Maher Bitar's Background Sparks Debate Over NSC Role

 May 10, 2024

Maher Bitar's appointment as the White House Coordinator for Intelligence and Defense Policy at the NSC has garnered considerable attention.

Maher Bitar, a senior director at the U.S. National Security Council, faces scrutiny over his past activism for Palestinian causes and criticisms of Israel.

According to Breitbart News, his role in Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), known for pro-Hamas rhetoric and actions considered antisemitic, contributes to the controversy surrounding his high-ranking security position. Additionally, the group's ties to organizations sued by terror attack victims further complicate his role.

His involvement in past administrations and his non-intellectual background in an intelligence-focused role at the NSC add layers to the controversy.

During the Obama administration, Bitar held significant posts concerning foreign and Israeli-Palestinian affairs, which provides context to his current stint under scrutiny. Notably, he is not a traditional choice for the NSC position, usually filled by seasoned CIA officers; this atypical appointment stands out in his career trajectory.

Secured Endorsements Amid Criticism

Bitar enjoys support from notable figures like Rep. Ilhan Omar, who openly praised President Biden's stance against arms provision to Israel, seeing it as a bold step.

Daniel Greenfield vividly remarks on Bitar's past activities:

At the PSM [Palestine Solidarity Movement] conference in Georgetown [in 2006], Bitar had run a session describing how to best demonize Israel. Next year, he facilitated a Palestinian Student Society summit addressed by Joseph Massad, who had called Israel a “Jewish supremacist state” and praised terrorism.

Analyst Caroline Glick stresses an important point about his credentials: "Bitar, however, is not an intelligence professional. He is an anti-Israel political activist."

Bitar had defended his qualifications through diverse experiences at high levels of government, including his key role as a senior legal advisor in President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial.

Legal expert Dan Goldman commended Bitar's capability, remarking on his comprehensive insight into legal and intelligence affairs, which he believes can greatly benefit the NSC.

Handling Sensitive Information Amidst Controversies

Zionist Organization of America has expressed stark opposition to Bitar’s role at the NSC. "Anti-Israel hate occupies the top of the foreign policy establishment," it claimed, highlighting a deep-seated concern among pro-Israel advocates about Bitar's influential position.

Bitar's current responsibilities at the NSC involve setting priorities for intelligence operations and managing susceptible national security information. This role is critical, especially when viewed against his past activism and critical viewpoints on Israel, which have become a source of tension among various U.S.-Israel supporters and policymakers.

As controversies surround Maher Bitar's appointment and role, his career-long dedication to policy and legal matters remains evident. His progression from a student activist to a senior advisor in the NSC sketches a complex but impactful public service pathway. Whether his past can coexist peacefully with his crucial national security duties remains a point of contention and a topic of considerable debate within and beyond Washington, D.C.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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