Jewish groups spar over McMaster’s record on Israel
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Jewish groups spar over McMaster’s record on Israel

AJC comes to US national security adviser's defense after ZOA releases report calling on Trump to fire him

US National Security Advisor HR McMaster denies the report of US President Donald Trump revealing classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office, during a statement to the press outside of the West Wing at the White House on May 15, 2017. (AFP/Saul Loeb)
US National Security Advisor HR McMaster denies the report of US President Donald Trump revealing classified information to Russian officials in the Oval Office, during a statement to the press outside of the West Wing at the White House on May 15, 2017. (AFP/Saul Loeb)

Jewish organizations sparred over the views of H.R. McMaster, the US national security adviser, with the Zionist Organization of America attacking him as anti-Israel and the American Jewish Committee defending him.

ZOA, one of the few Jewish organizations to consistently defend US President Donald Trump, issued a report on Thursday sharply critical of McMaster.

In the report, ZOA claims that McMaster is undermining Trump’s Middle East agenda and the relationship between the United States and Israel by firing officials supportive of the Jewish state and critical of the Iran nuclear deal, including Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the hawkish former senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council.

It also asserts that McMaster hired people ZOA claims have negative views on Israel, naming Kris Bauman, who will serve as point man on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Dina Powell, the deputy national security advisor.

The report calls on Trump “to remove General McMaster from his current position and reassign him to another position where he can do no further harm on these critical national security issues.”

US President Donald Trump walks with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, June 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
US President Donald Trump walks with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, June 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Dan Shapiro, who served as ambassador to Israel under former president Barack Obama, and the American Jewish Committee criticized the ZOA report.

“ZOA claims, on the flimsiest of pretexts that McMaster has ‘animus toward Israel’ and ‘opposes Trump’s pro-Israel policies’,” Shapiro tweeted. “Nonsense. Every Israeli official who met McMaster has found him to be deeply sympathetic, friendly, consistent with longstanding U.S. support for Israel.”

The centrist American Jewish Committee shared one of Shapiro’s tweets, adding: “Agreed. We were honored to host Gen. McMaster at AJC Global Forum and chatted with him before. His admiration for Israel was crystal-clear.”

On Friday, Trump called his national security adviser “very pro-Israel,” an apparent bid to end a barrage of attacks from the right that have depicted McMaster as hostile to Israel.

“General McMaster and I are working very well together. He is a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country,” Trump said.

US President Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, April 9, 2017. (AFP/Jim Watson)
US President Donald Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, April 9, 2017. (AFP/Jim Watson)

Within the White House, McMaster is seen at odds with Trump’s top strategist Steve Bannon, whom McMaster had removed from the NSC’s principals committee. The ZOA in its statement on McMaster lamented his removal, calling Bannon “a strong opponent of the Iran deal, and a staunch supporter of Israel.”

ZOA first shared its negative assessment of McMaster with Breitbart News, the right-wing web site Bannon headed before joining the Trump campaign, according to a report on the site.

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