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ICE Has Begun Raids To Round Up Undocumented Immigrants, Official Says; Former S. African President Faces Corruption Inquiry; India Delays Mission To Land A Rover On The Moon; President Donald Trump's Latest Social Media Rant; A Crackdown on Undocumented Immigrants; Backlash from a One-Sided Perspective; Hurricane Barry Leaving Thousands without Power; China's Economy Showing its Slowest Quarterly Growth; Iran is Ready to Talk. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 15, 2019 - 02:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's latest Twitter tirade drawing scorn and criticism. He lashes out at several Democratic congresswomen, telling them "go back to their countries."

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, a crackdown on undocumented immigrants. The Trump administration saying its targeted roundup is underway, though it seems a far cry from the major blitz the administration had promised.

NEWTON: And birthright has brought millions of young Jews to visit Israel. But it's also faced major backlash from a one-sided perspective. Now, one organization is offering a different view.

HOWELL: We are live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. And we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I am George Howell.

NEWTON: And I am Paula Newton. CNN Newsroom starts right now. Now, the U.S. president escalated his anti-immigration rhetoric Sunday with an attack on four minority congresswomen using language widely condemned as racist. Now, it came on the same day Donald Trump's administration says it launched raids targeting thousands of undocumented immigrants.

HOWELL: A series of tweets. Here's what he said, so interesting to see progressive Democrat congresswomen who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe. Remember, again, these are Americans. But the president added they should leave and go back to where they came from.

Again, three out of the four women were actually born in the United States. The fourth, Ilhan Omar, came to the states as a child and became a U.S. citizen in 2000.

NEWTON: And this was their comeback. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded, Mr. President, the country I come from and the country we all swear to is the United States. But given how you've destroyed our border with inhumane camps, all at a benefit to you and the corporations who profit off them. You are absolutely right about the corruption laid at your feet.

And Ilhan Omar tweeted, you are stoking white nationalism because you are angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda. And she quotes Robert F. Kennedy, saying America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.

Now, the president's tweets come during, of course, a lingering dispute among Democrats of border aid bill.

HOWELL: Boris Sanchez reports the president's attempts to broaden that divide appear to have failed.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump on Sunday launching new attacks against key progressive Democrats, suggesting that some members of Congress should go back to their countries. He doesn't reference them by name. But the president was apparently referring to Representative Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley.

They have had a rift with House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi. And the president writes that they can't leave fast enough. I am sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements. The president trying to exploit this rift caused by their opposition to a bill on immigration funding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi helped to pass and Pelosi's criticism of their social media use.

The president, though, may have had these tweets backfire, though, because these four congresswomen have launched attacks at him, and how House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tweeted out in solidarity with them. The House Speaker writing, "I reject Donald Trump's xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation. Rather than attack members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values."

The president, yet again, using the language of white nationalist to court supporters who feel uncomfortable about immigration and it is something that this president has frequently has used before, something that he is obviously very comfortable doing. Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.


NEWTON: And for more on this, James Davis is the Dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at the University of St. Gallen. He joins us now from Munich, Germany. You know, of course, we've heard the outrage and the contempt, and yet we shouldn't just dismiss it as that, should we? I mean, this is the president's political currency right now.

It has to be said, you know, some argue even that this has actually gone much further than other things that he has said or tweeted. What do you think?

JAMES DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALLEN: Well, I think there are two aspects to these tweets that we need to focus on. I think the first is, of course, the attack on women. And I stress women of color in an attempt to sort of drive a wedge between Americans who may have a history, family history from Europe or other places, and these women who may, you know, three of them born in the United States.

[02:05:14] But, you know, some family history that comes from other parts of the world. So there is a sort of racist element to this. But there is also, I think, a very calculated effort to distract us from a debate over the content of his immigration policies and redirect our attention to the identities of those who are making the criticisms. And I want to remind you.

There are a lot of white male members of Congress. There are a lot of African-American members of Congress, male, who are also criticizing these very policies. There are a lot of middle of the road Americans who are criticizing these policies. But the president has chosen to focus on four women of color. And I think there's something to that.

But again, it's a distraction from the content of the policies that have many critics and a focus on the identity of just four of those critics.

