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Israelis and Palestinians Uniting for Peace; Michael Douglas on Film, Fame and Family; Prayers for Unity in a Divided Country

Aired November 24, 2016 - 14:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Tonight, rejecting violence and now fighting for peace. Two powerful stories from an Israeli army veteran and

a Palestinian would-be suicide bomber.

Also ahead, Hollywood royalty, Michael Douglas on his work, his father Kirk's 100th and the family dynasty.


MICHAEL DOUGLAS, ACTOR: Sense of immortality. The continuity of generations. So for him to be able to look into his grandchildren and see

the Douglas name, which he created back is something I'm very happy for him for.


AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London. As air strikes continue to pummel Aleppo,

activists have issued a desperate plea for help in a rare video message in English.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has been a slow motion train week. We ask you to ground Assad air force that's killing us, or at least have some diplomatic

leverage to force the Syrian regime and Russia's bombardments for the city of Aleppo to be stop.


AMANPOUR: The Syrian war is just one crisis on top of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's entry. And there are increasing signs that a major policy

shift could be afoot. That is despite a report by "The Washington Post" that says Trump has skipped most of the daily intelligence briefings given

to an incoming president, delegating to his Vice President, Mike Pence.

Trump will also face, of course, the wider quagmire of the Middle East conflict. He's spoken repeatedly of his desire to negotiate a peace deal

between Israel and the Palestinians. And in a meeting with the "New York Times" this week, he said that his son-in-law could even broker such an


But this week in an exclusive exit interview, the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told me the two sides appear unwilling to make such a deal.


BAN KI-MOON, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: So that the two-state solutions, we have Israelis and Palestinians can live side-by-side in peace

and security. That's a vision. We have a full framework, political framework. The question is that they have not been sincerely engaging



AMANPOUR: So, I sat down there with the S.G. at the U.N. in New York. And now for many living through the conflict and the bloodshed at home, enough

is enough.

In a new documentary called "Disturbing the Peace," we meet Combatants for Peace. A group of Israelis and Palestinians who've renounced violence to

work for peace together.

Among them is Shifa al-Qudsi. More than a decade ago, she decided to become a suicide bomber but was caught the night before. In the film, she

describes what drove her to it.




AMANPOUR: In "Disturbing the Peace," we also meet former Israeli military officer turned peace campaigner Chen Alon.


CHEN ALON, FORMER ISRAELI MILITARY OFFICER: One day at a checkpoint, I see a taxi filled with children and the driver is explaining to us that these

are sick children. He asked us to let them go to hospital. And I said no, these are the orders. You don't have permit. You have to arrange that and

then he's like -- he was about to kill me, and at that moment I got a phone call from my wife.


AMANPOUR: For Chen, that phone call was the turning point that turned him away from serving in the occupied territories.

For Shifa, the turning point came in an Israeli jail, where she met a god whose child had been killed in a suicide attack. I talked to them both

about the film and about their new mission for peace.


AMANPOUR: Shifa al-Qudsi and Chen Alon, welcome from really the literal divide in your country there.

Shifa, I know that you went through a lot of death. You saw a lot of relatives killed. What was the one moment that turned you from a peaceful

civilian into somebody who wanted to be a suicide bomber?

AL-QUDSI (through translator): The injustice that I've seen in my country, the killing for children and women and elder people. The destruction of

Palestinian people and entirety. That made me to think about the turning point in my life.

AMANPOUR: Chen, you're a military officer. You were there at a checkpoint and you, obeying your orders did not want to allow a car full of injured

children or sick children to make it through to the hospital. Describe that moment and what kind of a turning point it was for you.

ALON: It was a turning point for me as an officer and this moment was that I was two human beings at the same time. I was an officer who was

responsible for our region, that is not to allow a taxi filled with children to pass through to the hospital and at the same time I got a

reminder from my home that I'm a father to my child. And I couldn't integrate these two persons in me. I realized that I'm violating basic

human rights, that I'm struggling to provide for my children, and that was a crack that I couldn't live with anymore.

AMANPOUR: So what did you do, Chen? Did you walk away from your duties? Did you shed the uniform?

