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Interview with Getulio Vargas Foundation Professor of International Relations Oliver Stuenkel; Interview with Democracy for the Arab World Now Executive Director and Middle East and North Africa Human Rights Watch Former Director Sarah Leah Whitson; Interview with European Space Agency Director General Josef Aschbacher; Interview with "Golda" Director Guy Nattiv; Interview with Grandson of Golda Meir Gideon Meir. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired August 22, 2023 - 13:00:00   ET



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and a warm welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.


South Africa supports the expansion of the membership of BRICS.


NEWTON: BRICS leaders consider growing their ranks as they gather in South Africa. I speak with Oliver Stuenkel who's covered the alliance extensively

about Putin's notable absence and China's growing influence.


MUSTAFA SOFIAN MOHAMMED, MAN WHO TRIED TO MIGRATE TO SAUDI ARABIA (through translator): They were firing nonstop, and I thought the sky was falling

on me.


NEWTON: Saudi Arabia is accused of murdering hundreds of migrants at its border in the midst of major effort to cleanse its image. I discuss with

Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now.

Also, ahead, space race 2.0. A Russian crash gives India the edge in its mission to reach the moon's unexplored south pole. I asked the director of

the European Space Agency what this means for future exploration.

And --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If the Americans throw us to the dogs, I will not be taken alive.


NEWTON: -- Israel's legendary leader Golda Meir gets the Hollywood treatment in a major new biopic. I'm joined by one of her grandchildren and

the film's director.

And a very warm welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Paula Newton in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

The leaders of Brazil, China, India and South Africa are gathered in Johannesburg for the 15th summit of the BRICS nations. The first, in fact,

in-person summit of the group since COVID includes one notable absentee, Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, he is participating virtually after

his visit was shelved by an arrest warrant for alleged war crimes tied to the invasion of Ukraine. The warrant was issued by the International

Criminal Court to which South Africa is, of course, a signatory.

Now, there will be a lot up for discussion in a summit that could determine what the future of this bloc looks like. Correspondent David McKenzie has

been following all of this for us, and he joins us now from Johannesburg with some details.

David, an ambitious agenda here, that's including potential expansion. How does this grouping see its political opportunities, its priorities,

especially given this started as an economic bloc?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a very important question, Paula. And the countries making up BRICS,

particularly, India and China, I think see this as an opportunity not only to have more economic clout on the world stage, but potentially to have

more political clout.

Now, as a grouping, it is a little bit of a motley crew because you, of course, have the world's biggest autocracy in China, the world biggest

democracy in India in the same group, and countries like Brazil and South Africa, which are looking to kind of sit on the fence between the relations

with the West and with countries like China and Russia. And then Russia, which is to a large extent the pariah state on the world stage, except not

on a day like today. Where even though President Putin was addressing virtually, it does show that he has this place as founding member of the

BRICS nation to discuss his viewpoint and to have it taken seriously. Many of these countries are not directly criticizing Russia in their invasion of



You mentioned the expansion of BRICS, I think that's crucially important to see if they can come up with an agreement that expands beyond those core

five members, that's something in particular China is looking to push. That would help potentially China increase its influence and also make BRICS a

de facto alternative to the G7 nations. And as BRICS' power, in terms of population and economics grows, that possibly is a reality in years to


On a practical level, that means more lending from BRICS nations to counteract, in their mind, the World Bank and IMF, as well as a push

potentially to have some kind of BRICS currency. And we had the leader of Brazil, Lula, saying that that's something they are looking at, if not, as

Putin put it, a total de-dollarization of the future. Paula.

NEWTON: Yes. Important developments there to watch. Indeed, still, on the economic sphere. But with Putin attending virtually, as you say, it does

reflect a wider divide, right, with the BRICS about the war in Ukraine. Now, despite pledges from many of these nations to foster peace, are we

likely to see any new policy directions?

MCKENZIE: I don't think necessarily a dramatic policy direction. You did have the state media of China saying that the discussions between

Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, and Xi Jinping did touch on the Ukraine war and that they called for a peaceful resolution. You, of course,

have had African nations led by Ramaphosa trying to develop some kind of an independent broker between Ukraine and Russia in ending the war. At this

stage, that really hasn't gained a huge amount of traction.

But if you believe the South Africans, they say, their so-called nonalignment on the issue of the Russian war allows them to, in the future,

play potentially a pivotal role. Because Russia is part of BRICS, it would be very hard for them to take a very strong stance on the war in Ukraine.

And that plays into Vladimir Putin's hands. Of course, he blamed sanctions on the overall economic woes of some of the developing nations. And also

said that it's not his fault that there is a shortage of grain and prices are rising, despite them pulling out of the Black Sea Grain Deal.

