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Interview With Senior Adviser To The Israeli Prime Minister Mark Regev; Interview With British-Palestinian Surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah; Interview With Israeli Author And Historian And Hebrew University Of Jerusalem Professor Yuval Noah Harari; Interview With The Rockefeller Foundation President And "Big Bets" Author Rajiv Shah. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 12, 2023 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's What's Coming Up.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv says the United States stands with Israel. I speak to Prime Minister Netanyahu's Senior adviser Mark
Then, a rare glimpse into Gaza under siege. We bring you a firsthand report from there, and talk to a British Palestinian surgeon who rushed to help.
Also, ahead, renowned author Yuval Noah Harari helps us digest the worst week in modern Israeli history.
Plus, Hari Sreenivasan talks to former USAID chief Rajiv Shah about how big conflicts can sometimes lead to big change.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Cheers, tears, and hugs for Tony Blinken, America's top diplomat in Israel today. Listen to this emotional moment, the secretary of state meeting a
24-year-old American Israeli who survived the slaughter at the music festival last Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if there's any way to help, like, first priority, are our friends and family that are now in Gaza. We're strong here. We're
powerful here --
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We feel that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- in this place now in Tel Aviv and everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Pleading with the secretary of state on behalf of friends and family who've been taken hostage and taken into Gaza. Earlier, Blinken
stood alongside the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who said, "A prerequisite for victory over Hamas is moral clarity"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Hamas is ISIS, and just as ISIS was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed. And Hamas should be treated
exactly the way ISIS was treated. They should be spit out from the community of nations.
BLINKEN: The message that I bring to Israel is this. You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself, but as long as America exists, you
will never ever have to. We will always be there by your side.
How Israel does this matters. We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for a different standard, even when it's difficult.
And holding ourselves to account --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Today, Netanyahu's office released graphic images of atrocities against babies, which he shared with the U.S. secretary of state. As Israel
gears up to avenge its murder, the big question on many minds is what is coming next, especially, of course, in Gaza, which knows that it will pay a
heavy price for Hamas' actions.
Desperation is growing, there is no electricity, food and water coming in. Israel's energy minister says, their siege will remain in place until
Israeli hostages are returned.
So, we're joined now by the prime minister's longtime confidant and senior adviser, Mark Regev. Mark Regev, welcome to the program.
You are back in Israel. You have been, you know, senior diplomat from many, many years. You're back now for this particular war as senior adviser. So,
tell me first about the hostages, because that is what people begged Blinken to try to resolve. And now, we hear -- well, we keep hearing, that
the siege on Gaza will remain until they are released. How can you do -- how can you get them released?
MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO THE ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: So, on the hostages, I'd like to say two things, with your permission, Christiane.
Number one, it has to be understood, that we are watching, and we are watching closely. And if any harm comes to these hostages, we will find
those responsible and we will bring them to justice and they will pay. And if it takes a year or five years, or 25 years, if they are involved in
harming those hostages, Israel will find them and there will be retribution. And that should be perfectly clear.
A second thing that has to be said is that what they've done in kidnapping all these people, over a hundred, is against all international law. It is
unacceptable behavior. And the message from the International Community has to be clear, crystal clear, unequivocal. There should be the immediate and
unconditional release of all these hostages, period.
AMANPOUR: Are you not concerned, you say you have eyes on and you're watching very closely, that your very heavy bombing campaign inside Gaza
may -- how do you know that you're not inadvertently putting the hostages in danger? Do you know where they are?
REGEV: I'm not going to go to what we know and what we don't know, but it is crucial that Israel hit back hard against Hamas. Christiane, you and me
have both been on different ends. You've been a journalist and I've been in government. But we've been through, what is it, five, six escalations in
Gaza, the different rounds of fighting.
This is not another escalation. This is not another round of Israel Hamas fighting in Gaza. This is war. What they did on Saturday morning when they
attacked across a long front in scope and in scale and in sheer brutality of their behavior, which both the prime minister today and the visiting
secretary of state described as ISIS-like, that was an escalation of massive proportions.
They have declared war on my country. We didn't want this war. But we are responding in force, and we will finish this war. We didn't start it, but
we will finish this war on our terms.
AMANPOUR: Mark Regev, I need to ask you a question that many Israelis are asking, and we see it on social media, we see it on television. There is a
great deal of anger, despite this slaughter that civilians have gone through and that the country is in shock about, there is a huge amount of
anger directed at what they believe was eyes off the ball, incompetence in government. And I'm just going to read you a couple of polls from the
84 percent of the public believes that the infiltration of Hamas terrorists into the southern settlements were due to negligence of your country's
leadership. 94 percent believe that the government is responsible for the situation that led to the collapse of the entire system of protecting the
settlements in the south. And 56 percent believe Netanyahu should resign when this fighting is over. And today, we saw images on television of a
minister being literally heckled and being told by people in a hospital that it's your fault, you've ruined the country, you're responsible.