ALON: No. At the moment like all soldiers and all officers who are on duty, I fulfilled the orders and I realized only when I was released from

the reserve duty that my duty as a civilian, my duty as a citizen of a democratic state is to disobey. And then I refused to serve in the

occupied territories and then very quickly, dozens and then hundreds of officers and combatant soldiers organized. We became the courage to refuse

movement. Citizens who are disobeying to serve the occupation. I was sentenced to jail for that.

AMANPOUR: Shifa, you were discovered before you were able to blow yourself up. You wanted to do it in the Israeli town of Netanya. And you went to


What kind of a conversion or realization did you have? How did that turn you?

AL-QUDSI (through translator): It turned me from martyrdom operation to a non-violent movement because we're trying resists the political operations

of the Israelis. We were trying to do something for both people. Whether they were Israelis or Palestinians, they are humans in the end.

AMANPOUR: This film "Disturbing the Peace" really shows how you're trying to work together to actually achieve something that the political leaders

haven't been able to achieve and peace and a two-state solution still is not on the table.

What do you expect, Chen? Are you still hopeful? Do you feel weary? Do you think that this will never happen in your own lifetime?

ALON: Of course I'm hopeful. Otherwise, I wouldn't do what we are doing in "Combatants for Peace." And I think "Disturbing the Peace," the film is

showing how we not only have hope, but we are providing hope. The idea of developing this bi-national community, which is based on non-violence and

the commitment of both sides to dialogue and reconciliation.

AMANPOUR: Chen, how are you viewed in your own community. Do people believe in what you are doing? Or do they think you are a traitor?

ALON: You know, the direct action and the immediate one would be that a lot of people think that we are traitors. So we are not in the mainstream

yet. We are not accepted, fully accepted by the Israeli society. But I think the fact that we are credited and that we are considered as patriots

for our society, the people knows that we are struggling for a better future for both societies, for the Israeli state and that our struggle is

honest. That helps to deliver our message. That violence is not the solution. Violence is only the problem and will cause more violence.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you, Shifa, how does your community view what you're doing, working across the divide with your Israeli counterparts?

AL-QUDSI (through translator): Some people are supporting what I'm doing, some people are against it. In the end, I am convinced that with this

opinion of what I'm doing and I'm doing this for my people and for the children of the Palestinians, and six years I've been in jail and I was

away from my daughter, the idea I have back in my mind that we are trying find a solution.

AMANPOUR: And, finally, Chen, Shifa just talked about her daughter. Your daughter has also followed in your foot steps and deserted. And she may

face a court martial or jail. What is the situation with your daughter?

ALON: She was just released from jail yesterday, from the military prison. She was in prison for a week. And she's about to go to, to be drafted

again to the army and then probably she will be sentenced again for, for jail.

It's very interesting because my daughter is 18 years old and she's part of a courageous group of young women that are resisting, opposing the

occupation in their way, which is not joining the army, refusing to participate in the occupation.

AMANPOUR: Thank you both very much for joining me. Chen Alon from Tel- Aviv and Shifa al-Qudsi from Nablus, on the occupied West Bank.

Thank you so much, indeed.


A powerful film with an incredibly important story.

And a hopeful reboot to the Colombia peace process. The president and the leader of the FARC rebel group signed another renegotiated peace deal to

end that 52-year war. Colombian voters rejected the original last month. But this time, there will be no referendum and lawmakers are expected to

back it.

When we come back, on this day of Thanksgiving, my interview with the Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Michael Douglas on film, fame and the

importance of family.


AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

Millions of Americans around the world are celebrating Thanksgiving. The annual holiday devoted to food and family and of course the pilgrim's first

successful harvest in the new world.

Family is very much at the heart of my conversation with my next guest Michael Douglas. A movie star, an Oscar winner much like his father, Kirk.

Today Michael's wife Catherine Zeta-Jones posted this touching family photo of their Thanksgiving meal showing Michael, their two children, Dylan and

Carys and Kirk there in the middle getting that kiss.

I sat down with Michael recently here in London to talk about his famous family and to pay special tribute to his father, one of Hollywood's

originals who is about to turn 100.


AMANPOUR: Michael Douglas, welcome to the program.

DOUGLAS: Thank you, Christiane. My pleasure.

