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Interview With Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov; Interview With The New York Times Magazine Staff Writer And "Rise And Kill First" Author Ronen Bergman; Interview With U.N. Under-Secretary-General For Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths; Interview With Embrace Boston Co-Founder Reverend Liz Walker; Interview With "The Embrace" Artist Hank Willis Thomas. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired January 25, 2023 - 13:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. And welcome to AMANPOUR. Here is what's coming up.

In a big breakthrough, the west sends tanks to Ukraine. I discussed their impact on the battlefield with Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. Then, I

talk to the award-winning Israeli Journalist Ronan Bergman about the U.S. taking arms from Israel and diverting them to Ukraine amid an internal

Israeli political crisis. And.


MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS: We must get women back to work in humanitarian operations. And we must

enable them to go to school and parks.


AMANPOUR: As Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis worsens, what the Taliban told the U.N. Aid Chief Martin Griffiths. Also, ahead.


HANKS WILLIS THOMAS, ARTIST, "THE EMBRACE": What you see says as much about you and how you see the world as it does say about the work.


AMANPOUR: Sculptor Hank Willis Thomas on his much-discussed monument to MLK and his wife, Coretta. He speaks to Michel Martin alongside the

Reverend Liz Walker who led fundraising efforts for the statue.

Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

After days of transatlantic wrangling and who is on first gamesmanship, Ukraine now receives a welcome double whammy. Both the United States and

Germany publicly pledging to send advanced tanks ahead of a projected Russian spring offensive. President Biden saying that the United States and

Europe remain unified as the war continues.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: As you all, know I have been saying this for a long time. The expectation on the part of Russia is we're going to break

up. We're not going to stay united. But we are fully, thoroughly, totally united.


AMANPOUR: Russia's ambassador to Berlin has slammed the move saying red lines are now a thing of the past. While Ukraine needs even more, the

foreign minister saying they also want western type fighter jets and sanctions to continue in order to implement peace.

The past few days has also brought a corruption scandal out into the open as Kyiv purges several senior officials including the deputy defense

minister. Tonight, we talk to his boss, the actual defense minister Oleksii Reznikov about weeding out the chaff and what's ahead on the battlefield.

Minister Reznikov, welcome to the program. Can I start by asking you about this rather dramatic change. Up until now, the west has not wanted to

deliver that kind of firepower to you and now that they have. What is your reaction?

OLEKSII REZNIKOV, UKRAINIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: You know that it was a long story and we tried to persuade our partners with U.S. battle tanks,

probably more than eight months, and the final stage was in Ramstein. We arrange with my colleague, minister of Poland -- Minister of Defense of

Poland, Mariusz Blaszczak, and Ben Wallace, Secretary of Defense of United Kingdom.

Some kind of tense coalition. It was a side event. And we invited our new colleague, minister of defense of Germany to discuss it with us. And we

agree that we will starting the training courses for Ukrainian soldiers in a modern NATO standard tanks, as like Challengers. And it was the Leopards,

also -- only for training courses. But I'm really happy to hear the announcement of the German side decision of -- about the Leopard and

itself. Also, the American decision about the Abrams. So was have --


REZNIKOV: -- some kind of dual in the tanks meeting. I am happy.

AMANPOUR: OK. You are happy. But what exactly will it mean on the battlefield? And do you actually need them right, right now? When do you

think you will deploy them? When will you receive them?

REZNIKOV: It is a good question but I absolutely understand that we have to start the training courses for our tanks cruises. It will take some kind

of time, like it was done with artillery, a systems, or with a massive (ph) system, and it will be done with the Patriots, and et cetera, et cetera.

But we will use them as -- some kind of metal fist or iron fist to break through the defense line of our enemy --


-- because we need to make our -- continue our counteroffensive campaign in different directions for the liberation of our temporarily occupied


AMANPOUR: OK. Temporarily occupied territories is how you describe it. You have heard the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Mark Milley right after

the Ramstein meeting that you are talking about last week, saying that the United States -- or he did not believe that militarily ejecting Russia this

year is possible. But now we're hearing from Ukrainians, from -- let's say NATO headquarters and others that with this new weaponry, there is a

chance. What do you think?

REZNIKOV: With all --

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, you know what? We have lost our line for a moment. But hang on, is he there? Mr. Reznikov, are you back?

REZNIKOV: Yes, I'm here.

AMANPOUR: OK. Good, good, good, good, good, good. Good.

REZNIKOV: I'm here.

AMANPOUR: All right.


AMANPOUR: So, answer me that question. What can you do this year?

REZNIKOV: In February of last year, a lot of people thought that we will fall in -- during 72 hours, I mean, Kyiv and Ukraine. But you know, the

result, we are still fighting, we defeated them, and we proved that the so- called second army in the world is not second army in the world. So, I absolutely sure that we have to do everything to liberate our territory in

this year.


REZNIKOV: Because it is very important to make this year as a victory year. It's my position, it's position of my president, our government, and

our people.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, look, I understand you are saying that. You know perhaps of the stories, and I would like you to confirm if you can, of American

officials and others having come to Kyiv to try to see which way the strategy should go. Whether you should continue to hang on to this, you

know, dreadful fight in Bakhmut or whether you should turn to the south and liberate with this new weaponry some very, very important territory that

you need very, very, very badly. Can you confirm that? And what is your plan?