So, as usual, Putin was putting the finger on everyone else. But he does have, in some cases, a sympathetic ear in this group of nations, whether

they can lead to concrete policy and politics, that's another matter.

NEWTON: Yes. And the criticism is that it does, in fact, lead to diplomatic cover for Vladimir Putin. David, you'll continue to follow this

for us. Really appreciate it.

And joining me now for more on this is Oliver Stuenkel. He is an associate professor of the FGV School of International Relations in Sao Paulo. He's

written extensively about the BRICS nation as well as other emerging powers. And I want to welcome you to the program now from Sao Paulo.

Listen, those pictures are stark, right. We haven't seen it since COVID. These are important symbols for the people of the BRIC countries, but also

to the wider international community. What's at stake here for these leaders? Is there vision of a geopolitical counterweight to the West? Is it

needed? How will it serve them?


significantly over the past 15 years. Back then, most analysts expected this to fizzle out very quickly because of the numerous differences between

member countries. But one of the issues that unites them is their reluctance, their weariness about U.S. leadership. They all seek to somehow

constrain the United States. They all seek to increase their leverage when sitting down with Washington. And, in that sense, despite their many

differences, and even crisis, I mean, we've had -- you know, with an ongoing border crisis between China and India, there is something in the

reviews about global order that allows them to have that conversation.

It has also been crucial for countries like Brazil and South Africa to get closer to China. A country they barely knew 20 years ago. And suddenly now,

it's the most important trading partner for them. And so, in order to understand China, that has been crucial to adapt to a multi-polar world,

which they all regard as inevitable, and even desirable. And I think that has been the glue.

And as we've just heard, it has also been kind of a diplomatic life raft for member countries that face a difficult time, that's not only been the

case of Russia but also of Former President Bolsonaro in Brazil, who after Biden was elected was quite isolated. And for him who started out as a pro

Trump candidate, he ended up really benefitting from BRICS because there, he had a safe space where he knew nobody would criticize his internal



So, in that sense, I think the BRICS are seeking to establish a counterweight. But it's not clear whether they will be able to actually

produce a different model because they disagree on the extent to which they want to antagonize Washington. Moscow and Beijing are clearly opposed --

outright opposed to (INAUDIBLE) leadership. Whereas the other members, they don't really want to side with Russia. They just want to, you know, be

nonaligned but maintain very productive ties to the United States as well.

NEWTON: You know, you make a good point in terms of offering that diplomatic cover. And the fact that, you know, countries like (INAUDIBLE),

the fact of this even being anti-western. I want to go though to the BRICS roots here, and they are economic. I've been intrigued by some things that

I've actually seen on TikTok, which actually speak to a wider audience about this concept of de-dollarization, if I quote Putin, but the fact that

they want to get away from the U.S. dollar dominance.

Let's take a minute just to listen to some of those fairly intriguing clips from TikTok. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. dollar has been the world's reserve currency for decades. But its dominance is starting to decline. The BRICS countries

are leading the way in de-dollarization.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Recently, BRICS surpassed the G7 and GDP, that's gross domestic product. This begs the question, is the United States and G7

dominance over?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We may be witnessing the fall of the western led world order right in front of our eyes. And this could be the first domino.


NEWTON: You know, there's certainly an appetite in some countries to do this. But how realistic is it? And I will note that Lula himself in press

conference just said that they are looking for greater financial integration among the BRICS. What would that look like?

STUENKEL: Well, it's mostly about providing more space to the Chinese currency. I would find it very unlikely that there is, within the near

future, any concept of a joint BRICS currency. And that has to do also with, you know, the fact that all these member countries they prize

sovereignty. And I -- you know, I don't think that, you know, India would like to have to craft its monetary policy incorporation with China.

But I think that, certainly, we'll see some efforts to, for example, prioritize local currencies in intra BRICS trade. So, that's certainly is

an issue. I mean, there's something there also that's a bit, you know, symbolic. So, Lula likes to say that he would like to reduce, you know, the

use of the U.S. dollar. because that's also popular among part of his somewhat more nationalistic and anti-American voting coalition back at


So, I don't think we'll see large steps into that correction. But clearly, I think, there will be a commitment towards using the Chinese currency more

frequently, and that has mostly to do with the perception among BRICS countries that the United States is unduly using, that structural advantage

of controlling of the international reserve currency to defend its national interest. Be it by imposing sanctions that have not been accepted by the

U.N. or by using other -- its strength to, let's say, you know, spend more than others can.

So, there's -- it's mostly about the perception that the order sort of unfairly tilted towards the West and the BRICS want to somehow create a

more level playing field.