So, my question to you frankly is, how should your people have confidence that this government, which claims to have been taken by surprise, can
actually redeem its people and get the hostages back and do what you say you want to do in Gaza?
REGEV: People have every right to be angry. I mean, Israelis, as you know, have for years prided themselves on the excellence of our interne --
intelligence services. And yet, it's clear this time we were surprised. Something went very, very wrong. There were also complaints about the IDF's
speed of response.
AMANPOUR: That's right.
REGEV: Were they very quick enough to deal with the attackers once they crossed the border? And of course, as you've said, there were complaints
about the political leadership. Now, on these issues, I want to say two things. Number one, as the polling also said, Israelis want to win this
war, and we will. And we're now uniting to win this war, and though Israel has suffered from a very divisive and polarized politics over the last few
months, you see us coming together because of the crisis.
And as you saw last night, the formation of this national unity government with parties that used to be in the opposition so as to show a united
front, and this is an expression of what the Israeli public wants. And once this is over, once we have won, you know Israeli history, we've had
inquiries after wars, we know how to investigate ourselves. We will look into what went wrong, what was right. Lessons will be learnt. That happened
after the Yom Kippur War. That happened after the Second Lebanon War. We have a history of doing our own self corrections. And if mistakes were
made, they will be exposed and there will be -- people will have to learn from them.
AMANPOUR: I just want to correct what you -- what we're being told that it's actually not being called a unity government because, for instance,
you know, Yair Lapid refuses to join because he thinks some of those responsible should have been ejected. ?But the Prime Minister is keeping
them in his coalition.
So, now I want to ask you the next question, because clearly the people of Gaza are going to pay for what Hamas has done. We can see it. It is
terrible. We've -- as you say, we have been through four previous rounds, but nothing like this. And there are hundreds of children dead, according
to officials there. There are neighborhoods that have been turned into rubble. There are hospitals preparing to be morgues. And you have laid
siege to Gaza, which we are being told, and which I know, is against international law.
So, how can you conduct a war where you say you're respecting international law, even at this terrible time, when this is against -- and a joint
question is, how does it help your fight to deny food, fuel, and water to civilians?
REGEV: We didn't want this war. It was initiated by Hamas. But we are acting to respond forcibly and to win decisively. And it's crucial that we
win decisively for two reasons. Number one, we want to come out of this conflict with a new reality in Gaza, with a crushed Hamas, where there will
no longer be a terrorist organization in Gaza with either the desire or the capability to hurt us.
And secondly, and once again, you know these issues better than most, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran over the horizon, they are looking. If they
perceive weakness, if they believe that you can hit Israel with impunity, we'll just be hit again, and again, and again. It's crucial for Israel, and
I would argue for the region, and for the world, that we defeat Hamas decisively.
Now, you asked me about civilian casualties --
AMANPOUR: And food and --
REGEV: -- there has not been a war in modern history --
AMANPOUR: Food and fuel and water.
REGEV: -- without civilian casualties. I'll get to that. I'm not evading any question, Christiane. But on the issue of civilian casualties, both of
us remember the war against Milosevic over Kosovo, a justified war, a correct war, a righteous war. But how many innocent Serbs civilians were
killed in that war? In other words, there has not been a single conflict, even justified conflicts, as this conflict, from Israel's perspective, is
justified, where there haven't been civilian casualties.
But to say to Israel, you cannot defend yourself, even though it was Hamas that started the war, even though --
AMANPOUR: No, no, no, Mr. Regev, I'm not saying that. Don't, don't --
REGEV: -- Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians with --
AMANPOUR: I'm not saying that, sir. I'm not saying that.
REGEV: Even though Hamas --
AMANPOUR: I'm not saying you're saying it.
REGEV: I'm not saying you're saying it. Yes.
AMANPOUR: I'm simply asking you --
REGEV: But I'm saying if people --
AMANPOUR: -- how starving a population is going to help your effort? That's all.
REGEV: So, I answer that now with your permission. They declared war on us and then they expect business as usual, that the crossings be open, that
the channels of communication be open. No, you declare war on us. So, it's war. You can't have war and cooperation at the same time. They don't go
together. Is there another example of one country attacking another? And then saying, well, we have to trade together. We have to communicate
together. No, you declared war on us. There are consequences of those decisions.
If you want to talk about the electricity, first of all, we know that electricity is being used for their military machine. But put that aside
for a moment. We know that Hamas rockets have destroyed a large part of the grid that brings the electricity to Gaza. So, what is the absurdity? Israel
is supposed to fix the grid that they've destroyed so they can have electricity for their own missiles to fire more again. I'm sorry, it's not
AMANPOUR: All right. All right. Mark Regev, I hear you. But you brought up the Balkans and you know that under siege of Sarajevo, the International
Community airlifted food and humanitarian aid. We can talk more about this later. And I appreciate you being with us. And we will have you on again.