NEWTON: Yeah. And that is a good point to remember, of course. You know, there's been a big debate as to whether or not you can just call it out as racist. Let's remember the definition here. Racism is a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races. You could also perhaps say he was xenophobic.

I mean, do those who support the president understand this and agree with it, or do they just choose to ignore it? Which do you think it is?

DAVIS: Well, I think it's probably both. I think there is a portion of the president's base that feels that the America that they remember or they like to idealize is under attack. That's an America that probably never was the way they like to think of it. But it was a white America. It was a Christian America. It was an America of the 1950s.

And now, we have a much more diverse society, a society that has people coming from all parts of the world. And many of them are now sitting in Congress. And that makes some of these people uncomfortable. When -- I think there is also an interesting fact that all four of these women that are being attacked represent multicultural cities.

And there is sort of a city land dimension to this. You know, a lot of the base of the president comes from the countryside, from small town America, not from the cities where diversity is lived everyday and where people actually have come to appreciate the strengths of diversity. It's rather parts of the country that probably had very little interaction with people who look like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ilhan Omar. And therefore, it's easy to stoke these fears of the other when it

seems that the America you think you want to preserve is disappearing.

NEWTON: You know we'll get to some of that reaction as well from his base. I want to remind you, though, of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker's reaction. And she makes a very fine point that she's taken up in the last few weeks. She says he reaffirms his plan to make America white again, in contrast to his slogan about making America great again.

In terms of how this will frame the 2020 campaign for Republicans, again, it took Kellyanne Conway's husband -- she is an adviser in the Trumps' inner circle and happens to be married to a man who loves trolling the president. And he said what would likely happen if anyone, even a CEO, made such a racist statement in any workplace in America?

Where are the Republicans? And let's put a fine point on it, right? Where are the Republicans from a place from, oh, I don't know, Florida?

DAVIS: Yeah, Paula, you're right. The Republicans are hiding under a rock, because they understand that they're between a rock and a hard place. If they go out and criticize the president for this, the president's going to unleash a tweet campaign against them. The Republican members of Congress are fearful of anything that might resemble anything of a primary challenge from the right.

But by the same token, I think most Republicans realize that the base of the country, not the base of Trump's America, but the base of the country is nowhere near this kind of racist language. Most Americans, I think, understand that the promise of the United States is the promise of inclusion. We haven't made it there yet. We're still working on it.

It's an imperfect union, but we're trying to get there. And this kind of racially-tinged rhetoric, I think, in the end I think will drive away the voters that the president needs. And that's -- you know, the kind of moderate American voters in the suburbs who this time -- I should say last time were willing to take a risk or take a chance on Donald Trump. But I think are increasingly wondering whether that was the wrong choice to make.

[02:09:48] NEWTON: We shall see. Certainly, the president believes this is going to work for the campaign. James, thanks so much, really appreciate it.

DAVIS: Thanks, Paula.

HOWELL: Now to those raids that the Trump administration says are targeting undocumented immigrants across the country. Immigration officials say they are looking to track down some 2,000 immigrants ordered by the courts to be removed from the country in nearly a dozen major U.S. cities.

NEWTON: OK. But so far, CNN has not been able to confirm any arrests. The New York Times reports the plans for the raids had to change. Instead of one large simultaneous sweep, they're actually going to be doing smaller raids over the course of this week. Now, since news reports tipped off immigrant communities about what to expect, that apparently was the change of plane.

HOWELL: In Los Angeles our Paul Vercammen is watching for any immigration raid activity taking place. Here's his report.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We were outside a detention center. We did not see any sort of targeted raids or anything unusual. The activists telling us that they decided they would not even put on any rallies or protests. They have been extremely vocal in their outright contempt and cynicism over Trump and the threatened raids.

They basically have said that they accuse the U.S. president of trying to whip up his base by threatening these raids and trying to scare people, one even using the term poltergeist from the scary movie. What developed today was nothing. They have lawyers on the standby. And now, these activists say they are now crossing their fingers and hoping they don't see any such sweeps or raids in the coming days.

But they're taking a very, very calm view of all this. They say, look, ICE raids in Los Angeles are common. There are some 500- something arrests per month. So that would equal 16 or 18 arrests per day. So they say this is all just routine.


