(April 17, 2018 / JNS) There was a time when a proposed U.S. sale of sophisticated rocket systems to an Arab regime that finances terrorism against Israel would arouse fierce opposition from American Jewish leaders.
So why are Jewish leaders silent in the face of the Trump administration’s announced plan to sell $300 million in advanced rocket technology to the government of Qatar?
The Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, claimed at his White House meeting on April 10 that he doesn’t help terrorists. (I guess his well-paid American PR advisers told him what he had to say in order to receive those rocket systems.) U.S. President Donald Trump offered no objection to that assertion.
Yet according to The Jerusalem Post, Qatar “has pledged more than $1 billion to Hamas’s declared campaign for Israel’s destruction. … Qatar is Hamas’s ally and single largest donor, paying out hundreds of millions of so far.” The U.S. House of Representatives recently adopted a resolution condemning Qatar for providing “significant financial and military support” to Hamas.
And it’s no secret that senior Hamas fugitives, including terror leaders Khaled Mashal and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, are living safely in Qatar’s capital of Doha. A bipartisan group of U.S. Congress members last year expressed their “deep concern” that Doha continues to serve as “a sanctuary to Hamas terrorist officials.”
Not only that, but the Qatari government finances Al Jazeera, the notoriously anti-Israel and anti-Semitic international media outlet.
Given the Qatari regime’s close relationship with the mass murderers of Hamas, how can we be sure that U.S. military aid to Qatar might not one day end up in the hands of Doha’s terrorist friends in Gaza?
It’s a legitimate question to ask in view of what happened to some of the weapons that the U.S. provided to Saudi Arabia in the late 1970s and early 1980s. When Israeli troops overran PLO terrorist bases in southern Lebanon during the 1982 war, they discovered what The New York Times called (July 11, 1982) “surprisingly large stores of weapons.” And “among those weapons,” reported the Times, “were American M-16 rifles that had been sold to Saudi Arabia.”
I’m sure that when Saudi Arabian officials first asked for M-16 rifles from the United States, they promised that the weapons would never be transferred to a third party without explicit American authorization. And if Israel, or any of its American friends, expressed any concerns about giving Saudi Arabia those rifles, they were assured that the Saudi leadership is “moderate” and “trustworthy.”
Yet somehow, those Saudi-purchased weapons made their way into the hands of the PLO in Lebanon. Isn’t that remarkable? The rifles didn’t just fall off the back of a truck. It’s 927 miles from Riyadh to Beirut. Somebody had to organize a pretty sophisticated means of transportation for those rifles.
Obviously, the Saudis figured that they could get away with it. And they were right. Because even after the rifles were discovered, the U.S. didn’t stop sending weapons to the Saudi regime.
What if the Qataris reach that conclusion, too? The Emir of Qatar could look back at the Saudi rifles’ scandal and figure that even if it is discovered that some American rocket system reached Hamas in Gaza, Qatar can just pretend that it doesn’t know how it happened—and that there probably will be no consequences.
These are the kinds of questions and concerns that American Jewish and Zionist leaders normally would be raising. They would be meeting with White House officials to oppose the sale, and they would be asking members of Congress to block the sale.
But something has changed. No major American Jewish or Zionist organization has criticized the proposal to provide Qatar with $300 million in U.S. rocket technology.
Could that have anything to do with the fact that a number of Jewish leaders recently enjoyed all-expenses-paid trips to Qatar? Did the thrill of hobnobbing with Arabian princes dull the senses of those who should know better? Has the excitement of being treated as international statesmen compromised the judgement of those who are supposed to represent the interests and concerns of American Jewry?
I guess the answer to those questions is to be found in the terrible Jewish silence surrounding the Qatar rocket-technology deal.
Stephen M. Flatow, a vice president of the Religious Zionists of America, is an attorney in New Jersey. He is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.