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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

First Civilians Leave Gaza Through Rafah Crossing Into Egypt; Gaza Border Opens For First Evacuations Since Start Of War; American Aid Worker Out Of Gaza, Now In Egypt; Second Israeli Airstrike On Gaza Refugee Camp; ICRC Chief Surgeon Treating Patients At Gaza Hospital; Parents Plead For Return Of Their Kidnapped Son; Rising Tensions Over War At US Colleges; Cornell University Cancels Classes After Student Arrested For Allegedly Threatening To Shoot Jewish Students; House Republicans Plan To Advance Israel Aid Package That Includes Cuts To IRS Funding. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired November 01, 2023 - 20:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: They say he doesn't have a history of violence. Nonetheless, the attorney-general, Merrick Garland today referenced Dai's arrest. He was hosting a forum on hate crimes, of which there has been, of course, a surge in hate crimes, noting a significant, he said, uptick in threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab-Americans.

Well, thank you all so much for joining us. We'll be back here tomorrow night.

"AC 360" with Anderson Cooper begins right now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening. For the first time since the October 7th attack on Israel and the war in Hamas that's followed, hundreds of foreign nationals, as well as those with dual citizenships were finally allowed to leave Gaza today. Many more still remain. Two of them allowed to leave are US citizens. Both were aid workers.

In a moment, we'll speak to the niece of one of those aid workers. Ramona Okumura, a 71-year-old Seattle resident, who's been helping to make prosthetics for children in Gaza when she was there on October 7th.

The State Department estimates there are about 1,000 Americans and 5,000 other foreign nationals in Gaza who want to leave. President Biden said today he expects more Americans to depart, quote, "over the coming days."

In another first since the war began, injured Palestinians were allowed to cross Gaza's southern border into Egypt. This is a hospital in north Sinai where some were taken for treatment.

Signals have shift in the conflict that for the second time in as many days saw Israeli strike Hamas targets in the Jabalya refugee camp, north of Gaza. According to the UN, it's the largest camp like that in Gaza. In a statement, Israel says it struck a, quote, "Hamas command-and-

control complex and that," quote, "Hamas terrorists were eliminated in the strike." The director of a hospital near the refugee camp says they received 80 bodies. CNN can't confirm either claim.

We'll have a full report on the new strike shortly, as well as what this means for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, plus the attempts to release the hostages, which now number at least 240, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

First though, Melissa Bell joins us from Egypt on the release of those foreign nationals and injured Palestinians. So what more do we know about Americans who left Gaza earlier today and others?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you mentioned, Anderson, Dr. Okumura, a 71-year-old pediatric orthopedist. The other is a pediatrician. Both were doctors there to help Gazan children who found themselves on the wrong side of the border.

What we understand is that they're both now on their way Cairo. These just the first of the Americans that are to be released. What we understand is that this is a comprehensive deal, Anderson, that we'll see all foreign and dual nationals eventually getting out of Gaza.


BELL (voice over): A tired smile and a wave from one of the lucky few finally allowed to leave Gaza since the war began. These families, just some of the first foreign and dual nationals finally permitted through the Rafah crossing into Egypt on Wednesday. The result of a deal brokered by Qatar between Israel, Hamas, Egypt, and the United States, that will allow all foreign and dual nationals to leave the besieged enclave.

Also allowed to leave under the deal, the first Palestinians, 81 of the most severely wounded, those desperate enough for urgent surgical intervention taken one by one in a convoy of ambulances to a field hospital set up a few miles away and to other hospitals in northern Egypt.

Large crowds of foreign nationals had been massing at the border after hearing at the start of the conflict that they'd be allowed out. Families desperately checking to see if they were some of those lucky enough finally to get through.

ISMAIL ABU SHAABANE, AMERICAN-PALESTINIAN IN GAZA (through translator): I'm an American living in Gaza. We heard that the crossing was open, but unfortunately, we discovered that it was open for specific nationalities at the moment. And we had to turn back because the cellular network was down and we weren't aware that there was a list. We hope to see our names on the list tomorrow or the next day.

BELL (voice over): As the only crossing from Gaza to anywhere other than Israel, all eyes had been on Rafah ever since the total siege of the strip was announced by Israel. And what's gone in has been painfully little, a further 20 trucks arriving on Wednesday, a drop in the ocean, say eight organizations given the needs inside.


