Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
In January, I traveled to Qatar to fight for Israel, America and the Jewish people. I had decided that, when the leader/Emir of an Arab country invites me to meet with him and other top officials to discuss changing his nation’s policies towards Israel, the Jewish people and America, it was my duty to meet and press for such beneficial progress. I am pleased that I was successful in obtaining some positive steps by Qatar: stopping a despicable, ugly antisemitic documentary by the antisemitic Qatari media outlet Al Jazeera, and securing a promise to eliminate antisemitic books from the Doha book fair.
But on other key issues, Qatar has failed to do the right thing. Other much-needed changes that I had demanded of Qatar, and that the Qatari officials appeared to be receptive towards making, have not been forthcoming. Al Jazeera’s recent coverage regarding Israel and Gaza has been despicably biased and incendiary. And I was outraged to see that this week, Qatar took a giant step backwards by holding a dinner honoring the vicious Muslim Brotherhood leader and terrorist Yusuf al-Qaradawi. These painful disappointments required me to write this release.
I, Morton Klein, a child of holocaust survivors and a deeply committed Zionist, was asked repeatedly, from August 2017 to December 2017, to visit Qatar and meet with the Emir and other leaders to discuss their changing their policies toward Israel, the United States and terrorism.
I repeatedly refused because of Qatar’s atrocious reputation as funders of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Al Jazeera, a vicious antisemitic Israel-bashing media outlet. The main fear I had was that the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)’s good name and reputation might be used to whitewash Qatar’s ugly actions.
My reputational fear was allayed after other top Jewish leaders visited Qatar between September 2017 and December 2017. Those leaders included Malcolm Hoenlein, executive director of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and top officials from the American Jewish Congress, Orthodox Union, and the Religious Zionists of America.
When ardent Zionists Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz and Governor Mike Huckabee told me they were going to Qatar in January 2018, I decided that adding my name to this distinguished list would no longer add much propaganda value. I was further comforted by the fact that President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin publicly and privately praised Qatar’s new anti-terrorism financing efforts.
I accepted Qatar’s offer to visit and meet after speaking to top Israeli officials, Jewish philanthropists, leading rabbis, scholars, academics, and activists – most of whom urged me to go. Even some Israeli leaders urged me to go and fight for Israel and pressure Qatar to change their horrible anti-Israel policies. Some very wise and committed donors and some Israelis warned me that Qatar was not ready for real change, although a majority of the Americans and Israelis I discussed this with urged me to go to see what I might be able to achieve.
The Qatari agents who kept pressuring me to visit assured me that Qatar no longer funded Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, wanted to change Al Jazeera, retrieve the Israeli bodies from Gaza, and become part of the civilized nations of the world.
I finally went to Qatar, and stayed in the local Sheraton in Doha, in early January 2018, the same week that storied Zionists Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz and Governor Mike Huckabee visited Qatar.
In preparation for my trip, my ZOA staff and I researched and produced a fifty page report on all the changes we urged Qatar to undertake, including expelling Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood operatives from Doha, reforming Al Jazeera, opening a trade office in Israel, and retrieving the bodies of the Israeli soldiers from Hamas. I gave copies of this report to many of the officials whom I met. I also put the report on ZOA’s website.
After traveling for almost 20 hours, I met the next day with the Emir for two hours, the Speaker of the Qatari Parliament for an hour, and many other officials in exhausting back-to-back all-day meetings, including dinner meetings. They promised me to work on all the issues I raised. They also promised me these meetings and my trip would be confidential- another promise they broke. They also assured me they had stopped funding Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. In return, Qatari official pleaded with me to use my contacts and bring members of Congress to Qatar to meet with Qatari leaders. I strongly refused, saying I would only consider this after I see real progress made on the issues of concern and for a significant period of time.
Successes that I am proud of and pleased about include the promise made to me and fulfilled, at least up to now, that they would never show the multi-part antisemitic documentary about the US – “Israel lobby” – produced by Al Jazeera that was scheduled to be shown in late February of this year; and Qatari officials’ promise to remove antisemitic books from the influential Doha book fair.
Upon my return, I also spoke to an Israeli general regarding Qatari funds being sent to Gaza. The general confirmed statements made to me by Qatari officials are that the funds are held in a separate account in Gaza, over which Hamas has no control, and are used for humanitarian building projects that Israel approves.
Several months after I returned to America, Qatari officials asked me to return to Qatar to meet with the top Al Jazeera officials. Thus far, I have not accepted this invitation.
Al Jazeera must make enormous changes to transform itself from an antisemitic anti-Israel propaganda outlet into a fair, professional news service. I have to wonder whether or not another trip would really help, in light of Al Jazeera’s horrendous, false, recent coverage of Gaza. Shouldn’t it be obvious that Al Jazeera’s repeated, vicious false claims that Israel is shooting “peaceful protestors” lacks journalistic integrity and is propaganda designed to incite hatred against Israel? It is clear that Israel is in fact defending herself against grenade-throwing, bomb-planting, machete-toting Hamas rioters and gunmen who are attempting to invade Israel to slaughter Jewish civilians.
Al Jazeera’s horribly distorted recent Gaza coverage is one of several discouraging steps backward.
Since my return from Doha, I have learned or observed the following: (1) Al Jazeera, in both English and even more so in Arabic, is still horrifically antisemitic, inciting hatred and promoting lies against Israel and Jews regarding Gaza, Jerusalem and other issues; (2) Qatar is still harboring the worst Nazi-like leaders of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, allowing them to live and operate from Qatar; (3) Qatar is maintaining relations with and aiding Iran; (4) In a New York Times op ed yesterday, June 5, 2018, Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani wrote “besieged Palestinians in Gaza have risen up in protest” – again wrongly condemning Israel for the Gaza Border horror and for the chaos in the Middle East – while never mentioning the horrors and dangers of Iran; (6) Qatar has grown closer to the increasingly Islamist hostile-to-Israel Turkey: an Al Jazeera article published on June 1, 2018 falsely and absurdly described Turkey as a country that is “widely considered as the beacon of democracy and pluralism in the Muslim world”; (7) It appears that Qatar has done nothing towards obtaining the release of the dead Israeli bodies held by Hamas; and (8) There are now indications that Qatar may be funding Hamas in various ways. Finally, (9) last week, the Qatari Emir hosted an Iftar banquet honoring the vicious Muslim Brotherhood leader and terrorist Yusuf al-Qaradawi. (See “Qatari Emir Embraces Islamic Preacher Who Authorized Killing U.S. Troops in Iraq,” by Aaron Kleigman, Washington Free Beacon, June 5, 2018.).
In sum, after taking some steps forward, Qatar has taken some alarming steps backwards. I plan to discuss these serious concerns with my contacts with Members of the House and Senate and the Administration.