The Jew-washing of Qatar
Qatar is one of the world’s most repulsive regimes. A close ally of Iran, it is also the single greatest funder of Hamas, whose highest purpose is the annihilation of Israel and world Jewry. Qatar imposes the death penalty on gays and lashes for those who engage in premarital sex, which they defend by saying it’s only on the books but rarely carried out.
So how did Qatar get to be sports-washed by the World Cup?
Where was world Jewry to oppose the globe’s greatest sporting event going to a barbaric government that funds Hamas rockets against Israeli nurseries and hospitals?
Answer: Many Jewish leaders actually were supporting Qatar and participating in its attempt to cleanse its despicable image.
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I trust that the Jewish community still remembers the lobbying efforts, at the start of the Trump administration, of Washington swamp creature Nick Muzin and his associate Joey Allaham, who worked for the Qatari government, allegedly earning millions upon millions of dollars to bring the head of the ZOA, among any others, to Doha. Muzin is an Orthodox Jew who wears a kippa. That did not stop him from working for the number one supporter of Hamas, a group that has murdered countless Israelis. Even as Muzin and Allaham allegedly raked in the cash, the ADL was reporting of Qatar in 2018, “Blatantly anti-Semitic books are being promoted by the state-run book fair this week in Doha, Qatar, according to Anti-Defamation League’s experts in Arabic language. These anti-Semitic titles include ‘Lies Spread by the Jews’ and ‘The Myth of the Nazi Gas Chambers.’”
At the time, the ADL wrote to William Grant, the U.S. chief of mission at the American embassy in Qatar, “asking that he leverage the embassy’s participation in the book fair to urge the Qatari government to stop promoting such hateful content.” Grant “indicated he and his advisers took immediate action in response to ADL’s letter of concern” and “visited booths at the book fair to identify the anti-Semitic materials flagged by ADL. … The Qatari government subsequently withdrew certain anti-Semitic titles from the book fair and issued a circular to participants indicating that intolerant books were not permitted,” the ADL wrote.
When I discovered that so many Jewish communal leaders were participating in the Qatari whitewash, I launched a campaign, which included a full page New York Times ad, condemning the effort. My reward, according to the same New York Times on September 20, 2018, was to be hacked by Qatar.
Then, on November 4, 2018, in a story titled, “Documents Show Qatar Likely Hacked Boteach, Others Due to Ties With Adelson,” the Jewish Journal wrote this:
“A series of messages reviewed by the Jewish Journal show that the nation of Qatar likely targeted Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in a hacking scheme due to his ties with major GOP donor and Israel supporter Sheldon Adelson.
“The Journal reviewed a series of WhatsApp messages between Nick Muzin, the former deputy chief of staff for Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) presidential campaign, and Joey Allaham, former owner of New York kosher restaurants. The two were reportedly contracted to conduct lobbying efforts on behalf of the Qatari government.
“On Jan. 26, Allaham messaged Muzin, ‘This Vegas thing is bothering me,’ referencing that Allaham and Muzin were not going to be welcomed at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC) leadership retreat in April. A Republican source told the Journal that this was in part due to their ties to the Qatari government.
“‘It’s really shocking,’ Muzin replied. ‘Someone very influential there is out to get me. It must be Sheldon [Adelson].’
“Muzin added, ‘I think Shmuley [Boteach] stirred him up.’”
Since I recently criticized the Republican Jewish Committee for going all in on the campaign of Dr. Oz while he refused to refer to Israel as the “ancestral homeland of the Jewish people,” let me now praise the RJC for being one of the only Jewish organizations to shun Muzin. The idea that any Jewish organization would welcome paid Jewish agents of the Qatari government to its conferences in disgusting and sickening. Yet Muzin continues to operate in the Jewish community with no repercussions.
Then there is Rabbi Marc Schneier of the Hamptons Synagogue. Marc has been criticized in the national press for personal issues. I have always defended him. I have long said that the personal lives of public servants are none of our business. Besides, Marc has done the most incredible job of bringing Judaism to the Hamptons through one of America’s most celebrated synagogues.
But his continuous whitewashing of Qatar is something else entirely and is deeply troubling.
In December 2019, Bloomberg News published a bizarre article titled, “New York Hot Dog Rabbi to Make Qatar Kosher for World Cup.”
