Last weekend, Israel was attacked in a new way. No, I’m not referring to the horrific onslaught of rockets Hamas launched into Israel that left two children hospitalized and five others injured; the tens of thousands of rioters who tried to breach the Gaza border fence; or the three Palestinian youths who were killed.
I’m talking about an outlandish article published in The New York Times Magazine about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that evokes age-old anti-Semitic tropes to accuse prominent Jewish philanthropists, like Haim Saban, of holding the Democratic Party hostage on Israel — authored by a man with ties to one of the world’s biggest sponsors of terrorism.
Many rushed to shame the Times for welcoming writer Nathan Thrall’s “propaganda.” But it isn’t just the propaganda or anti-Semitism that should concern Jews everywhere – it’s Nathan Thrall himself and his alarming ties to Qatar. A deep dive by the Free Beacon revealed that Thrall is employed by an organization that receives funding from the Qatari government and has ties to several anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activists.
That’s right: The New York Times published an article written by someone connected to the Qatari payroll, who tars and feathers pro-Israel philanthropists, gives an international platform to the BDS movement, and devotes not a single of its 11,500 words to Qatar – the world’s central bank for terrorism and a known sponsor of Hamas.
This shouldn’t be shocking: Qatari efforts to influence American journalism have been growing rapidly in recent years, as the Gulf state pays hundreds of millions of dollars to buy influence and manipulate what and how the American press reports on issues in the Middle East.
A new documentary, "Blood Money," uncovered just how pervasive – and dangerous – this new kind of information terrorism has become. Qatar’s propaganda machine landed at The New York Times and it’s trying to drag Jews and pro-Israel advocates down with it.
The centerpiece of Thrall’s article is the idea that free speech in the Democratic Party has been stifled by Jewish philanthropists like Saban, whose grip on the party’s treasury prevents meaningful conversation about Israel. Break that idea down a little further and Thrall’s central argument is one that relies on the age-old anti-Semitic trope that Jews exercise power through financial influence. Simply put, Thrall is warning Americans to beware of Jews like Saban because they secretly control the media and government.
This attack on Saban amounts to a 21st century blood libel. And it’s not only ridiculous, It’s dangerous.
Blood libels like this formed the basis for much of the persecution Jews faced in Europe during the pogroms and have been referenced time and again by anti-Semites who have attacked Jews online and in person. But that doesn’t stop Thrall from creating a new bogeyman in American politics: a man who has given millions to children’s hospitals, women’s empowerment groups, and education programs.
Dig through the anti-Semitism and propaganda in Thrall’s piece and you’ll find a remarkable, almost comedic, irony: in his effort to discredit Jewish activists and accuse Jews of buying influence in U.S. politics, Thrall reveals that it is actually the Qataris who are buying influence to control the media.
It’s not Jews that are paying journalists. It’s Qatar.
It’s not Jews who are telling prominent newspapers what to publish. It’s Qatar.
It’s not Jews who are using money to shape the national conversation. It’s Qatar.
Publishing an article that tars and feathers Jewish philanthropists promotes BDS on an international scale, and whitewashes Qatar’s bankrolling of the very terrorist organization launching hundreds of rockets into Israel is a new low for tThe New York Times.
Manipulating a national conversation to meet Qatari interests is one thing. But leveraging age-old anti-Semitic tropes to engage in a kind of 21st century blood libel against Jews in America? That’s another beast altogether.
The one silver lining to this new attack on Israel and the Jewish people is the hope that Thrall’s article can wake up our community and our country to Qatar’s malign effort to buy off the U.S. media. After all, there’s no telling what kind of influence Qatar will try to buy next.
Let’s not wait to find out.