The White House on Thursday blasted implicit accusations of racism and dual-loyalty that were made in articles this week against the appointments of a Jewish American and a Palestinian American to senior posts in the administration of US President Joe Biden.
“We are appalled by recent spurious accusations against our staff. We welcome oversight and scrutiny, but there is no justification for false and ad hominem attacks based on ethnic, racial, or religious identity,” said National Security Council (NSC) spokeswoman Emily Horne in a statement.
She did not specify which attacks she was referring to, but the statement came less than a day after the left-wing investigative magazine Mother Jones published a story on Anne Neuberger, the new director of cybersecurity at the National Security Agency, and the right-wing Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) published an op-ed against Maher Bitar, who is the new NSC senior director for intelligence programs.
The Mother Jones report, which was picked up by NBC News, outlined more than $500,000 given to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee by a foundation named after Neuberger and her husband Yehuda. The foundation funnels its donations through the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.
The article quoted only anonymous sources, including multiple ones who suggested that Neuberger’s ties to AIPAC donations “would raise a lot of eyebrows” about her impartiality.
NBC has retracted its story on AIPAC donations made by a foundation tied to Anne Neuberger—a senior NSA official recently tapped to join Biden NSC to work on cyber issues—that was jointly published with Mother Jones today. pic.twitter.com/NnVtf1je6m
— Dustin Volz (@dnvolz) January 28, 2021
AIPAC, along with other major Jewish groups, blasted the story, calling such allegations of dual-loyalty “anti-Semitic.”
While Mother Jones has kept it online, NBC News on Wednesday night published an editor’s note at the top of the story saying it “it fell short of our reporting standards.”
“In order to warrant publication, it needed on-the-record quotes from critics, rather than anonymous ones,” the note said. “The article should have also included more views from those who believe that donations to AIPAC do not represent a conflict. And it did not give Neuberger adequate time to respond to our reporting.”
A separate op-ed published Wednesday by JNS claimed Maher was an anti-Israel activist who organized conferences for “supporters of Islamic terrorism” when he was in college.
Rejecting the attacks on Biden’s recent appointments, Horne wrote: “The women and men of the NSC are patriotic, dedicated, and serve their country with distinction. Being forced to endure public smear campaigns should not be part of working on behalf of the American people.”
JTA contributed to this report.