Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement due to numerous press inquiries we have received and misinformation being spread claiming that Morton Klein will be meeting with the Emir and Crown Prince of Qatar:
Last week, I received an invitation to meet with his Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the pro-Hamas Emir of the State of Qatar, and a separate meeting with the Crown Prince during the week when they will be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly sessions. I was promised this meeting would be highly confidential yet false rumors and narratives about this have proliferated in many quarters. I have decided not to accept this invitation.
In recent years, the Zionist Organization of America has strongly criticized Qatar’s support for Hamas and Islamic terrorism and its TV station Al-Jazeera for promoting hatred and violence against Jews and Israel. ZOA has condemned Qatar for their monstrous activities. In October 2012, the then-Emir of Qatar-Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (the current Emir’s father) – pledged $400 million to Hamas-controlled Gaza — more than Hamas’s entire annual budget. Such funds paid for Hamas rockets and sophisticated terror tunnels that led to the bloody 2014 Gaza war. ZOA condemned Qatar for providing bases of operations and sanctuary to top Hamas leaders, and urged that Qatar expel Hamas officials as other Arab nations have done, and that Qatar should demand that Hamas release Israelis Hamas has kidnapped as well as the bodies of Israelis. We condemned Qatar’s funding of anti-Israel U.S. think tanks and PR operations. (For instance, Qatar financed a U.S. operation to malign Israel when Turkish terrorists attacked the Israeli inspectors who came aboard the Mavi Marmara to search for weapons.) We’ve condemned Qatar for facilitating talks between Hamas and Fatah leaders to “counter Israel.”
In response to Qatar’s material support for designated foreign terrorist organizations, ZOA has asked the U.S. State Department to designate Qatar a state sponsor of terrorism; asked the current and previous U.S. State Department to suspend Qatar Airways’ FAA license to operate in the United States; proposed that cultural and educational institutions should be required to suspend their programs in Qatar, and recommended that the U.S. build up its bases in Bahrain and/or other GCC nations to enable the U.S. to leave the U.S. al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
That notwithstanding, I and my colleagues and supporters reflected on whether a meeting would be of value because Qatar was not always an enemy. In the latter 1990s Qatar and Israel had trade relations and trade offices. Years ago, I, personally, along with other heads of Jewish groups, travelled to Doha, Qatar to meet with the Emir and other officials. I can still remember the time when Qatar was not funding Hamas terrorists dedicated to murdering every Jew.
The Emir of Qatar now funds Islamic terrorists who aim to murder Jews, Americans, Christians and even fellow Muslims. He, his brother, and the rest of Qatar’s leaders are collectively the world’s foremost purveyor of Islamist propaganda and the most important strategic ally for the Iranian theocracy that wishes to wipe Israel off the map.
Rather than change any of those monstrous and evil actions, Qatar may be trying to create the optical illusion of Jewish support to moderate their image by hiring a well-connected PR firm and by having “secret” meetings with Jewish leaders – which of course won’t be a secret, as the whole reason for the meetings may be for the Qataris to point to them as evidence that the “Jews” (and thus Israel) don’t view them as enemies.
This has been Qatar’s M.O. – they pretend that change is afoot with slick statements or supposed “overhauls” to political charters. They did it this spring with Hamas, and previously did so with al Qaeda affiliate Nusra front. Both terror organizations are as bloodthirsty and evil as ever, yet both enjoyed a bit of a PR makeover supplied by Qatar.
These meetings were likely a PR event to trick the world into believing that they were reforming and changing their hideous behavior. We should only talk to enemies who make it crystal clear they no longer want to be our enemies. And they must earn our engagement by first demonstrating through their actions a commitment to change, otherwise we risk being props who help them avoid having to undergo any such change.
Qatar is feeling the pain of being ostracized by its fellow Arab Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt – all American allies who are fighting Iran and broke off ties with Qatar explicitly because of its staunch support for Islamic terrorists, including al Qaeda and Hamas. It is a very real fight amongst these Arab states over a core philosophical dispute: Will the Arab Muslim world celebrate Islamic jihad and vilify the West, or will they recognize the need to reform and in the process grow closer to America and, yes, Israel?
Make no mistake: The great canard is that isolating Qatar would somehow “push” them closer into Iran’s orbit. Wrong. Qatar is already close with Iran, whether it be deftly helping the mullahs on al-Jazeera, the most powerful anti-Semitic platform in the Arab world, or as the chief financial sponsor of Hamas, which Iran counts on to distract Israel and, of course, murder innocent Jews in a country that the mullahs have vowed to destroy.
What Qatar wants then, may be to paper over this very real difference to make it appear as if the fight with its Arab Muslim neighbors is trivial, nothing more than a tribal, regional affair. That’s why they want to create the appearance of Jewish support by meeting “in secret” with key Jewish leaders.
ZOA understands why some feel that meeting with Qatar might help change its behavior. But the evidence is clear that it won’t. If anything, it will give them the excuse to not change and push off any real reforms. Any Jewish leader meeting with the Qatari Emir or Crown Prince likely means well, but he will serve as an unwitting prop in their PR ploy to whitewash the legitimate reasons why its Arab Muslim neighbors are boycotting them and why Israel and Jews are horrified by them, meaning it will only strengthen Qatar’s embrace of Iran and critical backing of Hamas. In the end, that support will help Iran get closer to the nuke and for Hamas to kill more innocent Israelis – and Americans, such as Taylor Force, who died in a Hamas-sponsored attack last year.
ZOA has decided that, at this point, we can’t allow the imprimatur of ZOA to legitimize in any way Qatar’s disgraceful activities. ZOA would be interested in meeting with them if they first take explicit steps to show they’re serious about reform. For example, Qatar should take concrete steps toward ending its support of Hamas, deport Hamas leaders residing in Qatar, facilitate Hamas releasing Israeli prisoners and bodies, end the anti-Semitic programs of Al Jazeera, and make substantive moves toward restoring relations with Israel. We hope that day will come soon.