Why have a number of prominent Jewish leaders been meeting with leaders of Qatar in the oil-rich emirate that sponsors Al Jazeera, a chief supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, the major funder of Hamas, and home to some of the top leaders of the terrorist groups?
It’s a question being asked with increasing frequency of late, but the answers are hard to come by.
According to the New Jersy Jewish News, the government of Qatar hired Nick Muzin of the public relations firm Stonington Strategies “to strengthen” the emirate’s “relationship with the U.S. and build bridges to the Jewish community,” according to O’Dwyer’s report, an ad industry website. It noted that the firm is receiving $50,000 a month from the emirate.
We can understand why Qatar is seeking influential allies these days. It is facing a blockade from Saudi Arabia , as well as Bahrain , the UAE , and Egypt , pressuring the country to cuts its diplomatic and trade ties with Iran. The four Arab countries have severed relations with Qatar and demanded that it close down Al Jazeera and stop its support of the Muslim Brotherhood , Al Qaeda , Hamas , and Hezbollah.
Like many foreign leaders, those in Qatar believe that American Jews play an outsize role in determining policy in Washington. So Muzin, an observant Jew and Republican consultant who served as a senior adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), has been introducing Jewish leaders in New York to Qatari businessmen and offering free trips to Qatar for some leaders to meet with the emir, Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, and other top officials.
In his September speech at the United Nations, the emir blamed Israel for the lack of progress on the peace front, while several senior leaders of Hamas live in Qatar, which pledged $400 million to the terror group after the 2014 Gaza war.
Among those who have been hosted on separate trips to Doha are Martin Oliner, president of the Religious Zionists of America, and Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division.
Some who have gone say they believe in engagement, and welcomed the opportunity to hear from Qatar’s leaders, whom they note are fearful of the Saudis and interested in convincing Washington that they are a reliable ally. Jewish visitors have also expressed dismay at Qatar’s support for terror groups like Hamas.