NEWTON: I want to get to some of that diplomatic cover that you rightly quote as really diplomatic insurance. We will explain in a moment. But I do

want to refer to the situation in Ukraine. You know, the BRICS imagine themselves to be neutral on Ukraine, but that could also be interpreted as

pro Russia. Nothing encapsulates that dichotomy better, I think, than Christiane's interview earlier this year with Lula. Let's take a listen.


LUIZ INACIO LULA DA SILVA, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We have to build a narrative for peace because Russia is not a tiny country

that you can treat it as a small. No, you have to build a narrative. A narrative that give the Russians the minimum of conditions to stop the war.

Whereas, the U.S. stopped the war in Vietnam. It wasn't easy for the U.S. to stop the Vietnam war, and it did stop one day. It had to stop the war.

And so, if they've started wrongly -- doing wrongly, now, we have to fix it. Let's stop the war and then, let's discuss the negotiation table --

around negotiation table what we want truly.


NEWTON: Now, that says so much about what he wanted to tell the world at that point in Christiane's interview. What does he have to show for his

efforts? And is it even an issue where you said in Brazil?

STUENKEL: Well, it's interesting that Lula emphasized Ukraine quite a lot since he became president. Frequently engaged on the issue during a trip to

China. He sought to convince China's president to launch a club for peace. His key diplomatic advisor has been to Kyiv and Moscow, because Brazil

would like to be taken seriously as a major geopolitical player.


10 years ago, it sought to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran and Turkey at the time. So, I think there's also a view that's quite popular among BRICS

countries that they would like to engage in these, let's say, you know, first level geopolitical issues.

Now, I think it's quite unlikely that Brazil will advance much or will actually have something to show because the perception in Ukraine is that

even though Brazil projects itself as a neutral player, it, in fact, defends a position that's fairly similar to what Russia is saying. Lula has

publicly said that Zelenskyy should consider ceding territory to the Russians. Brazil is increasing its purchases of Russian oil at this stage.

So, I think particularly in the West, Brazil is not seen as entirely neutral, because it's also difficult. What does neutrality actually mean

when a large nuclear power invades a smaller neighbor? So, my sense is that Ukraine would not accept Brazil as a neutral mediator in this conflict at

this stage.

NEWTON: I don't have a lot of time left, but when we take the BRICS as a whole, would you say definitively that it is not in anyone's interest for

Russia to lose, to be seen as the loser in that conflict?

STUENKEL: Well, the perception -- the narrative that's dominant within the Brazilian government is that you have to somehow give the Russians

something to make sure they're happy in order to not produce a situation where they're so humiliated that they'll attack someone else.

Of course, in the West and Ukraine, the narrative is the opposite, let's say, unless Russia is pushed back from all of Ukraine's territory, it will

be an incentive to attack again in the future to obtain more Ukrainian territory. I would agree with you. I think, right, there's no appetite

among BRICS countries to let Russia down. And even though Putin is not in South Africa, this quality of being a diplomatic life raft will continue,

and that's why I think there's no interest in pushing Russia too much amongst BRICS countries.

NEWTON: Yes. The BRICS have, at this moment, given exactly what you outline, that diplomatic cover, that insurance policy for Vladimir Putin as

he sits at the summit even if it is virtual. Oliver, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

STUENKEL: Thank you.

NEWTON: Now, coming up for us after the break. Can the U.S. and its allies really engage with Saudi Arabia and encourage better human rights practices

at the same time? I ask my next guest if the West is guilty of putting money over morals. We'll be right back.



NEWTON: So, after months of deadlock, Thailand has a new prime minister. Parliament has elected Thai real estate mogul, Srettha Thavisin, paving the

way for a coalition government. But the vote was overshadowed by the return of Thaksin Shinawatra, a former prime minister who was ousted in 2006 and

the country's most famous politician. Local media covering his every move from his arrival to the airport to his arrest over allegations he has said

are political motivated. Now, he's linked to the same party as the new prime minister, adding to speculation that he has made a deal with the

country's military and its political elite.

Paula Hancocks breaks down all of it for us.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Cheers from supporters welcome Thaksin Shinawatra back to Thailand, bowing to a

portrait of king amid speculation the ousted prime minister may seek a royal pardon.

Briefly meeting followers, Thaksin was taken into custody and to court, where he sentenced to eight years on corruption charges brought during his

50 years self-imposed exile. Charges he denies. A doctor says he has underlying health issues and will be held in separate room under 24 hours

supervision. The former prime minister was ousted in 2006 by a military coup but is still considered an influential and divisive figure.

