbyist for Qatar, who asked not to be identified, says Dershowitz’s presence in the White House the day the emir was there was seen as a boon for Qatar. (Dershowitz describes his overlap with al-Thani’s visit as a coincidence.) According to Klein, the Qatari government paid for his brief trip to Doha in December 2017. In a March interview, Klein praised Qatar for flying an Israeli flag at a recent sporting event and noted that on the trip, he brought 50 pages of demands, which included getting rid of anti-Semitic books sold at a Doha book fair and reducing alleged anti-Semitic programming on Al Jazeera. Klein maintained that the Qataris were following up on the emir’s promise to look into the issues he raised: “So far, their promises have been kept,” he said. “These things would not have happened if I had not gone to Qatar.” But last week, Klein abruptly changed his tune, and the ZOA issued a statement critical of Qatar, asserting Al Jazeera’s recent coverage of Israel and Gaza “has been despicably biased and incendiary” and slamming Qatar for holding a dinner honoring the Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi. So, it now appears that Qatar hasn’t really changed. Rather, what has changed is Klein’s and his fellow travelers’ relationship with the free-spending emirate.

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