Jewish Tug Of War Over Qatar Charm Offensive

An attempt by the Qatari government to break its international isolation by reaching out to the American Jewish community is being met with pushback.

The small Gulf nation has been under pressure for months after neighboring countries, led by Saudi Arabia, imposed a boycott on Qatar because of its support for terrorism and its close ties with Iran. The United States has also spoken out about the need for Qatar to change its policy and end funding for terror groups including Hamas.

Recently, in an effort to repair its image and perhaps break through the diplomatic siege, Qatar hired the services of Republican Jewish political strategist, Nick Muzin who has been trying to arrange a meeting between the country’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Jewish communal leaders on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly next week.

This effort is being met by resistance from some in the Jewish community who believe sitting down with the Qatari leader would amount to whitewashing his country’s support for terrorist targeting Israel.

“It’s wrong to meet with them without seeing that they’ve made serious movement toward reform and change,” Morton Klein, leader of the Zionist Organization of America told Haaretz. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a long time vocal opponent of the Qataris, already ran a full page ads in the New York Times denouncing the country’s backing of Hamas and intends to continue his ad campaign against “Qatar’s PR makeover.”

Contact Nathan Guttman at guttman@forward.com or on Twitter @nathanguttman

Author

Nathan Guttman

Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.