by James Kirchick
"To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle," George Orwell wrote in 1946. He was describing a midcentury inclination to avoid "facing unpleasant facts," one that manifested itself in the hypocrisy of those who claimed to be against Nazism while failing to support the military conscription needed to deter it. Today, the recognition of plain facts remains no less of a struggle for those analyzing world politics.
Pictured: Palestinian children hold toy guns during a rally to mark 24 years of Hamas' founding.
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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 who has lately taken to polemicizing about foreign policy.
In a recent item for The Atlantic, where he is a contributing editor, entitled, "Is Hamas Really a Surrogate of Iran?" Wright set out to dispute what he dismissively terms "The Hamas-as-Iran-puppet narrative." This "motif" is promoted either by unscrupulous figures like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (who hypes the alliance between the two so as to "justify" his "uncompromising stance" towards the Iranian regime) or unthinking stenographers like journalists at The New York Times, who lazily refer to the Gaza-based terror group as "Iran's surrogates."
The claim that Hamas is an Iranian proxy is "oddly out of touch with recent developments in the region," Wright asserts; we have in fact witnessed a "slack in Hamas's relationship with Iran." As evidence, he cites Hamas' break with the Assad regime in Syria, one of its erstwhile patrons and Iran's only Arab ally. Then there was the remark by a middling Hamas official in March that the group would not take part in an Iran-Israeli military conflict. Finally, Hamas' closer relationship with Egypt and Qatar, "members of the global establishment," indicates that the terrorist organization is slowly weaning itself off Tehran's teat.
Yet Hamas' break with Assad (a cynical move necessitated by the Syrian civil war, not an altruistic objection to the regime's depravity) does not seem to have dampened its partnership with Tehran. "The relations between the Hamas movement and Iran has been effected by events in Syria," Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook conceded to an Egyptian newspaper last month, "but we desire our relations to remain as they were in the past and it is better if we can we make these relations more active." Similarly, Khaled Ghadoumi, Hamas' political bureau chief based in Tehran, affirms that Iran and Hamas enjoy a "strategic relationship."
Actions speak louder than words, yet Iran's supply to Hamas of missiles that can hit Israel's main population centers -- no minor feat considering the blockade of Gaza and the international isolation this policy engenders -- does not faze Wright. He cites an Israeli academic who wrote that, "Iran's role has mainly been that of a weapons supplier and not much else," which is like arguing that the Taliban's role in 9/11 was mainly that it hosted Al Qaeda and not much else.
SOURCE: New York Daily News