AMANPOUR: You were here in London. You've been talking about new projects. Are you going back to TV?

DOUGLAS: I'm leaving London. I'll go to California to look into a television possible series, which I never thought would happen, but given

the change in our industry, the opportunities have existed in the cable streaming area are infinitely more interesting than the small independent

movies where you work for nothing, gets a minimal amount of release in movie theaters, maybe a week and then gets shuffled off to television.

Television is an exciting time right now in the states.

AMANPOUR: You are a superstar who can command huge amounts of money and whose films are massively successful. You're an Oscar-winning actor. Even

for you, television is better?

DOUGLAS: Yes. At this particular time, with the type of movies that are offered or the ones that you can get made, it's a difficult time. It's

hard to find an audience. Hard to get people out of their living rooms with enormous screens that they have with all of the alternative


AMANPOUR: So you're talking about sort of NetFlix, HBO --

DOUGLAS: Exactly.

AMANPOUR: Are you free to say what you're developing?

DOUGLAS: I can't say exactly. But for me as an actor -- my production company I'm developing some mini series. Also my father did a movie years

ago about "Seven Days in May," a military take over of the United States involving elimination of nuclear weapons. I'm doing a version on that.

AMANPOUR: I heard you and read what you said about him as a father. You were very, very close to your mother. Your father, obviously, your parents

divorced. It was very difficult for you, you say. He was much more a movie star than he was a father.

DOUGLAS: So he made probably five movies a year. He was constantly working. When my parents got separated when I was 5, and I grew up on the

east coast, New York with them, and Kirk was on the west coast working away, so I would see him on holidays. But holidays were always based

around what movie he might be making and going on to location.

So I think he felt a lot of pressure and guilt, but also is under a lot of intensity because of working. And so life goes on. My mother remarried an

extraordinary man. Bill Garrett who I adore, who my father is the first to acknowledge was my surrogate dad and did a tremendous amount.

AMANPOUR: People have written about when he played "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" on Broadway. And then sort of gifted you or gave you the

rights to make it as a film when you became a film producer. And they have wondered why you didn't cast your father in the main role that you near

like ditched him for Jack Nicholson.

DOUGLAS: Right. You sound like my father. His legacy, it's the last thing he's going to say before he goes down.

It wasn't quite like that. I totally admired and acknowledged that he had a production company. He found this book in galley form. And right off

the bat, this is right after "Spartacus." So this is the height of his movie stardom. So he went back and they did the play and it didn't

succeed. It was maybe ahead of its time or whatever, but it didn't work out. But then when I heard that he was selling this book, I said I love


I said, dad, let me run with this. You're trying to sell it. You haven't been able to. Let me run with this for a while.

Let's just say 12 years had passed by. By the time I was finally able from beginning to end to get it set up, to finance, careers had changed, ages

had happened and so probably one of the worst meetings I've ever had with my father, you want to hear the good news or the bad news.

Good news is we got it set up, and by the way, I'm sharing half by producing it with you. The bad news is our director, although dad likes to

think it was my choice, wanted to go with Jack Nicholson years later.

So, I mean, I think we were very happy with the success, but I certainly understand and in terms of how few good parts you have in your career, what

it means for him losing out. The only thing I can say is he got five Academy Awards and he's the first one to think and say that Jack did a

fabulous job.

AMANPOUR: One more question about your father. His films were legendary. You mentioned "Spartacus." There's "Lust for Life" about Vincent Van Gogh,

there's "The Bad and The Beautiful," I think. And then there was, of course, "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if you happen to see this gentleman, tell him I'll be waiting for him at Boot Hill. Yes, only one direction to travel from

there, down.


AMANPOUR: But here's a quote from the film critic. His voice was like "Meat entering a grinder. He was bad and beautiful. He was the only top

star at the time whose default setting was maniacal, a house-trained psychopath."

That's your dad.

DOUGLAS: And a champion. He played a heavyweight fighter, who fought his way to the top. And that's what good, that chomping. It's sort of true,

like he's chomping down with his back molars and fighting through a scenario. That's how it began. And that was the personification. It's

that inner rage that's ready to explode. And he was very, very powerful on screen and used it very well.

AMANPOUR: Was he scary as a kid?