REZNIKOV: You know that I'm a lawyer. My background, I'm a lawyer. So, I'm a civilian. But I knew our plans but it's plans of our general staff

because it's a military site. They will decide what kind of direction or what kind of weaponry we will use for these counteroffensive campaign. It's

on their table. But I think that these tanks or armed vehicles or other parts of weaponry. We will use for counteroffensive campaigns.


REZNIKOV: Simultaneously, we will use Patriots, missiles (ph), Crotale and others to defend our air -- our sky.


REZNIKOV: So, it's a different using of these weapons.

REZNIKOV: Yes, I understand. Can I just ask you about the Russian reaction? Because as you can imagine, they are not, you know, they're not

thrilled about this. Russia's ambassador to Berlin, as I said, you know, said that this shows that there are no more red lines and everything has

been breached by the west and by NATO.

He says, it's extremely dangerous. It'll bring another level of pain to you in Ukraine, i.e., I guess threatening the ongoing military missile barrages

against your civilians and your infrastructure. The Kremlin spokesman says, it -- yes, as I said, bring more suffering. What do you say to what the

Russians are reacting?

REZNIKOV: I think that they will trying to find a new excuse for new package of aids to Ukraine and trying to persuade their people that they

fighting with Ukrainians one year without any good results because we liberated Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy Kharkiv, Kherson district. We liberated

Snake Island. And we sink the flagships warship Moscow sent to the very famous canvas (ph). Special military operation still continue in a plan --

according to the Plan. So, I'm trolling them.

AMANPOUR: You are trolling them. And indeed. I think you tweeted the actual shape of an actual Leopard today. Your foreign minister is calling

for more than just tanks. The U.S. says it is sending 31, several dozen others promise, apparently, there are lots and lots around Europe that may

send their Leopards to you.


But they're also calling for combat fighter jets and other such things, including more air defense systems, ammunition, all of that kind of stuff.

How low on all of that or you?

REZNIKOV: You know that I sent a wish list card to the Santa -- Santa Claus last year and fighter jet is also in -- was included in this wish

list. But we understand, seriously, we understand that priority number one is air defense systems. We have to close our sky because Russia is

terrorizing -- still terrorizing our cities, trying to heat our energy supplying systems, water supply systems.

They are trying to put our -- us to the dark. And they fighting not with armed force of Ukraine, they're fighting with the civilian population, like

it was done in Dnipro City. The house with the -- I mean, with a lot of people was killed. And we have to close our sky to defend our skies,

priority number one.

After that, we have -- we need to get more armed vehicles, tanks, artillery systems, UAVs, and et cetera, et cetera. We have people but we need

weaponry, as was -- Winston Churchill, he told it very famous quote, give us the tools, we will finish the job.

AMANPOUR: I get it. Now, let me ask you because that job depends, to a large extent, obviously on your own people and their bravery and your own

war planning. But it also depends on your friends who are helping you. And they have witnessed now, and the world has witnessed, the first open

corruption scandal that has plagued during this war. Your own deputy defense minister, either was fired or resigned. Several other ministers,

several governorates, people in the presidents' office, his deputy chief of staff.

First and foremost, your comment on this. I mean, what are they doing, you know, procuring food and other supplies at inflated rates?

REZNIKOV: When I was the newcomer minister, I got -- I took the speech in the Ukrainian parliament. And I told them that my principal position that

we have to have zero tolerance to the corruption. It is my position. And my idea and my plan was to make maximum reform in ministry of defense. But I

had only two months before the full-scale invasion. I started these reforms. And in the procurement direction, I had one monopoly, for example,

in a field of food or in weaponry.

And I started trying to arrange like an NSPA system, it's a NATO system. NATO Support Procurement Agency. I started these reforms but I continued to

do it. It's my legacy to fighting with Russians on the battlefield, simultaneously fighting with the old Soviet system. Old Soviet special (ph)

corruption system also as well. That's why it was a lot of decisions.

I asked personally, parliament committee yesterday, committee told defense and intelligence and committee -- and anti-corruption committees to help me

to write new legislation to make a small modern (ph). But in this case, it was not corruption situation because I -- minister of defense don't buy

eggs or tomatoes or potatoes. We buying service, only service.

But I suggest journalist come to me and we look together, make this reform, to make this situation more modern and more openly. For me it is very

important, transparency, clearance and trust. That is why I using the NATO standard system time lock fast, that means procurement and logistic systems

with the weaponry and I will do it with all NATO, Ukrainian army.

AMANPOUR: So, do you believe that you have stamped this out satisfactorily and we won't be seeing any other such things rise its ugly head?

REZNIKOV: I hope that we have to move forward because after this war, after the victory of Ukraine, we will need support of our partners from the

western world.



REZNIKOV: But they will support us if we will really show them that we Soviet's era corruption systems in our country. We became a new modernized,

civilized European country. For me, it's very important because I have a son, I have a daughter, I have two grandsons. I would like them -- they

will in the European-Ukrainian country.