HOWELL: Paul Vercammen there. Thank you so much. And later this hour, we will speak with an immigration attorney about these raids and the rights of those immigrants who are being targeted.

NEWTON: OK, moving on now. Iran's foreign minister says the United States is at risk of becoming a global pariah if it keeps making decisions that benefit only America. Javad Zarif spoke to reporters on Sunday. Take a listen.


JAVAD ZARIF, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: The Trump administration is isolated. In the global community, we've seen that in the meetings of the Security Council, in the meetings of -- including the meeting of Board of Governors of the IAEA. All of them called by the United States, all of them ended up condemning the policies, unilateral policies of the United States.

So it is time for the United States to begin to return to the international consensus that we can only reach our goals through multilateralism.


HOWELL: Javad Zarif there in meeting in New York for a U.N. meeting this week after having his visa personally approved by the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. It all comes as tensions between the two countries are getting worse, although Zarif's visit could open the door to possible sideline talks.

NEWTON: Now, earlier Sunday, President Hassan Rouhani said he's willing to hold talks with the United States, but there's one big condition.


HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT: We are always ready for negotiations. This -- in this very hour, in this moment, we are ready for talks, provided that you stop your act of aggression, stop your sanctions, and return to the negotiation table and return to logic.


NEWTON: Now, Mr. Rouhani says that because the Trump administration abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal last year, Iran is not violating it, even though they're enriching more uranium. France, Germany, and the U.K. are warning that the deal is at risk of total collapse. They're urging the U.S. and Iran to come back to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

At the Cricket World Cup, England has made history. George, when I lived there, I have to tell you this was unimaginable. The team lifted that elusive championship trophy for the first time ever on Sunday. Who could believe it? Certainly not New Zealand, they beat New Zealand in front of a very passionate home crowd.

HOWELL: It's a big deal. It was a nail-biting final that saw the first super-over tiebreaker in World Cup history. In the end, the English captured the title by scoring more boundaries over the course of the match. So it was interesting to watch, for sure.

NEWTON: And who could forget what else was going on in London today? Another major sporting event, the men's Wimbledon final. And it was another win for tennis star, Novak Djokovic.

HOWELL: The world number one earned his fifth Wimbledon title after beating Roger Federer in an epic match. He got the win by saving two match points in the fifth set tiebreaker. Djokovic now has 16 major titles, 4 away from tying Federer's on the men's side.

NEWTON: I don't get the chance (Inaudible) -- it was truly epic. I've run out of superlatives.

HOWELL: Great to watch.

[02:14:54] NEWTON: Coming up, the hurricane that hit the southern U.S. has thankfully weakened, but the threat from the slow-moving system is (Inaudible).

HOWELL: It is something to watch, for sure. And, of course, trade pressure from the U.S. that appears to be taking a toll on China as its economy sees new signs of trouble. We have a live report ahead as CNN Newsroom pushes on. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NEWTON: Barry has been downgraded to a tropical depression, but not before leaving tens of thousands of people without power in Louisiana.

HOWELL: Just look at these images. You get a sense of what happened there. That storm pushing slowly to the north after dumping a lot of rain along the U.S. gulf coast. And though it has weakened, the forecasters warn it is slow paced that could threaten millions of people with dangerous flooding. CNN's Randi Kaye reports from the capitol of Louisiana, Baton Rouge.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're here along the banks of the Mississippi River here in Baton Rouge. And I am standing on the levee system, really, that has protected the city of Baton Rouge. The city fared quite well through the storm. If you take a look here behind me, you can see that's one of the bridges across the Mississippi. It's the high points like that that's actually the highest bridge crossing the Mississippi.

They're not worried about areas like that. But they are worried about areas like this where the water is continuing to come up here even on the levee system. And if you take a look over here, you can see the railings there. Let me just get out of the way of the camera. The railings, you can see the water is coming up there on that.

[02:20:06] And if you can look back here, you can see those -- that lettering there, that red lettering on the levee, that actually says Baton Rouge. And you can see the water is coming up on that, although it does seem to be going down in all the hours that we've spent here watching the Mississippi River. The river is supposed to crest here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at 43 feet.

