A former Ted Cruz operative is cashing $50,000 monthly checks from Qatar to set up meetings between Qatar’s leaders and the heads of American Jewish groups. The Republican influence-peddler is hoping to whitewash Qatar’s extensive history of enabling terrorism funding and its use of its state-run Al Jazeera network to lionize extremists in support of vicious attacks on both America and Israel. Talk about chutzpah.
Qatar’s emir begins his American visit on September 12, when he is slated to address the United Nations. Acting as his representative, Sen. Cruz’s former Deputy Chief of Staff Nick Muzin has been calling leaders from a variety of Jewish organizations asking them to meet with the Emir this week. His role in Cruz’s office included outreach to the Jewish community.
Muzin is getting paid handsomely to help advance the interests of the largest financier of Hamas, which is responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis and dozens of Americans. Stonington Strategies, wholly owned by Muzin, boasted to O’Dwyers PR News that it signed a contract with Qatar for $50,000 per month. He also plays on his supposedly close friendship with Sen. Cruz by providing a photo, which appears near the top of the O’Dwyers story, showing Muzin and Cruz embracing in casual clothes. The intended message is clear: Qatar has retained Sen. Cruz’s “guy,” meaning that they must be moderate if their representative is so close with one of the strongest defenders of Israel in the Senate—or in all of politics.
Muzin, an Orthodox Jew, is the classic Washington insider-turned-lobbyist. In addition to Senators Cruz (R-Texas) and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina), he also worked for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) at the House Republican Conference.
Money aside, most of Muzin’s friends and professional acquaintances contacted for this story say that they cannot understand why he took Qatar as a client. A source who would not speak on the record for fear of damaging his friendship with Muzin noted that Qatar is the largest global supporter of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. Additionally, currently “Qatar is on the ropes, literally being boycotted by their neighbors for supporting Islamic terrorism, including for backing Hamas terrorism against Israel.”
As Qatar reels from sanctions imposed by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates for Qatar’s support for Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, it is losing the public relations war in Washington as well as in Arab capitals. Persuading Jews to help whitewash Qatar’s recent history may well prove to be Mission Impossible. The Gulf State bastion of the Muslim Brotherhood movement has a well-documented history of supporting genocidal designs against Israel’s Jewish state.
Then again, in an era where headlines matter more than the actual stories, the fact that Jewish leaders will meet with Qatar’s Emir may be the entire point of the meetings. This would especially contrast with the refusal of their Arab neighbors to engage in discussions right now.
Perhaps that is why some Jewish leaders like Zionist Organization of America National President Morton Klein have been cool to Muzin’s proposals. In a phone interview, Klein rejected any meeting with the emir proposed by Muzin, saying that such a meeting would only serve to “moderate” or improve the image of Qatar even as it continues to run the “Nazi-like” Al Jazeera television network.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, rejected any specific meeting scheduled by Muzin with Qatar’s unelected ruler. He did this despite the fact the Conference regularly meets with other Arab and Muslim leaders.
According to multiple Jewish leaders who spoke with him, Muzin has also told them the names of other Jewish leaders that he claimed had agreed to meet with the Emir in order to persuade them to “also” have such a meeting. Among the names that Muzin dropped were Ron Lauder, the wealthy pro-Israel philanthropist and leader of the World Jewish Congress, and American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) CEO Howard Kohr. Neither Lauder nor Kohr returned calls for comment.
Muzin, himself, refused to comment, texting “I don’t speak to press.”
Some Jewish leaders have warned their colleagues from embracing Qatar. “Half-a-million-dollars a year to court American Jews is chump change—and we Jews are the chumps if we buy any of it,” states Steve Rabinowitz, a Washington, DC-based political consultant working with Qatari opposition. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has condemned Qatar’s “artificial PR makeover. The richest per-capita country on the planet will engage its issues with American Jews in much the same way as it engages almost all of its problems—with money.”
A Jewish community leader active in pro-Israel politics said, “My fellow Jews probably have noble intentions” in wanting to meet with Qatar’s Emir. Yet they are unaware of how Qatar “might use the very fact that ‘Jewish leaders’ had meetings with them to undermine the efforts of UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt to align with the U.S. and against Iran.”
Even supposedly secret meetings are easily leaked. “The Qataris are a TV network that masquerade as a nation-state,” the community leader said, noting that Qatar’s Al Jazeera “is the single largest megaphone in the entire Arab world.” In fact, most of the Jewish leaders contacted for this story, few of whom would comment on the record, did not believe Muzin’s assurances to them that the meetings would stay secret.
Another Jewish leader commented that his peers would do well to remember the 1983 photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. At the time Rumsfeld had been out of government service for years when President Ronald Reagan asked him to be an envoy to Iraq. Yet the photo would come back to haunt Rumsfeld, even though history suggests that he did little to help the dictator. America’s Jewish leaders may come to regret appearing in similar fashion as providing political cover or legitimacy for Hamas’ Qatari financiers.