Barack Obama hasn’t commented on many serious matters since he left the White House. So when he interrupts his showbiz and cocktail duties to speak up, it’s a sign that he actually cares about something going on in the world. He didn’t have much newsworthy to say about the pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the crisis at our Southern border, or the state of our economy. But he’s now got a message that he needs to get out. Obama is concerned that we don’t forget about supposed Israeli cruelty to Palestinians just because Hamas massacred nearly 1,500 innocents in Israel.
In a recent appearance on the Pod Save America podcast, Obama said that in order to resolve the conflict, “it will require an admission of complexity.” We must face, he says, “what may seem contradictory ideas.” Namely, “what Hamas did was horrific, and there is no justification for it. And what is also true is that the occupation, and what’s happening to Palestinians, is unbearable.”
Ignorance as “complexity.” Vintage Obama. Ideological banality delivered as omniscient revelation of the true nuanced path. And the applause came roaring through—once he mentioned the “occupation.” Never mind that Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza and pulled out in 2005.
Obama speaks in stentorian generalities because details expose truth. And in this case, the truth is simple: It’s Hamas’s fault. All of it, the terrorism, the Palestinian trauma, the current war, and the deaths to come.
There’s nothing contradictory about the slaughter of Jews and the suffering of Palestinians. Hamas is responsible for both, keeping their own people in generational misery to justify an exterminationist war on Jews. Palestinian oppression hasn’t been “unbearable” to decades of Palestinian leaders (including Hamas); it’s the goal they’ve fought for every time Israel has tried to give Palestinians their own state.
Why? Because they’d rather kill Jews than be free. How’s that for nuance?
Hamas hungers for innocent deaths in Gaza. Each instance gets customarily multiplied by the “Gaza Ministry of Health,” travels at light speed to major news outlets, and is wielded by Hamas’s most effective foot soldiers—the Western activists who fight the only war that Hamas can actually win: the war of information. So Hamas prohibits the safe passage of civilians, bases its operations in hospitals and schools, and waits impatiently for the bloodshed.
Meanwhile Israel absorbs operational setbacks and the loss of Jewish life just to minimize civilian deaths. At last count, 24 Israeli soldiers have been killed in current ground operations. If this were the “genocide” of activist fantasy, Israel would wipe out the Gaza Strip by air in the course a weekend with no causalities on its own side.
But Obama doesn’t do details. He’s fancies himself a big idea kinda guy. And his big idea is that we’re all to blame. “You have to admit that nobody’s hands are clean,” he said, “that all of us are complicit to some degree.” Then he wondered aloud, “What could I have done during my presidency to move this forward? As hard as I’ve tried—I’ve got the scars to prove it. But there’s a part of me that’s still saying, well, was there something else I could have done?”
Self-congratulation as self-doubt is also vintage Obama.
It’s big of him to shoulder the blame along with the rest of us. And in repayment for his generosity, I offer a few words to help him out in his soul searching on this issue: President Obama, perhaps you shouldn’t have chosen as the crowning goal of your foreign policy the enrichment and legitimization of Iran, Hamas’s chief benefactor. As big ideas go, that one might have been a little premature. Similarly, you might have eased up at one point on your eight-year-long, historically unprecedented effort to weaken the vital bonds between the U.S. and its democratic ally Israel. “When there is no daylight [between the U.S. and Israel],” you said, “Israel just sits on the sidelines, and that erodes our credibility with the Arab states.” Maybe that big idea, too, was a little rash. It might have been unwise, for example, to break American precedent and abstain from an anti-Semitic vote at the UN condemning Israeli settlements. And during the last hours of your presidency, you may have been remiss in quietly releasing $221 million in aid to the Palestinians. And you didn’t really need to…sorry—details.