This supporter said, I am so happy and delighted because I've been missing him. I've joined his fight since it all began. The same day, Srettha

Thavisin, the candidate for the Thaksin-backed Pheu Thai Party was voted in by parliament to become Thailand's new prime minister. Speaking to CNN

before the election, he said, the economy was the priority.

SRETTHA THAVISIN, THAI PRIME MINISTER-ELECT: Thailand has been in a bad economic situation the last five to eight years. OK. We are kind of in a


HANCOCKS (voiceover): Pheu Thai only came second in the election, but the progressive Move Forward Party, which won the most votes, was blocked from

forming a government by conserve military-backed parties. Pheu Thai has now aligned itself with two of those military-backed parties, a stunning

turnaround, reversing a campaign pledge to keep the military out of politics.

THITINAN PONGSUDHIRAK, PROFESSOR, CHULALONGKORN UNIVERSITY: Thaksin has come back. Pheu Thai is leading a coalition government to protect and

safeguard the establishment, which earlier accused Pheu Thai, for many years, of being subversive, accusing Thaksin of being a usurper against the


HANCOCKS (voiceover): Experts point to the irony of the former enemy becoming the current partner.

PONGSUDHIRAK: Pheu Thai's support base is angry, upset and disappointed, because this is a sell-out.

HANCOCKS (voiceover): Pheu Thai has said the coalition is necessary to break three months of stalemate since the election. The removal (ph) so

subverts the will of millions of voters who backed Move Forward, many of them young, hoping for deep structural reforms in Thailand.

This Move Forward supporter says, I had high hopes for our future. My children's future. They would have had better lives. I'm disappointed and I

don't know if the current ruling party will betrayed.

Thailand has seen more than a dozen successful coups since 1932.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.


NEWTON: So, now, to a new report that is alleging Saudi Arabian border guards have killed hundreds of migrants trying to cross the border from

Yemen. Human Rights Watch saying they've interviewed dozens of migrants and analyzed hundreds of images and videos to find evidence of dead and

wounded. I want you to take a listen now to one of their interviewees and what they told the organization about the attacks.


MUSTAFA SOFIAN MOHAMMED, MAN WHO TRIED TO MIGRATE TO SAUDI ARABIA (through translator): They were firing nonstop, and I thought the sky was falling

on me. I thought I was dreaming at first. I couldn't believe my eyes. I looked around and landed my eyes again at it. I knew I had no leg anymore.

I started praying. Lying there.

My fellow Ethiopians planning to go Saudi, please look at me, there is a reign of bullets waiting for you. Look at me and learn.


NEWTON: So, responding to the report is Saudi government source told CNN that the allegations and the Human Rights Watch report about Saudi border

guards shooting Ethiopians while they were crossing the Saudi-Yemeni border are unfounded and not based on reliable sources.

Now, these accusations come at a time when the kingdom is making massive international investments in a variety of business right around the world,

and that included high-profile sports like golf and soccer. Now, those actions, many believe, is part of a campaign to wash the country or

sanitize it of its dubious human rights reputation.

Joining me on all of this is Sarah Leah Whitson. She's head of Democracy for the Arab World Now. Now, the organization that you head now is called

DAWN and it was set up by Jamal Khashoggi. He's a Saudi journalist who, of course, was murdered and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey

in 2018.


Sarah Leah Whitson, welcome to the program. You know, the allegations are nothing short of stunning that Saudi border guards shot, literally, in cold

blood, shot migrants and refugees at close range with people that were killed and tortured and sexually assaulted. I want to stress that CNN

cannot independently verify these incidents, but what's your reaction?


reaction, of course, is one of shock and horror because while we have been documenting abuses at the Saudi border for many, many years involving

abuses of migrants, this new report documenting hundreds of migrants killed over a three-month period and subjected to the most sadistic horrific

abuses like, for example, forcing migrants to rape another migrant or face death when he refused, asking migrants which limb they wanted to be shot

at, having explosives -- major explosives thrown into migrant camps, killing women and children with body parts everywhere. It is a really

shocking level of depravity that is been document.

NEWTON: Which as you say, shocks you. Now, I want to repeat, CNN cannot independently verify these incidents. And a Saudi Arabia government source

has told CNN, I will repeat what they say, that the allegations included in the Human Rights Watch are unfounded and not based on reliable sources. Can

you explain to our viewers, you are a former Human Rights Watch director for the region, how are these reports vetted and researched?

WHITSON: Well, they involve very detailed investigations with eyewitnesses, victims, physicians. We typically review medical records. We

review physical remnants of explosives, weapons, bullets. This report, in particular, used the satellite images and images available broadly to

document burial sites. Photographs showing dismembered bodies or looted bodies. And then, of course, the migrants and witnesses themselves

describing what's happened. These reports are very, very closely corroborated and vetted internally with a very rigorous review process.

