Obama Weighs in on Israel-Hamas War With ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Claim, ‘Nobody’s Hands Are Clean’
Former President Barack Obama floated down to the world stage once more to weigh in on the Israel-Hamas war in a podcast called “Pod Save America,” arguing that “no one’s hands are clean.” Excerpts from the speech were released Saturday, and the full interview will run Tuesday.
He charged that the world as a whole is at fault:
“If you want to solve the problem, then you have to take in the whole truth. And you then have to admit nobody’s hands are clean, that all of us are complicit to some degree,” he said, arguing that the entire world bears responsibility for allowing the decades-long conflict to fester.
President @BarackObama on the violence in Gaza.
Full interview out Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/U42Jy2Aa4y
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) November 4, 2023
He continued, saying the Hamas terror attack of October 7 was “horrific,” but also implying that Israel was just as guilty for the ongoing conflict, opining that “what’s happening to the Palestinians” is “unbearable.” Even Politico, which website AllSides labels as “leans left,” called the comments “jaw-dropping” and noted that they weren’t exactly pro-Israel:
The sentiment appears to go against decades of U.S. orthodoxy staunchly backing Israel, even among Democratic leaders in Washington — though, in recent days, some Democratic senators have started calling for a humanitarian pause on Israel’s counteroffensive to help Palestinians.
Many commentators noted that Obama’s own hands were anything but clean:
Obama was certainly complicit. His cudgeling of Israel, his enrichment of Iran…all of that was a huge part of a policy that led directly to October 7. His clownish arrogance about the Middle East set the place on fire once. Now he’s doing it again. https://t.co/REVhIV02ip
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) November 5, 2023
Israeli journalist Liel Leibovitz was even more succinct in the pages of Newsweek:
Nah, man. Not all of us are complicit. It’s just you.
It’s you, because you’re the one who gave that stentorian speech about red lines in Syria and then sat by and did nothing as those red lines were crossed and Assad continued to slaughter his own people, allowing the Iranians and the Russians to creep in and fill the vacuum left by your devastating lack of leadership.
Obama was never seen as a strong ally of Israel and famously did not get along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning him not to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Donald Trump of course came into office, though, and successfully did exactly that in 2018.
The former president also delivered a speech Friday at the 2023 Democracy Forum in Chicago. In that one, he did recognize Israel’s right to exist and admit that the war was triggered by Hamas, but he also gave equal time to the Palestinians:
And of course, over the last few weeks, we have watched a deadly struggle unfold in the Middle East, triggered by the horrific murder of more than 1,400 mostly civilian Israelis, many of them children, at the hands of Hamas, as well as the abduction of over 200 hostages; and then an Israeli response that has so far resulted in the displacement of well over a million people, the death of at least 9,000 Palestinian civilians, thousands of them also children, the cutoff of water, food, electricity to a captive population that risks creating an even greater humanitarian crisis.
And all of this is taking place against the backdrop of decades of failure to achieve a durable peace for both Israelis and Palestinians, one that is based on genuine security for Israel, a recognition of its right to exist, and a peace that is based on an end of the occupation and the creation of a viable state and self-determination for the Palestinian people.
He also implied that he disapproved of decisions being made, presumably by Israel and Netanyahu (bolding mine):
The issue is not a wish for different outcomes, an end to the killing, peaceful coexistence between two sovereign and free peoples, but rather different assessments of the path that we need to take in order to get there, and the roles each of us have to play in order to maximize the chances of what seems impossible right now.
Obama was never a friend to Israel, and as former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren wrote in 2015, “…Mr. Obama posed an even more fundamental challenge by abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America.” The first was “no daylight,” meaning the U.S. and Israel could disagree but never openly. Oren explains the second tenet:
The other core principle was “no surprises.” President Obama discarded it in his first meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, in May 2009, by abruptly demanding a settlement freeze and Israeli acceptance of the two-state solution.
The list of Obama snubs to Israel could fill a book. When he says that “no one’s hands are clean,” he’s probably not talking about himself, but he should be.