The Israeli embassy in Washington has come out in public support of Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, in the wake of renewed attempts to delegitimize him by casting him as an enemy of Israel.
Last week, several websites associated with the so-called alt-right asserted that McMaster had shouted at senior Israelis during a meeting with an Israeli delegation at the White House and had insisted on bringing with him to the meeting an adviser named Mustafa Ali, who, the reports alleged, supports the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah.
The articles were shared thousands of times on social media.
According to a report Wednesday in the right-wing PJ Media, McMaster publicly dismissed Israeli concerns that Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, was operating freely in southern Syria, along Israel’s northern border. During the meeting, held the week of August 27, McMaster publicly “blew off” the delegation’s concerns, the report said, and was heard “yelling at the Israelis.”
The delegation had reportedly expressed concern that Hezbollah was being allowed to operate freely in the safe zone in southern Syria currently being negotiated by Russia, the US and Jordan as part of a ceasefire in the area.
But Itai Bar Dov, a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in Washington, told the Haaretz daily newspaper over the weekend that the claims were false and that Israel “values General McMaster’s efforts to strengthen Israel-US relations.”
The assault on McMastermaster — seen as one of the more moderate figures in Trump’s immediate environment — began in July in the context of a power struggle between the national security adviser and Steve Bannon, the senior political adviser to Trump, who was sacked last month.
In articles that were shared hundreds of thousands of times, media outlets associated with Bannon and the alt-right spread reports that McMaster is “hostile to Israel.”
The campaign against McMaster was renewed last week, after having abated in the immediate wake of Bannon’s ouster.
Spokespeople for both the National Security Council at the White House and the Israeli Embassy in Washington said the alleged shouting never took place, and that the allegations against Mustafa Ali were false.
The White House said Ali never participated in, nor had been scheduled to meet with, the Israeli delegation, and that he had never expressed support for Hezbollah.
On the contrary, he was part of a team McMaster set up to formulate a comprehensive strategy to combat Iran and its proxy organizations throughout the Middle East.