COOPER: And, Melissa, just to be clear, this is not having anything to do with the hostages that are still being held by Hamas. What does this deal indicate about broader talks going on behind the scenes?

BELL: Well, these talks should be taking place at all is quite remarkable, Anderson. They should be bearing fruit was quite unexpected. When the news came this morning that this deal had been struck.

You're talking about parties, many of which don't actually speak to one another. And given how tense the situation, how worse it's gotten over the course of the last three and a half weeks, it has seemed very unlikely that there'd be any glimmer of hope at all for these foreign nationals who had made their way south of the Gaza Strip to the Rafah crossing.


And yet this breakthrough tells us that not only is the Qatari mediation functioning, but this fight, the conditions, and the posturing, and the difficulties involved in these talks, they are making progress.

And I think whilst you're quite right to point out that this has nothing to do with the negotiations about the hostages, it is important and I think an important glimmer of hope for the families of the hostages as well that these parties are talking and despite all of their differences and all of the rancor that exist between them, capable of finding agreement and compromise when it comes to getting people out.

We understand that there were difficulties. For instance, Hamas have wanted some of its wounded soldiers to come out. Egypt had been reluctant about what kind of people it was taking in. And yet, here we are.

We understand that all of the many thousands of foreign nationals will get out. And I think that is an important measure of the hope that exists in a situation that had seemed entirely hopeless, Anderson.

COOPER: Melissa Bell, thanks.

Joined now by Leah Okumura. Her aunt was one of the two American aid workers we mentioned who was able to leave Gaza today.

Lea, I know -- I mean, you and your family were in constant communication with your aunt Ramona. She was crossing from Gaza into Egypt. How did you feel when she was safe, when you realized she was out?

LEAH OKUMURA, NIECE OF AMERICAN AID WORKER WHO LEFT GAZA: I mean, this day has just been incredibly overwhelming. We got word last night that there was a list of people who were going to be able to cross and then finally got word that Ramona was, in fact, on the list.

And my family has been up all night waiting for this wonderful news. And so we finally got text messages from her as she was passing from Gaza into Egypt. And we are just -- we were so incredibly relieved (inaudible).

COOPER: How is she doing now? Do you know?

OKUMURA: I think she is just completely exhausted. The text messages ended several hours ago when she said she was going to sleep. And I hope she is enjoying a very restful sleep in a comfortable bed after a delicious meal and a hot shower, which she absolutely deserves.

COOPER: I want to play an audio recording that your aunt sent you just yesterday. Let's listen.


RAMONA OKUMURA, AMERICAN AID WORKER WHO LEFT GAZA: In the last hour or so, drones started flying overhead again. It's the first time in this location hearing them. It's a warning for possible attacks tonight. Makes it hard to go to sleep at 2100 tonight.

COOPER: Talk about what your aunt was doing in Gaza because she has been there a number of times before.

OKUMURA: Yes. She is an incredibly remarkable person. She's an expert in pediatric prosthetics. She worked for many years at the University of Washington. And since she retired, she's been working with the Palestine Children's Relief Fund, which is an aid organization that brings desperately needed medical care to the children of Gaza.

And Ramona's skills are unique in that she is able to build and fit prosthetics from the very limited material that people in Gaza are able to get in through the blockade. So she's able to make these prosthetics and fit them to children. And she also teaches other medical providers in Gaza how to do that themselves as well.

So she's been to Gaza several times to do this work. She just -- she's very dedicated. She is incredibly passionate about the idea that children everywhere should be able to run around and play soccer with their friends or go to school. And she goes to Gaza to be able to make that happen for these children there.

So she was there on what should have been a routine medical mission, starting from the end of September, and then got trapped there for many weeks in just awful conditions.

COOPER: It's so awesome that in her retirement she's chosen to a great risk to herself and great inconvenience, even in normal times, do this for people.

OKUMURA: Yes. We are just so proud of her and what she is able to do. And not just her skills and her dedication to it, but her bravery really and how passionate she is about this cause, about taking care of the children of Gaza, and helping them leave fuller lives in the conditions that they're in.

COOPER: Leah Okumura, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

Let's go now to the latest on the second strike of the Jabalya refugee camp and the latest advances made by the IDF inside Gaza. Jeremy Diamond has details.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This all that remains. For the second day in a row, Israeli jets striking the densely populated Jabalya refugee camp, flattening apartment buildings. Hundreds were wounded and at least 80 people were killed, according to the director of the nearby Indonesian hospital.


