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Both sides to blame for Israel-Hamas war, Obama says

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

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – NOVEMBER 3: Former President Barack Obama speaks to attendees at the Obama Foundation Democracy Forum on November 3, 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 has clean hands,” he said in an interview with Pod Save America, a podcast hosted by his former White House aides, in a clip released Saturday.

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

He also said that the history of the Jewish people and the “madness of anti-Semitism” should not be ignored, and that innocent people were 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 defended only their own “moral innocence.”

“The problem with social media and activism on TikTok and the debate on this topic is that you can’t tell the truth. You can pretend to tell the truth, you can tell part 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 accept the whole truth,” Obama said. “And then we have to admit that no one has clean hands, that we are all complicit to some extent.”

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

Israel responded with a relentless bombing campaign on the Gaza Strip, where Hamas rules.

Gaza’s health ministry, controlled by Hamas, has claimed that more than 9,000 people have died in Gaza so far, but its figures have been questioned, given that Hamas is a terrorist organization.

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

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

He urged Americans not to “just be outraged” but to listen to different points of view.

“If you really want to change that, then you have to figure out how to talk to someone on the other side and listen to them and understand what they’re talking about and not dismiss them,” he said.

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

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