Qatar’s public relations campaign in the United States is collapsing as the businessmen, community leaders, and media consultants it employed have began to abandon the effort.
As Breitbart News noted last year, Qatar had employed an American team — including Nick Muzin, a former aide to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) — to improve its image in the U.S.
At the time, Qatar had been isolated by its Arab neighbors, partly because of its relationship with Iran, and also because its Al Jazeera network has encouraged criticism of governments in the region (except the Qatari regime).
Previously, Qatar had sought to influence American public opinion indirectly, through its acquisition of Al Gore’s Current TV channel, which soon became Al Jazeera America. However, the channel failed to draw viewers.
This time, Qatar’s leaders hired American consultants, and used contacts in the American business community, to cultivate relationships with the American Jewish community in particular, seeing it as influential in the media and in the Trump administration.
To that end, Qatari officials sought meetings with the leaders of Jewish organizations, and brought leading Jewish figures on visits to Doha.
That drew criticism from some conservatives, like Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who accused Qatar of continuing to support Palestinian terrorism, Iranian hegemony, and antisemitic extremism throughout the Middle East. He urged Jewish leaders to reject Qatar’s overtures.
On Wednesday, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, slammed Qatar, declaring in a press statement that he had suspended his discussions with the regime.
While past discussions had led to some positive changes, Klein said, the regime had not fundamentally changed its ways. “Al Jazeera’s recent coverage regarding Israel and Gaza has been despicably biased and incendiary,” he noted. “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.”
He elaborated (original links and emphasis):
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.).
On Thursday, Politico reported that Joey Allaham, “a Syrian-born restaurateur and entrepreneur who had been helping Qatar make politically useful investments and curry favor with the American Jewish community,” had cut ties with Qatar, criticizing the regime’s foreign policy as he did so.
In addition, Politico noted, Nick Muzin had stopped working for the Qatari government.
Stonington Strategies is no longer representing the State of Qatar. I am proud of the work we did to foster peaceful dialogue in the Middle East, to increase Qatar’s defense and economic ties with the United States, and to expand humanitarian support of Gaza.
— Nick Muzin (@nickmuzin) June 6, 2018
On Thursday, Rabbi Boteach welcomed Klein’s break with Qatar, urging lawyer Alan Dershowitz and prominent American Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein to follow suit.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward’s 50 “most influential” Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.