It's normally 30 feet. So there is definitely some concern about that and the levels. The (Inaudible) river, which is nearby here, was flooded back in 2016 after a major storm. So that has -- is expected to crest in 39 feet. So there is also concern about that. There is still concern about some flooding here as Barry makes its way up north as a tropical storm now from the gulf.

We did see some flooding in the streets, some very minor flooding, a few branches down. But overall, it seems as though this area really did dodge a bullet, nothing too major. No injuries to report. There are still about 10,000 people without power. It's getting restored slowly in this area. There was also some concern earlier about tornadoes and funnel clouds.

There hasn't been anything like that. So again, people here feel very, very lucky, although some people are still bracing because the governor is saying that in some areas the worst is yet to come. So they are continuing to watch that and watch their homes. Many have already evacuated from back in 2016 from those -- from that storm, and they're just getting back into their home and now they evacuated again. So when they get home, we'll see what those people find. But again,

it does seem as though the storm has passed through and folks here are doing OK, Randi Kaye, CNN, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.


NEWTON: Our meteorologist, Pedram Javaheri, joins us with more. And Randi said it, right? Those people are feeling a little bit of relief. They feel lucky, but it's not over, is it?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Not at all. You know, when it comes to rainfall and potential flooding farther downstream over the next couple of days, that's going to be the biggest concern here moving forward, really an interesting storm system, because the center of the system pushing into portions of Arkansas.

But the convection or thunderstorm activity almost entirely displaced off towards the east or to the south, so not in line with where the storm, and really has been the case for the entire life cycle of this system. And you notice the heaviest rainfall remained offshore. Upwards of 20-plus inches in areas just offshore, (Inaudible) and we're talking 10 to 15 inches have already come down.

But again, the concern is this is just the beginning of a system here that is going to gradually increase, the water levels even higher than their historic values across some of these areas. And, of course, all of that water will want to work its way back down to the south, make its way into the Gulf of Mexico. So the Mississippi River valley really going to see the biggest concerns here inside the next several days and eventually several weeks.

But Baton Rouge, back towards the west near Alexandria, that's where a few thunderstorms, some of areas of heavy rainfall still in place this morning, over 11 million people underneath the flood watches and flood warnings at this hour. And the area indicated an orange and brown here. That's where the moisture is most prevalent right now in the atmosphere.

And notice how quickly -- by Wednesday and Thursday it is displaced off towards the east and exits across the eastern seaboard. But you look at the concern through at least Monday morning. The flooding areas from Alexandria down towards Lafayette and even around New Orleans, that's where it's highest. And then by this afternoon and this evening, we're looking at Memphis into areas of eastern Arkansas there seeing some of the heaviest rainfall.

But, of course, again, it all comes down to that water wanting to eventually work its way back downstream. So that's why even if they don't see significant flooding initially from the system, that water will eventually make its way across the river and eventually rise further into the next couple of weeks, guys.

HOWELL: All right, Pedram, thank you.

JAVAHERI: Thank you. HOWELL: China's economy has posted its slowest quarterly growth in at

least 27 years. The country's statistics bureau says GDP growth slowed to 6.2 percent in the second quarter. That's slightly down from the first quarter of this year. For more on this, let's bring in CNN's Sherisse Pham. She's following the story live for us in Hong Kong. Good to have you with us, Sherisse.

Look, there is always the question of whether these numbers that we're seeing are they spot on the money, or are they slightly offered through rosier glasses, per se? The question here is what is the read on what we're seeing now?

SHERISSE PHAM, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: It's a good point you bring up, George. There has been the case in the past where China would maybe inflate the numbers a little bit, like you say, offering a little bit of a rosier picture than what's going on. The feeling seems to be from analysts at this time they're more on the level.

And today's numbers, 6.2 percent, the slowest since 1992, the earliest time that quarterly GDP data has been tracked in China. It's a pretty new low, right, for China. But I will say it was expected. Back in March, Chinese (Inaudible) warned that China's GDP and China's economy will slow to between 6 percent and 6.5 percent. So today's number, 6.2, it's really falling right in that range.

[02:25:04] And that's probably why we are seeing investors kind of take today's data in stride. If we take a look at the Hong Kong and the Shanghai markets, we're seeing the Hang Seng up about a 0.10 percent. And the Shanghai composite up about a 0.10 percent. So really, these were expected numbers. And let's not forget that China is a planned economy.

