The new Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been described by the American media as extremist, hardline, ultra-hawkish and the most right-wing in Israel’s history.
Despite this, last Thursday, while 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 unconscionably praised Qatar.
Cohen thanked the Qataris for enabling members of Israel’s national beach volleyball team to participate in a tournament in Doha after Qatar initially threatened to prevent them from doing so.
“In sports and on the playing fields, there is no place for boycotts and exclusion,” Cohen said. “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 this double meaning.
The reason is that the Qatari regime is pumping huge amounts of money into the coffers of Hamas with Israel’s bewildering acquiescence. The new Israeli government, like its predecessors, has turned a blind eye to this, but the time has come to put a stop to what is essentially a protection racket.
The same Qatari regime that bankrolls Hamas funds the BDS movement, as well as professorships for anti-Israel lecturers at top American and British universities, who are teaching the future leaders of the U.S. and the U.K.
Israel and the rest of the world continue to turn a blind eye to Qatar’s involvement in terrorism, even allowing the regime to host the World Cup, which was used as a propaganda event for the Palestinians. Israeli journalists were shamefully mistreated at the event.
The world needs to start asking: If Qatar has the cash to put on a lavish show for the World Cup, finance international diplomatic warfare against Israel and buy American and British campuses, why hasn’t it built a university for Palestinians in Gaza?
After all, several top American universities—including Northwestern, Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon—have large campuses in Qatar that receive massive funding from Doha. The country is also host to branches of top universities in London, Paris, Munich and Calgary.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Jerusalem for talks with Netanyahu. He is expected to warn Israel against steps to strengthen its legal system, initiate needed construction for residents of Judea and Samaria and facilitate Jewish prayer at Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount. 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 has done enough damage already.
There is no better time for Netanyahu to deflect such harmful and unnecessary pressure 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 on to college campuses, where it influences academia throughout the United States, causing incalculable damage.
When Cohen meets with his American counterpart, instead of praising Qatar again, he should ask 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 stabbing the U.S. in the back time and time again.
This is also important to the cause of peace. The Abraham Accords can only move forward if the Israeli and American governments and the international community stop coddling Qatar. Standing up to Doha will create an atmosphere that will legitimize normalizing relations with Israel in many Arab and Muslim countries.
Perhaps then the world will realize that Netanyahu’s government is striving to achieve peace and is not so hawkish, hardline and extremist after all.
Martin Oliner is co-president of the Religious Zionists of America, chairman of the Center for Righteousness and Integrity and a committee member of the Jewish Agency. He was appointed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Council by former U.S. President Donald Trump. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at [email protected].
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