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Over the past few weeks, Qatar has been in the news as a key player in the crisis that erupted following the heinous terrorist massacre perpetrated by Hamas in Southern Israel on October 7th. It turns out that Qatar actively funds Hamas, hosts Hamas’ political leaders and headquarters in Doha, and is in regular touch with the Hamas leadership in Gaza, all of which resulted in them acting as mediators for the hostage release negotiations.
But notwithstanding Qatar’s role in helping to get Israeli and international hostages out of Gaza – which, remarkably, has already resulted in Qatar being thanked by President Biden – the question gaining traction in Washington and around the world is this: how exactly has Qatar been allowed to fund terrorists and support terror for so many years while still maintaining diplomatic, economic and military ties with the West?
The answer to this question will amaze you and horrify you in equal measure. This week marked the first anniversary of the start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The FIFA World Cup is considered the biggest sporting event in the world in terms of international viewership and cultural impact. Its global appeal is vast, drawing billions of viewers. The tournament is held every four years, and attracts extensive media coverage, engaging with a huge international audience which includes people who don’t typically follow soccer.
Aside from the TV audiences, millions of soccer fans fly from all over the world to see their country play “the beautiful game” in huge soccer stadiums, and the 2022 World Cup was no exception. A staggering 3.4 million spectators – up from 3 million in 2018 – were there to participate in the tournament, and the 172 goals scored over four weeks of games ensured that Qatar 2022 became the highest scoring FIFA World Cup in history, eclipsing the previous highest total of 171, in 1998 and 2014.
But, as was revealed before the tournament – and has also emerged in far greater detail since the tournament ended – the details of Qatar’s outlook and behavior vis-à-vis the World Cup paint a sobering picture of this tiny but powerful country, a picture that is marred by allegations of wanton bribery to ensure they were awarded hosting rights, as well as deliberate deception in environmental commitments once they were confirmed as hosts.
In particular, the stark contrast between Qatar’s proclaimed “carbon-neutral” World Cup and the reality of its execution underscores a narrative of calculated misrepresentation. And yet, by and large Qatar has gotten away with their brazen criminality and deceptions.
EU officials were bribed by Qatar, World Cup host rivals were targeted by ‘black ops’ and hacking operations, and thousands of slaves – yes, slaves! – died in the construction of the soccer stadium complex in Doha.
But in the end, despite concerns about how Qatar became hosts of this international sports behemoth, and regardless of concerns about how it misled the world regarding the event’s staggering environmental footprint, Qatar’s immense wealth has ensured that this corrupt country has got nothing to worry about and is able to navigate the global stage with impunity.
It really is as simple as that. Qatar’s vast financial resources play a pivotal role in shaping international perceptions of and responses to this criminal, terrorist-sponsoring state. Only now, since October 7th, is there is a growing discourse around how Qatar’s substantial economic power has been leveraged to gloss over contentious issues, but so far nothing has changed.
This unacceptable situation raises critical questions about the dynamics of power and money in international relations, especially in contexts where significant global interests and reputations are at stake.
The Qatar World Cup saga is an egregious but somewhat innocuous example of the challenges in holding wealthy and powerful nations accountable, especially when their financial clout enables them to craft narratives and influence global platforms to their advantage.
But Qatar’s role in funding Hamas and the October 7th massacre has brought the role of this bad actor under the spotlight, resulting in a significant paradigm shift. Finally, policymakers in the Western world are beginning to reexamine how these masters of deception have managed to bamboozle the world for decades, even as their limitless money funds murder, chaos and mayhem.
Shockingly, the deception goes on. The public face of Qatar as the honorable intermediary between evil Hamas murderers and the aggrieved State of Israel belies the fact that Qatar is ruled with an iron fist by one tiny family of antisemitic thugs – the Al Thani family, one of whose most senior members, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani, told a newspaper, “Imagine oil [was sold] by some Jews…what would be the price of a barrel of oil? It would be the most expensive thing in the world.”
And this week I heard from someone who maintained close ties with the Al Thanis over several years, that they told him, “We are not bigots, except when it comes to Jews – we can’t stand the Jews.” So, are these the “honest brokers” for the current crisis – as was claimed by another member of the Al Thani family, Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, Qatar’s ambassador to the United States?
Our Torah teaches that those who are capable of flagrant deception while insisting that they are paragons of virtue and honesty must also be suspected of having genocidal intent. The prime example is in Parshat Vayeitzei. The biblical patriarch Jacob had to contend with his father-in-law, Laban the Aramean, whose manipulations and deceit he was compelled to outwit, even as Laban presented himself as upright in every respect.
Eventually, Jacob took his family and left Laban’s orbit without announcing their departure. Laban’s reaction is stunning. He chased after Jacob, with the intent of killing him together with his own daughters and grandchildren – an act that would have wiped out this entire branch of his family. The wily crook was not just a masterful swindler, he was also a mass murderer.
It is clear that Qatar, for all their polished sophistication, and their attempts to bamboozle the West that they are merely useful intermediaries with the world’s worst undesirables and untainted by the violence of those they eagerly fund, are in fact as evil as their proteges.
Qatar, and in particular the Al Thani family who have presided over this tiny country for decades, cannot claim innocence. Their hands are elbow-deep in the blood of the innocents murdered on October 7th. Every hostage still in captivity in Gaza is the direct result of Qatar’s nefarious love-affair with the violent brutes who control Gaza.
After October 7th there’s no longer any excuse for anyone to look the other way. Qatar must be sanctioned, its Western assets must be frozen or confiscated, and its leaders arrested for aiding and abetting terrorists, and for crimes against humanity. Otherwise, the world will have allowed them to get away with murder.