Why Qatar Has Been Wooing American Jews

Feb. 14 2018

Qatar—facing attempts by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates to isolate it for its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and other jihadist organizations, as well as the Trump administration’s receptivity to these efforts—has launched a public-relations campaign to re-establish its good name in the U.S. Part of this campaign has involved outreach to American Jews. Jonathan Tobin comments on this strange turn of events. (Free registration may be required.)

The obvious explanation for Qatar’s strategy is the increased importance of pro-Israel opinion in the Trump administration, especially when compared to its predecessor. With supporters of the settlement movement appointed to posts like the U.S. ambassador to Israel and an Orthodox Jew like the presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner at President Trump’s side, the Jewish right’s stock is at an all-time high.

That elevates the importance of pro-Israel organizations and lobbyists who might otherwise be assumed to be hostile to any Gulf nation, especially one that hosts and sponsors the rabidly anti-Israel Al Jazeera network and is believed to have played a major role in funding Hamas. That has led to a stream of invitations for pro-Israel figures to visit Qatar and to hear its leaders make the case that it has gotten a bum rap from critics. Some . . . returned from a tour of Qatar singing its praises or at least willing to give its assertion that it no longer has ties with Hamas the benefit of the doubt, [a response that] in turn generated some fierce pushback from other pro-Israel figures. . . .

But there’s another factor here that needs to also be examined. While [Doha’s] Washington PR representative—a former aide to Senator Ted Cruz—may have told his client that winning over supporters of Israel is the path to success, the attention given by Qatar to the American Jewish community is still disproportionate. . . . [One] plausible explanation for all this attention stems from the traditional anti-Semitic belief that Jews and Zionists can exert mysterious control over major powers like the United States. . . .

The contemporary Arab and Muslim world has become a place where anti-Semitic texts like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion freely circulate. Those who demonize Israel and its supporters are prone to attribute exaggerated powers to Jews in this way. If the Qataris are that focused on American Jews, and right-wingers at that, it’s just as likely to be [a] product of this sort of distorted thinking as anything else.

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Read more at Haaretz

More about: American Jewry, Anti-Semitism, Politics & Current Affairs, Qatar

Hamas’s Deadly Escalation at the Gaza Border

Oct. 16 2018

Hamas’s weekly demonstration at the fence separating Gaza from Israel turned bloody last Friday, as operatives used explosives to blow a hole in the barrier and attempted to pass through. The IDF opened fire, killing three and scaring away the rest. Yoni Ben Menachem notes that the demonstrators’ tactics have been growing more aggressive and violent in recent weeks, and the violence is no longer limited to Fridays but is occurring around the clock:

The number of participants in the demonstrations has risen to 20,000. Extensive use has been made of lethal tactics such as throwing explosive charges and grenades at IDF soldiers, and there has been an increase in the launching of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel. At the same time, Hamas supplemented its burning tires with smoke generators at the border to create heavy smoke screens to shield Gazan rioters and allow them to get closer to the border fence and infiltrate into Israel. . . .

[S]ix months of ineffective demonstrations have not achieved anything connected with easing [Israel’s blockade of the Strip]. Therefore, Hamas has decided to increase military pressure on Israel. [Its] ultimate goal has not changed: the complete removal of the embargo; until this is achieved, the violent demonstrations at the border fence will continue.

Hamas’s overall objective is to take the IDF by surprise by blowing up the fence at several points and infiltrating into Israeli territory to harm IDF soldiers or abduct them and take them into the Gaza Strip. . . . The precedent of the 2011 deal in which one Israeli soldier was traded for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners has strengthened the feeling within Hamas that Israel is prepared to pay a heavy price for bringing back captured soldiers alive. . . . Hamas also believes that the campaign is strengthening its position in Palestinian society and is getting the international community to understand that the Palestinian problem is still alive. . . .

The Hamas leadership is not interested in an all-out military confrontation with Israel. The Gaza street is strongly opposed to this, and the Hamas leadership understands that a new war with Israel will result in substantial damage to the organization. Therefore, the idea is to continue with the “Return March” campaign, which will not cost the organization too much and will maintain its rule without paying too high a price for terror.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security