President Obama is deservedly taking flak over his lethargic and detached remarks on Gaza at a press conference Wednesday. Asked about Gaza, he said: “I have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, and that includes doing what it needs to do to prevent rockets from landing on population centers and, more recently, as we learned, preventing tunnels from being dug under their territory that can be used to launch terrorist attacks. I also think it is important to remember that Hamas acts extraordinarily irresponsibly when it is deliberately siting rocket launchers in population centers, putting populations at risk because of that particular military strategy.” “Irresponsibly“?! He is not appalled or horrified by this practice, adjectives his administration uses to describe purported Israeli return fire? He does not say such conduct violates the laws of war and all decent norms of behavior, which plainly it does. More important, he does not connect the practice of putting civilians in these situations as the cause of the high death toll. It was a remarkably irresponsible egregious way of describing the situation, but very revealing of the president’s mind-set.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. A two-decade surge in growth in Africa suggests the poorest continent is starting to come to grips with its challenges and has raised the prospect of the "African lions" emulating the "Asian tiger" economies in the 21st century. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Barack Obama President Obama speaks at the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington on Tuesday. (Drew Angerer/Bloomberg News)

Call it the “bigotry of low expectations” or simply anti-Israel bias, but this president has never sought to hold the Palestinians fully accountable for their behavior. He can muster no real indignation at the harm Palestinian leaders inflict on their own people; he reserves his scorn for the harm that befalls them when Israel must protect themselves. Hence you get such tone-deaf utterances such as this: “I have no sympathy for Hamas. I have great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.” No sympathy for terrorists?! Well, that’s a relief. This president, I am certain, would never say anything like: “I am furious that Hamas would inflict such hardship on ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza.”

Almost as shocking as what he said about Hamas is what he left out. At no time did he point out that Israel left a robust infrastructure behind when it pulled out, which the radical Islamists destroyed. Nor did he mention the thousands of tons of cement and millions in aid money that Hamas has stolen from Gazans to use for terrorist activities. Why would he not take the time to explain these grim realities to the public? His preference for the passive voice allows him to disguise the identities of the true culprits here — Hamas. “I’ve also expressed my distress at what’s happened to innocent civilians, including women and children, during the course of this process,” he says. You’d never know from listening to him that this “happened” because Gaza is ruled by Islamist kleptomaniacs who prefer death to life, starvation to nutrition and poverty to prosperity.

This is not simply an error in semantics. It reflects the president’s refusal to make moral choices and distinctions. He prefers to mediate between two sides — suffering Gazans and Israel — as if Hamas is not the central problem. When he bemoans that Gazans must not be “walled off and incapable of pursuing basic prosperity,” he talks as if the walls  — i.e.  the blockade — are the problem and not the terrorists who make the blockade necessary.

Obama holds out hope that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — “sincere in his desire for peace,” claims Obama — can be engaged “to try to move what has been a very tragic situation over the last several weeks into a more constructive path.” It sounds like he swallowed a mid-level State Department bureaucrat’s talking points. It would be helpful if, for once, the president would show some recognition of the reality of the problem and, yes, the impossibility of the “peace process” given the current state of the Palestinian leadership both in the West Bank and Gaza.

That would require, however, speaking hard truths that conflict with his impression of Israel as the responsible party for peace-talk failure. A clear-headed and honest president would say:

The tragic loss of life is wholly the responsibility of the jihadist murderers who rule Gaza, steal from their people, exploit children as terror tunnel diggers and seek to destroy Israel and kill its population. They are guilty of enumerable war crimes and should be tracked down and held accountable. Until Hamas is obliterated and until responsible Palestinian leadership is able to take over in both Gaza and West Bank, the economic and political outlook for Palestinians is dim. The PA must return to the path of reform laid out by former prime minister Salam Fayyad and must give up the fantasy of destroying or swamping the Jewish state. When Palestinian lands are demilitarized and responsible Palestinian leadership emerges, there will be peace. Ultimately, however, the problem begins and ends in Tehran, the largest state sponsor of terror and Hezbollah’s, Islamic Jihad’s and Hamas’s patron and arms seller. Either Iran must compelled to cease its support for terrorists and efforts to undermine its neighbors or there must be regime change in Iran. We will work with responsible allies in the region to attain that goal.”

For that, of course, we’ll need a new president.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.