Obama Criticizes Israel over Gaza: ‘Don’t Harden Palestinian Attitudes for Generations’

Barack Obama
Spencer Platt/Getty

Former President Barack Obama originally said Israel should “dismantle” Hamas, but has now criticized Israel for the way it is “dismantling” the Palestinian terror organization.

In a statement Monday, Obama wrote:

As I stated in an earlier post, Israel has a right to defend its citizens against such wanton violence, and I fully support President 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 even as we support Israel, we should also be clear that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters.

Still, the world is watching closely as events in the region unfold, and any Israeli military strategy that ignores the human costs could ultimately backfire. Already, thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the bombing of Gaza, many of them children. 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.

A siege of Gaza would be lawful under international law, as an expert recently noted. Moreover, as Israel’s ceremonial president, Isaac Herzog, has noted, Gaza only obtains 7% of its water from Israel in any case.

Obama ignored Israel’s long record as one of the best, if not the best, countries in the world in upholding human rights and international humanitarian law in war against a ruthless, terrorist enemy.

As Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz has said: ““No other country with comparable internal and external threats has as good a human rights record as Israel.”

Obama’s own approach to terrorism came under criticism when he was president for being ineffective. Foreign Affairs wrote:

[W]hereas [George W.] Bush’s approach was sometimes marred by an overly aggressive posture, Obama has sometimes erred too far in the other direction, seeming prone to idealism and wishful thinking. This has hampered his administration’s efforts to combat the terrorist threat: despite Obama’s laudable attempts to calibrate Washington’s response, the American people find themselves living in a world plagued with more terrorism than before Obama took office, not less.

Obama allowed the rise of ISIS, the so-called “Islamic State,” after a hasty retreat from Iraq and after mocking the group as the “JV team” in explaining why his adminstration was not being more assertive in standing up to radical Islamic terror — a phase he almost never used.

Politico reports that Democrats are starting to worry about a backlash among Arab-American voters in swing states like Michigan, who are upset that most elected Democrats — with very prominent exceptions — have supported Israel against Hamas.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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