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Interview With Israel Defense Forces (Retired) And Reichman University International Institute For Counter-Terrorism Director Miri Eisen; Interview With Palestinian Doctor And "I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza's Journey On The Road To Peace And Human Dignity" Author Izzeldin Abuelaish; Interview With Israeli Journalist And Documentary Filmmaker And "Getting To Know Hamas" Author Shlomi Eldar; Interview With "The Noble Guardian" Director And CNN Correspondent Anna Coren; Interview With "The Washington Post" High Education Investigative Reporter Jack Stripling. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired October 19, 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.
After President Biden warns Israel, don't let the red mist blind you, I asked the former IDF counterterror expert, Miri Eisen, will Israel listen?
Then, in 2009, a phone call shocked Israel to its core. A doctor in Gaza suffers unbearable loss, a journalist in Israel broadcasts his grief to the
nation. Now, we hear from them again.
Plus, as President Biden reckons with disastrous mistakes in Afghanistan and Iraq, international correspondent Anna Coren documents the tragic
impact on women and girls.
Also, ahead, with temperatures rising on U.S. college campuses, Hari Sreenivasan speaks with investigative reporter Jack Stripling.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
U.S. President Joe Biden is back in Washington today, preparing a prime- time address to push funding for Israel and Ukraine. In his visit to Israel yesterday, President Biden tried to walk a fine line, offering support for
an ally traumatized by Hamas terrorist attacks while cautioning Israel not to be consumed by rage. As he says, America was consumed after 9/11, which
led to disastrous mistakes.
It's a similar message that I heard a week earlier from the former Israeli prime minister and arms forces chief Ehud Barak. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EHUD BARAK, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Some more serious people, more heavyweights, should be brought into the cabinet in order to lead the
crisis, calmly and with cool headed. And I always request in strategic issues, especially boiling blood is not a good recipe for successful
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Now, as Israel prepares what will likely be a long and brutal incursion, will it heed these warnings, particularly with the risk of a
wider war erupting? And we have just heard from the Israeli defense minister himself issuing a press statement saying to those troops gathered
with their armor outside Gaza, you will soon see Gaza from the inside. He said the command will come.
Miri Eisen was a senior intelligence officer in the Israeli Defense Forces. She's now director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at
Israel's Reichman University, and she's joining me from Tel Aviv. Miri Eisen, welcome to the program.
So, first, your reaction to the statement from the defense minister. I mean, it's clearly preparing what everybody thinks is going to happen.
MIRI EISEN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (RET.) AND DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COUNTER-TERRORISM, REICHMAN UNIVERSITY: We've been preparing
this for over a week. We've been trying to get as many civilians from the Northern Gaza Strip to leave that area for over a week. The troops have
been in preparation for quite a long time. At this stage, it's a question of, when are they going to give the actual order to go in? But the
preparations are full-scale ahead. I can't say if it'll be today. It may be in a few days, but it will happen, I think.
AMANPOUR: You're a university professor. You're at the university there. All the young people, they're presumably also mobilized.
EISEN: Everybody's mobilized right now. In Israel, they deferred the opening of the university school year, it was supposed to open last week,
they've deferred it so far to November. We've already had a few casualties from within our students, both in people murdered and in the soldiers that
have gone in to fight. So, every single house university all over Israel, everybody, is in this both mobilized and mourning.
AMANPOUR: We hear the morning. We hear the rage. We hear the grief and we hear the single-minded purpose to wit President Biden warned that this is
what America went through these precise feelings after 9/11 and the rage and the grief and the mourning led to big mistakes. He said he was clearly
pointing to the Iraq war, but also in Afghanistan 20 years later.
Are you -- does that worry you? Your own former prime minister, former General Barak, you know, said, you know, the red mist, the boiling blood is
not the best for strategic success.
EISEN: I'm not sure that right now that's where we are. And, Christiane, at the end, this is something that happened in our houses from the Gaza
Strip right next to there. I was at one funeral yesterday of a community that buried over three days a hundred people out of 400, and that's aside
from the hostages.
When we're talking about what happened to these beautiful agricultural communities inside Israel, and I want me, Miri, I've always been very calm
about these things, we need to go in after a terror horrific organization that is embedded in this part of the Gaza Strip, and we're aware of that.
And that's why for over a week we've been saying to civilians, move, get out, make sure that they don't use you as human shields.