AMANPOUR: Got it. Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Now, Israel is a U.S. ally that has placed its relationship, it seems, with Putin above sanctions or indeed supplying weapons to Ukraine. This, as

Israel's new far-right government is causing rising concern amongst its critics at home and its allies abroad. Tens of thousands of Israelis took

to the streets of Tel Aviv over the weekend to protest the government's controversial judicial reform plans.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am protesting because the democracy in Israel is at stake. I'm a student, a law student, and once I heard about the reform and

the legal system, I was shocked. I can't believe that the changes they want to make will make such a difference in the democracy in Israel. It is

basically a change in the regime. And, we, as a student, protest -- are against it and want to save our democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we are fighting for democracy. We fought in this country, in the army, for 30 years for our freedom. And we won't let

this government take our freedom.


AMANPOUR: Joining me now here in the studio is the award-winning Israeli journalist and author Ronen Bergman. His latest piece for "The New York

Times" details how the Pentagon is sending U.S. arms that are stored in Israel to the Ukrainian front lines.

Ronen Bergman, Welcome.


AMANPOUR: OK. So, that's one for the books.

BERGMAN: Uh-huh.

AMANPOUR: What does it mean? What are these arms? What are they doing in Israel? They're not, obviously, for Israel. They're for -- they're U.S.

arms that are stored there for use, correct?

BERGMAN: For use for Israel in case of emergency.


BERGMAN: So, the source of that is the massive airlift that the U.S. had to send to Israel during the October '73 war.

AMANPOUR: Oh, the --

BERGMAN: Kissinger and Nixon authorized that in order to resupply the empty storage of the IDF that had to continue to fight. Now, from that

point on, they started building those massive, massive bunkers of storage in the dessert. All owned -- this is a real estate owned by the United

States, guarded by the United States, the real estate -- a United States property.


BERGMAN: Still. In case Israel will have to fight multi-fronts war or in the case the -- I don't know, the storage of something will be damaged

during war. Those storages were opened twice in the recent two decades after the 206th war with Lebanon, Hezbollah, Israel took some of that. And

in the war with Gaza in 2014.

Now, CENTCOM, U.S. Central Command, also enlarged that significantly after or during the war with Afghanistan, the war in Iraq. So, they have its four

American forces, much closer to the area but also, in being stored for the Israelis.


BERGMAN: The Israelis were surprised one day when the Americans, just before the massive Ukraine attack in October, they said, listen. We are

very low with the artillery --

AMANPOUR: The counteroffensive you're talking about.

BERGMAN: Yes, the counteroffensive taking the Kherson region until the Dnipro, which took place shortly after. They said, we are approving or we

are supporting that attack, but we need to know that we be -- or you need to know that we might be able to need to take much of the 155 millimeters

artillery shells.

Now, the Israelis were not happy. Less because they were afraid that Israel will need to fight another war like the Yom Kippur war. The chances of

that, as presented to the cabinet of former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, when he asked the military, are you worried? He said, listen. There's no more

Syrian army, no more Iraqi real army. The chances of us need those shells is significantly low.

The problem was Russia. The even -- this is -- even if those are --

AMANPOUR: The problem is because of their relationship with Russia.

BERGMAN: Their relationship with Russia and fear --

AMANPOUR: And they think they need Russia's approval.

BERGMAN: Yes, and fear of Russian rage. For -- this is leading the foreign Israeli policy for a very long time. Basically, because of two things. Fear

that Russia will limit Israeli freedom to fly over Syria --


BERGMAN: -- what the military called the war between the wars --


BERGMAN: -- so to strike when Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian targets. And also, it's a primary fear of Putin, Russian president, to do something

against the Jewish community of Russia.


That fear has led Israel not to take a firm stand, as demanded by the Ukraines, as suggested by the Americans.

AMANPOUR: And by the United States.

BERGMAN: As suggested.

AMANPOUR: So, yes. Yes, well, I've heard actual senators on both sides saying they wish Israel -- I mean, they've said it to me, they wish Israel

would actually do what the allies are doing to support the defense of Ukraine.

BERGMAN: And I heard some of the national security council said, listen, the Israelis cannot do -- they just cannot complain why the allies did not

bomb Auschwitz. They're not doing more to help the Ukraine. So, that's --

AMANPOUR: And you say, that I's very close to Holocaust Memorial Day.


AMANPOUR: And that's quite significant what you just said.


AMANPOUR: Why they didn't --


AMANPOUR: -- why the allies did not bomb the Auschwitz.

BERGMAN: This is why President Zelenskyy used the holocaust in his speech to the Israeli parliament which created much rage in Israel because many

Israelis says, the holocaust should not be compared to anything. But at the end of the, Israel did not take a firm stand, not practically, not

officially, not publicly. And now, the Ukraines, say, even begging Israel to supply them with anti -- or air defense missiles.

AMANPOUR: Yes, the whole. So, Axios has a scoop which says that the Americans also would like to have Israel release the Hawks -- just the

weapons, not the launching system, to help the air defenses. And the Israeli --

BERGMAN: The Hawks are out of service. They were --

AMANPOUR: Well, that's what they say.