So Beijing had already unleashed several stimulus measures to juice the economy. And that includes hundreds of billions of dollars worth of business tax cuts, as well as increased infrastructure spending. So -- but again, really the big elephant in the room, this is showing that the U.S.-China trade war is having a massive effect on the Chinese economy, George.

HOWELL: Clearly, there is a drag on the economy. We'll, of course, see how this plays out in the months ahead. Sherisse Pham, thank you again.

PHAM: Thank you.

NEWTON: OK. Next on CNN Newsroom, the Trump administration says raids are now under way, targeting undocumented immigrants across the United States. We'll talk to a lawyer who says these immigrants need to know their rights.

HOWELL: Plus, why a right of passage for many American Jews has become a source of controversy. Live in the United States and around the world, you are watching CNN Newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) NEWTON: And I want to welcome back our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom. I am Paula Newton.

HOWELL: And I am George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour. The Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, says that Iran is ready to talk, that is if the United States drops sanctions and returns to the negotiating table. In a televised speech, Mr. Rouhani insisted that Iran did not violate the 2015 nuclear deal, because the United States abandoned it first.


He also said that Iran will not vow to U.S. acts of aggression.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: U.S. President Donald Trump slammed for racist tweets and a progressive Democratic congresswoman. Now he wrote that they should "go back to the crime- infested places from which they came." He is believed to be referring to a group of first-term Congresswoman, all of them, women of color.

HOWELL: The Trump administration says raids targeting undocumented immigrants are underway in nearly a dozen major U.S. cities. Officials say they're targeting about 2000 ordered by the courts to be removed from the United States with a focus on violent criminals and aggravated felons. However, CNN has been monitoring these cities and has not been able to confirm any arrests

We're joined now by Pamela Peynado Stewart. Pamela is an Atlanta- based attorney who handles a variety of immigration issues with a focus on deportation. It's good to have you with us certainly because what we first heard from the Trump administration, Pamela, was that this would be a major blitz that would happen on Sunday. It turns out we're getting the indication that it seems to be more of a rolling roundup that may happen over the next several days, weeks, who knows.

But, here is the thing. Why do you think this was, you know, put out there as this big blitz and what impact does that had on families who thought this would happen on Sunday?

PAMELA PERNADO STEWART, LAWYER, LEE & PEYNADO IMMIGRATION LAW GROUP: I think was definitely a scare tactic by the Trump administration and it has had a huge impact on the immigrant community. Churches were empty yesterday, supermarkets, malls, everyone was afraid to step out of their homes because of these raids. It actually started on Friday and we were getting calls from folks who saw ICE coming.

They were pulling up in vans and they were coming to their communities and we received a couple of calls and we did not heard of any arrests yet. So, we don't think that it's going to get the success and the numbers that the Trump administration was hoping for,

NEWTON: But what happens now in terms of these people, these families and remember, I know sometimes children are even afraid to go to school in these circumstances. What happens now on these communities as they wait for really the next, you know, utterance from the President about what will happen here?

STEWART: Well, they're just in limbo, they're scared, they're in limbo, they are afraid to open the door, they are afraid to outside, they are afraid to go to school, they are afraid to send their children to school, they are afraid to go to work. I mean, this is a state of fear that these immigrants are living in. And we tell our client, we tell the community to be proactive, speak to an immigration attorney, see if there is something that could be done about your case.

A lot of them did not get a notice for their hearings, so they could file motions to reopen based on lack of notice.

HOWELL: Let's talk just a bit more about that because we've heard it from mayors, I know that you had posted this also on social media for immigrants to know their rights, however whenever this happens. Explain what you mean there.

STEWART: Well, everyone has the right to due process including immigrants. So, they should have their cases heard before the courts, if they have not had that opportunity. They have the right to not open their door, they have the right to remain silent, they have the right to speak to an immigration attorney, they don't have to sign anything. And if they're encountered by ICE out in public, they have a right to get copies of whatever document ICE is presenting to them.

They have right and I think this time around immigrants are well- equipped to handle these raids and to be able -- and whenever they come in contact with ICE, they know their rights because it's out there, it's finally getting out there.