But you have to get to those capabilities. You can't have them five kilometers from your house. You can't tell people, go back and live there
when you know that they have those capabilities.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you, before I get more to that, to the wider war. We're hearing relentless information from Israel and from the IDF that
there are increasing skirmishes, or whatever word you want to use, from Hezbollah from the north. And we also heard the IDF chief of general staff,
Halevi, said this today. OK. Just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HERZI HALEVI, IDF CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF (through translator): We need to get to a point where there will be a victory in every encounter. If
Hezbollah makes a mistake and strikes us, it will be destroyed, destroyed, destroyed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Miri Eisen, those of fighting words. I covered the 2006 war and at best it was fought to a standstill between you and Hezbollah. Do you
believe, because it's much, much better armed and it's got much more sophisticated stuff right now, that Israel, at this point, can fight a
EISEN: I absolutely think that Israel can do so and may have to do so. Christiane, perhaps what's different -- everything's different than 2006.
And at that time, I was the spokesperson talking to the world and we were talking about something that was much more local. The world is in this
right now. It's not just President Biden arriving here.
And today, we had the visit from the British prime minister and before that the German consular that the world is on board and the fact that you cannot
allow a Hamas terror organization, not about the Palestinian people, Hamas to do what they did, and then to continue exist behind those human shields.
And when it comes to Hezbollah, you know, there is at the end with the U.S. force that's out there. And I do think that this is something that is not
just about Israel, it's way broader than, two hybrid horrific terror organizations, and both of them need to be very clearly sidelined by the
world. And that means, at the end, that we're going to have to do something with them physically.
They call not just for our destruction. They have immense power. And we need to be sure that we do something. My heart goes out to the Lebanese
people, to the Palestinian people where these different terror organizations. Again, it's such a complicated challenge for us, but we have
that power and we will use it.
AMANPOUR: What will you do? You've written about the hostages. We hear that 203 families have been told that they have loved ones who are hostage.
Is that it? Are there more, do you think? And how do you -- how will you get them? Because they're also embedded, presumably. And if you go in, in a
very dramatic ground war after very dramatic airstrikes, which is, as you know, are killing a lot of people on the ground right now, no matter what
warnings you're putting out, how do you secure the release of the hostages?
EISEN: The unprecedented attack, the unprecedented war that we're in, it's unprecedented when it comes to the issue of the hostages. Christiane, 203
families have been informed, but there are hundreds of additional families that have not been informed, but they also don't know where their dear ones
are, both from families and communities where they still haven't found everybody inside those different 20 some communities that were attacked
from that music festival where you had so many 20- to 30-year-olds at a beautiful music festival, and not everybody's accounted for.
So, when we talk about the numbers, and we talk about Hamas, the terror organization, it's not like they've put anything out. How do you take care
of that? First of all, they're in every single heart in Israel. All of us are aware of it. All of us are out there. It's so unprecedented. I'm even
asking you right now in the world, what would you do? They have nine-month babies that they took.
AMANPOUR: No, I'm saying how. How? I understand. How do you do it?
EISEN: How do you do it? You do it with the ground operation, and that means casualties on the Israeli side and casualties on the Palestinian
side. But that's going in to get to the Hamas, to the hostages. That's one way going about. You try and do it in more interesting ways.
All of us understand that the Gaza Strip is not a place that you have a lot of maneuverability. So, I say, breathing in deep, the ground operation is
the absolute almost only way to be able to get to them. I don't believe Hamas. I'm not going to negotiate with them. How do you do it otherwise?
AMANPOUR: We will watch. Miri Eisen, thank you very much, indeed, for being with us.
Now, the rage and the loss filling Gaza and the Arab street is also spilling over as Israeli airstrikes on parts of Khan Yunis, parts of
southern Gaza have been continuing despite urging Palestinians to escape there.
Back in the war of 2009, which was dubbed Operation Cast Lead, there was a tragic and famous case of a mass civilian casualty disaster.
As his home was struck by Israeli forces, a Palestinian doctor managed to call a friend, an Israeli journalist, live on TV begging for help. Dr.
Izzeldin Abuelaish crying that his wife and daughter had been killed -- daughters. Shlomi Eldar listening and letting the world know. That call
helped end Operation Cast Lead. And shortly afterwards, I went back to that destroyed home in Gaza. Here's an excerpt of that report from 2009.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (voiceover): On December 27, 2008, Israel launched an offensive. A war provoked by both sides. Militant groups in Gaza had fired thousands
of rockets and mortars into Israel. Israel went to war.
At the height of the war, Israeli reporter Shlomi Eldar got a panicked and desperate phone call from his Palestinian friend, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish.
DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH, PALESTINIAN DOCTOR AND AUTHOR, "I SHALL NOT HATE: A GAZA'S JOURNEY ON THE ROAD TO PEACE AND HUMAN DIGNITY" (through
translator): No one can get to us, oh, Shlomi, oh, God. Oh, God.
SHLOMI ELDAR, ISRAELI JOURNALIST AND DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER AND AUTHOR, "GETTING TO KNOW HAMAS" (through translator): They killed his family. Over
the past few days, I think I'm a bit overwhelmed too.