Mark Regev, Senior Adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Thank you.
And now, we do go to Gaza, where an already dire situation in this poverty- stricken enclave is only getting worse. As we said, there is no electricity. You heard Mark Regev talk about it. Other than what's coming
from generators, and even those are about to go dark. The Red Cross says hospitals risk turning into morgues.
At least 1,400 people have been killed there since Israel started those retaliatory strikes, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Israel's siege means, as I said, very little can get in. And the U.N. warns that the population is at inescapable risk of starvation. Listen to the
desperation of these two men.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AZAAM SHAMIYA, GAZA RESIDENT (through translator): I do not know how we will provide food for our children. I am searching here under the rubble
for the remains of lentils and rice.
ABU YOUSSEF SHAMIYA, GAZA RESIDENT (through translator): We are civilians who have no connection to political organizations. We returned here to find
that our house had become rubble. And the entire area had been destroyed. We now have become homeless. We have nothing but the clothes we wear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: In this first-hand report for Britain's Channel 4 News, filmmaker Yousef Hammash shows us what life is like inside the territory as
those strikes continue. And, as you might expect, some of the images in this report are disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOUSEF HAMMASH, FILMMAKER: You can't hear yourself think. It's not just the noise of the sirens and the strikes. The sound of the chaos in between
is just relentless. Pure panic everywhere you look.
This little boy was pulled out alive. His face blackened. His rescuer rushes to his mother. But before she can embrace her boy, she passes out in
Any car becomes an ambulance. This woman is driven off before the boot can be shot.
We've been told to get out. But where do we go? And how do we get there? There are more than two million people living here. Almost half are
children. Families are rushing, trying to make plans. Every second matters.
Gaza is under a complete siege.
No water, no food, no electricity, and no escape. It's too hard. Some almost give up, but you can't stand still for long.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Please, my family, they're just kids.
HAMMASH: We are not strangers to war, but how it feels this time, it's hard to find the words.
It feels like the world is collapsing.
Many are confirmed dead, even more are missing. This woman cannot find her son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I haven't heard from him since Saturday. I haven't heard anything from him. Nothing.
PLESTIA ALAQAD, PALESTINIAN JOURNALIST: Here is the family. They're gathering all together, also in a place far away from the window. I was
trying to explain things, but I think you can hear them now.
I'm walking right now close to my home, close to my building, but I swear I couldn't recognize the streets. I'm also afraid walking because any minute
anything may explode.
HAMMASH: This afternoon I met Plestia on the street close to her home once was.
ALAQAD: Now, it's not even safe to walk. Like, as you can see here, this building caught a fire as well other than the bombardments that happened.
So, it's not safe, nothing is safe, literally.
HAMMASH: Now nothing is recognizable.
ALAQAD: This is an ambulance.
HAMMASH: She's afraid of what's happening now and what might happen next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That was Yousef Hammash reporting from inside Gaza. And it's important to note that at least seven journalists have been killed in Gaza
since Saturday, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Let's go now to the British Palestinian surgeon, Ghassan Abu-Sittah, who left London for Gaza on Sunday as it was clear what was unfolding after
that slaughter in Israel. 1,300 people there have been killed, according to Israeli officials.
But let me ask you, because we want to know what's going on and how you're able to help, as a doctor who's come from abroad to help, obviously, those
civilians who are, you know, clearly going to be wounded and killed. What have you been able to do for them so far, Doctor?
DR. GHASSAN ABU-SITTAH, BRITISH-PALESTINIAN SURGEON: The problem is the sheer size of the calamity that has befallen Gaza. 6,500 wounded in six
days in a place where the total bed capacity is 2,500. This has completely overwhelmed the health system, which was already on its knees at the end of
15 years of siege. And the health system is unable to cope.
We are down on consumables, on the very material that you need to be able to treat patients, whether they're dressings or anaesthetic equipment or
disposable. And the capacity, the operating room capacity of most hospitals in Gaza is unable to cope with the sheer number of patients who need to be
taken to the operating rooms and the patients who now are critically ill and need intensive care unit.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Ghassan, can you tell me what is the effect, and are you feeling it yet, of the blockade as the Israeli defense minister announced a
few days ago, as I was just talking to a senior government adviser about, you know, the fuel, the water. Do you have enough water? Do people have
food? Is it going to run out?
DR. ABU-SITTAH: So, the thing that you notice most when you're in the hospital is the absence of basic medical aids, equipment that you need to
be able to treat the patient. Also, all of the hospitals now are completely dependent on generators for electricity. And diesel is one of those things
that are now not coming in as a result of this total blockade.