The IDF said it struck a Hamas command-and-control complex in Jabalya, killing Hamas militants. But civilians also clearly among the casualties, including children rushed out of the rubble.

Tonight, the United Nations Human Rights Office raising serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes. Israel blaming Hamas for using civilians as human shields, as it continues its offensive.

(REAR ADMIRAL ITZIK COHEN speaking in foreign language.)

DIAMOND (voice over): A top Israeli commander now says his forces are closing in on Gaza City, Hamas' stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

REAR ADMIRAL ITZIK COHEN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (through translator): We're deep in the strip at the gate of Gaza City. In the last five days, we have dismantled a lot of the abilities of Hamas. We have attacked strategic positions, all their explosive abilities, its underground facilities, and other systems.

DIAMOND (voice over): Five days after Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza, Israeli forces are advancing towards Gaza City from three different directions. In the north, Israeli armor and infantry have been spotted advancing from both ends of the strip. Israeli tanks also appear to be closing in from the south.

CNN geolocated this tank at the strategic Netzarim junction, a main road into Gaza City. Israel is also moving some of its artillery closer to Gaza.

DIAMOND (on camera): Until recently, this field was filled with Israeli artillery positions. You can see these mounds where howitzer guns or other types of artillery would dig in.

And now as the Israeli forces move closer into Gaza, those artillery positions are also moving closer to support the troops on the ground. Now all that remains are these, boxes of munitions, artillery fuses used by the forces that were here.

DIAMOND (voice over): The question now is how deep Israeli forces will move into Gaza.

MIRI EISIN, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COUNTERTERRORISM, REICHMAN UNIVERSITY: The only way to get to what Hamas has built over a decade inside the Gaza Strip, the only way is through a ground operation.


COOPER: Jeremy Diamond joins us now from Ashkelon. So what more can you tell us about the international response to these strikes at Jabalya?

DIAMOND: Well, you saw in our piece there, Anderson, the UN Human Rights Council is now raising the specter of war crimes because of the high number of civilian casualties. There's also been very strong condemnation from several Arab countries, including Qatar, which has been involved in some of those mediation efforts regarding civilians in Gaza.

The European Union's foreign policy chief also saying he is appalled by the high number of civilian casualties in these strikes. But the United States, for its part, is trying to avoid being critical of Israel.

The National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby earlier today is saying he didn't have full details on this latest strike, but saying that, in private at least, they are raising the issue of trying to minimize civilian casualties.

Israel, for its part, Anderson, is standing by its tactics, putting the blame on Hamas for using civilians as human shields. And they are pressing forward with their advance.

Tonight, the Israeli military is saying that they have broken through Hamas' northern defensive lines. Tonight, Anderson, they are also announcing that 16 Israeli soldiers have now died in this expanded ground offensive -- Anderson.

COOPER: Jeremy Diamond, thanks.

My next guest is Dr. Tom Potokar. He's chief surgeon with the International Committee of the Red Cross. He's been in Gaza since last week, working the south of the European Gaza hospital. I spoke to him earlier by phone.


COOPER (on camera): Dr. Potokar, first of all, can you say where you are in Gaza?

TOM POTOKAR, CHIEF SURGEON OF INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: Yes, so at the moment, I'm between Khan Younis and Rafah in the south.

COOPER (on camera): And what are you seeing in term of medical needs at the hospital where you're working? POTOKAR: I mean, there's a huge number of patients, more patients than

there are beds. And there's a lot of traumatic injuries and, particularly, a lot of burn injuries -- a significant number of burn injuries. Unfortunately, a lot of elders and children.

COOPER (on camera): I know you have worked with burn injuries a lot throughout your career. Is -- in terms of equipment, do you have the kinds of equipment and supplies -- the medical supplies needed?

POTOKAR: They are in short supply. So -- I mean, everything is in short supply. But for that -- particularly, for example, we require an awful lot of dressings.

COOPER (on camera): The area you're in in the south, that is where hundreds of thousands of Gazans have fled from the north. The IDF has been telling them to go south for weeks now. Are there internally displaced Gazans sheltering at the hospitals, as we've seen at hospitals in the north?

POTOKAR: Yes, yes, many, many. I mean, I've been in the last week to three hospitals. And in two of them, there are very significant numbers.