BERGMAN: The Hawks that were supplied during the '73 war.

AMANPOUR: Yes, but there's something that works or that could be re- fashioned.

BERGMAN: Yes. And it's also -- I think that it's -- the Americans are teasing Israel. They want to put Israel in a much -- I would say, firmer



BERGMAN: Because the American storage in Israel, that's American, and all the Israeli official that we spoke with said, you know, it's not our

property. We didn't know where it's going. Of course, they knew where it's going because the secretary of defense stored minister of defense's real

guns, this is going to go to Ukraine. We need to refill their supply. But it's theirs.

Now, this is Israelis property and I think the Americans are trying to test Israel -- or put Israel in a tight spot. That it needs to take a much more

firm position. I am not sure that this will happen with the current prime minister. His foreign minister, Mr. Cohen, Eli Cohen, has already made

something that was not done by many other foreign minister. And he had the call with Foreign Minister Lavrov.

Now, this person is -- I would say, is considered to be a rouge or outcast by most of the Russian countries.

AMANPOUR: You're talking about the Russian foreign minister.

BERGMAN: The Russian Foreign Minister Mr. Lavrov. And the first thing that the Israeli new foreign minister was to have a call with him and boasted,

being proud with that. This suggest a new approach, even more -- not in the middle but even a little bit even to the Russians --

AMANPOUR: Pro-Russian.

BERGMAN: -- pro-Russian.

AMANPOUR: OK. Well, that's one for the books, isn't it?


AMANPOUR: I mean, you know, given that today, we're talking on the day that the United States president, Israel's biggest backer, has delivered

tanks. And also, the German, you know, chancellor, who was very resistant - -

BERGMAN: We have reports --

AMANPOUR: -- to all sorts of historical reasons.

BERGMAN: And Israel has -- this was a block. Since 2014, any kind of military Israel to supply, the Ukraine even asked repeatedly, still today,

Israel to license the Israeli defense industry to supply them with offensive cyber so they can defend them -- even Pegasus, you know, this

notorious software. Israel, wo licensed Pegasus to so many other countries, some of them really notorious, refused to give this one to the Ukraines

fearing Russian rage.

AMANPOUR: Russian rage. Let me bring it now to the domestic crisis, as some might say, in Israel. And you've been writing about it. We mentioned,

you know, a very, very big protest over the weekend. And there are these judicial reforms that are causing a huge amount of concern, even amongst

Israeli allies. You know, the west likes to call Israel what it was.

BERGMAN: The only democracy in the Middle East.

AMANPOUR: Correct.


AMANPOUR: The only strong -- the only democracy in the Middle East. But some of your people are now saying that's at risk. What is going on here?

What is the reform that is so, you know, concerning?

BERGMAN: Well, I'll just go to the court -- Supreme Court justice president, Justice Hayut, said this is not about reform. This is about

destroying the legal system and, basically, instating a new regime in Israel. This is not a democratic regime. They basically saying, the new

legislation will have the politicians' total veto on selecting the judges. Total veto on overruling any kind of decision by the Supreme Court and this

is -- I have to remind ourself, this is a country that has no constitution.

The Supreme Court was always considered as the last frontier that would defend human rights in Israel.


Because when there was legislation or when there was decision by the executive branch that severely, brutally, violate human rights the Supreme

Court intervened because there was no constitution that anyone could -- that would protect human rights. And all of that, if the new legislation is

accepted, will vanish.

There's a -- I would say, a combination of motives. Mr. Netanyahu, I think, who'd like his case in court vanish and this will allow him to select a new

attorney general to diminish the power of the legal advisories to the government, and in the end, cancel the trial. And there are others, the

ultra-right wingers in the government who are looking for a much tighter control of their own over the military, the secret service, and the police


AMANPOUR: And domestic life as well.

BERGMAN: -- and domestic life in Israel, and especially the West Bank.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, this is just a huge shift in politics. But obviously, Prime Minister Netanyahu has been asked about it and to the NPR recently

about some of these extreme right-wing politicians who are in his coalition. He basically said -- let me just find it, he -- there it is on

the screen. He said of the coalition partners, they are joining me. I'm not joining them. I'll have two hands firmly on the steering wheel. I would not

let anyone do anything to the LGBT community or to deny our Arab citizens their rights or anything like that. It just won't happen and the test of

time will prove that.

Of course, that's because some of these ministers have made homophobic statements. Some have been accused, in fact, of inciting domestic violence

between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel. So, what do you make of that defense by the prime minister, that he is driving the ship?

BERGMAN: Well, Prime Minister Netanyahu is very much aware of the influence of the media and, of course, that that might influence the

approach of the democratic Biden administration towards Israel. And I think he is concerned of that and he is also concerned of the demonstrations in

Israel. Now, he's full of promises. But if you look at the coalition agreement that he signed with the ultra-right and the ultra-religious, and

the Karadi (ph) parties, you will see that it's a total striking contradiction to everything he just said.

