Josef Olmert
Josef Olmert

Zarif and Kerry: On lies and journalistic ethics

It is a well-known phenomenon to those who follow Western coverage of the Middle East-so called media stars like the smiling faces of spokespeople of Middle Eastern dictators. So, in the old days, we had Muhammad Hassanein Heikal, Gamal Abd Al Nasser mouthpiece to the Western media. In more recent times the super-star was Buthaina Shaaban, the smiling face of Bashar Assad, and the favorite of Charlie Rose, and who can forget Hanan Ashrawi, who fulfilled this role to Yasir Arafat. Very recently, a new super-star emerged, no other than Muhammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of the terror regime in Tehran, the popular guest of Christian Amanpour in CNN. Zarif became the acceptable face of the Mullahs, the man who signed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 on behalf of his masters and in front of some Western friends who seemed to be enchanted with the smiles and the polished English. One of them was then-Secretary of State John Kerry. Here is where our current story starts.

A few days ago a tape surfaced in which Zarif was speaking his mind about the situation in Iran, as well as expressing his opinions about Western buddies. In it, Zarif attacked the Revolutionary Guards, and even criticized the sacred cow of the regime, Qassem Suleimani, the arch-terrorist who was sent to an early rendezvous with the 72 virgins in hell by the Trump administration. Some background is needed here. Iran is a totalitarian entity, but it is well-known, that there are two factions competing for political domination, and these are the so-called ”extremists,” namely the Revolutionary Guards, and the so-called “moderates” who are supporters of President Rouhani. What exactly are the differences between them is not so clear, despite the mountains of words written about that by commentators, but it is obvious that they are united about one issue-they want to destroy Israel. On this, there is no debate, and Zarif, while representing the Rouhani line with his usual sugar talk, also represents the others when it comes to Israel. All this is important because it is not clear who leaked this tape, though it seems logical, that it was done as part of the internal bickering in the regime, which has recently become very public. It is clear, however, that the tape is authentic, Zarif talked and how. But then, he said something else-he specifically referred to his buddy Kerry, and said, that the latter told him about Israeli operations in Syria. WOW!, that is a real bombshell, and here it is where the story is murky or made to look like that. Kerry denies this story, alleging that Zarif lied. Well, in that case, I can quote one of my FB friends, Merle Shewchuk who so simply and logically posted the inevitable question-if Zarif lies here, why should anyone believe him when he makes all his promises regarding the nuclear deal. The truth is, that I, for one, cannot determine who says the truth this time. Why should I even put my head in between two proven unreliable persons? Zarif is the spokesman of the hangmen in Tehran, not exactly a position that gives him a certificate of honesty, whereas the reliability of Kerry was more or less demolished by fellow Vietnam veterans during his unsuccessful 2004 Presidential bid. Kerry also proved his vitriol against Israel on more than one occasion, so who knows. Stranger things than that already happened, and what may seem illogical to some can be viewed exactly the opposite by others.

It is though relevant and suspicious, that the Liberal Bible, aka the NYT, when publishing the story, ”somehow” managed to omit the references to Kerry, and this may indicate, that even these guys in New York, have a solid ground to think, that publishing this reference to Kerry can cause damage, not to Kerry himself, but to the real mission of the NYT. It is to cleanse the image of Iran and propagate for a new nuclear deal with her at all cost. The NYT has a history of such violations when dealing with Iran.

It is arguably the case, that the omission by the NYT is intentional. Let me provide another example, though there are others. It was on 22 February 2009, when one of their columnists, Roger Cohen, published his impressions after a visit to the Jewish community of Iran. In one of the most notorious, ridiculous pieces by a respectable journalist in a so-called respectable newspaper, Cohen bent over backward to praise the attitude of the regime to the Jewish community and used this as another example to show the difference between fact and fiction about Iran. Fact, of course, was what timid Jews told him in front of a representative of the regime [imagine who he was…], as opposed to the propaganda by the enemies of Iran. 2009 was, by the way, the year when the ”Green Revolution” was so brutally suppressed by the regime that Cohen was so keen to praise, almost in the same glowing terms that Zarif does it. From 2009 we can go back to 2016, and this is the story told by Ben Rhodes, one of the chief architects of the nuclear deal who openly bragged about how he pushed a ”narrative” to the American media about the deal, and how the Obama administration wanted to represent it to the public. This story though was not covered up by all the Liberal media. Paul Farhi, the media reporter of the WP related to it in full on 6 May 2016. The reality of the story is that the American media wanted to be manipulated, wanted to get the ”narrative”, because large sections of it simply want to appease Iran. They showed it again in the last few weeks when the aberration of Iran being voted into the UN Committee dealing with women passed almost unnoticed in the media. This is where the Zarif-Kerry story has its proper context.

It is not really important, which one of two unreliable people tells now the truth. The main lesson of the story is, that a very important media outlet tries to cover it up, and therefore, the American public is deprived of its right to know the truth. And yes, we talk about the US and the NYT. 1984 apparently has a long life — it still is so relevant also in 2021.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina
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