When a leftist publication attempted to shame President Joe Biden’s deputy national security adviser for cybersecurity last week for her support of Israel, earnest allies of the pro-Israel community spoke up in her defense.
“The offensive dual loyalty trope insinuated by the article is unacceptable, and NBC is correct to acknowledge it was wrong to have posted it. Anne Neuberger is a professional and this administration will benefit from her expertise,” Rep. Gregory Meeks tweeted on January 28, expressing agreement with former ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro who wrote that her family’s support of AIPAC is “protected under the Constitution” and unrelated to her national security work.
The matter was brought up by Mother Jones magazine Washington bureau chief David Corn a day earlier in a lengthy report that documented Neuberger’s personal wealth and philanthropy. “National security experts tell Mother Jones that the hefty donations from Neuberger’s foundation to AIPAC – a strong ally of an Israeli government that is deeply involved in cyber and intelligence issues of importance to the US government and that has spied on the United States and been a target of US spying – raise concerns,” Corn wrote, quoting unnamed sources.
Being an Orthodox Jew in America is relatively easy, as anti-Semitism and physical safety are concerned, but overcoming stereotypes is the challenge. Mother Jones notes that many publications have focused on the “novelty of an Orthodox Jewish woman who grew up in a chasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn... becoming a leader at the NSA.”
Another anomaly that the magazine noted is the affluence of Neuberger, her husband Yehuda, and her father George Karfunkel. Together they have a family foundation that donates to various Jewish and pro-Israel causes. “From 2012 through 2018 – the last year for which tax records for the foundation are available – the Neubergers provided $559,000 to AIPAC,” Corn wrote. The money was accounted in filings for lobbying, which the reporter noted was either “to influence a legislative body” or “to influence public opinion.”
The magazine then laid out its bias against Israel by arguing that AIPAC is a partisan organization that promotes the policies of the Netanyahu government, and that Israel is not a reliable ally, citing Jonathan Pollard as a case in point.
The Mother Jones article was reported by NBC but then this national news network issued a retraction on the day that it was published.
“After a number of readers raised issues with this article, NBC News conducted a review and has determined that it fell short of our reporting standards. In order to warrant publication, it needed on-the-record quotes from critics, rather than anonymous ones,” NBC wrote in a statement. “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.”
AIPAC also issued a statement pushing back on the Mother Jones article. “Charges of dual loyalty are anti-Semitic and insult millions of Americans – Jewish and non-Jewish – who stand by our ally Israel. We will not be deterred from exercising our rights as citizens to advocate for a strong US-Israel relationship.”
Emily Horne, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, where Neuberger works, also spoke up in her defense. “We note that NBC has pulled down their own version of this story, saying it fell short of their reporting standards, and [we] look forward to Mother Jones doing the same. 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.” Mother Jones stands by its reporting, noting that Neuberger did not respond to its inquiries on the story.
All of this brings us back to the lawmaker from southeast Queens. With NBC recognizing the errors, and NSC having its statement, Meeks did not have to say anything. But as the Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, he understands that when his constituents and citizens beyond his district have opinions concerning other countries, they are protected under the Constitution.
Likewise, Meeks also tweeted in support of another NSC official, Maher Bitar, its senior director for Intelligence, whose views on Israel are the opposite of Neuberger. As a student at Georgetown University, Bitar was an executive board member of Students for Justice in Palestine. In 2006, he organized a Palestine Solidarity Movement conference on that campus to promote the boycott of Israel. He graduated with a law degree and then a Master’s degree from Oxford with a thesis on “Forced Migration,” focusing on Palestinian refugees. He worked at the State Department under President Barack Obama, with the Palestine portfolio.
“The racist attack on Maher Bitar is outrageous. Public servants working to make our country safer shouldn’t have to endure ugly, bigoted attacks,” Meeks tweeted. “The Biden admin reflects a diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints – a welcome change from the last four years. Let them do their jobs.”
Although Neuberger and Bitar work for the same agency, their desks are not in the same office. They are entitled to their views on the Middle East and whatever reports they write concerning Israel and the Palestinians are likely scrutinized for every word, for what is included and omitted.
Meeks noted the dual-loyalty trope insinuated by Mother Jones. In doing so, he recognizes an awareness of Jewish history, and how this trope has been used against accomplished Jews in public service for many generations, and in many countries. To speak up against anti-Semitism is admirable, and to identify a specific form of anti-Semitism is certainly commendable.