He gave part of the education ministry to a known homophobic, racist, almost fascist rabbi. He gave authority over the military to a minister --

another minister, the ministry of defense, so there are two ministers of defense. So, they are, like, contradictive -- total contradictive orders to

the military. He gave the police to a person who has convicted in terrorism, violence, and racism. Who was on top of the most wanted person

for surveillance by Shin Bet, the domestic secret service, suspected in terrorism and leading the incitement of the ultra-right. Now, he is the

chief policeman. And gave them written authority to do exactly the opposite of what he has promised.

He says, days will show -- and, of course, we are watching that very carefully. But in -- but just now, every day, we see more steps of those

few ministers. And of course, his own ministers completely reforming -- reforming, in their language, completely destroying the legal system that

are discriminating arms, discriminating LGBT. They're trying to put Israel in a total different kind of regime. Basically, under the total control of

the government with no restriction, with no restraint, with no supervision of the judicial part.

AMANPOUR: I mean, it is an extraordinary situation. But you know, we are very grateful to hear it from the inside. So, Ronen Bergman, thank you very

much indeed.

BERGMAN: Thank you, Christiane. Pleasure to be here.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

BERGMAN: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And next, to Afghanistan where the biting cold is turning deadly. More than 150 Afghans have died so far and millions more are at

risk. Add to that, the difficulty of delivering humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable after the Taliban banned female aid workers. The U.N.

Humanitarian Chief Martin Griffiths join me from Kabul to describe the kind of solutions they are trying to work on with the Taliban.


AMANPOUR: Martin Griffiths, welcome back to our program.


AMANPOUR: So, you've been on the ground. You have a mission. What is the actual humanitarian situation. We understand dozens and dozens of people

have already died because of cold.


GRIFFITHS: Well, I -- you know what is really important for I think all of your viewers to realize is that the humanitarian program for Afghanistan

for 2023 is the biggest such program in the world. 28 million people in this country need humanitarian assistance. And just to focus it a little

bit, 6 million people are close to famine. So, if this program doesn't function as it is supposed to, we are very serious trouble.

AMANPOUR: So, is it functioning as it's supposed to?

GRIFFITHS: Now, the edict that came out on the 24th banning women working in humanitarian operations was a grave blow to the program. We have had, as

you know, a number of exceptions granted, authorizations granted to allow, for example, women to work in the health sector and in the primary

education sector. That's most welcome.

My message to the nine Taliban leaders I met here in Kabul is very simple. Number one, this ban doesn't do us any favors and it doesn't do the people

of Afghanistan any favors, either. Number two, if it's not to be rescinded, can we please see a range of exceptions, adding to the ones that are

already across all the sectors where we need women to work. And by the way, Christiane, that is in all parts of the humanitarian program.

AMANPOUR: So, what's their answer?

GRIFFITHS: Their answer is, thank you very much. We're working on this. We're working on a set of guidelines which will be produced in the next

weeks, and you will see these guidelines which will identify exactly and welcome the role of women in humanitarian operations.

Now, I'm happy to hear this. I mean, we have positive comments from all I met, I should emphasize. But as in so many of these negotiations around the

world, trust and verify, of course, is the axiom. So, we want to see the outcome of that. And we are doing a lot of detail negotiations between now

and then, at the end of February to make sure that whatever guidelines come out, meet the needs of the Afghan people.

AMANPOUR: Martin Griffiths, the United Nations, and indeed other governments have bent over backwards not to impose a kind of collective

punishment on the Afghan people, even though they don't recognize the Taliban, as you say. They are holding the Taliban accountable for upholding

basic, you know, norms, like human rights, et cetera.

Do they understand that, and do they understand what might be simply removed from them if they don't meet this vital necessity of allowing women

to work in these vital fields?

GRIFFITHS: Well, I had a lot of conversations with them here about that these days. By the way, as you may remember, I came here right after the

Taliban took over Kabul and running the country and had some promises on these issues from the Taliban leader of the day, who I met again today, by

the way. Now, the problem is this, in my view, my personal view, that the International Community and the Taliban are talking past each other.

Talibans say that they have not -- getting access to their frozen assets. They have not, as you know, have recognition and so on and so on and so

forth, while they have restored security and amnesty to the people of Afghanistan. These are not -- this is not false. But in return, we have our

frustrations and you have indeed identified them.

What in -- what must be the case after this immediate crisis? We must get women back to work in humanitarian operations. And we must enable them to

go to school and parks and so forth. And on the back of that, we need to have that structured conversation between governments around the world and

the Taliban on what each of us expect of each other.

Why? Not for the benefit of the governments of the world, or the Taliban, but for the benefit, ultimately, of an Afghan nation which lives on its own

merits and its own resilience. That's what we have to do, and that would mean we will see the back of the humanitarian community when that is the

case and we will all be happier for it.

AMANPOUR: Again, finally, it appears that there are very few people in the International Community, unless it's changing now, that want to change

their stance about recognizing the Taliban. You know, certainly, many female leaders around the world believe, rightly, that there should be a

basic, you know, litmus test that women in Afghanistan are cared for and their rights are upheld, such as they were in Afghanistan before the

Taliban came back.