So the hospitals are often set in grounds -- you know, a little bit like the university campus almost. And there's -- the huge number is just milling around, I mean, both inside, in the hospital, under stairwells, in the corridors, but also in the outside areas between various buildings.

Occasionally, there's a few tents. But otherwise, also people just out there.

COOPER (on camera): You've worked in a lot of very dangerous places, in a lot of very difficult circumstances. How does this compare to other warzones you've been in?

POTOKAR: This is probably my, I think, 13th or 14th trip to Gaza. For example, everything is on a bigger scale here at the moment in terms of the number of internally displaced people, the difficulty and access to having the right supplies and materials needed, and those that are running out.

The ongoing and significant number of injuries and often highly complex injuries, I mean, different types of warfare create different types of injuries. At the moment, we're seeing, by far, a majority of explosive injuries, which cause really significant damage to the body, which require, you know, complex surgery to repair, as opposed to, for example, gunshot injuries which, you know -- which you have done this. They may be devastating to one limb, for example, but they're usually more limited in terms of the impact on the body overall.

COOPER (on camera): How concerned are you -- just in terms of your own physical safety, the safety of the hospital itself, how concerned are you? POTOKAR: As an organization, we have a lot of security measures in

place to, you know, limit our -- and manage risk. I have faith in the organization and the people that really we are helping to treat, you know, absolutely need this treatment. And they have to put up with the risk, if you like. So there's no reason that we shouldn't have to put up with it at all.

COOPER (on camera): Dr. Potokar, I really appreciate your time and what you're doing. Thank you.

POTOKOR: Thank you, thank you.


COOPER: Coming up with some foreign nationals being allowed to leave to Gaza to -- excuse me, leave from Gaza to Egypt, I'll speak to the parents of an American-Israeli Hersh Goldberg-Polin. He is believed to be kidnapped in Gaza after half of his arm was blown off by a grenade while he was hiding in a bomb shelter.

Later, tension is on the rise at colleges here in the US as the war divides students. At one campus, Jewish students are opting to do classes on Zoom for their own safety. We'll take you there.



COOPER: On today's news of hundreds leaving Gaza through the Rafah crossing comes just a day after Hamas claimed that they've released some hostages who were foreign nationals. No word yet if they plan to actually do that.

Some 240 people are believed to have been kidnapped into Gaza. One of them is a 23-year-old who's American-Israeli named Hersh Goldberg- Polin. He was attending the Nova Music Festival when Hamas attacked. He was last seen in this video. Part of his left arm blown off by a grenade, several of which were thrown by Hamas gunmen into a bomb shelter where he and as many as 28 others were hiding.

He was then loaded into the back of that pickup truck. He was presumed to be now hostage.

Joining me tonight his parents, Jon Polin and Rachel Goldberg from Jerusalem. Thank you both so much for being with us.

Let me just start by asking you when the news that some foreign nationals would be getting released today through the southern border with Rafah. Obviously, it's not people who were being held hostage or who had been kidnapped by Hamas. But did that give you some -- I'm wondering what your reaction to it was. Did it give you some hope that maybe there'd be some movement, particularly since emphasis was placed on people with injuries?

JON POLIN, FATHER OF HERSH GOLDBERG-POLIN, ABDUCTED BY HAMAS: So, first of all, I didn't assume that it was going to include Hersh or most of the other hostages. That being said, I think we've talked in the past about how we just got to find hope and optimism anywhere we could find it.

So, first of all, sure, any dose of good news coming out of Gaza gives me a small dose of optimism. But also, I'm happy for those individuals. Whoever they are, I'm happy with any of the innocent people caught up in this mess are allowed access to hopefully get out of it all together, but certainly at least allowed access to health care or whatever else it is that they need.

COOPER: Rachel, would -- you're wearing a tag that says 26. Do you want to tell people what that is?

RACHEL GOLDBERG, MOTHER OF HERSH GOLDBERG-POLIN, ABDUCTED BY HAMAS: Well, this morning I realized, you know what, it's Day 26. And I don't know if anyone is really counting. I don't know how many people really care.

And I think we mentioned to you once before, Jon and I both grew up, you know, in the late 70's when the Iran hostage crisis took place and very much, both of us, remember when Ted Koppel would come on "Nightline" and there was always in the corner a counter telling you what night it was that these people had been held.

