Israeli Defense Officials Strongly Reject Criticism of McMaster as 'anti-Israel'

Far-right affiliates of Steve Bannon have attacked Trump's national security adviser for being 'controlled by Jews' and 'hostile to Israel'

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017.
U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017. JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Israeli defense officials strongly rejected recent criticism of U.S. National Security Adviser Gen. H.R. McMaster, which alleges that he is anti-Israel.

McMaster is currently involved in a power struggle within the Trump administration, facing off against the far-right wing headed by senior adviser Steve Bannon, who is attempting to bring about McMaster's resignation. Far-right websites, namely Breitbart (formerly edited by Bannon), quoted two senior White House officials as saying that McMaster holds strong anti-Israel views and views it as an "illegitimate entity" and "occupying power." The crisis is linked to McMaster's decision to remove four Bannon allies from the National Security Council.

Senior Israeli defense officials told Haaretz on Saturday that the allegations against McMaster concerning Israel are false and baseless. McMaster accompanied Trump to Israel last May, during which he had a three-hour conversation with Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem. The meeting was described by the Israeli side as excellent. McMaster and his staff keep regular contact with the top echelons of the IDF and Defense Ministry - particularly with the head of the Defense Ministry's political-security department, Zohar Palti.

"All on our side who has met McMaster and keeps contact with him are constantly impressed by how pro-Israel he is. The relationship with him is excellent, and we really appreciate him," one of the senior defense officials told Haaretz.

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman
Ariel Hermoni / Defense Ministry

The driving force behind the campaign has been far-right blogger Mike Cernovich, who started sharing links to a website called, McMaster Leaks, which is devoted to attacks on McMaster, on social media.

These articles, quoting "administration officials" and a Facebook post by Israeli journalist Caroline Glick, accuse him of such "sins" as opposing an Israeli request to include Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Trump's visit to the Western Wall during his visit in Israel earlier this year.

McMaster, it should be noted, was the Trump administration's most senior representative and speaker earlier this year at the Israeli embassy's annual Independence Day event. He was warmly received by the crowd and gave a speech in which he expressed the administration's strong support for Israel, and promised to always safeguard the Jewish state's security interests.

Trump addressed the attacks against McMaster in a statement on Friday. "General McMaster and I are working very well together,” Trump said, offering strong support to his senior adviser. Trump added that McMaster is "a good man and very pro-Israel. I am grateful for the work he continues to do serving our country.”