ZOA says it stopped ‘anti-Semitic’ Al Jazeera docuseries on US Jewish lobby

Group claims planned ‘viciously anti-Semitic’ exposé will not air thanks to ‘exhaustive’ efforts by its president, Morton Klein

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) president Morton A. Klein (Joseph Savetsky/courtesy of ZOA)
Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) president Morton A. Klein (Joseph Savetsky/courtesy of ZOA)

The Zionist Organization of America said Tuesday its president recently convinced Qatari officials to drop a much-touted, four-part documentary series on the Al Jazeera network about American pro-Israel advocacy groups.

A statement from the organization on Tuesday said the “viciously anti-Semitic” project would not air thanks to the “numerous, exhaustive, and round​-​the​-​clock meetings” between its president, Morton Klein, Qatar’s emir, and other top Doha officials.

The Doha-based Al Jazeera network billed its four-part docuseries “The Lobby” as an “investigation of how such groups secure support for Israel in Congress and how they have been drawn into Israel’s covert campaign to defeat BDS, the movement to boycott, divest, and impose sanctions on Israel.”

The series about the pro-Israel lobby in the US capital is based on the work of an Al Jazeera investigative reporter who was sent to Washington in 2016 and worked under the assumed name Antoine Kleinfeld, according to Tablet.

In October, an Al Jazeera editor acknowledged planting the undercover reporter inside pro-Israel organizations in Washington, DC.

The reporter, whose real name is James Anthony Kleinfeld and who was described by Tablet as a pro-Palestinian filmmaker, obtained work at several pro-Israel organizations, interviewed dozens of Jewish pro-Israel activists, won access to donors, hosted minor officials from the Israeli embassy at his home, and shot dozens of hours of video. The reporter left Washington suddenly in January 2017 and has not been heard from since.

In addition to itself, the ZOA said the groups targeted in the series included entities and officials from Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, AIPAC, and the American Jewish Committee.

Al Jazeera informed the groups in a January letter seeking comment that it had “uncovered evidence, which suggests that this campaign may well involve these groups working with Israel to collect intelligence on and discredit US citizens who support BDS, as well as others who are perceived as challenging Israel.”

The planned series sparked accusations of anti-Semitism and of propagating racist stereotypes of Jews.

Klein first confirmed visiting Qatar and meeting with its leader in January.

A Qatari employee of al-Jazeera TV walks past the station’s logo, in Doha, Qatar, November 1, 2006. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili, File)

In October, the Haaretz daily reported that Qatar had promised a number of Jewish leaders the docuseries would never air. That pledge followed a series of high-level talks between Qataris and senior pro-Israel activists, part of an ongoing Qatari push to improve relations with the Jewish community following the severing of diplomatic ties between Doha and its neighboring Gulf states.

During their discussions with the Jewish leaders, the Qataris reportedly reassured the pro-Israel activists they did not support Hamas, the terror organization in control of the Gaza Strip, and were coordinating efforts to rehabilitate the enclave with Israel.

Tuesday’s statement by the ZOA came as US President Donald Trump met with Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in the White House, welcoming a leader whose tiny, gas-rich nation he once accused of funding terrorism at a “high level.”

Al Thani joined Trump for a midday meeting and working lunch Tuesday that the White House said would focus on strengthening ties, including security and economic issues.

In a phone call last week, Trump credited the emir with working to counter terror financing and extremism. The White House said they also discussed concerns about Iran’s “increasingly reckless behavior in the region” and the need to resolve the Gulf crisis.

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