And this morning I said, that's it, I'm putting "Nightline" on my chest, like, that's it. Every single day until these people come home, I'm going to be wearing what day it is. So this is my new fashion statement.

COOPER: Does it -- I mean, this must -- and again, this is just a stupid thing to even say. But this is the longest 26 days of your lives. I mean, that -- does it feel like a life -- I mean, what is it -- I mean, I asked you before how you get through each day.

GOLDBERG: Well -- right. It's a different dimension. It's a different type of time. It's really -- it's indescribable.


The days seem -- on the one hand, they seem super-duper long. And then when we look back and think of everything that we've done in a day because we're constantly, you know, throwing darts in every direction and trying every angle or strategy that we can think of and talking to everyone we can and ...

POLIN: I want to add that I'm an entrepreneur. I'm used to working with a plan -- a daily plan. And either we hit the plan or we fall behind or we get ahead, but they're milestones, and we know how we're doing.

Part of the torture of these 26 days is we work all day every day around the clock and still, when we lay our heads on the pillow for a few hours at night, I don't know if we've advanced the project -- the project of bring home Hersh and all the hostages. There's no way to know if we are pushing this ball forward towards the goal. It's one element of the frustration, and it makes the days just blend together. COOPER: Have you had any more contact -- I'm sorry, Rachel, go ahead.

GOLDBERG: I was going to say, and there's also, you know, the fear that is every few minutes of, is he alive? You know, is he in pain? Is he getting the care that we hope that somebody gave him? Is he getting the antibiotics that we've been told that he must have? So it's just this constant mind game of what is actually happening.

COOPER: When I talked to you in Jerusalem, you had made contact with several people who had been in that bomb shelter with Hersh, where Hamas was tossing grenades in, where, I think, as many as 17 or 18 people died in that shelter. A number survived.

You had talked to, I think, three of them. Have you been able to talk to anybody else? Have you gained any more -- did anybody else have any interaction with Hersh?

POLIN: It's interesting timing on that question because, first of all, we visit regularly with our friends, Moshe and Shira, parents of Aner, who is Hersh's very close friend who was killed in the bomb shelter there after ...

COOPER: Who tossed back the -- I mean, according to ...


COOPER: ... the witnesses, you told me ...

POLIN: (Inaudible) heroism ...


POLIN: ... it just become more and more clear as time goes on. We were visiting with them yesterday, and three of the survivors of the bomb shelter came over to meet Aner's parents and basically to thank them on behalf of Aner for saving their lives. We were there for the meeting. And it was, as you can imagine, quite emotional.

And then there are thousands and thousands of stories of the day, October 7th, and how people experienced it and are interwoven. But I was at a meeting last night and I walked out, and some young woman came over to me and introduced herself and said, "My best friend was in the shelter with your son, and she was killed. We want you to know that I'm so following this story and so pulling for Hersh, I need people to just survive from that bomb shelter." And it's these interwoven stories that keep on happening from that one bomb shelter of 29 people.

COOPER: That's incredible, yes. I think about that a lot, the bomb shelter. Is there anything else, Jon and Rachel, you want people to know?

POLIN: My plea, which is, kind of, why Rachel has the number on her now is, we know that news cycles move quickly, congressional cycles move quickly. We don't have a finger on the pulse of how much are people still talking about the 239 hostages being held in Gaza, but my plea to the world is, don't move on from this.

Don't forsake these people. Don't forget about these people. Don't let this fall off of the agenda.

COOPER: Rachel Goldberg, Jon Polin, thank you so much.

POLIN: Thank you.

GOLDBERG: Thanks for having us.

COOPER: Coming up, the increase on tension between students at US colleges as the nation records a spike in anti-Semitic incidents, including the arrest of a Cornell University student who literally threatened to, in his words, shoot up a predominantly kosher dining hall.



COOPER: Moments ago, Cornell University in upstate New York cancelled classes Friday. They say it is "in recognition of the extraordinary stress of the past few weeks." Today, a Cornell University student appeared in federal court after his arrest. Authorities say he has admitted to posting threats online to kill members of the school's Jewish community.

Patrick Dai is a 21-year-old junior at the Ivy League school in New York. Prosecutors say that among his threats was to shoot up the university's predominantly kosher dining hall. In an interview with the "New York Post," Dai's parents said he has severe depression and no history of violence. Elle Reeve has more on the threats facing Jewish students on college campuses as well as the concerns of pro- Palestinian students.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the river to the sea

(CROWD): From the river to the sea

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Palestine will be free.