You see these water tanks that are being delivered to homes and to hospitals all around the clock, even though there is continuous bombing.
Food at the moment is not short, but there are over 250,000 people displaced. A lot of them, thousands, living in the compound of Al-Shifa
Hospital, the -- Gaza's main hospital or with relative.
And so, these people who have lost their homes have lost their ability to fend for themselves and feed themselves. And so, what we're looking at is
catastrophe, a man-made catastrophe that's almost like a perfect storm. People are displaced. Their homes are destroyed. A crippled health system
as a result of the siege. And numbers beyond the capacity of the health system to deal with it.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Ghassan, can I ask you something? you came in somehow into Gaza from the U.K., I'm assuming from the Egyptian side, the Rafah Border.
And, you know, you know Israel has told people to leave, just leave, seek shelter, leave. Is there two-way traffic? Are people able to leave? You
were able to come in.
DR. ABU-SITTAH: So, I was part of the last group of people that kind of got in on Monday morning, early hours of Monday morning, and I think soon
after the Israeli Air Force bombed the area around Rafah and forced it shut. There hasn't been anybody in and certainly no one has been out since
then. I think the Rafah Crossing has been shut since then.
AMANPOUR: And tell me what motivated you to go there? And have you done this before in other war zones?
DR. ABU-SITTAH: So, I've been to Gaza's wars in the 2009 attack on Gaza, 2012 and '14 and 2021. And I've worked in Mosul, I've worked in Yemen, I've
worked in Damascus. I am a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. I have, over the years, developed an expertise in war surgery. And as a Palestinian, I
am driven to, you know, continuously come back and help my people here who are under continuous attack.
And as someone who's worked in the health system in Gaza, I'm acutely aware of the shortfall in terms of equipment and expertise and material that
exists in the system.
AMANPOUR: And can you tell me what kind of injuries you're seeing most of is it? I know you've talked about burns and not even having the right
disinfectant to rub down burns before treatment. But what other injuries are you treating?
DR. ABU-SITTAH: So, when the overwhelming majority of the wounded are coming from the rubble of their own home, and this means that between 30
and 40 percent of the wounded are children, and they're injured by the blast, shrapnel, masonry that flies in and damages their bodies or they're
crushed under the rubble of their own home. So, all of these injuries are extremely contaminated and require surgeries and repeated surgeries.
And the devastating thing is with children. This is a lifetime worth of reconstructive surgery as that body, that scarred body tries to grow in the
future, these kids will need surgery after surgery, as we've seen with the kids in Gaza's previous wars or in Syria or in Yemen or anywhere where
children are hurt in these conflicts.
AMANPOUR: And finally, Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah, what about family? Do you actually have family there in Gaza, in the territory there?
DR. ABU-SITTAH: So, my family were refugees -- made refugees in Gaza in '48. Although, my father left Gaza in the '50s and moved to Kuwait, I still
have cousins who live in Gaza and in-laws who live in Gaza.
On the first day of arriving, I went to my great uncle's house and we had to be evacuated on the first day because the area was being targeted. We
moved to another cousin's house and we were pinned down for the first night of bombing. And I didn't make it to, to Shifa Hospital until the Tuesday
morning. When I went back to pick up my belongings from my uncle's house, we had discovered that the house had been severely damaged because the
whole neighborhood had been bombed that that evening.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sittah, thank you very much for joining us from Inside Gaza.
Now, questions are being asked about the ramifications of this crisis, and how the region got here in the first place, and where it is going to end
up. So, let's get some perspective now. Yuval Noah Harari is a historian, a public intellectual, bestselling author behind books like "Sapiens," and he
joins me now here in London.
Welcome back to our program.
YUVAL NOAH HARARI, ISRAELI AUTHOR AND HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: When this all happened, Israelis were saying, and the world was saying, oh, my gosh, look at this date, October 7th, almost exactly 50
years since Yom Kippur. And they thought maybe that was the context in which to look at it. But it's not like that anymore, is it?
HARARI: Well, in Israel now, everybody's talking in terms of comparisons with the Holocaust, comparisons with pogroms, waged for centuries against
Jews, because what happened is that entire communities were slaughtered systematically. It was not an attack on military units or military bases,
it was an attack aimed to simply annihilate entire communities. My aunt and uncle live in one of these communities, Kibbutz Be'eri.
AMANPOUR: Are they safe?
HARARI: They hid themselves in their house as terrorists just went -- the Hamas took over the entire village. And just for hours, moved
systematically from house-to-house slaughtering family after family. My uncle who is 99 years old and my aunt, 89 years old, they hid themselves in
their house and they somehow survived.
But many of my friends and family, they just received the worst news of their lives. And there is shock in Israel about the inability of the army
to reach these villages in time. But again, the memories they go back to the Holocaust and to the pogroms.
