The new government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been described by American media as right-wing extremist, hard-line, ultra-hawkish and the most far right in Israel’s history.
Nevertheless, last Thursday, on a night when Israeli citizens were forced to spend the night in bomb shelters due to indiscriminate rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, Israel’s neophyte Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who is learning on the job, issued unconscionable praise for Qatar.
Cohen thanked the Qataris for enabling members of Israel’s national beach volleyball team to participate in a tournament in Doha, after previously threatening to prevent them from receiving visas and keep them out of the country.
“In sports and on the playing fields, there is no place for boycotts and exclusion,” Cohen wrote. “I hope this is another step toward bringing our nations closer together.”
The word in Hebrew for volleyball is “kadur-af,” which also means flying bullet. There is important symbolism in the double-meaning of the word.
The Qatari regime supports the Hamas terrorist organization that rules Gaza and facilitates its terrorism against Israeli civilians. Qatar still pumps money into terrorist hands with Israel’s knowledge and bewildering acquiescence.
The Netanyahu government turns a blind eye to the shipments of dollars from Doha to Hamas in Gaza. The time has come for Netanyahu to stop the arrival of these suitcases full of protection money supporting terror.
The same Qatari regime helps fund the Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) efforts against Israel around the world and professorships for anti-Israel lecturers at top American and British universities teaching the future leaders of the United States and United Kingdom.
Thankfully, Saudi Arabia has stopped similar behavior in recent years. But Israel and the rest of the world continues to turn a blind eye to Qatar, even allowing the regime to host the World Cup, which was used as a propaganda event for the Palestinians. Israeli journalists, who also required the help of their Foreign Ministry to enter Qatar, were shamefully mistreated at the tournament.
The world needs to start asking: If Qatar has so much disposable money to put on a lavish show for the World Cup, for international diplomatic warfare against Israel and to spend on American and British campuses, why does Doha not build a university for Palestinians in Gaza?
After all, top American universities, including Northwestern, Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon, have large campuses in Qatar that receive massive funding from Doha. There are also Qatari branches of top universities in London, Paris, Munich and Calgary.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to arrive in Jerusalem on Tuesday for talks with Netanyahu. He is expected to warn Israel against steps to strengthen its legal system, initiate needed construction for residents in Judea and Samaria, facilitate Jewish prayer at Judaism’s holiest site, Har Habayit, and responding to the latest and very deadly terrorist attack in Jerusalem. (Blinken’s tweet about preserving the status quo at what he called “the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount” following a visit to the site by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir did enough damage already.)
There is no better time for Netanyahu to deflect such harmful and unnecessary pressure on America’s top ally in the Middle East by highlighting the havoc caused by Qatar around the world.
Netanyahu should insist that the U.S. start following the anti-Israel money from Doha to Gaza and to campuses, influencing academia throughout the United States and causing tremendous, incalculable damage.
When Cohen meets with his American counterpart, instead of praising Qatar again, he must raise the question of why no one is looking into Qatari money and insisting on transparency. He should ask why America relies on fickle regimes like Doha and Ankara that end up backstabbing the U.S. time and time again.
Only if the Israeli and American governments and the leaders of the international community stop coddling Qatar, can the Abraham Accords move forward again in a serious manner. Standing up to Qatar will create an atmosphere that would enable more Arab and Muslim countries to gain legitimacy for normalizing relations with Israel.
That in turn would make the world realize that Netanyahu’s government is striving to achieve Middle East peace and is not so hawkish, hard-line and extremist after all.