MALAK ABUHASHIM, STUDENT, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: I'm Palestinian, I have family in Azah (ph). This has been an issue that's affected me my entire life. Like, I'm calling them and there's bombs in the background. They need to go somewhere safe.

ZOE BERNSTEIN, STUDENT, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: I have a lot of family and friends in Israel. Just having so much hate thrown at and so much misinformation as well that was going on, just shared on campus and on social media has been challenging.

ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's tension at hundreds of colleges across the U.S. At Tulane, a fight broke out after someone tried to burn an Israeli flag. At Harvard and Columbia, a doxxing truck showed up on campus naming students who allegedly belonged to organizations that released an anti-Israel statement.

EVE M. TROUTT POWELL, MIDDLE EAST HISTORY PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: I'm shocked at the temperature on campus. I could never have imagined it would be like this. There's a level of -- I don't want to say hatred -- but anger and fear.

BENI ROMM, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: The AEPi, the Jewish fraternity was hit with a graffiti attack of the Jews are Nazis earlier this weekend.

REEVE (voice-over): CNN visited three campuses where the response to the war has had major consequences. University of Pennsylvania in Drexel, where students were part of a nationwide walkout in support of Palestine. And Cornell, which this weekend faced anti-Semitic threats.

TALIA, STUDENT, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: I was on my way to the kosher dining hall when I looked down and saw the threats.


REEVE (on camera): How did you feel?

TALIA: I mean, it's terrifying. Like, this isn't anything that we thought we would ever have to deal with in the United States.

REEVE (voice-over): The post on a Greek life website threatened to shoot up a kosher dining hall and kill Jewish students. They were signed Hamas Soldier. But on Wednesday, Patrick Dai, a 21-year-old Cornell student was arraigned for a federal charge for making online threats.

BERNSTEIN: I think that the quick response by the university really did quell a lot of students' fear. I know a lot of people are choosing to do Zoom options for their classes. They're asking for special accommodations because they just don't want to put themselves at risk.

REEVE (on camera): What did you think when these anti-Semitic threats were posted online?

ABUHASHIM: I think those were hateful things to say. As a (ph) Muslim, it's very disturbing to see such hateful comments being made in the name of Allah. It's like it is very disrespectful. Anti-Semitism will never be accepted in our movement. And hateful comments such as these whether it be Semi-phobic (ph), et cetera, have no place on our campus or anywhere really.

REEVE (voice-over): Abuhashim is the Head of Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine, a group whose national chapter has drawn a ton of criticism for saying the Hamas attack was a historic victory. And some other college chapters have posted images of paragliders. But, Abuhashim says her group acts independently and she doesn't get talking points from the national chapter.

ABUHASHIM: Cornell SJP, we make statements based on what our students are feeling, what needs to be said. Just having that equal treatment from administration. REEVE (voice-over): Some Muslim students say they're frustrated, they're constantly asked to denounce Hamas, that it's a distraction from their message about Palestinians.

REEVE (on camera): There's a lot of concern that pro-Palestinian students are pro-Hamas and pro-terrorist tactics.


REEVE (on camera): Going all the way up to national politicians.

TAAL: Yeah.

REEVE (on camera): Is that true?

TAAL: Absolutely not true. My condemnation is inconsequential. I think it's quite racist, Islamophobic that before I'm allowed to have a view on genocide, I have to condemn a terrorist organization.

REEVE (on camera): But, is it so hard to say, like, "Yeah, I condemn Hamas?"

TAAL: But what does that do? Why is the immediate association, I support Hamas. I can say clearly, categorically, I abhor the killing of all civilians no matter where they are and who does it. I don't go around asking white people, do you condemn the KKK? Why the assumption you would be a supporter of the KKK in the first place?

(CROWD): From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

REEVE (on camera): "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free" heard in many campus protests has become a lightning rod.

YOUSSEF RAFEH, STUDENT, DREXEL UNIVERSITY: Free Palestine is when Palestinians can live with food, water, electricity, have equal rights that all humans deserve.

SEAN, STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: You're completely ignoring the fact that people chanting that have lost all their family members, have had neighborhoods wiped out.

REEVE (voice over): Many Jewish student leaders see the chant as a threat, a call for Jewish genocide in Israel.

