NBC, Mother Jones Articles on AIPAC Donations by Jewish Cybersecurity Official Spread ‘Dual Loyalty’ Canard, Say Jewish Groups

An NBC News sign and logo are seen outside the NBC News Today Show studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City, New York, U.S., October 9, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Reports from NBC News and Mother Jones on a Jewish Biden Administration official drew sharp rebuke by leading Jewish groups Wednesday, for implying that donations to the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC raised questions about her loyalty to the United States.

“We call on @MotherJones to withdraw its attack on Deputy National Security Adviser Anne Neuberger for her family’s support for @AIPAC,” tweeted the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “She has served the American people with distinction. This attack on her character smacks of age-old antisemitic canards.”

The stories — initially reported by David Corn at the magazine Mother Jones, followed by NBC News‘ Ken Dilanian — cited over half a million dollars donated to AIPAC by the a family foundation linked to Anne Neuberger, who is senior director for cyber policy on the White House National Security Council (NSC). These donations, they claimed, could create the appearance of bias in favor of Israel over American interests.

In a statement, AIPAC said that it was “inexcusable for a major news outlet to perpetuate this offensive charge.”

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“The charge of dual loyalty has a long and disturbing anti-Semitic history. It has been used for generations to question the patriotism of pro-Israel Americans and undermine our rights. It is a targeted accusation that our community cannot be trusted, and that we are unlike other Americans,” it said.

Neuberger, who has also used the first name “Chani,” was born to Holocaust survivors in a Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. She held a number of intelligence roles under the Obama and Trump Administrations, and has said she is proud to serve as a role model for Orthodox women.

The Wednesday articles cited sources worried that that donations made by Neuberger’s family’s foundation, in which she serves as an officer, could prompt questions about the impartiality of NSC policy.

“While Israel is a close American ally, it operates in its own interest and aggressively spies on the U.S., including using cyber capabilities, current and former officials say,” the reporter Dilanian had written in the NBC News article.

By Wednesday night, NBC News had replaced it with an editor’s note, saying that it had fallen “short of our reporting standards” and moving the original story to its archives.

“In order to warrant publication, it needed on-the-record quotes from critics, rather than anonymous ones. 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,” the note said.

At writing, the Mother Jones story remained online, despite calls from Conference of Presidents CEO William Daroff and the American Jewish Committee for it to follow the lead of NBC News. 

Corn wrote, “Though Israel is a US ally, it has spied on the US government, and the CIA has considered Israel a top counterintelligence threat. And it is not hard to conceive of cyber-related conflicts that could arise between the two states. So should a Biden administration national security official in charge of US cyber policy be supporting an influence group aligned with the Israeli government?”

The magazine appended an update to the story saying that it “stands by our reporting,” distinguishing it from the NBC piece and noting a request for its removal from NSC spokesman Emily Horne.

“We are appalled by recent spurious accusations against our staff. We welcome oversight and scrutiny, but there is no justification for false and ad hominem attacks based on ethnic, racial, or religious identity,” Horne tweeted Thursday morning, in apparent reference to both the articles on Neuberger and unrelated criticism of the appointment of a Palestinian-American official to the NSC.

“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.”

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