Before Oct. 7, Beverly Hills Synagogue Senior Rabbi Pini Dunner had never organized a protest. But after Hamas terrorists killed approximately 1,200 Israelis and captured nearly 240 hostages last month, Dunner was compelled to act.
On Nov. 20, Dunner led dozens of protesters in a demonstration in front of the Maybourne Beverly Hills, blasting owner Hamad Bin Jassim, often known as HBJ, for his purported ties to Hamas and urging residents to fight antisemitism by boycotting the hotel.
In an impassioned speech punctuated by bursts of applause, Dunner said that unlike the rulers of neighboring countries in the Persian Gulf, the Qatari royal family, to which HBJ belongs, continues to support violence against Israel, and he accused Qatar of bankrolling terror while laundering its public image.
“Every dollar of profit here at the Maybourne Hotel could be going to fund Hamas terrorism, so we will not spend our money in this hotel,” he added.
Although Dunner acknowledged that HBJ hadn’t served as Prime Minister since 2013, he claimed that HBJ’s high rank in the royal family still implicates him in Qatar’s dealings with Hamas.
“The father of the [current prime minister of Qatar] owns this hotel,” Dunner said. “Don’t you think he could call … and say to him, ‘Make sure the hostages are released.”
Representatives from the Maybourne Beverly Hills declined to comment, and representatives from the Consulate General of the State of Qatar in Los Angeles, located on Rodeo Drive, did not respond to requests for comment.
Dunner was joined by Beverly Hills City Councilmember John Mirisch, who called on the council to investigate all Qatari interests in the city and push for the consulate to be removed from its current location.
“They’re directly responsible for funding Hamas and they’re bad actors and they need to follow the course of [the Bahrani leaders] … and make peace with Israel and become responsible civil actors within the Middle East to try and achieve lasting peace, ” Mirisch said.
Dunner said that Qatar’s role in negotiating the release of Israeli hostages does not exonerate the royal family from its backing of Hamas. Paraphrasing an article in the Wall Street Journal, Dunner compared Qatar to “an arsonist that starts a fire, and then puts it out and wants a pat on the head and a thank you for putting out the fire.”
Not all members of the Jewish community support Dunner’s stance against the Maybourne. Yossi Cunin, Rabbi of the Beverly Hills Jewish Community Synagogue, said the Maybourne has always supported Jewish life, including his own congregation.
When his congregation had overflow attendance for this year’s High Holy Days, the Maybourne hosted the services for free, and he has recently begun leading weekly Shabbats there, Cunin said. He added that at his suggestion, the hotel has recently installed a menorah in front of the property.
“If you drive by the Maybourne hotel, proudly is displayed … a menorah,” Cunin said.
Guided by his rabbinical teachings, Cunin does not want to bring negative attention to a place that has done such good for the Jewish community, he added.
“Everything and every place … in this world has something negative about it,” Cunin said. “As a Chabad rabbi, we’re here to focus and magnify the positive bright spots that … in people and the community.”