Again, you started by saying both sides are talking past each other. Do you see any way to bridge that gap?


GRIFFITHS: Well, my deputy secretary-general, I'm deputy secretary- general, Amina Mohammed, came here in order precisely to address this key priority which is to establish on the back of this crisis a conversation

which addresses these differences suppositions. I think it's entirely right and proper and normal for the International Community to say that you

cannot deprivilege half of the population of your country and expect that to lead to recognition.

But there are many other issues as well. Many of us have been working for months and months and months to try to get the Afghan economy back into

proper shape. Liquidity in the banks. We need development support for the Afghan people so that hospitals and schools and clinics can function. And

electricity is paid for. There are many issues which lie fallow at the moment for the lack of that kind of international engagement. So, Amina's

visit here is of extraordinary importance, and it goes beyond the immediate humanitarian.

AMANPOUR: Martin Griffiths, thank you so much. And you gave me a perfect segue to say that actually on Thursday's show, we will feature our in-depth

interview on the plight of women with the Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed, and the head of U.N. Women, Sima Bahous. That is on tomorrow

night's show. Thank you so much.

GRIFFITHS: Thank you, Christiane. Thank you very much indeed.


AMANPOUR: And next, to the heated debate surrounding a new monument commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King. It

was unveiled in Boston earlier this month. "The Embrace" sparked backlash and even mockery. Now, the artist, Hank Willis Thomas, is speaking out,

alongside the reverend, Liz Walker, of Embrace Boston, that's the organization that funded the project. And here they are with Michel Martin.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR: Thanks, Christiane. Reverend Liz Walker, Hank Willis Thomas, thank you both so much for joining us.



MARTIN: I wanted to, kind of, go back to the beginning. And Reverend Liz, if you don't mind, I will start with you. How did the idea for a -- some,

sort of, a public art experience installation project honoring the Kings get started in Boston?

WALKER: Well, this idea has always been percolating in Boston, and political leaders and community leaders have always tried, or at least put

some parts of it together. Of course, the Kings both went to school in Boston.

MARTIN: Uh-huh.

WALKER: Dr. Martin Luther King went to Boston University and Coretta Scott King went to the New England Conservatory. They met there and fell in love.

What a story. And so, this idea has always been there. I got involved in 2017. I was invited in by a young man named Paul English, a tech

entrepreneur who saw this as his own vision as a child who had grown grew up in Boston a new about the Kings. He wanted to do it. He asked me to help

him. And it was an honor and a transformative honor for me to be a part of this.

MARTIN: So, Hank, will you just tell us why did you want to participate in this project? Why did you want to make a submission?

THOMAS: Well, I was invited by MASS Design Group, architecture firm that worked with on The National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery,

Alabama, which is Bryan Stevenson's incredible contribution to American memorial and monumental landscape. And the fact that I didn't know that the

Kings met in Boston really forced me to reimagine American history.

And I wanted to make a piece that would highlight a portion of their relationship that would really, kind of, inspire us. And this seemed like

an amazing opportunity. Not like -- it wasn't likely that we would get it, but we thought that we'd throw our hats in the ring.

MARTIN: So, Liz -- Reverend Liz, talk -- go then -- talk a little bit more about the process of selection. I mean, you went all over the city,

interviewed people all over the city, people all over the city had the opportunity to, kind of, weigh in. What was that like?

WALKER: Well people all over the city, first of, talked about their thoughts of the Kings. So, that was the first part of the work that we were

doing. And it was surprising for me to meet people who remembered the Kings, people who went to church with Martin Luther King. That part was

just a whole nice, rich, oral history that I didn't know about.

And as we progressed in talking to communities, we asked them where they thought the memorial would be. What kind of memorial. And then we selected

a group of artists to form this, kind of, commission, and they weren't all artist -- to -- a committee to select the work, and that was an

international search.


And, of course, Hank's was the top-of-the-line. It was very different, it was abstract, it was visionary. At least in my eyes. So, the idea of

embrace came through Hank's work.

MELVIN: So, Mr. Thomas talk about how you gained inspiration for this particular design. It's drawn, as I think many people now know, from a --

what is -- a fairly famous picture. I mean, if you're -- you know, students of Martin Luther King and his life's work of when he was awarded the Nobel

Peace Prize. And he and Coretta Scott King, his wife, are literally embracing. It's a very beautiful, happy moment.

THOMAS: I'm a photographer, originally trained. My mother, Deborah Willis, is a photo historian. So, I've looked at a lot of photographs just through

archives for my whole life. And one of the things that stood out to me about Dr. and Mrs. King that isn't really spoken about is the intimacy they


And so, oftentimes, you'll see pictures of them and there are expressions of love. And I felt like that was a side of them that was really important

to highlight because most of the way that we picture them and talk about them is in this kind of austere, somewhat stiff and cold ways. And I wanted

to really talk about how -- what was really driving their work was a desire to have love flourish throughout society, which is inspired by the love

that they had with -- in their relationship.

