(February 11, 2019 / JNS) Rabbi Shmuley Boteach has called for “a proper accounting” of the Jewish community’s “whitewashing of Qatar.”
Known as “America’s Rabbi” and a vocal critic of the Qatari government’s funding of Islamist terror organizations, Boteach’s comments came during a conference earlier this month titled “Qatar: U.S. Ally or Global Menace?” hosted by the Middle East Forum in Washington, D.C. The celebrity rabbi—a victim of Qatari hacking—led a panel discussion that included the parent of an American murdered by Palestinian terrorists, and a survivor of a Palestinian terror attack.
The Qatari government has contracted with Nick Muzin, a former senior staffer for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), in an effort to bring Jewish conservatives and other pro-Israel activists on trips to Qatar with the ultimate goal of influencing the Trump administration to soften its critical stance on the Gulf state, which funds anti-Israel terrorist groups such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
As a result of Muzin’s campaign, recent Jewish visitors to Qatar include famed attorney Alan Dershowitz, Zionist Organization of America national president Morton Klein and Orthodox Union Kosher Division CEO Rabbi Menachem Genack, among others. Boteach is among the Jewish leaders who have publicly criticized Jewish visitation to Qatar.
“The whitewash [of Qatar] which was done on the part of Jewish leaders … will live in infamy in the annals of the American-Jewish community,” said Boteach. “Have we no decency? Nobody would believe there was a whitewashing of the whitewash.”
Boteach has frequently raised concern about the close ties between Qatar and Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, for which the emirate reportedly hacked the rabbi.
“Did I know at the time that I could be a target of hacking [due to his stand against Qatar’s Jewish charm offensive]? Of course, I did,” said Boteach. “But I was going to protect Israel … even if there would be consequences. That any American citizens should have to fear personal destruction to silence us and compromise our First Amendment rights is a disgrace, and the United States has to protect its citizens. How Qatar could be an ally of Iran and an ally of the United States is beyond me.”
Joining Boteach on the panel were Sarri Singer, founder and director of Strength to Strength, an organization working to protect the rights of terror victims and helps with their healing process, as well as Stuart Force, father of the U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, who was killed in a March 2016 Palestinian terror attack in Israel. He became the namesake of the Taylor Force Act, which conditions U.S. funding of the Palestinian Authority on the P.A.’s halting its policy of financially rewarding terrorists and their families.
After surviving a bus-bombing by Palestinian terrorists in Jerusalem in 2003, Singer has signed on as a plaintiff in a number of anti-terror lawsuits.
“My way of finding justice was to cut the funding,” she said. “If the money is not there, the attacks cannot happen.”
Stuart Force recalled that in advocating for the passage of the Taylor Force Act, he helped put a human face on the legislation. “Now we just have to make sure that other nations don’t step in and take over the [terror] payments that the U.S. has stopped,” he said.
Boteach said that while he is grateful that U.S. President Donald Trump “has been more supportive of Israel than his predecessors” through actions like moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and defending Israel at the United Nations, Qatar “remains an anomaly.”
“We all want to believe that engagement and dialogue are critical to peace … but there have to be red lines,” cautioned Boteach. “And the red line for me is genocide. If governments engage in genocidal rhetoric or support organizations that are genocidal in nature, that’s the red line.”
Paul Miller is president and executive director of the news and public-policy group Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on twitter @pauliespoint. Disclaimer: The Haym Salomon Center was a co-sponsor of “Qatar: U.S. Ally or Global Menace?”