And the other thing which is really shocking and really changes the whole perspective, because we've been through these rounds of violence every two
or three years, but the feeling is that this is completely different now, that the terrorists, they not only went after civilians, but they murdered
them and tortured them deliberately in just the worst possible ways they could imagine, ISIS style. I mean, decapitations, decapitations. killing
parents in front of children.
And the third thing is they didn't try to hide the atrocities. They deliberately wanted people to see the atrocities, even down to filming them
and posting them on online on social media. And you ask yourself, why would they do that? And the impression is they just wanted to -- it's
psychological warfare, again, ISIS style, aimed not only to spread terror, but to sow seeds of hatred that will ensure that this turban conflict will
go on for generations.
You know, part of the background is then approach for a deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a peace agreement that should have included also some
improvement in the situation of the Palestinians, and this is the background to this attack. And Hamas, since its foundation, never accepted
the existence of Israel and never accepted any attempt at peace. The aim was not just to destroy Jewish communities, but to assassinate any chance
AMANPOUR: And so many children as well, as you mentioned were slaughtered, and there are even children who've been taken hostage, we understand.
AMANPOUR: And are in Gaza. Can I ask you? Because you are a really thoughtful person, and your whole career and your public intellectualism is
based on complex thoughts. Is there a moral maze? Is there an ability to hold two thoughts at one time that that slaughter is the worst thing that
could have happened? And that everybody has the right to live with rights and dignity, including the Palestinian people?
AMANPOUR: And I am not talking about Hamas.
AMANPOUR: I am talking about the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for 75 years and 56 under occupation.
HARARI: Yes. And this is the big challenge that it should be possible to understand that you can be victim and perpetrator at the same time. That --
this is what happens to most people in history, most nations in history, they are sometimes victims. They are sometimes perpetrators. They are
sometimes both at the same time. But this is a kind of complexity, but especially in -- again, when you stand thousands of kilometers from the
conflict, you can see it.
HARARI: But for the people on the ground, it is impossible. It is just psychologically impossible.
AMANPOUR: Now or ever?
HARARI: Hopefully, again, I'm talking about Hamas trying to sow these seeds of hatred.
AMANPOUR: Right. Yes.
HARARI: Hopefully, we can sow seeds that will not give any fruit right now, but may give fruit in decades and make it possible to reconcile, you
know, starting with the release of all the hostages. And it is possible for these reconciliations to happen in history. We remember only the
I just heard you talking about the Balkans and the wars in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Everybody remembers the wars in Yugoslavia in the
1990s. They don't remember the wars between Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine in the 1990s. Why not? Because it didn't happen.
The history of relations between Poles and Lithuanians and Ukrainians is -- was as bad as between Serbs and Croats and Bosnians, previously. During the
1940s, there were slaughters and deportations of hundreds of thousands on both sides. And what happened at the same time of the wars in Yugoslavia is
that the Polish government that -- you know, Poland has a historical claim to Vilnius, which was a Polish city, now the capital of Lithuania, to Lviv,
now in Ukraine, previously an important Polish city in Poland. And there was a conscious decision of the Poles in the early 1990s that history is
history. We looked at the future and they told -- we don't want this back. We want to build the future together.
AMANPOUR: And now, Ukraine and Poland and Lithuania are fighting for the survival of democracy --
AMANPOUR: -- for Ukraine and for everyone. So, you have written a piece, a column for "The Washington Post" in the aftermath of the -- of what
happened on Saturday. And you've talked about the survivability of democracy, including in your own country, and that what happens is
important for the rest of the world.
AMANPOUR: And you did say, and I'm just going to see if I can actually find it. How did this happen? How did the State of Israel go missing in
action? On one level, Israelis are paying the price for years of hubris during which our governments and many ordinary Israelis felt we were so
much stronger than the Palestinians that we could just ignore them, et cetera.
But then, and of course, you say this does not justify any atrocities, but you also say that it's the peril of populism --
AMANPOUR: -- even in your own country.
HARARI: Yes, I mean, I've heard the government spokesperson talks about, you know, the military, the intelligence. Yes, obviously, this has to be
looked into. But it's very clear, I think, to most Israelis, that this goes way deeper and longer that we have had a strongman populist leader,
Benjamin Netanyahu, who built his career on dividing the nation against itself for years, on attacking state institutions that opposed these
policies, on spreading conspiracy theories and labeling the serving elites of the country as deep state traitors.
And this, over many years, corroded the basic institutions of the state. And this is why now the state has been missing in the hour of greatest need
off the citizens. And this is something that people in democracies all over the world should learn the lessons from our tragedy in this sense, that if
you allow your country to be divided against itself to such a degree, there could be a very, very high price to pay for it.
