Opinion

Qatari Money Can’t Buy Jewish Love

The world’s largest supporter of Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, has suffered what one insider termed a “spectacular failure” in a new high-profile effort to court the American Jewish community.  Despite the emirate’s profligacy, it now appears that Qatar’s plan succeeded in arranging meetings between Qatar’s emir and few, if any, major American Jewish leaders, even as Qatar endured a media beating.

Qatar is now more hated in Washington, DC, circles than ever.  Qatar has for years served as chief financier of Hamas and supported Al Qaeda elements while its Al Jazeera network has been an unabashed cheerleader for Islamic terrorism, broadcasting messages calling for the mass murder of Jews.  Yet the tiny but wealthy emirate had managed somehow to largely escape the scrutiny that its odious record richly deserves.

As previously discussed by this author in the Daily Caller, all that changed last month when Qatar hired Nicholas Muzin, Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) former deputy chief of staff, paying his firm Stonington Strategies $50,000 per month.  Qatar wanted Muzin to arrange meetings between American Jewish leaders and Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who visited America last week.  With Muzin, an Orthodox Jew who handled Cruz’s Jewish outreach, Qatari officials must have felt that they purchased at least the appearance of support from Jewish Republicans and perhaps even from the Senate’s most visible hawk himself.

What became the unforced error of Muzin’s contract could not have come at a worse time for Qatar.  Qatar is seeking relief from sanctions imposed by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  This Arab coalition is punishing Qatar for its growing alliance with Iran as well as support for numerous Muslim Brotherhood (MB) allies.  Qatar has given significant support to the MB and is the principal funder of the MB affiliate Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that rules the Gaza Strip.  Qatar also provides a megaphone to the MB’s spiritual guide, radical Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, on Al Jazeera.

Qaradawi has repeatedly used these broadcasts to promote the mass murder of Jews.  He has proclaimed that “Allah” used Adolf Hitler to wreak the Holocaust upon the Jews as “divine punishment” and praised him for “putting (Jews) in their place.”  Because in Qaradawi’s view everyone should emulate Hitler, Qaradawi has added that his dying wish would be to go to Israel, “even if in a wheelchair, (and) I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews.”

In a bid to undermine its neighbors’ criticism while maintaining support for jihad, Qatar brazenly sought political cover from American Jews, with Muzin spearheading the strategy.  Reports had emerged last summer of his consideration to become president of Yeshiva University in New York City.  Yeshiva quickly dismissed those rumors with a highly unusual statement saying that he “is not a candidate.”

The plan was cunning but simple.  Muzin would arrange “secret” meetings for the Qatari emir with various leaders of the Jewish community, then leak that a parade of Jewish leaders had been happy to meet with a monarch actively shunned by Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE.  As numerous Jewish leaders who spoke on background for this story noted, the meetings’ substance would be irrelevant.  The subtext would be loud and clear—complaints from neighboring Muslim nations that Qatar supports Islamic terrorism must be exaggerated if Jewish leaders seemingly did not object to consorting with the emirate.

Muzin’s efforts backfired, generating nothing for his new client other than contempt from his friends and colleagues in the Jewish community.  In fact, every single Jewish leader whose name Muzin dropped as having agreed to meet with the emir confirmed either on the record or on background that they rejected such meetings.  “Qatar would have been better off never spending a penny on Muzin and just working through normal diplomatic channels to request meetings,” noted a Jewish community leader active in pro-Israel circles.

Qatar’s engagement of Muzin generated unusual backlash, as criticism in the Daily Caller and elsewhere condemned his deal.  One Washington, DC, Zionist activist denounced Muzin to this author as a “prostitute.”  “In fact,” he noted of the Qataris, “the only thing that they managed to get, aside from fewer meetings, was a spate of bad press.”

A Republican operative who knows Muzin noted that “ironically, the PR hit they received last week was so bad that they would have been willing to spend much more than $50,000 to avoid it.”  Some meetings between the emir and Jewish leaders “may have happened, of course, but the fact that no one has been willing to admit having had a meeting is in and of itself very telling.”

Interestingly, sources contacted for this story revealed a consensus that the public relations disaster offers a glimmer of hope.  Qatar will have to move beyond mere cosmetic efforts to burnish the Gulf State’s damaged reputation and undertake substantive policy reforms.  “Qatar’s loss with Muzin’s failures will be society’s gain,” one Jewish leader concluded.

The sources indicated that Qatar needs to go beyond its knee-jerk answer of spending money to solve every problem.  In particular, the emirate should try refraining from spending money that they have already allotted by ending the contract with Muzin or paying him to go away.  Afterwards, Qatar should undertake some actual soul-searching and change its terror-funding ways in order to win back the good graces of its neighbors and the West.

Looking beyond Qatar’s public relations bruising due to Muzin’s clumsy tactics, Qatar’s only way out of stalemate with its neighbors is a change in Qatar’s grotesque behavior.  Obviously meaningful long-term changes are unlikely to happen overnight.  Yet even short-term moves like reducing aid to Hamas or Al Jazeera’s jihadist propaganda will be welcome news, and mean fewer innocent people dying because of Qatar’s blood money.