‘Can’t Just Talk and Not Listen … That’s What the Other Side Does’



Former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton arrived at Radio City Music Hall on Thursday night to garner support and funds for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign. The New York event drummed up more than $25 million in what his campaign is calling the “most successful political fundraiser in American history.”

While Moderator Stephen Colbert gathered with the trio in an armchair conversation, dubbing them “champion talkers,” the occasion was frequently interrupted by protestors inside the auditorium. Throughout different moments of the event, attendees would shout over the discussion, referencing Biden’s support of Israel in the Hamas war that has killed over 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza.

When the discussing the “realities of the presidency,” Obama said that the “world has a lot of joy and beauty, but it also has a lot of tragedy and cruelty.” The former president then addressed Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza. “It is also possible for us to say we unequivocally support the people of Israel and their ability to live and raise families and so forth, which is what Joe’s position has been, and it is also possible for us to have our hearts broken — watching innocent people being killed and trying to manage through that in a way that ultimately leads to both people being able to live in peace side by side. So that is not an easy task.”

At this point, Obama was interrupted by a protestor inside the theater. Speaking to the protestor, Obama said, “You can’t just talk and not listen … That’s what the other side does.” He added, “It is possible for us to understand that it is possible to have moral clarity and have deeply held beliefs, but still recognize that the world is complicated and it is hard to solve these problems.”

He continued, “The reason that I think [Biden] was one of the best vice presidents we’ve ever had, and the reason why I think he has been an outstanding president, is because he has moral conviction and clarity. But he’s also willing to acknowledge that the world is complicated, and that he’s willing to listen to all sides in this debate and every other debate and try to see if we can find common ground. That’s the kind of president I want.”

Earlier this month, as Biden prepared for his pivotal 2024 State of the Union, protestors demanding a ceasefire blockaded outside the White House and near the Capitol. “We are outraged, we are heartbroken, and we are demanding that President Biden stop funding and arming Israel’s genocide of Palestinians,” Elena Stein of Jewish Voice for Peace, which helped organize the protest, told Rolling Stone.

Biden and his administration have urged Israel not to invade or launch a major offensive on Rafah at least until civilians have been allowed the opportunity to evacuate. Both Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have called for a temporary ceasefire during the holy month of Ramadan, but Israel and Hamas have not reached an agreement in negotiations.

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