The first responsibility of us rabbis is to know the difference between right and wrong.
The Jerusalem Post reports that a group of prominent Rabbis and Jewish leaders, led by Rabbi Menachem Genack, has traveled to Qatar to meet with the Emir, the foremost funder of the Hamas terror organization.
That is shocking, disturbing, and heartbreaking.
Here you have the Qatar, largest funder of an organization dedicated to the annihilation of not just Israel but Jews wherever they are found, being whitewashed by Jewish leaders and now Orthodox Rabbis. And not just Orthodox Rabbis, but the very head of the Orthodox Union’s global Kosher authority.
That’s pretty ironic.
You can kosher cheese and you can kosher steak. But how can you kosher the financing of terror? The first Biblical rule of kosher food is that blood is never kosher (Leviticus 17:10-12).
How can rabbis in America condone the killing of Jews in Israel by meeting and legitimizing the government that pays for their murder?
Yes, I know, I know. They convince themselves that somehow they’re going to meet with Qatar and change them. And I’m of course prepared to give my fellow rabbis the benefit of the doubt. They’re genuinely trying to get Qatar to stop paying to murder Jews and to return the bodies of murdered Israeli soldiers being held by Hamas.
But precisely the opposite is what will most likely transpire. Qatar will use these highly well-intentioned people, like Rabbi Genack, to ease international pressure on them by showing that Jews are visiting with them, meeting with them, and accepting their hospitality. So how bad can they be?
A few weeks ago I was myself invited to meet the Emir by the man organizing the whitewashing effort. Our organization, The World Values Network, responded with two full-page ads in the New York Times declaring, “If Qatar Wants a PR Makeover, Stop Funding Terror.” On the bottom we added the headline: “Meeting with Qatar Condones Murder.”
Why? Because that is exactly what Qatar wants: to finance for the slaughter of Jews without paying a price in international legitimacy.
Who would have thought that Orthodox Jews would be at the forefront of this legitimizing effort?
To clarify, Qatar isn’t any Arab State. It is, rather, the world’s number one funder of an organization dedicated not only to the annihilation of Israel, but to the murder of all Jews — “whersoever they are found,” to quote Hamas’ founding charter.
In 2012, the nation of Qatar pledged four hundred million dollars to Hamas. Apparently pleased to see Hamas had used this money to launch over 5,000 rockets against Israeli civilians, Qatar would ratchet up its commitment by promising another billion dollars to the bloodthirsty leadership of Gaza in 2014. As if their Jew-Hhatred couldn’t be more clear, Qatar hosts not just the Hamas leadership, but the man who may be described as the world’s number-one anti-Semite: Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Worse than denying theHholocaust, Qaradawi has praised Hitler for his slaughter of European Jews and prayed that Allah help him finish the job. “Oh Allah,” he cried in a sermon, “take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people…count their numbers, and kill them down to the very last one!” The nation of Qatar didn’t just tolerate that kind of genocidal hate-speech: Qatar actually broadcast it on its own Al-Jazeera Network.
I’m not saying Qatar should never be allowed to repent. But if the Emir of Qatar wants to be brought back into the community of nations, all he needs to do is announce the immediate cessation of all monies being sent to Hamas and repudiate its genocidal killers. He should immediately expel Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and Hamas terror leaders Ismail Haniya and Khaled Mashaal, who have been granted sanctuary in Qatar. And he should stop the daily demonization of Israel that takes place on Al-Jazeera, a veritable font of anti-Semitic poison designed to make the world hate the Jewish state. Until such steps are taken, Qatar cannot be allowed to whitewash its crimes.
This is not the first time Rabbi Genack and I have clashed over Israel. We live in the same community in New Jersey and I have always respected Rabbi Genack as a great scholar and friend. Years ago I invited him to my home to meet my close friend Cory Booker, at the time Mayor of Newark and now the junior Senator from New Jersey. Cory had served as President of my Oxford student organization, the Oxford University L’Chaim Society, in the UK and regularly attended our Shabbat dinners in New Jersey.
Later, when Cory shocked and shattered American Jewish hearts by voting for the Iran nuclear deal, amid Iran’s daily promises of a second holocaust of the Jews, Rabbi Genack was one of the Jewish leaders instrumental in trying to protect Cory’s reputation in American Jewry and hold on to his quickly vanishing Jewish support.
This led to serious pain in my relationship with Rabbi Genack. It was just beginning to heal when I suddenly saw this shocking story about Qatar.
The Orthodox Union put out a statement that Rabbi Genack is in Qatar in a private capacity and that his actions do not reflect on the organization at all.
But you cannot have a top executive of the most prominent Orthodox Jewish organization in the United States playing global diplomat with terror financiers against Jews suddenly say that his actions have no reflection on his organization where he occupies one of its most senior posts.
Protectors of Qatar, especially those who are on their payroll, are attempting to portray the isolation of Qatar as a Middle East power play and dispute with Saudi Arabia. They’re saying that the Saudis are just as bad, so why is Israel growing closer to them?
Obviously, no one is saying that the Saudis are blameless, and indeed Saudi Arabia has a long way to go to so show that its current reforms actually bring about a moderate Islam that ceases to incite the faithful.
But unlike Qatar, Saudi Arabia is not funding Hamas. It is not financing the slaughter of Jews through a genocidal organization committed to Israel’s destruction. And it is not cozying up to Iran, who is both Saudi Arabia’s, as well as Israel’s, arch-enemy and the number one funder of terror in the world.
The concept of kosher is more than just an examination of animal body parts and mixing milk and meat. It communicates a vital idea of taking something as mundane as meat and elevating it into the realm of holiness. It conveys the human capacity to live a sacred life in accordance with God’s will.
Rabbis cannot, dare not, kosher countries like Qatar. The Emir can only kosher himself by immediately ceasing all funding of terror against Jews.
No matter how much you package it, blood is never kosher.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the international best-selling author of 31 books, most recently The Israel Warrior. The winner of the London Times Preacher of the Year Award, he has been called by Newsweek “the most famous Rabbi in America,” and was named by the Jerusalem Post as one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.