MARTIN: And one of the things that's interesting for lot of people is that you can walk under it and around it. You can, in a way, have kind of an

intimate experience with it. Like, I know -- like, for example, the Martin Luther King Memorial on -- in Washington D.C. on the National Mall, you

know, people have opinions about it. But it is very monumental, you know, in the way that D.C. memorials are. You know, he's really big, and you can

walk around it, but you can't really be in it, if that makes sense.

And I was just curious, if you remember, like how you got the idea of something that would be -- something you could literally be, in a way,

entwined with?

THOMAS: Yes. Well, so many of the monuments to Dr. King and to our heroes are these giants who are looking down on us. And I don't believe that that

actually serves history and serves their legacy in the best way. I wanted to actually invite myself and viewers to think about what embodying them

felt like. And what it felt like to get a little bit closer to the spirit of their work.

And so, with "The Embrace", I was aware of all the criticism of, like, the representational monument in D.C., and thought that this might be an

opportunity to represent them through spirit. And through spirit is the spirit of love. And when I saw that image of Dr. and Mrs. King embracing on

the day that he won the Nobel Prize, I just was, kind of, overwhelmed with, like, joy and pride because I knew it wasn't just his success, it was her

success, but also, the success of tens and thousands who -- and millions, actually, who got behind them and supported their mission.

And so, this moment being crystallized, where I focused on the arms -- of their arms wrapped around each other was something that I felt was an

opportunity to make a space for me to -- and viewers to stand in the heart of their love.

MARTIN: Reverend Liz, what about that? I mean, did you and others on the group who put this forward have if -- the idea of something that would be

walkable, something that would feel -- make you feel a certain way or was that just, kind of, an open slate?

WALKER: I, personally, cannot say I did. I wanted something to be proud of. I think Hank brought to us all of this possibility, all of this

potential. There's just so many things you can say once you see this piece. It touches so many parts of you. And like you said, when was the last time

we could have public discourse about love? Not just love as romance, not love as sentimental something, but love as a creative force for change. And

that's what the Kings love was all about.

MARTIN: All right. So, here's where we get to the pain part, like, the reaction. Wow. It's just been remarkable to me, the level of intensity of

feeling that the work seems to have evoked on both sides, I have to say. And I'm just curious if you expected that, or how you react to that? Maybe,

Hank, do you want to start?

THOMAS: Sure. Well, we had the fortune of being there on the unveiling day. There were thousands of people, and there was a level of joy and civic

pride and enthusiasm. That was the experience, from my perspective, by everyone. That is -- it was unparallel. You know, I've been to a lot of

openings and unveilings.


And this was unique, you know. And this was just an awesome experience, really. And --

MARTIN: Unique in what way?

THOMAS: Just the joy, you know, the way in which people were connecting with the work, connecting with each other. And so happy that we had done

something historical and really revolutionary. When we think about the way that monuments have functioned in the past and also, of course, around

monuments that's happened over the past five years.

So, this piece was -- it is -- it's a new moment in time. And for that reason, you can't expect it to actually do something that is totally unique

and revolutionary and have everyone actually uniformly be on board, and you wouldn't want that. You want to have discourse. You want to have


What's been surprising to me is how an online response of -- that was primarily lewd. That somehow --


THOMAS: Yes, I mean --


THOMAS: -- they're saying they see certain body parts that aren't there and all those stuff that -- you know. People say that about the Washington

monument, of course, and Empire State Building. So, it felt like, somehow, in many ways, trivial and juvenile conversations eclipsed what could be,

you know, critique about the work that is more thoughtful.

And that how people feel and experience it on the ground, where you see people, like, hugging it, you see people hugging the strangers. Can -- kind

of, be equated with like what -- at moments seemed to be trolls. And so, I was really just surprised that, like, you know, in our society, we can --

we have a negativity bias as human beings. So, if we -- 1,000 people say that something is great and 10 people say something is bad, we feel like we

have to balance that, because OK. Those 10 people, what didn't you like about it? And I don't feel like discrediting anyone else's perspective

serves the work and feel --

MARTIN: Hank, I do want to say, it seems in a way -- I kind of feel like you may have anticipated a little bit. That there might be some negativity.

I'm just thinking about a conversation you had with another journalist, where you said that maybe the hands, just, you know, focusing on the hands

and the arms might not sit well with some people.

THOMAS: Well, I knew that representing them in a creative way, in a non- traditional representational way could actually be a challenge for some people. And I've definitely had concerns when I submitted the proposal. I

thought that would be why we didn't get it, you know. And actually, our actual monument was the most representational of the finalists.

And actually it -- it's been -- I -- the fact that there has been this discourse, which is so necessary art gets better through critique, you

know, is amazing because I -- we got a lot of good press ahead of this. A lot of great press. But actually, having this online response and other

responses actually brought a lot more eyes to the conversation, a lot more people to the conversation. That means a lot more people will be going to

"The Embrace".

MARTIN: Clearly, some are, just want to get attention. But I mean, there are some people who were considered serious people who have had critiques.

I mean, I think there's a columnist for "The Washington Post", a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist, by the way, Karen Attiah, saying that the -- that

you reduced the Kings, her words, to body parts. She says that, Boston's Embrace statue perfectly represents how white America loves to butcher MLK.