AMANPOUR: And there is a very high price that's being paid. I mean, on the ground inside Israel. Do you believe then that this same leader, and I
asked this to Mark Regev of as well.
AMANPOUR: He's senior adviser. Can actually -- you know, he spent all these years, as you say, dividing, can actually unite them in order to go
to victory, is what they say.
HARARI: The first step is simply to tell Israelis that he apologizes for what he has done in previous years and taking responsibility. And I'm not a
politician. I can't tell you exactly how to do it and what kind of new government to form, but on the most basic level, one of his ministers did
it. The minister of education said, we've been dealing with nonsense for the past year, and basically took some responsibility and apologized.
And this is, you know, to move on. Many Israelis, we see -- I mean, government ministers, when they go visit hospitals, they are now being
hounded by the citizens and just say -- I mean, don't even resign, just start by saying, we are sorry. It's as simple as that.
AMANPOUR: Yuval Noah Harari, thank you so much for your perspective. Thank you for coming in.
HARARI: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: And our next guest is Dr. Rajiv Shah. He's worked extensively in emergency relief, having led USAID responses across the world. His new book
tackles some of the toughest and most persistent issues of our time. And he's joining Hari Sreenivasan to discuss how decisionmakers can learn from
conflicts and implement change.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, Thanks, Dr. Rajiv Shah. Thanks so much for joining us.
I know you're the head of The Rockefeller Foundation now, and you have worked at the Gates Foundation, USAID. And you know, some of those
experiences before we get into this new book that you have called "Big Bets," I want to ask a couple of questions about the crisis that's
unfolding in front of our eyes right now in Israel. And you have some experience dealing with the aftermath of disasters like Haiti and working
in war-torn areas.
And I wonder right now, what would you be advising the U.S. government when it comes to figuring out how we can help solve what is likely to be a
DR. RAJIV SHAH, PRESIDENT, THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION AND AUTHOR, "BIG BETS": Yes, well, Hari, great to see you. And thank you for asking that. I
think, you know, decades of experience working in conflict zones during conflicts teaches us that there's a very simple set of principles the U.S.
government and the Israeli government should take into consideration.
I think first we have to fully appreciate 1,200 Israelis killed in an absolutely horrific terrorist attack should be condemned, called for what
it is and warrants a strong, aggressive response to protect Israel and to allow Israel to protect itself, period.
Second, you know, as Israel and its allies, including the United States, approach this, we have to approach this with a three D approach, defense,
diplomacy and development and humanitarian affairs. And on the defense side, we're seeing already an aggressive response. On the diplomatic side,
intense diplomacy throughout the region is actually going to be critical to creating an environment where the region doesn't destabilize further as it
has been prone to do in prior situations that are akin to this.
And inclusive of development. You know, 63 percent of the Gaza population was food insecure prior to this. Almost a quarter of that population was
getting humanitarian assistance from the United States and others and condoned by and supported by Israel prior to this. And, you know, if
there's a massive humanitarian catastrophe, as it looks like we will have, that will destabilize the region in a way that acts against Israeli
national interest. ?And frankly, losing the hearts and minds and the value proposition that Israel firmly has right now will further undermine Israeli
national security in the medium and long-term
And what we've seen in so many different examples is a few specific considerations on the front end can help make sure that long-term and
middle-term national security is more robust.
SREENIVASAN: You know, one of the things that you say in your book to try to get people to open up kind of possibilities and creative ways of
thinking is a question, what would you do if you had a magic wand? And I wonder in conflict situations like this, how do you even approach sides
that really are just seeing red?
DR. SHAH: Yes. Well, look, we've seen this in Afghanistan. We've seen this in Syria and Aleppo. We've seen this in so many different settings. And the
truth is, there are tactics and approaches one can take to get protect humanitarian priorities even during conflict, and they can be baked into
defense strategies and most importantly, baked into diplomatic strategies.
You know, Israel has rightly suggested for the purpose of saving civilian lives that people in Gaza evacuate. Now, evacuation, obviously, in that
region is very, very, very difficult. There's -- you know, it requires active collaboration with other likeminded nations to take people in. And
you could imagine all kinds of different efforts that are already being discussed to help people and civilians in particular not be present when
there are impending and significant violent attacks that are coming and already present.
So, those are the types of things that we've seen work in some other settings. Because it -- I just keep coming back to this basic point, it is
in our national security interest and Israel's national security interest to be on the right side. And right now, Israel is 100 percent on the right
side morally and from a defense perspective to protect itself and to protect its people and to respond to a horrific, condoned terrorist attack.
If you're trying to help Israel, you want Israel to maintain that position in the region in the world for many, many weeks, months and years to come.
