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Israel Reveals Qatar’s Attempts at Rapprochement with US Jewish Lobby

Israel Reveals Qatar’s Attempts at Rapprochement with US Jewish Lobby

Wednesday, 31 January, 2018 - 10:00
A view shows buildings in Doha, Qatar. (Reuters)

The Israeli embassy in the United States voiced its rejection of Qatari official attempts to hold meetings with members of the Jewish lobby in the country.

The announcement was made amid media reports that American Jewish leaders had paid several visits to Doha.

"We oppose this outreach effort in the Jewish and pro-Israel community," said embassy spokesman Itai Bar Dov said according to the Israeli Haaretz daily on Wednesday.

He added that Qatar has been waging this campaign since mid-2017.

In mid-2017, Qatar began using the services of Nick Muzin, a Jewish-American public relations consultant, who had previously worked for Republican Senator Ted Cruz, reported Haaretz.

Muzin has arranged meetings between Qatar's senior leadership, including the country's Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and leading figures in the Jewish community.

The Qatari outreach effort has been particularly successful among right-wing parts of the community and has also included non-Jewish, right-wing supporters of Israel, such as former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee.

A number of those who had either visited Qatar or met with its leaders in the US claimed they had received blessing for their actions from Israeli officials. The embassy response to a question on this subject from Haaretz, made it clear that Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer had not expressed support for those meetings and visits.

"Anyone claiming that these trips received the ambassador's blessing is not saying the truth," the embassy spokesman said.

Since last summer, at least five leaders of Jewish-American organizations have visited Qatar and met with its leaders. On Monday, Haaretz revealed that Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, visited Qatar in early January.

Klein spent five days in the Emirate and met with the Emir and with other senior officials, despite the fact that just last year, he had publicly denounced Qatar for supporting terrorism and called on the Trump administration to ban its official airline, Qatar Airways, from operating in the US.

Malcolm Hoenlein, the vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, has also visited Qatar recently.

The visits by Jewish leaders to Qatar have been met with strong criticism from within the Jewish community. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, an Orthodox leader from New Jersey, published a number of articles criticizing the Jewish leaders who have gone to Qatar. One of them, published in November in Breitbart, carried the headline "Jewish Community for Sale to Qatar?"

Boteach wrote that "it has been dispiriting to watch how some in our community are seemingly up for sale. There has been no demand that before embracing Qatar they first stop funding Hamas terrorists. And those Jewish individuals hired by Qatar and accepting Qatari money are no doubt aware that their embrace will lessen the pressure on Qatar, which is currently experiencing a severe boycott because of its terror-funding activities.”

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