Barack Obama Warns Israeli Action in Gaza May ‘Worsen a Growing Humanitarian Crisis’ and ‘Harden Palestinian Attitudes’

“All of us need to do our best to put our best values, rather than our worst fears, on display,” the former president writes in a contribution to Medium

Barack Obama attends the premiere of Netflix's "Descendant" at the 2022 African-American Film Festival
Barack Obama attends the premiere of Netflix's "Descendant" at the 2022 African-American Film Festival (Credit: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Former President Barack Obama wrote an in-depth response on Medium to Israel’s reaction following the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas.

While expressing support for Israel in right to protect itself following the terrorist action, Obama also expressed concerns with how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cut off supplies to civilians in Gaza, as well as other aspects of its response.

Obama’s decision to provide a platform for a nuanced take on the conflict in the Middle East that includes both support and critique of Israel makes for an unexpected statement from the former president.

Rather than it just being a statement of opinion from Obama, he also included links to further reading on the issues at hand from both the New York Times (including a Thomas Friedman editorial and another piece by Kurt Streeter) and Vox, as well as an article from the New York Review by former Obama administration official and current Crooked Media podcast host Ben Rhodes.

Obama began by calling the attacks “horrific” and remembering the 1,400 Israeli citizens killed in those attacks.

“In the aftermath of such unspeakable brutality, the U.S. government and the American people have shared in the grief of families, prayed for the return of loved ones, and rightly declared solidarity with the Israeli people,” Obama wrote.

The former president also stated that Israel has the right to defend its citizens from violence and that he fully supports President Joe Biden’s call for the United States to “support our long-time ally in going after Hamas, dismantling its military capabilities, and facilitating the safe return of hundreds of hostages to their families.”

But Obama added that, while the U.S. supports Israel, “we should also be clear that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters.”

He pointed to how Israel cut off supplies to civilians in Gaza, along with the mass displacement of Palestinian people there.

“Already, thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the bombing of Gaza, many of them children,” Obama wrote. “Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.”

In one of his key conclusions, Obama wrote, “It’s therefore important that those of us supporting Israel in its time of need encourage a strategy that can incapacitate Hamas while minimizing further civilian casualties.”

He gave credit to Israel for allowing relief trucks into Gaza, but added that getting aid to “an increasingly desperate Gaza population” needs to be accelerated.

“And while the prospects of future peace may seem more distant than ever, we should call on all of the key actors in the region to engage with those Palestinian leaders and organizations that recognize Israel’s right to exist to begin articulating a viable pathway for Palestinians to achieve their legitimate aspirations for self-determination — because that is the best and perhaps only way to achieve the lasting peace and security most Israeli and Palestinian families yearn for.”

He also wrote that, “it matters — as President Biden has repeatedly emphasized — that Israel’s military strategy abides by international law, including those laws that seek to avoid, to every extent possible, the death or suffering of civilian populations. Upholding these values is important for its own sake — because it is morally just and reflects our belief in the inherent value of every human life. Upholding these values is also vital for building alliances and shaping international opinion — all of which are critical for Israel’s long-term security.”

Obama acknowledged the difficulty of doing this, noting that the U.S. itself has fallen short in the past.

“As President Biden noted during his recent visit to Israel, America itself has at times fallen short of our higher values when engaged in war, and in the aftermath of 9/11, the U.S. government wasn’t interested in heeding the advice of even our allies when it came to the steps we took to protect ourselves against Al Qaeda,” Obama continued.

The former president also acknowledged that these attacks bring to mind historic persecution of the Jewish people.

“It’s understandable that many Israelis have demanded that their government do whatever it takes to root out Hamas and make sure such attacks never happen again,” Obama wrote. “Moreover, Hamas’ military operations are deeply embedded within Gaza — and its leadership seems to intentionally hide among civilians, thereby endangering the very people they claim to represent.”

Beginning to wrap up his statement, Obama wrote, “Finally, in dealing with what is an extraordinarily complex situation where so many people are in pain and passions are understandably running high, all of us need to do our best to put our best values, rather than our worst fears, on display.”

He goes on to list that this includes opposing antisemitism, avoiding minimizing the tragedy of what was done to the Israeli people by Hamas and avoiding “the morally-bankrupt suggestion that any cause can somehow justify the deliberate slaughter of innocent people.” He adds that anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian sentiment must also be rejected.

“It means refusing to lump all Palestinians with Hamas or other terrorist groups,” Obama writes. “It means guarding against dehumanizing language towards the people of Gaza, or downplaying Palestinian suffering — whether in Gaza or the West Bank — as irrelevant or illegitimate.”

Obama also acknowledged that Israel has a right to exist, while also noting the difficulties of Palestinian people living “in disputed territories for generations,” including issues around the Israeli settler movement.

