An article by John R. MacArthur in Harper’s Magazine said, “The long and corrupt history of American-Saudi relations centers around the kingdom’s vast reserves of easily extractable oil, of course. Ever since President Franklin D. Roosevelt met aboard ship in 1945 with King Ibn Saud, the special relationship with the desert kingdom has only grown stronger. The House of Saud is usually happy to sell us oil at a consistent and reasonable price and then increase production if unseemly market forces drive the world price of a barrel too high for U.S. consumers. In exchange we arm the Saudis to the teeth and turn a blind eye to their medieval approach to crime and punishment.”
It is nothing new. The Saudis spend as they need to as they continue to pull the wool over America’s eyes, using a PR agency in the past. Now, they have taken things to another level, even for the Saudis.
It has just been revealed that Saudi Arabia, which spent over $100 million from 2000 to 2010 on American propaganda, has hired the largest Jewish-owned PR firm in the world, Edelman, to “promote the Kingdom’s interests among key groups within the world body and to U.N. observers.” The assignment entails book development/giveaways, video production, event backdrop development, strategic counsel and more.
Saudi government lobbying and PR companies include Hill & Knowlton (since 1982), Qorvis Communications – who worked to manage the fact that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis – and many others. However, never before have they hired a firm as outwardly Jewish as Edelman. None were firms that were founded by someone described on the company blog as “proud to be Jewish; in his day, Jews had to be better than the rest to get ahead. His faith informed his belief in ethics—there was right or wrong, no grey area.”
Edelman is owned by Richard Edelman, a self-described proud Jew who supports Israel and is proud of the pro-bono work his firm has done for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation. Richard has written of the immense emotions he felt saying Kaddish with Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel for his dead father. And how he “went to Auschwitz-Birkenau this past summer, having read Wiesel’s moving story, Night, about his time in the death camp. As I watched the now elderly Wiesel, his face lined and his hair tousled under his yarmulke, I thought about Martin Becker praying before the ovens for his own parents, about my youngest daughter’s upcoming bat mitzvah and about my own father.”
Clearly, a proud American Jew who spoke of “a Mitzvah, a special memory that we will be sure to relate to all whom we encounter. We are joined with you forever in preserving this vital piece of history, so that it never happens again.” And Richard and his family have been involved with many Jewish issues through the years. I know personally of the feelings he has for Israel.
Saudi money has always gone far in America – but aligning with a company owned by such a proud Jew is a different stop. With this contract, one wonders if special considerations have been made for Edelman company executives to travel to the region. Will women and Jews be permitted to travel to the region? There were 14 people named in federal filings on the Saudi PR account. And if the women are allowed in, will they be allowed to travel alone, as the country remains the only country in the world where women are not allowed to drive?
Sheikh Salman al-Awdah, a leading Saudi cleric (with 2.4 million Twitter followers) recently wrote an open letter where he warned the Saudi Arabian government that it would be facing “the spark of violence” if it didn’t act on issues like detained dissidents, bad public services, and corruption. There are said to be 30,000 political prisoners in prison in Saudi Arabia, and the country remains amongst the worst when it comes to human rights. These are policy issues, not PR issues.
Just don’t tell the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, who said: “Jews are evil offspring, infidels, distorters of words …the scum of the human race whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs.” What will the imam say when he knows these “distorters of words” at an American Jewish-owned PR agency is working for Saudi Arabia?
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