And as for the Saudi denial, I should say I haven't seen a single human rights investigation documentation of evidence that they haven't casually

dismissed out of hand and rejected as false. They've been doing this the past seven years with regard to the indiscriminate bombardment of Yemenis

that have taken 370,000 lives. And the standard fallback response of the Saudi Arabian government is just to merely deny and pretend that nothing

has happened.

NEWTON: And given what you say though, it has been nearly five years since the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, was killed and dismembered, as we

were saying, in Turkey. U.S. intelligence agencies, in fact, concluded that Mohammed bin Salman, MBS, approved the operation to "capture or kill


You know, you know what Saudi Arabia call this, they called it negative false and unacceptable and said the crime was in fact committed by a group

of individuals that have, in their words, transgressed all pertinent regulations and that the kingdom's leadership did take the necessary steps

to ensure it never happen again.

Now, Jamal founded the organization, your organization, Democracy for the Arab World Now. Are you worried that the key principles, the foundation of

what you're fighting for, will be forgotten by many in the West and those who continue to do business with the kingdom?

WHITSON: Well, I think that -- first of all, in terms of the Saudi denials, the murder Jamal Khashoggi is a perfect example of why no Saudi

denials can be taken with any credibility. They denied until the very last minute that Jamal was even killed. They put out a body double to pretend it

was him and, you know, became the ridicule of the whole world only confessing to the murder when the evidence was overwhelming.

As for the new kind of rehabilitation of Saudi Arabia, I think people are looking to the U.S. government to take their cues. And unfortunately, the

Biden administration has capitulated completely to the Saudi government, pretending Mohammed bin Salman is not the red-handed murderer that our own

intelligence agencies concluded he very much was, and are now proceeding, in fact, to offer Saudi Arabia unprecedented security guarantees that will

put the lives of American men and women on the line --

NEWTON: Right.

WHITSON: -- to save the Saudi monarchy.

NEWTON: So, you call it capitulation. But I think you'd agree that the reality for the U.S. and many other countries is that they feel they need

to engage with Saudi Arabia, and that's a real concern. They need to keep them close. We saw what happened with the invasion of Ukraine and the way

it disrupted global energy supplies. What would you advise them to do to be able to walk that tight rope? You know, they want to be able to stay close

to Saudi. And of course, they claim to want to encourage better human rights practices in Saudi beyond.


WHITSON: Well, two things. First of all, this is not a question of engaging versus not engaging. Nobody in the world is advocating that the

U.S. or any other country not engage with Saudi Arabia. What the United States does goes well beyond engaging. It goes to contributing, aiding and

abetting when we sell billions of dollars of weapons to the Saudi government that uses indiscriminately, recklessly, unlawfully to terrorize

the people of Yemen for seven years, that's not just engagement, that's complicity, and that is something that we are responsible for.

Many, many governments engage and have normal relations with Saudi Arabia that I encourage our government to have, but that's not what Biden is

proposing. Biden is proposing an unprecedented security guarantee to a reckless sociopathic dictatorship, and that is not necessary to maintain

U.S. interest. In fact, it endangers U.S. interests by embroiling us in the belligerent action of Saudi Arabia, including most recently, the invasion

of Yemen.

Now, those are not the only two options to us. There's a more sensible and balanced way to approach a normal relationship with Saudi Arabia that

doesn't include giving them billions in weapons and security guarantees.

And I think that the -- in terms of reforms, the main take away from Mohammed bin Salman's rehabilitation is impunity. He has proven to the

world that he can murder a journalist, kidnap him from the United States, chop him up into body parts, jail and torture women, indiscriminately

bombard Yemenis and yet, President Biden will show up fist bumping with him and chumming and pouting around with him and now, offering him a security

guarantee. That is the behavior that emboldens Saudi Arabia to think it can do whatever it wants because it sees that it can buy its way to influence,

not just with American businesses but with the American government too.

NEWTON: Sarah Leah, and we will leave it there for now as we continue to follow this story. Appreciate your time.

WHITSON: Thank you.

NEWTON: And we will be right back after the break.


NEWTON: And welcome back. More than half a century since the U.S. and the Soviet Union raced to land on the moon, a new space race has taken over.

This time, with a new focus, the unexplored lunar south pole.

Now, after Moscow's mission to return to the moon came crashing down, India now is poised to attempt a lunar landing as soon as Wednesday for a chance

to catapult the junior space fairing nation into an elite club of global space leaders. But with a new era of lunar ambition and significant

commercial and geopolitical gains, it's all up for grabs and it comes with renewed concerns for the climate and the possibility of colonization and

future conflict.


