The Gulf state of Qatar has reportedly been seeking to arrange meetings with the heads of leading American Jewish organizations as part of an effort to improve its standing among US Jewry.
Qatar offered American Jewish leaders to meet with the emir and crown prince of Qatar during the United Nations General Assembly in New York next week, the Haaretz daily reported Wednesday.
The invitation came shortly after Qatar hired a Washington, DC, public relations shop headed by a Republican strategist with experience working with American Jewish organizations.
Nick Muzin, whose firm Stonington Strategies will receive $50,000 a month for its work on behalf of Qatar, said improved ties between US Jews and the emirate is in the Jewish community’s “best interest.”
“Engagement with Qatar can only be in the best interests of the United States and the Jewish community, as we cannot allow Qatar to be ostracized by its neighbors and pushed into Iran’s sphere of influence,” Muzin was quoted as saying by O’Dwyer’s, a PR news site.
Mort Klein, the head of the hawkish pro-Israel Zionist Organization of America, told Haaretz he refused Muzin’s request to attend a meeting with Qatar’s leaders.
“It looks very much like this is a public relations attempt to moderate Qatar’s image as a country that supports and funds terrorism,” he said.
Klein also said “it’s wrong to meet with them without seeing that they’ve made serious movement toward reform and change,” pointing to Qatar’s continued support of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, its ties with Iran and the editorial line of the state-owned al-Jazeera network, which Klein said “incites against Israel.”
While Qatar was previously one of the few Arab countries with which Israel had ties, Jerusalem has taken a more guarded stance on the emirate of late, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling for al-Jazeera’s offices in Israel to be shuttered, alleging it incites violence against Israel.
Qatar’s outreach to the US Jewish community comes amid its ongoing dispute with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which cut off ties with Doha in June over its relationship with Iran, support for terror groups such as Hamas and alleged inference in other Arab countries’ internal affairs, among a litany of other reasons.