‘What’s Happening to Palestinians Is Unbearable:’ Barack Obama, Once a Staunch Supporter of Israel, Condemns Bombing of Civilians In Gaza War Seemingly Breaking with Joe Biden

Former President Barack Obama spoke out against Israel’s bombing of innocent civilians in Gaza following Hamas’ attack on Oct. 7 that took 1,400 lives.

More than 10,000 people have died in Gaza since Israel began its airstrikes, according to ABC News, and approximately 240 hostages were taken by Hamas — with four being released so far.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama appears on “Pod Save America” for an interview streamed on Nov. 6, 2023. (Photo: Pod Save America / YouTube screenshot)

Obama was interviewed for the “Pod Save America” podcast for the Nov. 6 episode, and the former president said there was “no justification” for what happened on Oct. 7. However, Obama also noted that what is happening to the Palestinians “is unbearable.”

“If there’s any chance of us being able to act constructively, to do something, it will require an admission of complexity and maintaining what on the surface may seem contradictory ideas,” said Obama. “That 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.”

“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 anti-Semitism,” he continued. “And what is true is that there are people right now who are dying, who have nothing to do with what Hamas did, and what is true, right? I mean, we could go on for a while.”


Obama said that the problem with debating the issue on social media is that people often give opinions without speaking the entire truth.

“You can’t speak the truth,” he said. “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. And so, if you want to solve the problem, then you have to take in the whole truth. And you then have to admit nobody’s hands are clean. That all of us are complicit to some degree.”

Obama went on to say that he questioned what he could have done during his time as president to change things, adding that everyone should ask themselves the same question rather than “confining” themselves to their “outrage.”

“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. “Because you can’t save that child without their help. Not in this situation.”

Biden also warned Israel about civilian casualties but stopped short of calling for a cease-fire, instead asking calling for a humanitarian “pause.”

Obama was a staunch supporter of Israel during his presidency and secured $3 billion in foreign military financing for the country in 2012, the largest amount of funding for Israel in United States history until recently. He also secured an additional $205 million in 2011 to help develop an Israeli short-range rocket defense system called Iron Dome, which helped Israel defend itself against rocket attacks.

While Obama supports Israel and their right to defend themselves, he also released a statement on Oct. 23 saying, “Even as we support Israel, we should also be clear that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters.”

“It is possible for people of goodwill to champion Palestinian rights and oppose certain Israeli government policies in the West Bank and Gaza without being anti-semitic.”

While President Joe Biden has expressed the need for a humanitarian pause, he has shown strong support for Israel, a key ally, in the ongoing conflict with Hamas in the Middle East.

Last month, he assured Prime Minister Netanyahu that the U.S. “will steadfastly back Israel” and committed to standing by Israel “today, tomorrow, and always.” In addition, Biden emphasized the value of every life on both sides of the conflict.

Several other Democrats have called for a cease-fire, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Cori Bush. Tlaib — who is of Palestinian descent — also called for “ending the occupation and dismantling the apartheid system that creates the suffocating, dehumanizing conditions that can lead to resistance.”

Bush said, “I strongly condemn the targeting of civilians, and I urge an immediate ceasefire and de-escalation to prevent further loss of life.”

Tlaib and Bush received backlash for their remarks, especially from Republican politicians. Democratic New York Rep. Ritchie Torres called their comments “reprehensible and repulsive” while adding that U.S. aid to Israel should be “unconditional.”

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