“It is possible for people of good will to champion Palestinian rights and oppose certain Israeli government policies in the West Bank and Gaza without being antisemitic,” Obama wrote.

You can read former President Obama’s full Medium post here.


2 responses to “Barack Obama Warns Israeli Action in Gaza May ‘Worsen a Growing Humanitarian Crisis’ and ‘Harden Palestinian Attitudes’”

  1. John Wanless Avatar
    John Wanless

    I totally agree with President Obama on this. I would only add that we must include all the context leading up to this crisis, or we condemn ourselves to tunnel vision. — Since the U.K. backed, Zionist invasion of Palestine during World War I had conquered the country and corralled the inhabitants into a horrific apartheid state, the monstrous treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government has been an on-going nightmare. Palestinian civilians, including women, children, journalists and paramedics, have all been targeted and killed. Israel has a consistent policy of allowing ‘settlers” to steal the homes of Palestinians, and more than two million Palestinians are locked up in the virtual prison of the tiny Gaza strip, where they are purposely deprived of clean drinking water, medical supplies, sufficient food and frequent Israeli shut offs of electricity.

    The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that even before October 7 and since 2008, 308 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians, while 6,407 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and “settlers.” This is a clear view of the massive military superiority that Israel has and their disturbing disposition to murder innocent Palestinian civilians.

    Palestinian civilians are not Hamas. They are oppressed by Hamas and there has not been an election since 2006. At the most, Israel should just conduct a police action to capture those responsible for the attack. There must be an immediate cease-fire of the bombing of civilians!

  2. Sharron Leadbetter Avatar
    Sharron Leadbetter

    Now isn’t that convenient—the Chef is dead(time to stall Israel so Hamas can set up devices to blow up prior to invading & HEZBOLLAH can join in final destruction while viewing from anywhere USA soil)…not too much–nor anything else too busy in the background since 2008 with its BENGHAZI VOYEURS…etc. and take down of Egypt via Slick WIllieHeritickaBIllary and Muammar Gaddafi– perjured excuses re: Benghazi. Uranium One, Haiti, GreenNewDeals aka $Dollar: IRAN self inspection… Guns for Cartels direct Mexico; Crimea, Tarmac Popper & no grannie discussing grandchildren how to utilize for PORN. RIOTers specials no law enforcement–Pretend Elections…All is written in stone. IRS Lois 5th Amend retired on DEAD US TROOPS & Dropping Dead US law abiding generations of our Ancestral heritage workers lowered life expectancy…so the Kenyan god king & half bro could get their Non Profits in weeks while TRUE THE VOTE got $200,000 costs–Hey they actually WON! OH, ISIS ISISIS direct via WH… DEMONS in Control now doesn’t want ISRAEL’s 45 miles to self defend TERRORISM…just continue to the USA and New Zealand – & Australia.. Canada is about silence, too. All those nations who developed via creativiity, intengrity, endurance, patriotism passed on…being extinguished via DEMONS with 2 legs..and this thing is the ONE and its thing. Lever Pullers for their Gov Titles and the others for their Corp theft rewarded out of thievery US Treasury like IRAN BILLSIONS to AFDC via LBJ’s AFDC magnet for sick pregnant feamles with 9 month old toddlers, + 9 months + 9 months Sec 8 womb to tomb l964 65 Chain Migration: as if AMERI CANs are SLAVES and disposable for Political Lifers, to Lever Pullers Gov titles to WOmb to tomb et al generations of no can contribute even TP~! 200 foreign languages each word spoken, written(if they can) rewarded to NEVER ASSIMILATE.. No other nation—results Debt backed by debt piled higher and higher until all to come crumbling down.. No borders–Ukraine for what already DEAD AMERICANs each generations: when those who sent them end this life…you will live each one of their lives you colluded to disposed of…and ETERNITY ain’t not bribery nor extortion, no perjured fraud, nor TV painted faces prescripted disgraces spinning contradictions of reality to suck up for the empty reverberating skulls to act upon to destroy HERITAGE…like statutes/history, horses firebomed in own trailers, babies and grannies raped in cribs own beds…officers shot point-blank in squad cars(NYC one new black female officer 2 month old baby) shot in head helping the extreme demons burn down their city… 2020 for the Demons official Declaration of War vs USA as ONE NATION UNDER G O D PS Never wonder why US Citizens back to our Founders suddently loose it..and go nuts having to view DEMONS obsessive compulsive vile wicked evil TAXPAI vs LIFE!~and our US SOVEREIGNTY with the bodies of Patriots blood feeding the self consumers of hatred of our CREATORs Creations and our existence their DNA could never contribute to except self projected loathing eating their insides out… DO UNTO OTHERS AS IT WILL BE DONE UNTO YOU & VENGEANCE IS MINE SAYETH THE LORD…

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