Former President Barack Obama has urged Americans to “take in the whole truth” when weighing Israel’s war against Hamas, saying everyone is “complicit to some to degree” in the conflict.
“Nobody’s hands are clean,” the 44th president said during an interview with Pod Save America, a podcast hosted by former White House aides from his presidency, in an excerpt released Saturday.
“What Hamas did was horrific, and there’s no justification for it. And what is also true is that the occupation, and what’s happening to Palestinians, is unbearable,” Obama, 62, said, explaining that the only way to solve the crisis was to accept those seemingly contradictory ideas.
“And what is also true is that there is a history of the Jewish people that may be dismissed unless your grandparents or your great-grandparents or your uncle or your aunt tell you stories about the madness of antisemitism,” he said.
“And what is true is that there are people right now who are dying, who have nothing to do with what Hamas did. … We could go on for a while,” he said.
Obama blamed social media for deepening divisions between both sides of the debate and being a place where people went to defend 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.”
Debates and demonstrations have been raging across the country since the Palestinian terror group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, a bloody sneak assault that left about 1,400 people dead and more than 200 taken hostage.
Israel responded with an ongoing bombardment of the Gaza Strip. The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry has said more than 9,000 people have been killed in Gaza so far, although its figures have been criticized as unreliable, given Hamas is a terrorist organization.
Obama noted that he wasn’t excused from shouldering blame for the conflict, explaining he’d been asking himself, “Was there something else I could have done?” during his presidency to avoid the bloodshed that was unleashed in October.
The former president had a famously strained relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who he clashed with over the US-Iran nuclear deal and Israel’s expansion of settlements in the region disputed by Palestinians.
During his interview, the former president urged Americans not to “confine ourselves to outrage” but to listen to opposing viewpoints.
“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.
Obama’s full interview will be released Tuesday, according to Pod Save America.