NEWTON: And you know though that the argument of the Trump ministration makes is they say look, these people have deportation borders against their names, they have had their due process, they've had their days in court, that's why they're being asked to be deported. I mean, should that make a difference here? And does it actually make a difference to people who might be helping these people providing them with shelter, a safe haven?

STEWART: Absolutely. You know, when they say they've had their day in court, this is simply not true. The majority of my clients who have outstanding orders don't -- didn't know that they had outstanding orders, they didn't know that they had a hearing, in fact, a lot of times, we are able to reopen cases because the court simply did not send a notice of the hearing or send it to the wrong address.

Often these documents are in languages that my clients can't understand, and again, sometimes it's just not their fault that they missed their hearing and that they were ordered removed. So, you know, this is something to take into consideration. So far, what we've heard is that it's not criminals, and it's not crimes, it's folks with these outstanding orders that may have come in when they were young, when they were kids and didn't even though they had these outstanding orders against them.

[02:35:10] That is who this operation seems to be targeting, not criminals, not felons, but folks who have been here for a while with these orders.

HOWELL: So look, over the next several days, who knows, maybe weeks, it's unclear, but however this plays out, what would you tell people who may be watching right now?

STEWART: And we expect it to last until Friday, that's the reports that we've been getting but, you know, we just want everyone to remain calm, we want everyone to be proactive again, have a plan of action before you encounter ICE. Put all of your legal documents where it's easily accessible just in case you are detained, have a plan for your children, have a plan for your family and speak to an attorney.

See if there's any way that, you know, you can file a motion to reopen that you can get a green card, possibly become a U.S. citizen. There are avenues for this to be fixed.

NEWTON: And what about that argument from people who say that, look -- and I mean, we have the Trump administration out today saying it again -- or actually, it was yesterday on the Sunday show saying, look, these people, some of these people are dangerous criminals, that's what they claim. Are you saying that that's just not true or are you saying that for the majority it's not true?

STEWART: For this operation, for this raid operation, they are not targeting criminals. And I -- you know, if they were then we can see it in the reports, and the folks that are calling my office when we asked them and we pull their criminal record, they don't have any. All they have is outstanding orders, they're seeking family units, that's mothers and children. What about the children? They obviously don't have any crimes either.

They're looking for fathers, childrens, mothers, and children, and I think this is used solely as a scare tactic.

HOWELL: Pamela Peynado Stewart, we appreciate your time and we'll stay in touch with you for sure because this is an issue that has a lot of people concern in the United States as it plays out.

STEWART: Thank you.

NEWTON: Thank you, Pamela. Now, over the past two decades, a non- profit group called Birthright has sponsored free trips to Israel for young Jews people living right across the globe. Now, the troops have become a rite of passage of sorts for many American Jews.

HOWELL: But they have also been criticized for only showing one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ignoring the occupation as a result. There is now another group called J Street offering an alternative experience. Our Oren Liebermann has this for you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one of our street bomb shelters.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: This visit to a bomb shelter on Gaza border gives these young American Jews a sense of what it's like living under the threat of rocket border fire. But what makes this trip different is the other stops. The 30 college students on this first of its kind tour visited East Jerusalem in the West Bank learning about Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

This trip is an alternative to the traditional one Birthright Israel offers. The non-profit sends young Jews to Israel for free to build a connection to their heritage and to the holy land.

What's your take on seeing the other side --


JOE PERLOV, TOUR GUIDE: Well, the first take I would say is by major take which is that I am pro-Israeli, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace and I say that all the time because one can't be just pro-Israeli. You know, the struggle here with the Palestinian people is a struggle which in order to be resolved demands people sitting down negotiating deliberating and discussing, that's what it's all about.

Over the past two decades, Birthright has brought 70,000 young Jews to Israel from all over the world. The trips have been criticized for only showing only one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ignoring the occupation. In a statement to CNN, Birthright said, we believe in the power and importance of experiencing Israel first hand and understand there are many organizations that provide the opportunity to connect the Jewish diaspora to Israel. For those young Jewish men and women who want to focus most of their attention on the conflict, there are trips which may be well-suited to their interests either after or in lieu of a birthright Israel trip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a real opportunity and prayer for us to listen and learn and to take a stand.

