It’s not a coincidence that national security adviser H.R. McMaster has chosen to eliminate the pro-Israel voices at the National Security Council, three West Wing and defense officials (who chose to speak on background for diplomatic sensitivity reasons) told Conservative Review.
In interviews with several current and former members of President Trump’s inner circle, a profile of McMaster has emerged as a man fiercely opposed to strengthening the U.S. alliance with the Jewish state.
On Wednesday, American-born Israeli journalist Caroline Glick detailed explosive allegations concerning McMaster’s views on Israel. Glick is a well-known pro-Israel columnist and has established connections with the Trump administration. Many of the details in this story emerged from questions asked about Glick’s allegations.
The list of pro-Israel voices in the administration that were removed from McMaster’s National Security Council now includes: Steve Bannon, K.T. McFarland, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Derek Harvey, Rich Higgins, Adam Lovinger, and Tera Dahl.
McMaster not only shuns Israel, he is also historically challenged on Arab-Israeli affairs, according to the sources.
“McMaster constantly refers to the existence of a Palestinian state before 1947,” a senior West Wing official tells CR (there was never an independent Palestinian state), adding that McMaster describes Israel as an “illegitimate,” “occupying power.”
The NSC chief expressed great reluctance to work with Israel on counterterror efforts, as he shut down a joint U.S.-Israel project to counter the terrorist group Hezbollah’s efforts to expand Iran’s worldwide influence. The project was led by the now-former NSC Middle East director Derek Harvey.
In July, Palestinian terrorists armed with rifles left the al-Aqsa mosque compound and assassinated two Israeli police officers. Afterward, Israeli security forces installed metal detectors outside the Jerusalem mosque for protection. McMaster, however, didn’t see it that way. He viewed the security measures as “just another excuse by the Israelis to repress the Arabs,” a senior defense official tells CR.
A senior West Wing official explained McMaster’s anti-Israel posture further:
“In advance of the president’s trip to Israel, there was a lot of desire from within the Trump administration for [Israeli PM Benjamin] Netanyahu to join the president at the Western Wall. McMaster didn’t even want [Trump] to go to the Western Wall. He only wanted the president to visit the Holocaust Museum.”
A deal was ultimately cut, and the president visited the Western Wall — but without Netanyahu.
In May, while briefing reporters, McMaster infamously refused to recognize that the Western Wall (one of the holiest sites in Judaism) was part of Israel.
After his stand against Israel’s sovereignty, McMaster’s NSC staff (composed mostly of Obama holdovers and new liberal appointees) applauded his anti-Israel posture.
“As McMaster announced that the president would be going to the Western Wall by himself (and without Netanyahu) … the people in his White House office (who were watching the speech on television) were clapping and cheering,” said a firsthand witness to the events that unfolded after McMaster’s briefing.
The NSC director continues to face massive blowback from conservative leaders, as his popularity on the Right dwindles. On Wednesday, McMaster fired Trump loyalist Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the senior director for intelligence at the NSC.
Thursday, Circa reported that McMaster allowed for Obama cabinet official Susan Rice to retain her top security clearance, even as she has been accused of conducting illegal surveillance on American citizens.
The National Security Council did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Jordan Schachtel is the national security correspondent for Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @JordanSchachtel.