Who is Maher Bitar, the former anti-Israeli activist who became Biden's senior intelligence official

Despite having supported Islamic terrorism, Bitar was rewarded, first by Obama and then by Biden, with important positions on the National Security Council. Has he influenced the current tensions between the U.S. and Israeli governments?

In 2021, President Joe Biden appointed Maher Bitar, a former anti-Israeli activist of Palestinian descent who has hosted conferences praising Islamic terrorism, as senior director of intelligence on the National Security Council (NSC).

In January 2024, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan relocated Bitar to a new position on the council, where he now serves as deputy assistant to the president and coordinator for intelligence and defense policy.

Previously, under the Obama administration, Bitar worked at the NSC as director of Israeli and Palestinian Affairs and was deputy to Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. between 2013 and 2017. In addition, he was a foreign affairs official at the State Department from 2011 to 2016.

Has Bitar influenced the recent tensions between the Biden administration and the Israeli government regarding the Jewish state's offensive in Gaza in response to the Oct. 7 massacre?

Maher Bitar's past as an antisemitic activist

In an article published by The Jewish News Syndicate in 2021journalist Daniel Greenfield points out that in 2006, Mitar was part of the executive board of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), one of the main organizers of an anti-Israeli conference held that same year by the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) at Georgetown University.

The PSM is a student organization belonging to the anti-Israeli Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and whose conferences often support terrorist groups, such as Hamas, and celebrate the murder of Jews.

Bitar not only helped organize the PSM conference, but also explained at the event how best to demonize Israel.

Later, Mitar collaborated with the organization in a summit held by the Palestinian Students Society in which Joseph Massad, a professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history of the Middle East, who has called Israel a “Jewish supremacist state,” justified antisemitic hatred and praised Islamic terrorism.

Years later, Greenfield adds, Bitar spoke at a conference by the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, based in Jerusalem, in which some far-left activists participated. One of them was Richard Falk, professor emeritus at Princeton University, who, despite being born to a Jewish family, once said that “Hitler might have been right.” Rebecca Vilkomerson, from the leftist group Jewish Voice for Palestine (JVP), also participated. Among some of this group's reprehensible actions, in 2017, they invited Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who was deported from the United States that same year, to give a speech at a BDS event.

Greenfield further indicates that Bitar worked for UNRWA, the U.N. agency supposedly dedicated to helping Palestinian refugees, which has been accused of inciting hatred against Jews in the schools it operates in Palestinian territory, and many of its employees are suspected of having participated in terrorist acts against Israel, including during the Oct. 7 massacre. The agency is also in the crosshairs of Gazans themselves after it was accused of stealing humanitarian aid.

The journalist also highlights in the article that Bitar studied at the Oxford Center for Refugee Studies, where he presented deeply anti-Israeli academic works. In one of them he argued that Israel's “political existence as a state is the cause for Palestinian dispossession and statelessness.”

Bitar also helped produce a publication for a BDS organization called BADIL, in which he condemned “Jewish colonization” and demanded a Palestinian “right of return,” which would lead to the destruction of Israel.

How Democrats let Bitar occupy senior intelligence positions

Despite his antisemitic activism, Bitar managed to start working in the Office of the Envoy for Peace in the Middle East. Then, as mentioned above, he went on to serve as NSC director for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs and as deputy to Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from 2013 to 2017, under the Barack Obama administration.

Greenfield notes that even while Bitar was involved in anti-Israeli activism, he was also volunteering for the Obama campaign and at the United Nations.

Following Donald Trump's victory in the 2016 election, Bitar became the Democrats' general counsel on the House Intelligence Committee, serving as chief legal counsel to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and played a role key in the first Democratic attempt to impeach Trump.

Greenfield mentions a series of unusual situations that occurred during the Obama administration, when pro-Israeli organizations went to Washington, D.C., to receive reports from Bitar on Israel's security without having any idea who he was.

According to Greenfield, the left continues to win political battles, even when moderates and conservatives win elections, because they understand that having their people in various bodies to formulate policy is more important. And this can be seen in the case of Bitar, who Obama put in charge of the NSC's Israel table, while Biden appointed him to be in charge of this organization's intelligence.

How important is the position Bitar was appointed to by Biden in 2021?

As explained by journalist Caroline B. Glick in an article published by The Jewish News Syndicate, in 2021, the position of senior director of intelligence at the NSC, with which Biden awarded Bitar despite his antisemitic past, is one of the most important in the U.S. intelligence community. The senior director is the node to which all intelligence from all agencies flows. He decides what to share with the president. And on behalf of the president, he determines priorities for operations and intelligence gathering.

Glick adds that the senior director also determines what information the U.S. intelligence community will share with foreign intelligence services. Likewise, he decides how to relate to the information that foreign agencies share with the United States.

The position, Glick notes, is intended to define the Biden administration's foreign policy. Therefore, it should be filled by intelligence professionals, but strangely, an activist who has helped organize conferences that supported Islamic terrorism was awarded the position after the boost he received from the Obama administration.

The journalist comments that when word spread about Bitar's appointment, Fred Fleitz, former spokesperson for the NSC during the Trump administration and former official at the CIA, asked if Biden and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan approved the appointment. Obviously, Glick points out, Bitar was not appointed despite his obvious support for the demise of Israel, but precisely because of that.

Did Biden's difficult relationship with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu influence the appointment of the antisemitic activist?

Is Biden turning his back on Israel?

Recently, Joe Biden announced that his government would not send weapons to Israel for its military raid on Rafah, the final Hamas stronghold in Gaza, because the U.S. president does not agree with that IDF operation.

Biden's attitude generated rejection from Republican legislators and even some Democrats, as well as important donors.

After the controversial announcement, the U.S. government issued a sanctions exemption to allow the sale of weapons to some countries allied to terrorism, such as Lebanon and Qatar.

Senator Ted Cruz took aim at Biden after the announcements made by the government. "They have sanctioned Israel and imposed an arms embargo. Meanwhile, they've spent hundreds of millions pouring aid into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, dismantled sanctions on Iran, and now are suspending congressional restrictions to send weapons to Israel's enemies such as Qatar and Lebanon," he said, adding: "The foreign policy of the Biden administration is precisely backwards. Joe Biden is the best friend Iran, Hezbollah, or Hamas could ever have."

Amid tensions between the Biden administration and the Israeli government, the State Department published a six-page report on Friday, May 5, concluding that it is “reasonable” to evaluate whether or not Israel illegally used American weapons in Gaza. The report was made under pressure from several Democratic lawmakers who criticize the IDF's military offensive in response to the massacre carried out by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups on Oct. 7.

After the criticism received from Republicans and Democrats, Biden decided to advance efforts to allocate $1 billion in weapons for Israel as a way to mend his ties with Netanyahu.