What’s behind Qatar’s shift towards Israel? (Part 2)
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2018-10-02 16:51:38

What’s behind Qatar’s shift towards Israel? (Part 2)


One of the lobbyists working for Qatar in the US last year was Nick Muzin, who at one stage was paid an eye-watering $300,000 a month for his services. As reported at The Electronic Intifada, the main result of Muzin’s work seems to have been a steady flow of hard-right and Zionist American political figures visiting Qatar for cosy junkets including, in some cases, lengthy audiences with the Emir himself.

These have included Alan Dershowitz, former presidential primary candidate Mike Huckabee and Morton Klein himself. Klein – ever the extremist blowhard – broke ranks with the discretion of his fellow Israel lobbyists and was quite explicit about his demands and what he claims to have achieved during his visit, a long list boasted about by the Zionist Organisation of America.

He demanded, for example, that Al Jazeera must stop making programmes that include any criticism of Israel and delete all “anti-Israel propaganda” from its websites and YouTube channel. He particularly singled out any journalism that he deems to be supportive of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for equal Palestinian rights.

Klein’s “demands” also included a long list of such online posting that he stipulated must be deleted. The list of videos he demanded to be removed included the The Lobby, the four-part undercover investigation of pro-Israel groups in Britain which Al Jazeera broadcast last year.

The Lobby can still be viewed online, so Klein’s demands were in that regard unsuccessful. However, in another, extremely important, regard, his demands seem to have been agreed to. The US sequel to The Lobby (The Lobby – USA) has been put on hold indefinitely.

An undercover reporter managed to infiltrate pro-Israel lobby groups working in the US back in 2016. In April this year, the Zionist Organization of America and Klein claimed responsibility for getting Qatar’s Emir to agree to shelve the film. Alan Dershowitz too also openly demanded that Qatar should censor the film, a bitter irony given the lawyer’s ridiculous self-promoted image as a defender of free speech and civil liberties.

In a statement which was at best highly-misleading, and at worst libellous, the Zionist Organisation of America gushed that it “and its President Morton Klein are proud and pleased to announce that it was through ZOA’s and Mr Klein’s efforts, including Mr Klein’s numerous, exhaustive and round-the-clock meetings in Doha, Qatar, with the Emir and other top Qatari officials, and follow-up discussions, that Qatar agreed to cancel and not allow the release” of the four-part The Lobby-USA.

The statement was libellous because it falsely and knowingly claimed that The Lobby – USA is a “viciously anti-Semitic” film series “on the so-called ‘American Jewish lobby’.” Clayton Swisher, the head of Al Jazeera’s investigative unit, responded immediately on Twitter, stating that the film “was never called the ‘Jewish Lobby’; it’s always been called ‘The Israel Lobby: US Edition’.” Swisher demanded that the lobby group should retract “this shameful fabrication, including your defamatory claim that our film is in any way anti-Semitic.”

Al Jazeera responded to Klein in a statement, denying that that film had been cancelled. Nonetheless, the fact remains that, to date, the US Israel lobby film has still not been broadcast.

As we learned from our sources back in June, Qatar decided to censor the film over what it said were “national security” fears. As The Electronic Intifada reported in June, and The Intercept confirmed in August, Qatar’s rulers feared in 2017 that their country could have been invaded and occupied by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Back in 2011 the two regional powers essentially invaded Bahrain to shore-up its monarchy, whose rule at the time was under threat from an unarmed popular uprising. Hence, there is a clear logistical precedent.

Nevertheless, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this sounds like a convenient excuse for political and moral cowardice, because that is exactly what it is. Qatar should stop its censorship and allow Al Jazeera to broadcast the film in its entirety without further delay, despite its fears not being plucked out of thin air.

Of course, the Israel lobby documentary was far from being the only factor, and there are many bones of contention that played a part in the regional rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. However, the rulers of Qatar seem to have been afraid of “rocking the boat” any further, and the documentary was seen as a potential straw that could break the camel’s back, and lead the US into giving the green light for a similar Saudi invasion of yet another neighbour.

Until things change, and Qatar reverses its policy of censoring the film, viewers will have to be content with the leaked extracts that have emerged to date. Truth is often said to be the first casualty of war, and it certainly looks that way in this diplomatic battle in the Gulf.

Asa Winstanley


Tags:   Israel ، Qatar ،
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