LIEBERMANN: Last summer, some walked off their Birthright trips demanding to hear from Palestinians and to learn about the occupation in protest organized by progressive American Jewish if not now.

Guys, come as close as the air. Everybody come close to me.

J Street, another progressive organization based in the U.S. has organized an alternative trip that shows two sides of one conflict.

ZACHARY SPITZ, STUDENT BOARD MEMBER, J STREET: I think building a connection to Israel is important, it should be something that the Jewish community in America does but I think, you know, as it works right now it's a -- it's a shallow connection, it's a -- it's a connection based on treating Israel like a - like a Jewish Disneyland.

LIEBERMANN: On J Street's 10-day trips, students were encouraged to ask difficult questions about Israel, challenging what they're told and what they know.

[02:40:00] CHANNAH POWELL, J STREET PARTICIPANT: The education around, Israel that has been provided by Birthright and our hellos in our communities has felt somewhat dishonest or one-sided for our whole lives and I'm really grateful for the opportunity to get to be on the ground and talk to people and hear their stories that are not just conservative dynast scientist narratives.

Channah Powell came on a pro-Israel floor before she started college. At the time she was determined to move to Israel and join the army. But as she learned about the region and the conflict, her views on Israel and the conflict had become more complex. Instead of fighting in the army, now she says she wants to fight for human rights, especially with Palestinians and that she says has strengthened her Jewish faith.

POWELL: I feel like this trip has been all about being Jewish in so many ways. The people on this trip just like having and asking so many intellectual questions and we're constantly talking and thinking together and like to me, that is like what is central to Judaism.

LIEBERMANN: This short trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories is for far a proof of concept. Based on the idea that a more in-depth journey to the land for young American Jews can build an even stronger connection. Oren Liebermann, CNN on the Gaza border.

HOWELL: Oren, thank you. South Africa's former leader is about to face a corruption hearing. We'll take you live to Johannesburg with a look at what's ahead for Jacob Zuma.


HOWELL: Within the next hour, South Africa's former president is set to be grilled at a public hearing over corruption allegations.

NEWTON: Now, Jacob Zuma has been accused of allowing officials to plunder state resources during his time in his office. Zuma has called the inquiry a political witch-hunt and insists he has done nothing wrong.

HOWELL: CNN'S Eleni Giokos is following the storyline for us in Johannesburg this hour. Eleni, as Zuma makes his appearance with this inquiry, tell us more about the possible implications for his successor.

[02:45:05] ELENI GIOKOS, CNN BUSINESS AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, this is really interesting. I mean, this is really interesting. I mean, former President Jacob Zuma appearing at this inquiry. What we're expecting to see is five days of grilling.

Now, remember, this is a man known as the teflon president. Surviving corruption scandal after corruption scandal during his nine-year term. And it's also interesting that he's the man that signed off this commission of inquiry. And finally, South Africans get to hear his side of the story.

But make no mistake, it all relates to him. The witnesses that have been appearing over the past year have directly implicated the former president about the systematic looting of government resources, of money being laundered.

Also important to note that all relates to a relationship that president -- former President Jacob Zuma had with one family, the Gupta's. The witnesses that we've heard from, the likes of ministers being offered bags of cash to sign off various contracts as well.

And, of course, Zuma now has his opportunity to talk about his side of the story. He always says that he's, you know, pleaded innocent that he had nothing to do with state capture and this is all a ploy to humiliate him.

But it's also important to note here that for the first time, we're going to be hearing from Zuma. His lawyers, of course, have decided to not come up with an actual statement leading up to this testimony.

And also many say that he hasn't had access to any of the questions. Some said that this is going to be shooting from the hip over the next five days. And I mean, I must say, George and Paula, I mean this is going to be really unprecedented.

We also know that a lot of supporters have gathered around the commission to hear, of course, their side of the story and they say that they support Zuma.

But also, importantly, South Africans for a very long time want to know the truth and want to get the money back.

HOWELL: Is there any indication, Eleni, as how the former president is feeling leading up to this inquiry?

GIOKOS: Yes, well, this is a really good question. A day before he was meant to be appearing -- I mean, today basically he was tweeting and I want you to take a look at this video. Dancing and singing. And basically, making a mockery of a hashtag that was created a few years ago, Zuma must fall. Just listen in for a second.

