by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Speaking to former staffers on Pod Save America at an event to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his election, Barack Obama decided to address the “complexity” of a crisis that began when Hamas slaughtered 1,400 Israelis ranging from babies to senior citizens, burned civilians, raped women, and took 230 hostages.
While Hamas’s actions were “horrific,” Obama said, “what is also true is that the occupation and what’s happening to Palestinians is unbearable.” He then went on an extended on-the-one-hand/on-the-other-hand discourse, before reflecting, “If you want to solve the problem, then you have to take in the whole truth and then you have to admit nobody’s hands are clean. That all of us are complicit to some degree.”
To start, the blame for October 7 and all of the events that followed it rests squarely with the terrorist group that perpetrated the attacks. But to the extent that there’s more blame to go around, it’s worth separating Obama from the rest of us. Unlike Obama, the rest of “us” did not get to be president of the United States and steer policy in the region for nearly a decade.
Obama referred to his presidency in characteristically self-aggrandizing fashion, patting himself on the back for all of his amazing effort: “As hard as I tried, and 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?’”
We have some ideas.
Obama entered office in 2009 as one of the most hostile presidents to Israel in the history of American relations with the Jewish state. Meeting with the leaders of major Jewish organizations, he said he would intentionally attempt to create more distance between the U.S. and Israel.