The rabbi was Marc Schneier and the story, as we now know, was not in any way accurate. Qatar lied to Schneier about hot kosher food in Qatar, even as Schneier this week continued to defend it. Jewish press outlets reported this week that Qatar reneged utterly on its pledge of hot kosher food at the World Cup and, more importantly, on allowing Jewish prayer services in Doha. I’m not surprised. The Qatari government is deeply antisemitic.
Yet, true to form, Schneir had Qatar’s back, telling the Jerusalem Post, “ I never asked for hot food. … The only person that spoke to the Qataris about this [on behalf of the Jewish community] was me.”
OK. So bagels it is. But why on earth would Rabbi Schneier have spent the last three years “koshering” the treif reputation of Qatar through nonstop advocacy in the media on its behalf, even as it granted refuge to Hamas leaders and continued to fund the terrorists?
Here is a typical Facebook post from Marc from December 2021: “My best wishes to all my Qatari friends on their National Day this weekend. Looking forward to visiting Doha in 2022.#QatarNationalDay2021.” Now, given that Qatar, according to the Times of Israel, just last week, “has flung open its doors to Taliban warlords, Islamist terrorists and dissidents, African rebel commanders and exiles of every stripe,” we have the right to ask, Which friends is Marc referring to? And why is he so chummy with Qatar? Surely, the reward of having kosher hot dogs in Doha, which did not even materialize, was not worth the price of overlooking how it funds Hamas rockets on Israeli kindergartens.
Bloomberg went further and said that Schneier presented an award to the Qatari head of the World Cup and had said of Qatar’s desire to have kosher hot dogs, “This is an exceptional development that attests to the sensitivity that the Qataris show toward Israelis and the Jewish world. … I responded to the request with joy.”
Now I love kosher hot dogs just as much as the next guy. But as Qatar’s client Hamas has a covenant that calls for the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews wherever they are found, I’m wondering how the provision of sausages constitutes any particular “sensitivity” toward Israelis and Jews. I’m wondering whether the residents of Sderot, as they cower in bunkers from Hamas rockets, are thinking to themselves, “Well, at least Israelis at the World Cup get to put mustard and sauerkraut on a hot dog.”
But while the Jews were running around protecting Qatar for who-knows-what kind of reward, the Catholic Church was condemning it for the exploitation of migrant workers that would eventually lead to global media reports of some 6,500 deaths.
CruxNow.com, which covers the Catholic world, published a May 2018 article titled, “Pope scolds FIFA for slave labor in Qatar.” It told of how up to that time approximately 2,000 migrant workers already had died in near slave-like conditions building Qatar’s World Cup stadiums. The number would more than double by the time the first goal was scored last month.
A papal charity named Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes presented the pope with a devastating critique of Qatar’s abuse of the workers and the staggering number of dead. The pope then wrote to FIFA, the world soccer body, calling on it to crack down on Qatar. But FIFA, one of the most corrupt sporting organizations on earth, many of whose executives went to jail on charges of bribery related to Qatar receiving the World Cup, chose not even to respond to the pope’s letter.
So the pope is leveraging his moral standing to speak up for thousands of workers dying in the Qatari desert heat while Rabbi Marc Schneier is saying of kosher bagels, “Who would have dreamt that there would be kosher bagels in Qatar?”
Let me conclude with what may be my most important point. As a tsunami of Jew-hatred erupts throughout the world in general and in the United States in particular, the Jewish community is left scratching its head, wondering, “How in God’s name are we Jews so bad at fighting antisemitism?”
Perhaps the answer lies in just how many Jewish leaders and influencers are undermining the fight. We’ve watched as Ben Schapiro publicly defended his employee Candace Owens for sticking up for the despicable Kanye West. We witnessed another orthodox lobbyist, Ezra Friedlander, become a highly paid lobbyist for Erdogan of Turkey who for a full decade has called Jews Hitler and Nazis. Chabad Washington DC head Rabbi Levi Shemtov had a one-on-one with Erdogan and said, “If no one in the world gets a chance to change, then we can’t expect progress where we need to.” Perhaps he will illuminate us as to what change Erdogan, who has never once apologized for saying Israel was even crueler than the Nazis, has engaged in.
In asking the question why we Jews are so pathetic at combatting antisemitism, perhaps it’s time to publicly call out the Jewish apologists for the haters.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Englewood is the author of “Holocaust Holiday: One Family’s Descent into Genocide Memory Hell.” Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @RabbiShmuley.