Here with me to discuss all of it is director general of the European Space Agency, Josef Aschbacher. Thanks so much for joining us. I appreciate it.

And I am intrigued. Tell us why the lunar south pole exploration, why it's of such intense interest to scientists and what's at stake?

JOSEF ASCHBACHER, DIRECTOR GENERAL, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY: I mean, first of all, hello to everyone. What is at stake? I mean, the exploration of the

moon is really an exploration of the next economic zone. There's a lot evidence and research ongoing that the moon will become a future economic

zone. And the most interesting area on the moon is actually the south pole, where we do know that there is water, which has been observed from

satellites flying around the moon. And now, of course, we have these landers trying to land on the south pole of the moon.

This is actually quite difficult. Landing on the moon itself already is quite a challenge. The moon does not have an atmosphere as we know.

Therefore, we cannot use parachutes as we do, for example, now, sort of when we return our spacecraft back to earth. So, we need the engines. We

need to be (INAUDIBLE) and therefore, really create a soft landing. And this is major challenge.

So, if now, India, which is having its Chandrayaan-3 (INAUDIBLE) going towards the landing on the south pole, this will be the first ever landing

on the moon's south pole. And yes, this is very interesting area and there's a lot at stake and, yes, this is quite exciting to watch.

NEWTON: And if we delve a little bit deeper into India's opportunity here, they could try and cement their space prowess. You, the European Space

Agency, are supporting India's mission. What would success mean for that country, if they can pull it off?

ASCHBACHER: I mean, for India, it's huge. But not only for India, it's actually is huge for all space fairing nations to really land safely. Of

course, we all know that the United States was landing in the '60's, but this was on the equatorial area, not on the south pole. So, now, almost 50

years, afterwards, we are returning back to the moon.

Of course, Artemis program of NASA is the main program globally, which will bring back astronauts back to the moon's surface. And of course, we are

very much looking forward to this happening. ESA, the European Space Agency, by the way, is a strong partner of NASA in making this possible

through the provision of the European Service Module, which powers the Orion space craft.

But then, landing on the moon really will open a new era. We expect that, of course, now, India, we know that Russia had an attempt just a few days

ago -- or yesterday, which unfortunately was not safely landing but it crashed on the south area of the moon. But there will be also be other

nations coming. Also, Europe, we have a mission in preparation called Argonaut, which will be a major transport mission which brings huge -- mass

of huge volumes and huge amounts of mass to the moon, about 1.5 tons, we call it Argonaut, which will be transported from earth towards the moon.

And this 1.5 tons, of course, it can be equipment, it can be infrastructure to build up a moon base. And I certainly see this happening in the next

decade that we will build up, slowly, but build up a village, an infrastructure and will economic domains, as I mentioned before, on the

moon surface.

NEWTON: So, a moon base in the next decade, certainly exciting. And yet, I want to go back to something you said, you called it a new economic zone.

Now, you know, you recently voiced concerns over governments wavering on climate measures on this planet. In fact, the ESA has a number of earth

observation missions which are helping track extreme weather and monitor climate change.

I mean, what do you say to people about the environmental costs of this, and the fact that we have so many challenges on the planet we currently

live on, there must be huge risk in doing damage to others?

ASCHBACHER: Yes. I mean, you're absolutely right. I mean, the biggest challenge which we have on this own planet is, of course, climate change.

This will stay for many, many decades, for a very long time. Because today, we are simply emitting too much CO2, which our planet cannot manage and

absorb anymore. There's quite clear evidence of the various numbers. I'm not going into them, but willing to say that satellites are crucial in

order to monitor our planet, to understand our planetary system, the whole earth's system, as we call it. And therefore, being able to say about this,

the impact of climate change but also help people mitigating the impacts of climate change.

And where space can really be of huge value is, because you think this observation and this information, we actually save costs because climate

change measures are expensive measures. And therefore, of course, we need to do them. There's no question. But if we do it in an intelligent way with

the best information possibly, we can actually save money or do it more efficiently.


Let me take an example. Some of our satellites are measuring the emissions of methane. Methane is a highly radical greenhouse gas, 80 times more

potent as CO2, for example. And one of these satellites is measuring methane globally and has discovered that there are huge methane emissions

in Turkmenistan, for example, in the nature gas fields which are operating there.

The amounts are -- of what we monitor, we expect there's about more than 4 million tons that have been released into the atmosphere, just leaks, which

are not helping anyone, even the company is losing money by having these leaks. So, these 4 million tons since SH4, methane, is about 80 times more

potent than CO2 is the equivalent of 360 million CO2 released, and that is the amount of carbon emissions, for example, of United Kingdom, of a whole

country in year.

