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'Nobody’s hands are clean,’ Both sides are at fault in Israel-Hamas war, Says Barack Obama

Nov 06, 2023 08:20 AM IST

Barack Obama urges Americans to acknowledge the truth about the Israel-Hamas conflict, saying no one is innocent and both sides have contributed to the crisis.

Former US President Barack Obama has called on Americans to “take in the whole truth” about the war between Israel and Hamas, saying that everyone has some responsibility for the conflict.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - NOVEMBER 03: Former President Barack Obama speaks to attendees at the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum on November 03, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)

“Nobody’s hands are clean,” he said in an interview with Pod Save America, a podcast hosted by his former White House staffers, in a clip released on Saturday.

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He said that both Hamas’ actions and Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories were “horrific” and “unbearable”, and that the only way to resolve the crisis was to acknowledge these realities.

He also said that the history of the Jewish people and the “madness of antisemitism” should not be ignored, and that there were innocent people dying on both sides.

“We could go on for a while,” he said.

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Obama criticized social media for polarizing the debate and creating a space where people only defended their own “moral innocence”.

“The problem with the social media, TikTok activism and trying to debate this on that is you can’t speak the truth. You can pretend to speak the truth, you can speak one side of the truth, and in some cases you can try to maintain your moral innocence, but that won’t solve the problem,” he said.

“If you want to solve the problem, then you have to take in the whole truth,” Obama said. “And you then have to admit nobody’s hands are clean, that all of us are complicit to some degree.”

The war between Israel and Hamas erupted on Oct. 7, when the Palestinian militant group launched a surprise attack on Israel, killing about 1,400 people and taking more than 200 hostages.

Israel retaliated with a relentless bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip, where Hamas rules.

The Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, has claimed that more than 9,000 people have died in Gaza so far, but its figures have been questioned, given Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Obama admitted that he also felt guilty for the conflict, and wondered if he could have done more to prevent it when he was president.

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He had a tense relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he disagreed with over the Iran nuclear deal and the expansion of Israeli settlements in the disputed areas.

He urged Americans not to “confine ourselves to outrage” but to listen to different perspectives.

“If you genuinely want to change this, then you’ve got to figure out how to speak to somebody on the other side and listen to them and understand what they are talking about and not dismiss it,” he said.

The full interview will be released on Tuesday, according to Pod Save America.

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