The Israel lobby in Washington DC exposed by Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera …
The new documentary follows a similar script. Al Jazeera recruited someone to infiltrate various Lobby organizations based in Washington. The covert operative rented an apartment in the city and held social events and parties there to which he invited key figures in the pro-Israel community in the nation’s capital. He may have even chatted up Israeli diplomats in DC as the earlier UK documentary did. News of this project has been around for months. The pro-Israel tabloid, Tablet, exposed the identity of the secret operative.
There was only one problem: Antoine Kleinfeld isn’t a Zionist. He isn’t even Antoine Kleinfeld. His name, several sources have told Tablet, is James Anthony Kleinfeld, a pro-Palestinian filmmaker who, it seems, embedded himself with the Washington pro-Israel crowd, surreptitiously filming his new associates there in the hope, presumably, of producing a movie–or at least viral clips–that would publicly embarrass them. He has now disappeared.
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To that end, they hired Nick Muzin, a consummate GOP operative who’d last worked for Ted Cruz’s losing presidential campaign. Muzin, who now receives $300,000 per month to lobby on Qatar’s behalf, devised a tried and true strategy from the Aipac playbook: junkets. Get leading figures in the pro-Israel community to accept all expenses paid trips to Qatar. Pull out all the stops; wine them and dine them; offer them facetime with the emir. In this way, Alan Dershowitz, Mort Klein, Mike Huckabee and Malcom Hoenlein have taken up the offer.
That’s when I read about the Al Jazeera documentary. Today, Haaretz published a story acknowledging that almost all of these American Jewish supplicants came to Qatar for one very special reason (there may have been others, but this one was key). They wanted the Al Jazeera documentary killed. They knew if it was aired it would make them look as shabby, venal, and crude as the UK series did. These Lobby leaders also knew they were in a tricky position. Given that they liked to think of themselves as liberal, and supporters of free speech and press, they couldn’t be seen to take an ax to the production in an overt fashion. They needed to work behind the scenes.
However, AJ threw them all a curve-ball this week when it sent letters to a dozen Israel Lobby groups asking for their response to the material in the production. The high-paid executives thought they had it in the bag, when all of a sudden it looked like the cat had escaped. Matters appear to remain in limbo. All Muzin would say was that the documentary would not air “soon.”
When Israel or the Lobby come under attack nothing must stand in the way: not free speech, free press, political debate.
Muzin, according to the report, told them that there had been a misunderstanding and that the Qatari authorities were still intent on keeping their promise. But last week, Qatar’s foreign minister reportedly said in Washington that Qatari law forbade the authorities from interfering in media affairs.
Responding to a Haaretz reporter’s question about the ostensible promise that the documentary would not be screened, al-Thani said, “Qatar’s law prohibits the government from intervening in the media. If someone has a claim about Al Jazeera, he should turn to the media regulations organizations.”
In a statement quoted by the Washington Examiner, Noah Pollack said, “Let’s not mince words about what this was — a well-funded, professional espionage operation carried out by Qatar on American soil.
“Its purpose is to cast American Jews engaged in perfectly normal political activity as secret conspirators with the Israeli government, an old anti-Semitic trope. Infiltrating American political organizations using fake names and hidden cameras may sound legitimate in Doha, but I suspect Americans, and the current administration, will take a very different view of this disgraceful behavior.”
Richard Silverstein’s blog Tikun Olam is great on security issues related to the I-P stand-off. On the global Middle East political analysis, I don’t quite understand his position. The spat between the Muslim Brotherhood of Qatar and Turkey with the Sunni Gulf States following Wahhabism version of Islam of the Saudi Monarchy, has been a long time coming.
The Obama administration inherited the Iraq disaster left by the Bush-Cheney Republicans, and in eight years Obama could not manage a recovery from Sunni-Shia division. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton made the chaos greater in an ill advised effort to force democratic principles by the barrel of a gun during the Arab Spring. HRC became the darling of Qatar’s Al Jazeera because the Obama administration decided to sidestep Saudi Arabia and try to find a balance with the Muslim Brotherhood nations. It was a total failure.
Sworn enemies Israel and Saudi Arabia were pushed to closer ties as the Iran nuclear deal was concluded by the Five plus one states in 2015. The domestic opposition of Republicans and their close ties to the Israel Lobby became a political force to be reckoned with. This effort favoured Trump in the end and left the Democrats empty-handed.