So, you see here that using space technology in a very clever way of detecting and then, of course, helping to resolve this issue is really

saving us money at the end because if we reduce carbon emissions, therefore, the impacts are much lower. The impacts we know, of course,

globally through wildfires or droughts or temperature increases as we have seen them every single day in the news.

NEWTON: Well, your enthusiasm is noted and so is your inspiration. As know that some people fear that unfortunately we'll repeat the mistakes in space

that we've had so far on earth. But I will leave it there for now. Josef Aschbacher, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

ASCHBACHER: Thank you very much for having me.

NEWTON: And we will be right back. When we do come back, we'll have a look at a new biopic starring Helen Mirren about Israel's first and only female

prime minister. We talked to Golda Meir's grandson and the film's director just ahead.


NEWTON: And welcome back. Israel's first and so far, only female leader, Golda Meir, is hitting the silver screen in new Hollywood biopic simply

called "Golda." It sees the award-winning actress, Helen Mirren, walk in the prime minister's shoes and hold her purse, by the way, as the steers

her country through the Yom Kippur war on 1973. And that's the conflict you'll remember which saw Israel face a two-pronged attack led by Egypt and

Syria. Here's a clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three, two, one.

HELEN MIRREN, ACTRESS, "GOLDA": Today, the Egyptian and Syrian armies launched an offensive against Israel. Our enemies hope to surprise citizens

of Israel on Yom Kippur.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our troops are outnumbered seven to one.

MIRREN: If the Arabs reach Tel Aviv, Israel will be wiped off the map.



NEWTON: All right. And we are pleased to have you with us to talk about this film, the film's Oscar winning director, Guy Nattiv, and Gideon Meir,

the grandson of a former leader.

Guy, I want to go to you first. This movie comes out just before the 50th anniversary of the war. You know, Golda, as she's named in your film,

remains a controversial leader in Israel. Many still see her as responsible for the war and the immense loss of life. And I want you to note, which is

an extraordinary scene in this film, that she said to a young Ariel Sharon that all political careers end in failure. What enduring image of Golda

were you looking for with this film.

GUY NATTIV, DIRECTOR, "GOLDA": You know, she was the pariah of Israel in - - after the war. Everybody -- it was very convenient to blame her as an older woman who's not -- you know, who's coming from Milwaukee and, you

know, she took the blame. She said, this is on me. And she resigned after - - in 1974.

And I remember kind of like the news week of Israel with her face, with an unflattering photo of her and a big kind of a title saying, the debacle,

you know. And her name was stained for so many years and, you know, until all the declassified protocols came out 10 years ago, and we understood

that this is not the narrative that was told to us. She was not the only one in charge. She relayed on her commanders that were dysfunctional, and

she actually saved us by dealing and willing with Kissinger.

So, you know, at the end of the day, I wanted to do justice with this extraordinary woman.

NEWTON: And I will get to these extraordinary scenes with Henry Kissinger. Gideon, apparently David Ben-Gurion, the former prime minister in Israel

said to your granny that she was the only man in his cabinet. And by the way, she didn't think that was a compliment. What did you sense, what did

you feel in seeing this portrayal of your grandmother, especially with the weight of the war, the weight of the nation on her shoulders and she

herself battling cancer?

GIDEON MEIR, GRANDSON OF GOLDA MEIR: Yes. Well, I remember well, I was a child at the time, but she was a tower of strength. Even with the cancer

and her 75 years, she was a tower of strength and she was full of conviction and commitment. So, nothing could really deter her.

And, you know, the -- it was a great tragedy, the war, the army was not prepared and the government wasn't given all the information from

intelligence. It was terrible. But she was -- as Guy pointed out before, she was the right person at the right time to really save the nation.

NEWTON: Yes. And, Guy, I do want to go to Helen Mirren's portrayal. It's riveting. And yet, the casting has been criticized by some saying that

she's not Jewish, Helen Mirren, and should not have been cast as Golda. What's your response to those accusations?

NATTIV: When I joined the project and was already attached and it was actually Gideon himself who said, I see my grandmother when I look at

Helen. She is my grandmother. And then I met with Helen in my home -- at my home in the middle of the pandemic and, you know, we spoke for three hours,

and she told me about the amazing experience she had when she was 29 in Israel in the Kibbutz on -- in Israel. She picked tomatoes. She was -- she

fell in love with a Israeli Jewish man and they toured the country. She was hitch hiking in 1967.

