Former President Barack Obama recently spoke on the “Pod Save America” podcast, discussing the recent violence between Israel and Hamas last month. During his appearance, Obama discussed the need to acknowledge the complexity of the situation and understand the perspectives of both sides. However, his comments were met with criticism as he appeared to downplay the violence committed by Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, against Israel.
According to a preview clip released by the podcast, Obama stated that “there’s no justification” for the horrific actions of Hamas in attacking Israel, which resulted in the death of 1,400 people, injuries to 5,300, and the kidnapping of over 240 individuals. However, he went on to say that the situation was “unbearable” for Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and that there is a “history of the Jewish people” that must be acknowledged.
Obama’s comments drew backlash as he seemed to equate the violence committed by Hamas with the Israeli occupation, without acknowledging the role of Hamas in perpetuating the conflict. He also failed to mention the fact that Israel has not occupied Gaza since 2005 and that the recent violence was sparked by Hamas launching over 4,000 rockets towards Israeli cities.
The former president also appeared to blame social media for hindering productive discussions about the conflict, saying that people can only “pretend” to speak the truth or speak one side of it. He called for a true acknowledgment of the “whole truth” in order to find a solution to the ongoing violence.
Critics argue that Obama’s comments downplayed the actions of Hamas and put too much focus on the Israeli occupation as the root cause of the conflict. They also argue that he ignored the fact that Hamas purposefully uses Palestinian civilians as human shields and deliberately targets Israeli civilian populations.
President @BarackObama on the violence in Gaza.
Full interview out Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/U42Jy2Aa4y
— Pod Save America (@PodSaveAmerica) November 4, 2023