BERNSTEIN: From the river to the sea -- the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, Palestine will be free. Free of what? Free from who? What will happen to the people who live there? That to me sounds like a call for genocide or an ethnic cleansing, and that really does terrify me honestly.

ROMM: Chanting slogans of "From the river to the sea and (inaudible) is never going to invite a conversation with the Jewish students of, "Hey, look at me, I'm also experiencing suffering as a result of the events in Israel."

(CROWD): Free, free Palestine. TAAL: What "From the river to the sea" means is that Palestinians will live freely in that region away from (inaudible) violence. That's not calling for the extermination of Jewish people.

(CROWD): From the river to the sea

POWELL: This organization, it works two ways. I mean, I don't hear people talking about Israeli violence pre-October 7th. I'm not hearing it. If the term makes you uncomfortable, then ask why it make you uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great (ph) violence being inflicted on Palestinians.

REEVE (voice-over): The students at the heart of this remain proud of who they are.

TAAL: In my lifetime, it may never change. But I feel encouraged because at the end of the day, I feel like we are on the right side of history, and I can go to bed quite comfortably.

BERNSTEIN: I'm very, very proud to be a Jewish student on this campus, seeing the resiliency of my community, seeing the unity of my community. It really has only strengthened me and my pride since October 7th and I hope that that will continue for a very, very long time.


COOPER: And Elle Reeve joins us now. What about the role of social media in all this?

REEVE: Well, these protests aren't local anymore. They're filmed and then they spread immediately across the internet. And in the same way, a threat made no matter how obscure a website can be seen immediately by all the students, has made them really scared. Many were afraid to talk to us. One student told us that his dad joked, "Don't go on CNN because you won't be able to get a job." These kids are just 19 and 20, and they're still figuring out what they think.

COOPER: Elle Reeve, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman joins me to talk about the funding fight on Capitol Hill over the war. Goldman was in Tel Aviv on October 7th with his family when the Hamas attacks began.



COOPER: For New York Congressman Dan Goldman, Israel's war against Hamas is personal. He was in a Tel Aviv hotel with his family on October 7th when the attacks began. They ran for shelter in a stairwell several times, as rocket fire targeted the city. They were able to get out of Israel safely. Now on Capitol Hill, there's a fight brewing over U.S. funding for Israel's war with new House Speaker Mike Johnson calling for a $14.3 billion stand-alone bill paid for by cuts in that amount to the Internal Revenue Service with no money for Ukraine.

Democratic Congressman Goldman joins me now. So, what is the fate of U.S. aid to Israel and, for that matter, to Ukraine, if the new Republican House Speaker is so far apart from what McConnell and Schumer want?

REP. DAN GOLDMAN, (D) NEW YORK: Well, this new Speaker is not starting off on a good note. This is an incredibly cynical political bill designed to score political points at the expense of our Democratic- ally Israel. And to condition precedence -- or to condition offsets or anything on emergency funding for Israel or any other country is unprecedented. And we will not allow them to use Israel as a political cajole.

You mentioned, Anderson, that I was there. This may be politics for the Republican Party, but this is very personal for me and Jews all around the world.


Israel is the only Jewish country and we are still reeling from the impacts of the horrific terrorist attacks 26 days ago. My son asked my wife tonight, just tonight, 26 days later, whether the terrorists allowed the children to pack their bags when they were going to Gaza. And then he realized, no, of course not, because they didn't know how many days they would stay there. And he finally asked, but do they give them pyjammies to sleep in.

This is my 6-year-old son, Anderson. This is not a political game that we're talking about here. We need to be unified behind President Biden in supporting Israel with everything that we have.

COOPER: President Biden was at an event earlier. He was interrupted. It was a closed-door fundraiser tonight by a protester calling for a ceasefire. According to reporters in the room, the president responded in part, "I think we need a pause. A pause means give time to get the prisoners out." Is that something you agree with?

GOLDMAN: Well, if Hamas is willing to get the prisoners out, of course. They should be turning over the hostages and that should be our focus right now. The notion of a ceasefire makes no sense. That would mean some sort of peace agreement with Hamas. There was a ceasefire prior to October 7th and we saw what Hamas did with that time and how they viewed that ceasefire.