DOUGLAS: Yes, yes, sure. No he had a lot of -- I've never been quite sure where it comes from. I talked to him a little bit. He's a white Russian.

I think he was probably perceived as not being Jewish. I think you probably saw a lot of anti-Semitism in his lifetime.

People not acknowledging or thinking he actually was Jewish. But he -- it was that same energy, that incredible stamina, that tenacity, that sense of

struggle I think that served him very well.

AMANPOUR: What would you say is your most important film?

DOUGLAS: Important film? Well, I mean, you know, the "China Syndrome" meant a lot to me early on. It was a picture that got me involved in the

elimination of nuclear weapons. I learned a lot on that issue. Clearly "Wall Street," I mean, played an important part.

I enjoyed "The American President," just in policy. "Traffic" probably was an important picture.

The ones I enjoyed the most, the ones I like to think would be my mark or the kind of tragic comedies, the grey areas of characters, pictures like

"Falling Down," comics like the "War of the Roses," "Wonder Boys," characters that you work -- I enjoy characters that you initially don't

like, but you win your audience over, basically try to -- I don't know why I like that challenge.

AMANPOUR: And, finally,, there's Kirk, there's Michael and then there's your children.


AMANPOUR: Does the Douglas dynasty continue?

DOUGLAS: I'm sure it does. My oldest son Cameron, who is doing very well as most people know. He was in federal prison for a number of years as a

drug offender and that's another whole issue, which I think we're seeing some change in, in terms of how we deal with non-violent drug offenders,

short of putting them all away in federal prisons, was a wonderful actor, Cameron. And he's back out now and he's well at it. So he's going to be

very good.

And Dylan, our 16-year-old son -- Catherine -- our 16-year-old son and Carys 13. We just spent the summer at performing art camps. And, both

Catherine and I had a moment where we looked at each other and went, I think they got it. And then she said, yes, I think they do.

AMANPOUR: And is that what you want for them?

DOUGLAS: I want them to be happy. And this is what they want. I think it's great. And it certainly gives Kirk a tremendous amount of joy.

Somebody once asked him, are you jealous, you know, about Michael, about your son's success. And he said jealous? It's a sense of immortality.

It's a continuity of generations. So for him to be able to look into his grandchildren and see the Douglas name, which he created to go on is

something I'm very happy for him for.

Happy birthday, dad.

AMANPOUR: That's nice. OK. Thank you very much indeed for joining us.

DOUGLAS: Thank you, Christiane. Nice to see you. Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And his dad Kirk will be 100 on December 9th.

Turning from Hollywood to another whale of a tale. Imagine whale watching in New York. One or more humpbacks have been spotted cavorting in waters

around the city, spectacularly framed against the Manhattan's skyline.

One especially adventurous whale has made it to the Hudson River traveling from the Statue of Liberty to the George Washington Bridge.

After a break, the pledge from New York's mayor to protect the city's human inhabitants. That's next.


AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, as Americans from all walks of life gather to celebrate Thanksgiving today, imagine a world where on this most

American of holidays, many U.S. citizens feel their rights and safety are at risk.

Donald Trump's election campaign was filled with promises to build a wall along the Mexican border, establish a deportation force, and ban entry to

Muslims from certain countries.

Now he hasn't talked much about any of that since winning the election, but this week he met fierce push back from a fellow New Yorker, the mayor Bill

de Blasio.

In a speech, he pledged to use all his powers to protect the rights of all citizens in this major American melting pot.


BILL DE BLASIO, MAYOR, NEW YORK CITY: If all Muslims are required to register, we will take legal action to block it.


If the federal government wants our police officers to tear immigrant families apart, we will refuse to do it.

This is New York. Nothing about who he are changed on Election Day.


AMANPOUR: And the president-elect himself issued his own holiday call for unity after that brutal campaign.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's my prayer that on this Thanksgiving, we begin to heal our divisions and move forward as one

country, strengthened by shared purpose and very, very common resolve.


AMANPOUR: The proof, of course, will be in presidential action, and the test for many American families divided by the election will be in trying

to heal their own wounds as they gather together around the Thanksgiving table.

And that's it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me on Facebook and

Twitter. Thanks for watching and good-bye from London.