SREENIVASAN: You know, as you mentioned, there are already so many people that were food insecure. And since this sort of siege has happened, Israel
has, in essence, cut off food, water, electricity, that is inevitably going to force an enormous outflow of human beings. And again, kind of drawing
back on your experiences, how do you prepare the neighborhood, the countries nearby, to try to accept human beings that are fleeing for their
DR. SHAH: Well, this is where America has to help the neighbors. You know, during the crisis in Syria, we provided debt relief and access to capital
markets for Jordan. We put resources into Jordan to build out Zaatari, a large-scale refugee camp. We even built out water infrastructure to support
the provision of public services to both refugees and Jordanians.
I think you need a full engaged dialogue, taking into account all three D's, defense, diplomacy and development, to help neighboring countries have
the resources, have the support, have the external financing quickly to be able to take in as many people as they can and protect civilian lives. And
frankly, protect Israel's right to defend itself, which is sacrosanct.
SREENIVASAN: You know, you've looked back on history at times and said, really, it's in the shadow of World War II that we have some of the
greatest international institutions that we've created as humanity. I mean, I know this is still the early days of this particular conflict, but
considering that it's such -- has been such a long and intractable one, what are, you know, potential positive outcomes that we can work toward to
prevent this from happening again?
DR. SHAH: Well, you know, Hari, it is hard to be an optimist in this moment right now, but I am an optimist and I wrote the book "Big Bets"
because I've seen extraordinary progress be made in the heart of immense pain and suffering.
And you're right. After World War II, America rebuilt Western Europe and created the diplomatic infrastructure through the U.N. and the development
infrastructure through the World Band and the IMF that helped lift up hundreds of millions of people and maintain some degree of peace and
stability through that western alliance.
I think coming out of this, we're going to have that same moment again. We've already been in a moment where lower income countries have been
diverging from upper income countries in their recovery from COVID. It's been one of the first times since World War II you saw divergence there.
And that has accelerated food crises, fuel crises, and political instability around the world.
This is a moment where we should be thinking aggressively about how to reengage the diplomatic effort in the region. And frankly, it's an
opportunity to create the institutions and mobilize the resources for the long-term peace that I hope will come after this, you know, tragic war.
SREENIVASAN: Well, one of the ideas you write about in the book and you gathered this from the head of the Gates Foundation at the time was kind of
starting with a blank page. And how do you get leaders to sit down at a table and start thinking about a blank page when usually there's so much
subtext, there's so much in the background, there's so much sort of sometimes history, sometimes painful history that people want to bring up,
and that can be between, you know, adversaries on a battlefield or a boardroom or anywhere else?
DR. SHAH: Well, you know, I write about it in the book in the context of the very early days of, of Bill and Melinda Gates's extraordinary
philanthropic efforts and they wanted to immunize every child on the planet because they had read an article about 600,000 kids dying of a disease that
was killing kids in poor countries, this was rotavirus, but vaccines were available only in rich countries where kids weren't dying. And they just
said, that's wrong. Why?
And by asking simple questions and starting with a blank page, you have the ability to reimagine what the future could look like. And the book, "Big
Bets," is really about reimagining those futures, sitting down with the right people and saying, look, I -- right now, I would start sort of second
and third track planning efforts with the partners that will be involved in the post conflict environment to create more stability and more peace and
more growth and infrastructure and development opportunities.
You know, the United States already provides significant infrastructure support for the West Bank, for example, via Israel via, you know, Israeli
financial institutions, and with the explicit support of the Israeli government, because they know that human opportunity and human dignity is
ultimately the baseline for stability and peace.
And right now, we're in a global food crisis where food prices have been elevated because of the Ukraine war, but they're also elevated because
climate change is causing a 30 percent reduction in food production in many agrarian economies around the world, and we're systematically seeing hunger
go up by tens or hundreds of millions of people over the next several years, and we know that's going to lead to conflict and instability as it
did after the crisis of food, fuel and financial crisis of 2008.
I write in the book about a big global effort President Obama made to have a big bet to address that food security crisis and succeeded by moving
almost 100 million people out of hunger and poverty over a decade. Those big efforts can be successful. It's just too often because of what you
mentioned, we just don't aspire to do the right thing with the right level of resources and the right level of commitment.
SREENIVASAN: You know, one of the big bets you talk about is -- and assist that you provided to Mitch Landrieu in New Orleans and his challenge at the
time to you was to help him basically get rid of some of the confederate monuments or move them out of the city center, so to speak. You write that,
a big bet can feel small in scope and still lead to large-scale change. What happened there?
DR. SHAH: Well, all big bets start with small initial steps, and Mitch is an extraordinary leader. You know, as mayor, he got to know every member of
his community and worked with community members over years to build a real dialogue about racial understanding and came to understand that these four
confederate statues, one of which was literally a monument to a white terrorist attack on the integrated police force of New Orleans in the post
reconstruction era, that these monuments were seen as lifting up and elevating racial hatred to certain communities in New Orleans.