She portrayed Jewish ladies before. Lady -- "Woman in Gold," and you know, "The Debt." When I spoke to her at my place, I felt I'm talking to my

mother. I felt she's someone from my tribe and I felt she would be tremendous playing Golda, and I was not wrong.

NEWTON: And, Gideon, I do have to go to you on that as well. What did you feel in Ms. Mirren's performance in terms of its connection to your

grandmother's life?

MEIR: OK. Well, I think Dame Helen is incredible in really -- it's hard to put it in words. She really gives the aura of Golda. Golda had an

incredibly charismatic personality. She would fill the room. She would glow. And I think that Helen is the right actress in Golda's shoes.


And when I suggested to the playwright, to the screenwriter, to Nicholas Martin, when he thought of who to approach for the part, and I had read the

script, and I suggested Helen Mirren. And it's not just because of her wonderful capabilities as an actress, but because -- for the person she is,

for the amazing woman, and I knew that she would be wonderful for this part. I think that we couldn't have done better.

NEWTON: Certainly, it is impossible, she's the center piece of every scene more or less. And it is notable, historically, that your grandmother, Golda

Meir, fought like hell to convince the United States, specifically Former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, to send Israel more fighter jets. And

many do believe that that saved lives and it was a decisive win for Israel because of that. Let's listen now to a pivotal scene with that.


LIEV SCHREIBER, ACTOR, "GOLDA": The Russians are unhammered (ph). They are preparing 11 airborne divisions. Do you understand?

MIRREN: Do you think I don't know that? Let me tell you about the Russians, Henry. When I was a child in Ukraine at Christmas time, my father

would board up the windows of our house --


MIRREN: -- to protect us from Cossacks who would get drunk and attack Jews. They would beat Jews to death in the street for fun. My father would

hide us in the cellar. And we'd stay silent hoping the killers would pass us by. My father's face, Henry, I will never forget that look. All he

wanted was to protect his children. I'm not that little girl hiding in the cellar.


NEWTON: Yes. Guy, how does that scene -- emotionally and so visceral it was, how does it distill the U.S. Israel relationship at that moment in


NATTIV: First of all, a little story about this scene. So, Liev met with Henry Kissinger two days before shooting the scene in his house -- in his

apartment in New York. And actually, he gave him so many anecdotes about, you know, these meetings. And Liev came actually to the set and said, let's

bring this, you know, I'm first an American, then I'm secretary of state and then I'm a Jew to the script. So, it was him that actually made the

scene even better.

But looking at Liev and Helen portraying these two amazing characters was just like magical. It was like two geniuses playing those roles. And how

she's like, you know, I guess trying to achieve stuff with her soup in her kitchen and the way she approached him is just a brilliant approach that

Golda had. She was the only one who could, you know, convince him of doing this -- bringing this massive help.

NEWTON: Yes. It is an interesting scene. And I will note that it is apparently homemade borscht that she convinced him to eat at the kitchen

table. And incredible that Henry Kissinger actually, you know, gave you more input on the actual screenplay there.

Gideon, I have to ask you though, as breathtaking as this portrayal is, has it been difficult, especially knowing the enduring criticism that your

grandmother still has in Israel?

MEIR: It's difficult. We learned to live with it. But as Guy mentioned before, that there is a change in the last 10 years, because more materials

have been coming out and people, through social media, I think today, are more eager to learn and not just be convinced by theories. And I think

there's a rising. There's a rise in positive thoughts about Golda, and we miss her. We miss someone like her today in Israel. And I think there's

more and more positive leanings to the memory of Golda in Israel.

NEWTON: Yes. Certainly --

MEIR: I'm sure this movie is going to do a lot for that as well.

NEWTON: Gideon, certainly, a pivotal leader in Israel, without a doubt, with the 50th anniversary of Yom Kippur war coming up, a historical imprint

certainly for the days and years to come.

Guy Nattiv and Gideon Meir, thanks so much. Really appreciate both of you.

NATTIV: Thank you, Paula. Thank you so much.


NEWTON: And finally, for us, we bring you scenes captivating the world at this hour. Now, this is the moment, I want you to see this carefully here,

when a child was rescued from a dangling cable car. It is more than 270 meters over a mountain range in Pakistan. Thankfully, four more children

have since been safely evacuated.

Now, unfortunately, one child and two teachers remain trapped on board. This is more than 13 hours later. That was after a cable snapped early this

morning as they were traveling to school with strong winds. At this hour, still thwarting initial rescue attempts. I want to say though, such good

news that they have been able to rescue those children so far and that the ones remaining are getting the care they need. We continue to hope for the

best in this intense rescue still ongoing.

And that does it for us. I want you to remember to always catch us online and, on our podcast, and across social media. Thanks for watching and

goodbye from New York.