James Kirchick is a columnist for the tabloid New York Daily News and a loud voice on Twitter. His articles and his Twitter feed are often distinguished by invective directed at misguided, mischievous, or malicious "liberals" who supposedly criticise Israel and appease evil States like Iran.
So it was with more than a tinge of surprise and then amusement that I read in Fars on Saturday, "US Politician Describes Iran, Hamas as Best Friends in Middle East":
The Islamic Republic of Iran and the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, enjoy a strategic relationship which has not been negatively affected by the recent political developments in the region, a senior member of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies said.
Jim Kirchick in an article in New York Daily News wrote that Hamas officials in their recent statements have confirmed that they have strategic relations with Iran.
So how did "Jim Kirchick" wind up serving the Islamic Republic that he vehemently despises? Because, in his quest to denounce American analysts who are allegedly coddling the Ayatollahs, Kirchick is either ignorant or unconcerned about what is actually occurring in Iran and the Middle East.
The story begins on 4 December, when Kirchick wrote for the Daily News, "Yes, Hamas and Iran Are Still the Best of Friends". His immediate concern, however, was neither Gaza nor Tehran:
The willful denial of reality is apparent in the way many in the West continue to delude themselves about the ideology and behavior of authoritarian regimes and sub-state groups. A prime exemplar of this tendency is Robert Wright, a Pulitzer Prize-finalist author of books about religion and evolutionary psychology.
Wright's sin was to question, in The Atlantic, if Hamas was a "surrogate" of the Islamic Republic, given that the label was "oddly out of touch with recent developments in the region". He noted, quite rightly, that the Syrian crisis has strained political relations between Hamas and Tehran --- as pointedly noted by Hamas's deputy political director, "Iran’s position in the Arab world, it’s no longer a good position" --- even if Tehran had supplied some of Gazan organisation's rockets and military equipment. He observed that Hamas had moved closer to countries such as Qatar and Egypt and, citing fellow analyst Meir Javedanfar, that the Gazan leadership's moves during the eight-day war indicated it had different objectives from those of the Iranian regime.
Needless to say, all of this is highly inconvenient for Kirchick's simplistic view of an anti-Israeli Axis of Evil, so --- with a total of two pieces of evidence, a distorted sentence from Marzouk and another from a lower-level Hamas official --- he spends several ad hominem paragraphs on the "pernicious" and "noxious" Wright.
What Kirchick never realises is that he is not the only person with an interest, whatever the actual state of affairs, in portraying Hamas and Iran as Best Friends. He shares that objective with the leaders of the Islamic Republic.
As we noted throughout and after the Gaza War, the developments put Iran in a difficult position. Having pinned its regional propaganda on the image of Primary Defender of the Palestinians, Tehran watched from the sidelines as others occupied the political and diplomatic stage.
No amount of celebration of Fajr-5 rockets could obscure that Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Turkey were the players in the attempt to end the war; no propaganda could hide that any thanks to Iran for military equipment was put within the context of political manoeuvres with other powers. By the end of the conflict, as leaders from Arab States and Turkey were visiting Gaza to express their partnership with the Palestinian people, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was publicly fretting that he had been blocked by Egypt from entering the territory.
Of course, these adversities did not halt Iran's propaganda; they redoubled the need for it. So last week Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani toured the region --- but not Gaza --- to proclaim that Iran, Hezbollah, and the Palestians are the "diamond triangle of resistance". Press TV proclaimed, "Gazans Naming Newborns After Iran’s Fajr-5 Missiles".
And so "Jim Kirchick", now apparently a politician as a well as a pundit, is exalted as the analyst proving Iran's claims.
In the opening sentence of his diatribe against Wright, Kirchick used the tired device of George Orwell as a shield, using the Englishman's quote, "To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle."
Too true, in this case --- I wonder if the columnist will struggle beyond his nose to notice what happens when his polemic is put into the crucible of Iranian politics and diplomacy?