And so, he worked with everybody to get everyone to agree to take them down. And he got some resources, he started on that path. And then, the
contractor, who was doing that work, had their car firebombed by an outside, you know, white supremacist group. And all of a sudden, the
project looked like it would fail. So, Mitch asked me for help. It was -- I was early on the job at The Rockefeller Foundation and I took the risk to
invest in Mitch's big bet, because he had had so much community engagement and had aligned stars the right way. We took those statues down. And you
know, we didn't know this, but that then led to dialogue across the country. It went on to Charlottesville and beyond, as many of your viewers
will know, and created a real movement around this effort.
And you never know when your community activism, which might feel like it's linked only to your community, will change the way people think and imagine
their futures. I myself remember driving by so many of these monuments not thinking enough about what do they really mean, where did they really come
from, when were they really built and why.
And I'm proud of Mitch. I'm proud of the community he represented for doing that. And I'm proud of my own team for taking some risks and supporting
SREENIVASAN: You know, another big bet that you're still engaged in now, through The Rockefeller Foundation, is climate change. How do you even
figure out, kind of, what that simple question should be how you attack such a massive problem with so many different causes, so many different
effects? Lead me through, like, you're thinking about it.
DR. SHAH: Sure. Well, we've had for 110 years a mission of lifting up humanity and in particular, vulnerable communities using science and
innovation. That's the founding principle of The Rockefeller Foundation. And when we look at climate change, we see we're blown past all the
ecosystem tipping points, whether it's ice melt or El Nino effects or heat in particular. And we are doing that in a way that is nowhere near the
trajectory of the Paris Agreement of 1.5 degrees centigrade, which came to represent a target the whole world could adopt and abide by and live with.
And so, we said, well, what's the most effective thing we can do? And as we did analysis, we found that by 2050, 80 -- 81 countries around the world
that are today relatively lower income will account for nearly all 75 plus percent of carbon emissions. And even as we're taking down coal and moving
to renewable energy in the United States and Europe and China, in developing nations around the world, we're actually building more coal
every year, more heavy fuel oil every year, more diesel generation every year. And it's both a huge constraint to growth and economic job creation.
And it's going to be the one thing kills our chance of achieving anything close to 1.5 or 2 degrees warming on a global basis.
So, we got a bunch of companies together. We got scientists together. We invented some new technologies that can provide distributed renewable
electrification of very poor communities and built an alliance of unlikely partners, raised about $11.5 dollars.
Today, we're active in in about 22 countries, reaching millions of people with renewable energy that would otherwise not have had access to power
outside of some diesel generators, and it's changing their lives for the better. And it's offsetting and displacing coal, heavy fuel oil and diesel
and hopefully, protecting our planet for the future.
Our big bet is we can accelerate the momentum and actually bring a billion people power and energy that don't have access to electricity at all today.
And in the future, they will through new renewable technology.
SREENIVASAN: You know, at the end of each of your chapters, you essentially have kind of a checklist of things that people should do if
they're trying to make big bets. And you write in the book that this is -- you're optimistic to say that this is for everyone, that you don't have to
be a billionaire to start making big bets and changing the world.
But having that access to capital, having the access to institutions of knowledge, whether it's higher education or think tanks, et cetera, how
does, you know, the average person that might be picking the book up at an airport, have the ability within themselves to make these big bets to
change the world?
DR. SHAH: Well, I think the first is truly the mindset. You know, we are bombarded by news out there that is tough, that is negative, that tells us
we're facing a climate emergency, that highlights conflicts and disasters without putting as much energy into highlighting the tremendous progress
that's been made over years that I write about in the book to really bring dignity to people who haven't had it for decades.
And so, the first step is to -- I'm asking readers to pick up the book in the hopes that they will be more optimistic, more ambitious on behalf of
what's possible and to kind of crowd out the social media and the noise that breeds a sort of cynicism in us.
I think the second is, no matter what you do, if you're really committed to these types of efforts, you can find a way to participate. Like I've worked
with big companies like Unilever on soap distribution campaigns in slums, in urban communities all around the world, and I've seen employees from
those companies find a sense of meaning and purpose in what is otherwise a great job, but a great job at a consumer products company. And all of a
sudden, they kind of come alive because they say, hey, I'm doing my job, but my job is saving lives.
And I want more CEOs, more corporate partners to get in the habit of seeing the meaning and purpose in their mission and their work and allowing their
teams to participate in that.
SREENIVASAN: The book is called "Big Bets: How Large-Scale Change Really Happens." Author and president of The Rockefeller Foundation, Dr. Rajiv
Shah, thanks so much for joining us.
DR. SHAH: Thank you so much, Hari. Great to be with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. Remember, you can
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