Hamas cannot be trusted as a peaceful security partner in a two-state solution. They're a terrorist organization. And a ceasefire would only give them time to reload and rearm, and wreak havoc again on Israel because they're sole goal is to kill Jews and eliminate Israel. They cannot remain in power in Gaza. And a ceasefire would just enable them to do so.

COOPER: You've seen the Jabalia Refugee Camp struck twice now, second time in as many days. The Israelis say that they were targeting Hamas leadership, that they -- on the first strike that they killed a major Hamas commander in an underground tunnel. The U.N. Human Rights Office is saying it's concerned the strikes on Jabalia "could amount to war crimes." What do you say to that?

GOLDMAN: Well, look, it is absolutely devastating to see so many innocent civilians who are dying in Gaza. And I certainly wish that Hamas did not put their military installations, their terrorists, their entire network intentionally among the civilians to use them as human shields. But Israel, of course, has to abide by international law, and I'm sure there will be more information that comes out about it.

But Anderson, I would add about this bill that you mentioned, it also does not include humanitarian aid that the president recommended and requested for both Israel where there are 250,000 refugees, as well as Gaza which desperately needs some humanitarian assistance from the entire international community.

So, the Republicans are not only refusing to provide aid to Ukraine or conditioning, in an unprecedented way, aid to Israel but also refuse to provide humanitarian aid that is so desperately needed in the region.

COOPER: Do you think Prime Minister Netanyahu should accept some responsibility as the heads of military, intelligence agencies have in Israel for the failures that led up to October 7th?

GOLDMAN: Well, look, I think there is going a deep dive, an after- action report on what went wrong, because clearly a lot went wrong. It's premature right now to say who ultimately was responsible. And our urgent need right now is to get those hostages back and to defeat Hamas, so that Israel can once again live in peace and security which is their right to do. So, I'm sure there's going to be a deep analysis and we will learn what happened. But, we don't know now, and now is not the right time to be doing that investigation.

COOPER: Congressman Dan Goldman, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: Coming up next, I'm going to make you feel good about humanity in these difficult times. Meet the top-ten CNN heroes of 2023. Just announced them today, each of them making a difference in their community. You can also learn how to help choose the CNN hero of the year, coming up.



COOPER: Now to something we hope will inspire you in these difficult times. Each year, we're proud to salute our CNN heroes, everyday people who are committing their lives to making the world a better and safer place. Today, we announced the top-ten CNN heroes of 2023. Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): From Washington, D.C., Yasmine Arrington, grew up with a father who was in and out of prison. Today, her scholarship and mentorship program is helping children of incarcerated parents succeed.

In Ghana, Osei Boateng's mobile medical clinic is delivering essential health care to remote communities where hospitals are often hours away.

From Fayetteville, North Carolina, Stacey Buckner and her converted off-road vehicle provides showers, laundry services, and meals to local homeless vets.

In the Florida Keys, Mike Goldberg recruits an army of recreational divers to help heal our oceans by transplanting coral and restoring dying reefs.

In Northern Montana, Tescha Hawley is providing a health care lifeline to her remote native American community. She offers free patient transportation and fresh food to people on her reservation.

From New York City, former school teacher Alvin Irby's innovative reading program is strengthening the literacy of African-American boys in neighborhood barbershops across the country.

From Burlington, Vermont, after his brother Kevin suffered a traumatic brain injury, Adam Pearce witnessed the healing power of yoga and meditation. He now shares that power at transformative retreats for TBI patients and their caregivers.


From Los Angeles, Estefania Rebellon uses buses transformed into mobile classrooms to provide education and stability to migrant children living in shelters along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In Detroit, the hit-and-run death of her two-year-old son inspired Mama Shu to transform her neighborhood, by purchasing abandoned lots and providing needed services, she has built a flourishing eco village.

And from San Diego, California, Veterinarian Dr. Kwane Stewart brings free medical care to the pets of people who are experiencing homelessness across the country.


COOPER: Ten remarkable people who proved that one person really can make a difference. You can help decide which one of them will become the CNN hero of the year. Go to You get ten votes per day every day to help the heroes that inspire you the most. I hope you join me and celebrate all of these heroes (inaudible) when I host the 17th Annual CNN Heroes, an all-star tribute on Sunday, December 10th. It's an uplifting special event you won't want to miss. Once again, congratulations to the top-ten CNN heroes of 2023. This is

it for us. I'll see you tomorrow. The news continues. "The Source with Kaitlan Collins" is next.