Opinion |

ZOA Responds: Vicious anti-Israel, Hamas-supported BDS Is Targeting Mort Klein for Influencing Qatar

Like Moses, Esther and Herzl, Mort Klein just wanted to plead the Jewish people's case when he went to Doha. That's why Steve Rabinowitz's hit piece couldn't show Klein had any financial or ulterior motives because there are none - and that can't be said about Rabinowitz himself

Liz Berney
Liz Berney
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A young boy poses for a photo after writing a comment on a wall bearing a portrait of Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani,
A young boy poses for a photo near a wall bearing a portrait of Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al ThaniCredit: AFP PHOTO / KARIM JAAFAR
Liz Berney
Liz Berney

It is downright seedy that Haaretz published a PR propaganda hit piece, by left-winger Steve Rabinowitz (What Really Turned ZOA's Mort Klein From a Preacher Against Qatar to Its Propagandist?), in the guise of an "op-ed," falsely attacking Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein, without disclosing Mr. Rabinowitz’s financial and ulterior motives for this PR hit job.

According to its website, the "progressive" PR firm that Rabinowitz heads, Bluelight Strategies, represents a leading Qatari opposition figure – wealthy exiled businessman Khalid Al-Hail. 

Al-Hail has been seeking to foment a coup in Qatar, and reportedly hired Rabinowitz’s firm to assist with PR aspects of this effort.  Rabinowitz reportedly was the U.S. contact person for Al-Hail’s 2017 anti-Qatar conference in London. Rabinowitz also admitted to JTA that the anti-Qatar conference was one of his PR shop’s efforts.

The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and his wife Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned visiting Gaza City's Islamic University, breaking then then-newly installed Hamas government's isolation. October 23, 2012
The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and his wife visiting Gaza City's Islamic University, breaking then then-newly installed Hamas government's isolation. October 23, 2012Credit: REUTERS

In his Haaretz "op-ed," Rabinowitz absurdly and falsely called ZOA President Morton Klein a "propagandist" for Qatar. Notably, Rabinowitz’s op-ed does not, and indeed cannot, point to a single example of Mr. Klein "propagandizing" for Qatar. 

Yet Rabinowitz and Haaretz still hurled this baseless, libelous label – simply because Mr. Klein went to Qatar to make demands on Qatar and plead Israel’s and the Jewish people’s case, after the Qataris acknowledged their prior troublesome behavior, and told Mr. Klein that they wished to hear his most important demands as to how they could change and become a better country. 

In fact, Morton Klein is the opposite of a Qatari "propagandist:  Mr. Klein came to his meetings with the Emir and other Qatari officials with ZOA’s detailed report and long list of demands, and fought for those demands at every meeting. 

When the Qataris simply asked Mr. Klein to ask Congress members to visit Qatar to see the situation for themselves, Mr. Klein stated that he would not do so unless and until Mr. Klein sees long-lasting significant changes.

Unlike Mr. Rabinowitz, ZOA and Morton Klein have no potential financial motive or ulterior purpose here. ZOA and Mr. Klein’s preparation time and effort, and the time Mr. Klein spent on his exhausting 13 hour trip each way to and from Qatar, cost us staff money. Mr. Klein’s and ZOA’s only goal and interest here is to effect Qatari and Al Jazeera changes for the better.

Another interesting question here: Why did Steve Rabinowitz’s op-ed single out, and solely attack, ZOA president Morton Klein for pleading the Jewish people’s case in Qatar, while not naming the other Jewish leaders who did the same? 

People walk by the sea in Doha, Qatar, in 2012.
Qatar accuses UAE of violation of international law for hacking its state news agency. Pictured: People walk by the sea in Doha, Qatar, in 2012.Credit: Kamran Jebreili/AP

Perhaps it’s because some of the other pro-Israel leaders who went to Qatar lead organizations on the client list of Rabinowitz’s own PR firm!  These include Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Rabbi Menachem Genack of the Orthodox Union.  

If Rabinowitz really thought it was wrong to meet with Qatari officials, he would have mentioned and criticized those clients, as well as other Zionist leaders including Alan Dershowitz, Governor Mike Huckabee, American Jewish Congress president Jack Rosen, Religious Zionists of America president Martin Oliner, and pro-Israel radio host John  Batchelor, who all went to Qatar for the same purpose.

It is thus apparent that Rabinowitz – who is a far left-winger – is simply using Mr. Klein’s Qatar meetings as a pretext to malign Mr. Klein – the leading, strongest pro-Israel voice in the United States.

If going to plead the Jewish people’s case in Qatar makes someone a "propagandist" for Qatar, then Moses was a propagandist for Pharaoh because he went to Pharaoh to demand the Jewish people’s freedom from slavery; Queen Esther was a propagandist for King Achashverosh and Haman, because she invited them to a dinner so that she could plead to save the Jewish people; scholar-statesman Don Isaac Abravanel was a propagandist for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, because Abravanel pled that they should rescind their cruel decree expelling or requiring conversion of Spain’s Jews; Theodore Herzl was a propagandist for the Ottoman Empire’s Sultan and Germany’s Kaiser, because Herzl met with those monarchs to plead for recognition of the Jewish homeland.

Indeed, every one of the countless meeting by Israeli and Jewish leaders with Arab rulers made them propagandists for those hostile Arab regimes.

Whether one has attained the stature of a Moses or an Esther – or is simply an ordinary Jewish leader today, doing what he can to help our people – the principle remains the same.

Artwork depicting Qatarױs Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani during the Winter Festival at Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar. January 18, 2018
Artwork depicting Qatarױs Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani during the Winter Festival at Katara Cultural Village in Doha, Qatar. January 18, 2018Credit: \ Naseem Zeitoon/ REUTERS

If Rabinowitz thinks that that one should not meet with the head of Qatar who says he wants to change, why was it okay for Steve Rabinowitz to meet with confirmed terrorist PLO leaders in Ramallah, who maintain an unyielding hatred for Israel? Do Steve Rabinowitz’s own meetings in Ramallah make him a propagandist for the PLO?

Rabinowitz also omits the important successes that already came from Mr. Klein’s meeting, including obtaining the Emir’s agreement to remove anti-Semitic books from the Doha book fair (a sizeable international event that influences what is read throughout the Arab world) and, we understand, killing the anti-Semitic Al Jazeera series attacking U.S. pro-Israel organizations. There is of course potential for more success stemming from the meetings.

Notably, the leaders of the vicious anti-Israel Hamas-supported BDS movement are criticizing Mr. Klein’s and other Jewish leaders’ meetings with Qatari officials, because the BDS leaders understand that Jewish leaders seek "normalization" of Arab-Jewish and Arab-Israeli relations.  The BDS movement’s goal is Israel’s destruction, and the last thing BDS leaders want is normal Jewish-Arab relations.

By criticizing Mr. Klein’s meeting, Rabinowitz has thus now joined the company of the leaders of the BDS movement.

Oh, what a tangled web Steve Rabinowitz weaves! Shame.

Liz Berney is the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) Director of Special Projects. She previously practiced international law, and guest taught an adult education class on Qatar, and helped with the preparations for Mort Klein’s meetings in Qatar.

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