Cherry-picking quotes about love and violence. While ignoring his radicalism, anti-capitalism, his fierce critiques of white moderates. MLK

in his fullness is still too much for them.

There's a family member, I'm not quite -- a cousin, who is also an activist of Coretta Scott Kings' who wrote some fairly harsh critique. But

basically, saying that it exposes the insidiousness of astroturfed Woke movements that have come to dominate black America. All of these are not on

serious trolls.

THOMAS: Well, I think this work is very much like a Rorschach test, you know. What you see says as much about you and how you see the world, as it

does say about the work. And so, I gave -- those insights are welcome. They're really important that people share those insights. I may disagree

with them.

I think that actually love is the most radical form of civic engagement possible. You know, the fact that Dr. and Mrs. King were willing to work

with people who despise them, who actually were committed to actually destroy them and everything about their livelihoods and their families.

They actually chose through a lot of sacrifice to go above and beyond, using love as a form of creative civic action, non-violence, and actually

inviting us to see our higher selves. And there's nothing more radical than that.


MARTIN: Reverend Liz, what's your reaction to the reaction? You, in your prior life before you became a minister and have engaged in this kind of

activity, you had many years as a very distinguished an accomplished journalist. So, you've had a lot of experience in kind of with receiving

public opinion.

WALKER: I think I've lived long enough that very little surprises me about this country. I think we're in a time of great pain, and I say that

cosmically and universally that this is a time of great pain and great rage. And so, I think you kind of get -- and you put that together with

social media, you are going to get. I think that, as Hank has said so eloquently, that's what public art does. Public art provokes and evokes.

And so, you would expect that reaction, that's what it's supposed to do. But the lowness of some of the responses, I really believe that is out of

pain. But this sculpture, this memorial stands on the names of about 66, 65 Bostonians, a black, white, Chinese from all over, who also were a part of

the movement. And so, you really have to see it, you have to be there and see it, and see those names that you may or may not recognize who were a

part of this.

It speaks to much more than what you read on social media. And this is a moment in time of great pain, and I believe that this memorial is going to

outlive that, and that gives me great hope. And can I just say, publicly, thank you, Hank. Because I don't know if we've heard that in the public

discourse. But I say that, from the depths of my heart. And I know I speak for thousands of Bostonians who worked on this. You did us proud. And so,

thank you.

MARTIN: Do you think that Bostonians who participated in this process, do you think that they're having a different reaction to the people who

receiving the work in person are having a different reaction than people outside of the city?

WALKER: I think you have to be there. I think --

MARTIN: Overall. Overall, yes.

WALKER: Overall, I think there might be all kinds of reactions to this. But I think that once you get into the space, you will have a very special,

a very intimate reaction to it. Because it does mark where we are and where we've been and maybe where we're going in history.

MARTIN: So, Hank, I do wonder if there's any way in which you take comfort from the experience of Maya Lin in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial because it

was so reviled at the beginning. I mean, so many people absolutely hated it. But now it is one of the most visited monuments in Washington.

And I just wondered to the degree that you've engaged with criticism, do you take any heart from that that perhaps in time --


MARTIN: -- people will -- people who have hated it, or you know -- or will -- or just don't like it will come to connect with it in ways that they

perhaps have not in the moment.

THOMAS: Well, I do think it's important to highlight the people that you mentioned, had not seen a person -- piece in person.

MARTIN: Uh-huh.

THOMAS: And therefore, we're actually going off of a photograph. And if you've even seen a photograph of an apartment online and then suddenly you

realize you would have a very different reaction. I also think it's -- not everyone is meant to like everything. You know, that's not -- I don't think

we can work as a society if everyone is expected to have and feel the same way about everything, you know.

Actually, I think it's important that a new -- the next monument is different, and it will be critiqued and challenged for different reasons.

This critique, though, has made discourse about the Kings much bigger. I think a lot of people are learning more and doing more and this

conversation will go on.

What I do think about when I think about the Statue of Liberty, and the Vietnam War Memorial, it's just crazy that I was a part of something that

is even in conversation with those things. You know, I -- pretty sure, I'm the only descendant of a slave who has done something this monumental in

this society.

I also am -- I think it's also important for me to continue to highlight that I was a just part of a team. You know, I had a vision. A lot of people

had visions and ideas. But really, it was a huge collective effort that made this possible. And that's also why I think a lot of us are so happy

that it happened because so many people came together to make this possible.

MARTIN: Reverend Liz Walker, Hank Willis Thomas, thank you both so much for talking with us today.

WALKER: Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: What an amazing conversation about that remarkable piece.

And finally, he taught children around the world how to say their ABC's and how to count. And now, his final lesson, how to say goodbye.


Lloyd Morrisett, who co-created "Sesame Street", has died at 93. The show began in 1969 in the thick of the civil rights movement to educate

disadvantaged children through television. It quickly put down roots across the world. And Kermit the Frog became everyone's favorite teacher. So,

tonight, we say farewell to Lloyd Morrisett, the man behind "The Muppets".

That's it for now. Thank you for watching, and goodbye from London.