The former president Barack Obama took to the stage again to comment on the Israel-Hamas conflict in a podcast entitled “Pod Save America.” He argued that “nobody’s hands are completely clean.” Excerpts of the speech were released over the weekend, and the complete interview will air Tuesday.
He said that the entire world is to blame:
If you want to fix the problem, you must accept the truth. You have to accept that no one’s hands are clean and that we are all complicit in some way.
President @BarackObama on the violence in Gaza.
Full interview out Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/U42Jy2Aa4y
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) November 4, 2023
The comments were described as “jaw-dropping,” and not pro-Israel.
Even among Democratic leaders in Washington, the sentiment seems to contradict decades of U.S. support for Israel. However, in recent weeks, some Democratic Senators have begun calling for a humanitarian brake on Israel’s offensive to help Palestinians.
Obama’s hands were not clean, according to many commentators.
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
Newsweek’s Liel Leibovitz, an Israeli journalist, was even more concise in his article:
Nah, man. We’re not all complicit. You’re the only one.
You are the culprit, since you were the one to give that stout speech about redlines in Syria, and then sat back and did nothing when those redlines were crossed, and Assad continued slaughtering his own people. This allowed the Iranians and Russians to fill the vacuum created by your lack of leadership.
Obama was not seen as an ally of Israel, and he did not get on with Benjamin Netanyahu. He famously warned him against moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Donald Trump, however, was elected and he did this successfully in 2018.
Former President Bush also gave a speech at the 2023 Democracy Forum, held in Chicago on Friday. He acknowledged Israel’s right to existence and admitted that Hamas was responsible for the war, but also gave equal time to the Palestinians.
We have seen a violent struggle in the Middle East over the past few weeks. It was sparked by the murder of 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians and many of them were children, by Hamas. They also abducted over 200 hostages. The Israeli response has resulted so far in the displacement or more than a million, the deaths of 9,000 Palestinian civilians, including thousands of children, as well the cutting off of water, electricity, and food to a captive populace that could create an even worse humanitarian
All of this takes place in the context of decades of failed attempts to achieve lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. A peace that is built on genuine security for Israel and recognition of its right of existence, as well as a peace based upon the end of the occupation, the creation of an independent Palestinian state, and self-determination.
He implied he did not approve of the decisions made by Israel, and presumably Netanyahu:
It is not about wishing for different outcomes or peaceful coexistence of two sovereign and independent peoples. The issue is rather different assessments on the road we must take to reach that goal, and what role each of us has to play to maximize our chances.
Obama was not a friend of Israel. As former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren stated in 2015: “…Mr. Obama presented an even greater challenge by abandoning two core principles that Israel had with America. First, there was the “no daylight” principle. This meant that Israel and the U.S. could have disagreements but not openly. Oren explains Oren’s second tenet.
In his first meeting in May 2009 with Mr. Netanyahu, President Obama rejected the other principle, “no surprises”, by demanding an immediate settlement freeze and an Israeli agreement to a two-state solution.
Obama’s snubs of Israel would fill an entire book. He probably isn’t referring to himself when he says “Nobody’s hands are completely clean.” But he should.