How John Kirby became one of Israel's leading spokespeople

White House spokesman, unknown in Israel before Gaza war, gained recognition after heartfelt CNN interview following Hamas attack; he's since become a strong Israel supporter, yet sets clear boundaries regarding IDF's actions in Gaza

Emotions, much like actions, often speak louder than words, and add a level of credibility to speech otherwise left unattainable.
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This has been greatly exemplified by the coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council, John Kirby. From early on in the Gaza war, his media appearances have often garnered attention not only for his words, but actions - such as wearing Israeli hostage dog tags, crying when speaking of the October 7 horrors and using evocative language when supporting Israel.
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John Kirby during a press briefing on the hostages in Gaza
(Photo: Courtesy)
Before October 7, the number of Israelis who knew Kirby from a hole in the wall was likely minuscule at best, but that has radically changed. Not only does he work very closely with U.S. President Joe Biden, one of the most ‘Zionist’ presidents in modern times, he himself became an exceptionally accomplished Israeli advocate.
When asked if Biden’s support for an Israeli military response constitutes supporting genocide, he turned it around and said: “Genocide is what Hamas wants. They wish to wipe Israel off the map. If we're using this terminology, let’s use it correctly.”’
The 60-year-old has had a long and distinguished career, including as an admiral and, it turns out, as a gifted spokesperson, often eclipsing the official White House spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre, in terms of how popular they both are in the press room.
(John Kirby chokes up speaking about the horrors of October 7)
Since the war began, Kirby has effectively become the chief spokesperson for the Biden administration, and White House Press Corps veterans can’t remember the last time an NSC spokesperson showed such wherewithal for the job.
When POTUS designated him for the role, he emphasized Kirby’s “background, knowledge and experience," and correspondents often focus on his professionalism. However, when it comes to answering questions about the Israel-Hamas conflict, his heart is on his sleeve for all to see.
Don’t get it wrong, though. He has expressed remorse and anguish for the death of Palestinian civilians on multiple occasions and has repeatedly criticized parts of Israel’s military response. Just last month, Kirby said there are “too many” civilian casualties within the enclave. But in terms of expressing emotions, that was reserved for his on-air appearance outside the White House on October 9, practically choking with tears in an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper.
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דובר המועצה לביטחון לאומי ג'ון קירבי עם דיסקית להחזרת החטופים
דובר המועצה לביטחון לאומי ג'ון קירבי עם דיסקית להחזרת החטופים
Joh Kirby wearing a hostage dog tag
(Photo: The White House)
His answers when it comes to the civilian toll in Gaza amid IDF bombardments typically air on the more technical side, appearing more “camera ready."
Nadia Bilbassy, the Al-Arabiya Washington Bureau chief, told the Washington Post she finds his emotional expressions toward Israel a dead giveaway for where his heart truly lies.
It's always strange that a press secretary is in tears on TV, showing more sympathy for the victims on one side but not on the other," according to Bilbassy.
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