Dancing and singing, president, basically either do not, not taking this very seriously or basically saying is not worried about the outcomes over the next five days. I mean, you know, he -- remember, this is a military man he was -- you know, once you know, basically, very low in the echelons within the ANC, and then, eventually becoming presidents of the country.

So, leading up to this I think he's feeling in high hopes. So, we are waiting with bated breath to hear what he has to say.

HOWELL: Well, he danced his way into the inquiry. We will soon see. Eleni Giokos, thank you.


NEWTON: Certainly, going on with a lot of attitude. That's for sure.

Amazon Prime's annual shopping holiday is here, and it's supposedly bigger and better than ever. We have no idea what that means. Now, a two-day event. Two days it takes which is expected to break more sales record.

HOWELL: But, the company is facing some backlash this year. Thousands of warehouse workers in Europe and some here in the United States are expected to walk off their jobs on Monday. And Tuesday, demanding better pay and working conditions.

This would be the first ever Amazon Prime Day strike in the United States. But Amazon says it already offers competitive pay and benefits.

NEWTON: OK, the next space race is a battle of the billionaires. Coming up, how they're trying to outspend each other to corner the civilian space market?


[02:52:44] HOWELL: India hopes to land an unmanned rover on the moon that the hopes have been dashed for now, at least. Less than hour before liftoff, the Indian Space Research Organization announced the lunar mission launch had been called off due to a technical snag.

NEWTON: Now, the launch date will be rescheduled. This would have been a first for India, which hopes to still become a space superpower.

And finally, 50 years after the United States sent three men to the moon, yes, there's still space race.

HOWELL: Not between nations, but among competing billionaires as our Rachel Crane explains.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE REPORTER: Bezos, Branson, Musk, the three billionaires racing toward space. With NASA focusing more on its Moon and Mars missions, the opportunities for the three companies have never been better. So, what exactly are their ambitions? Simply, it seems to be get humans to space for tourism, exploration, and perhaps, even colonization. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic seems to be the most tourism focused.

RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GROUP: I got frustrated the fact that I couldn't go up on a NASA space ship or Russian spaceship. So, decided to build a space line and obviously, if you have your own space line, you certainly want to make use of it. And I've always wanted to be an astronaut, and I've always wanted to you know, look back at our beautiful earth and marvel at it.

CRANE: The Company had a successful test in February. Sending its crude spaceship to 88 kilometers above Earth. The company's second time to space.

Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin also has tourism goals. But he's recently announced he's setting his sights on the moon.

JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON AND BLUE ORIGIN: It's time to go back to the moon this time to stay. The price of admission to do interesting things in space right now is just too high because there's no infrastructure.

[02:54:50] CRANE: The Company has introduced a new lunar lander concept and already began testing an engine the lander would use. However, it's Elon Musk's SpaceX that's been getting the most liftoff action.

It's been handling cargo missions to the International Space Station since 2012. And its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets have proven they have the muscle for space travel.

ELON MUSK, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SPACEX: I think it's going to give the government options. So, it's good to have options for advancement of human space flight. And yes, it comes just a good thing.

CRANE: But at SpaceX's Crew Dragon that has gained recent attention. It could be the first American spacecraft to carry NASA astronauts to space since 2011. While it had a successful mission in March, April brought major setbacks when the company confirmed the craft was destroyed during another test.

Still, where it stands, all three companies have yet to send people into orbit. But it's looking more promising every day.

BRANSON: I think the exciting thing for the world now is that you have Jeff, you had Elon, you have ourselves creating different approaches to take people into space, and to colonize places like the moon into -- in future years. So, an incredible new era of space exploration is arrived.

CRANE: Rachel Crane, CNN, New York.


HOWELL: Would you do it? Would you go to the moon?

NEWTON: Oh, not a chance. What about you?

HOWELL: I think I might take trip.

NEWTON: Yes, you look at the adventures. (INAUDIBLE) for sure.

HOWELL: Why not?

NEWTON: I want to thank you for joining us, I'm Paula Newton.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. See you on the other side of the moon that is in just a few minutes. For NEWSROOM, stay with us.