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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.

Read more at Haaretz

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

How the U.S. Can Strike at Iran without Risking War

In his testimony before Congress on Tuesday, Michael Doran urged the U.S. to pursue a policy of rolling back Iranian influence in the Middle East, and explained how this can be accomplished. (Video of the testimony, along with the full text, are available at the link below.)

The United States . . . has indirect ways of striking at Iran—ways that do not risk drawing the United States into a quagmire. The easiest of these is to support allies who are already in the fight. . . . In contrast to the United States, Israel is already engaged in military operations whose stated goal is to drive Iran from Syria. We should therefore ask ourselves what actions we might take to strengthen Israel’s hand. Militarily, these might include, on the passive end of the spectrum, positioning our forces so as to deter Russian counterattacks against Israel. On the [more active] end, they might include arming and training Syrian forces to engage in operations against Iran and its proxies—much as we armed the mujahedin in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Diplomatically, the United States might associate itself much more directly with the red lines that Israel has announced regarding the Iranian presence in Syria. Israel has, for example, called for pushing Iran and its proxies away from its border on the Golan Heights. Who is prepared to say that Washington has done all in its power to demonstrate to Moscow that it fully supports this goal? In short, a policy of greater coordination with Jerusalem is both possible and desirable.

In Yemen, too, greater coordination with Saudi Arabia is worth pursuing. . . . In Lebanon and Iraq, conditions will not support a hard rollback policy. In these countries the goal should be to shift the policy away from a modus vivendi [with Iran] and in the direction of containment. In Iraq, the priority, of course, is the dismantling of the militia infrastructure that the Iranians have built. In Lebanon, [it should be] using sanctions to force the Lebanese banking sector to choose between doing business with Hizballah and Iran and doing business with the United States and its financial institutions. . . .

Iran will not take a coercive American policy sitting down. It will strike back—and it will do so cleverly. . . . It almost goes without saying that the United States should begin working with its allies now to develop contingency plans for countering the tactics [Tehran is likely to use]. I say “almost” because I know from experience in the White House that contingency planning is something we extol much more than we conduct. As obvious as these tactics [against us] are, they have often taken Western decision makers by surprise, and they have proved effective in wearing down Western resolve.

Read more at Hudson

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, Yemen