Sheldon Adelson disavows campaign tarring H.R. McMaster as anti-Israel


(JTA) — Sheldon Adelson disavowed a campaign by a right-wing Jewish group he funds alleging that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is anti-Israel.

Adelson, a billionaire pro-Israel philanthropist, had no role in the Zionist Organization of America’s campaign and no qualms with McMaster, his representative told the Axios news website Monday.

“Sheldon Adelson has nothing to do with the ZOA campaign against McMaster. Had no knowledge of it. And has provided zero support, and is perfectly comfortable with the role that McMaster is playing,” Andy Abboud said.

Axios reported that Abboud called back after making the first comment to clarify that it was not intended to suggest Adelson, a major giver to Republican candidates, including Trump, supports McMaster. The report paraphrased his message as “Adelson doesn’t know McMaster and hasn’t developed an opinion about him. Adelson doesn’t want his intervention to be interpreted as a political endorsement but rather that he has had nothing to do with, and doesn’t support, the campaign against McMaster.”

The Zionist Organization of America, one of the few Jewish organizations to consistently defend President Donald Trump, issued a report last Thursday criticizing McMaster and calling for him to be removed from his position. The ZOA said McMaster is undermining Trump’s Middle East agenda and the U.S.-Israel relationship by firing officials supportive of the Jewish state and critical of the Iran nuclear deal, like Ezra Cohen-Watnick, the hawkish former senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council.

The ZOA continued its attacks on McMaster Tuesday, noting in a release that he had won support from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the left-wing Media Matters watchdog group  and former Obama administration official Van Jones, all of whom ZOA characterized as “anti-Israel.”

The ZOA’s sustained campaign against McMaster comes amid a barrage of criticism of McMaster from Trump’s far-right supporters. Many of the attacks were published on the far-right Breitbart News website, which was formerly run by White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon. One recent headline said McMaster was “deeply hostile to Israel and to Trump.”

On Monday, ZOA President Morton Klein, who has often praised Bannon, issued a news release saying that U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has called and written him in an attempt to change his mind about McMaster — as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose resignation Klein has also called for. According to Klein, Friedman said ZOA “was mistaken in its recent call for the resignation or reassignment of two people with whom I work closely, Secretary Tillerson and General McMaster.”

McMaster’s defenders also include Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who issued a statement calling the “the so-called ‘alt-right'” movement’s attacks on the national security adviser “disgraceful.”

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