As President Donald Trump hosted Qatar’s Emir Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani at the White House on Tuesday, American Jewish leaders cautioned that any warming of relations between Washington, DC and Doha should not overlook the emirate’s ongoing financial support for Palestinian terrorism, along with its promotion of virulently anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda.
“The President should hold Qatar accountable for the destabilizing role it is currently playing in the Middle East,” Betty Ehrenberg, the Executive Director of World Jewish Congress’s North American section, told The Algemeiner.
Ehrenberg highlighted the role played by the Qatari broadcaster, Al Jazeera, in “providing platforms to those who justify terrorist attacks against Israelis and American soldiers.” A similar concern was expressed by David Weinberg – the Anti-Defamation League’s Washington Representative for International Affairs – who pointed out that Qatar’s “state TV and state-controlled Grand Mosque have broadcast Friday sermons this past year telling Muslims that Jews are ‘your deceitful, lying, treacherous, fornicating, intransigent enemy,’ and claiming that Jews are ‘dangerous,’ ‘defiling’ the Temple Mount, and aided by Satan.”
Weinberg also noted that several Sunni extremist preachers continue to deliver sermons at the mosque in Qatar’s “Education City,” a development funded by the government’s semi-official Qatar Foundation housing the six American universities – Virginia Commonwealth, Cornell, Georgetown, Northwestern, Carnegie Mellon, and Texas A&M – with campuses in the emirate.
Among the group was Saudi preacher Tareq al-Hawas, who implored God in one sermon to “kill the Zionists completely,” as well as Omar Abdelkafi, an Egyptian who described the January 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris as “the sequel to the comedy film of 9/11,” and Mohammed al-Arefe – another Saudi – who explained that the “will to shed blood, smash skulls, and chop off body parts…constitute an honor for the believer.”
The rabbi who delivered the blessing at Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 called on the President to remember that “Qatar has supported and hosted Hamas and its leaders, whose raison d’être is nothing less than the destruction of Israel and western civilization.”
Trump “should reject the Qatari argument that they are supporting the Palestinians, when in fact their assistance enables Hamas leaders to dig tunnels, stockpile rockets, and place millions of women and children in harm’s way,” Rabbi Marvin Hier – the Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center – told The Algemeiner.
“The time has come for Qatar to end its dance on both sides of the aisle and to make a decision,” Hier continued. “Schools and hospitals or tunnels and rockets.”
The ADL’s Weinberg criticized Qatar’s broader record of support for terrorist groups alongside Hamas. “Qatar’s newly updated public list of banned terrorist entities is so inadequate that it doesn’t even include al-Qaeda or most of ISIS,” he observed. Over the last decade, these groups – as well as others including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban and Jabhat al-Nusra – have received billions of dollars in funding from Qatari sources.
Weinberg argued that Qatar should “face consequences for its continued championing of Hamas, whose genocidal intentions are all too clear.”
“There’s no excuse for a US-allied government like Qatar sponsoring Jew-hatred,” Weinberg emphasized.
The WJC’s Ehrenberg added that the US should insist that Qatar use its influence with Hamas to secure the return of Israeli hostages currently held captive by the terrorist group in Gaza – a prospect dangled in September 2017 by US-based lobbyists for Qatar, tasked with improving the emirate’s image among American Jews, that remains unfulfilled.
“President Trump should demand that Qatar prevail upon Hamas to return the Israeli MIA’s they are holding hostage,” Ehrenberg said. “Namely Avera Mengistu, a disabled Ethiopian Israeli they have been holding for three years with no word to Israel or to his parents, and the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were kidnapped and brutally murdered by Hamas during a declared ceasefire in the 2014 war with Gaza.”
One of the handful of American Jewish leaders to have traveled to Qatar as part of the emirate’s outreach effort agreed that Qatar needed to “do much more” to end its support for terrorism and antisemitic incitement.
Morton Klein – President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA – nonetheless praised the emirate for having “taken some important steps in the right direction.” Specifically, Klein cited the removal of antisemitic titles from the Doha Book Fair and the apparent cancellation by Al Jazeera of a purported TV exposé of the “American Jewish lobby” that was due to have been shown in April.
In a statement on Tuesday, Klein additionally spoke of “an encouraging step this week,” in the form of ex-Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani’s tweet that “Israelis have a right to live in their land in peace and safety.”
“Former PM Hamad Al Thani wrote this in Arabic, which added to its significance,” Klein said. “ZOA hopes the Emir and other Qatari officials will also acknowledge and publicly state this simple but long Arab-avoided truth.”
In his public appearance with Emir Al Thani on Wednesday, Trump acclaimed his guest as “a gentleman…who buys a lot of equipment from us, a lot of purchases in the United States, and a lot of military airplanes, missiles – lots of different things.”
Trump referred to Arab Gulf countries that “are stopping the funding of terrorism, and that includes UAE, it includes Saudi Arabia, it includes Qatar and others.” Since June 2017, Qatar has been the target of an embargo imposed by Saudi Arabia and its allies in retaliation for the emirate’s alignment with Iran and its funding of Shia and Sunni terrorist organizations.
For his part, the Emir assured Trump that “we do not and we will not tolerate with people who fund terrorism.”
“We’ve been cooperating with the United States of America to stop funding terrorism around the region,” Emir Al Thani said.
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