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Amid Charges of Hypocrisy, Jewish ‘Leaders’ on Hot Seat for Government-paid Qatar-boosting Trips

First stung by reports in the Israeli daily Haaretz exposing all-expenses-paid trips to Qatar being funded by the same government that was isolated by its Arab neighbors in the Gulf for its support of terrorism, Jewish organizational heads who accepted the freebies seem hard-pressed to explain their participation. While excuses of self-professed importance are left to the travelers’ constituents to judge, the government of Israel has firmly distanced itself from those who have suggested anything less than total rejection of the trip by Israeli officials. On Tuesday, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Washington Itai Bar Dov told the newspaper that, “We oppose this outreach effort in the Jewish and pro-Israel community.” In an apparent indication that the Qatari leadership sees its acceptance by recognizable Jews as an important element in its image campaign, it hired a Jewish public relations expert with strong ties to both the Jewish and secular-conservative political communities to reach out to those willing to be used in its crusade. In a telling response, opponents of the Qatari incumbents hired a Jewish-owned P.R. firm with strong ties to Jewish organizations and the Democratic Party. But apparently driven by the publicity about the trips, Haaretz published comments from participants that suggested Israeli green-lights as well as the apparent belief that the participant’s own visit to Qatar would change the behavior of its leaders. Haaretz this week revealed a secret trip by a conservative Jewish organizational head who was arguably the most visible voice condemning Qatar’s funding of terror who presumably flew to Qatar at no cost on the airline he petitioned the Trump administration to ban from America’s air space. The paper also referred to another organization’s paid professional who claimed the purpose for his visit was to seek the assistance of Hamas patron-Qatari leaders in repatriating the bodies of Israeli soldiers being held by the Gaza-based terrorists. Upon checking further, Haaretz journalist Amir Tibon was told by an Israeli source that Israel has “its own channels” for such contacts and that the visits by American Jews are “about Washington” and not related to the Jewish state. [see Haaretz, 31January2018]