AMANPOUR (voiceover): It was a cruel irony. For 12 years, Dr. Abuelaish had worked side by side with Israeli doctors in Israeli hospitals, devoting
his life to medicine and to making peace between ordinary people on both sides. Now, paramedics race to save his surviving daughter Shada and his
niece Aida after the Israeli shelling that killed three of his eight children.
The wounded were rushed across the border to Sheba Medical Center in Israel, where Dr. Abuelaish's distraught colleagues tried to comfort him
and to save the girls.
We travel with him back to Gaza.
AMANPOUR: My God, what a mess. Can you tell me what happened?
DR. IZZELDIN ABUELAISH, PALESTINIAN DOCTOR AND AUTHOR, "I SHALL NOT HATE: A GAZA'S JOURNEY ON THE ROAD TO PEACE AND HUMAN DIGNITY": When my daughters
were building their future and their hopes and their dreams, inside this room, and I saw them. Everything was destroyed. Look what kind of weapons
they have. The educational materials.
AMANPOUR: It says art, culture and entertainment and shopping.
DR. ABUELAISH: Management, social, cultural, demographic and environmental.
AMANPOUR: This is what your daughter was studying?
DR. ABUELAISH: Yes, yes. She's studying the --
AMANPOUR: Oh, God.
DR. ABUELAISH: A few months later she would have stayed -- with blood.
AMANPOUR: And her blood is still on it.
DR. ABUELAISH: To be staying with the blood.
AMANPOUR: And when we're standing here where your children were killed, how do you teach your surviving children, your friends, your family not to
AMANPOUR (voiceover): Dr. Abuelaish, who's been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, is determined that his children will not grow up to hate or to
DR. ABUELAISH: I teach them to learn from what happened and how can this tragedy be translated into positive actions and to achieve the dreams of
their lost beloved sisters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR (on camera): But this latest war has rained more tragedy and pain down on Dr. Abuelaish. He says 25 family members have been killed in Gaza.
And Shlomi Eldar, the journalist who helped him with that crucial call on Israeli television all those years ago, he's reckoning with the savagery of
the Hamas attack on Israeli civilians.
Shlomi has also reported on Hamas for decades, so we later turned to him for insights on how that organization has changed. As you will see from
this conversation that I had just moments ago, the two are in very different places at the moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Dr. Abuelaish, Shlomi Eldar, it's amazingly important and good to see you again after all these years.
Dr. Abuelaish, we've reported that you have lost, you know, around 25 members of your family again in this current war. Tell me how you're
DR. ABUELAISH: It's not easy. It's very painful. It's a dreadful to see what is happening now. And even when my daughters were killed the 16th of
January 2009, I said it afterwards, if I could know that my daughters were the last sacrifice on the way to freedom and peace, then I will accept it.
But it's continuing to see thousands of people to add more bloodshed, and it's not the way.
I said it as my daughter, Bessan, who was killed at the age of 20. She said, violence will never be met with violence. As a Palestinian refugee
who is experiencing knockback, killing, death, suffering all of the time, there is another alternative way, which is the freedom, the justice and
peace for all. And we tried everything as, Einstein said, insanity is to repeat doing the same thing and we expect different results.
DR. ABUELAISH: We tried every possible way. And it's time to stop. What is more painful, where the death smell spreads in Gaza Strip and the silence
of the International Community. It's a test for the International Community to step and to ask what can we do --
AMANPOUR: Dr. Abuelaish --
DR. ABUELAISH: -- instead of --
AMANPOUR: -- I need to ask you now because this is a very different matter than what happened to you back in 2009. Hamas slaughtered 1,400 Israelis in
the very same area where you went to work in the hospital there, that I visited you in the hospital inside Israel all those years ago. This is what
Hamas has brought on to you.
DR. ABUELAISH: You know, I am talking -- I am coming here as a Palestinian and I'm not representing any faction or -- but even what is happening is
not happening and coming out of the blue. When a patient comes to me with a broken arm or a broken leg, I will ask what is happening before and why
it's happening. And it's not the time to blame or to condemn. Someone today is condemning and then one day will be condemned also. So, it's time to
focus on stopping the bloodshed.
As a medical doctor, I never blamed my patient. I am here to save lives and to find an alternative way to put an end to this vicious cycle.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I'm going to ask Shlomi now because I can see you shaking your head a little bit, and I know and you know that that famous
call you had when Dr. Abuelaish called you in distress contributed to ending that Operation Cast Lead. What do you feel today when he called you
about the latest victims in his family?
SHLOMI ELDAR, ISRAELI JOURNALIST AND DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER AND AUTHOR, "GETTING TO KNOW HAMAS": I must tell you, Christiane, that it's a
different time. I'm not sure that I can open my speaker if the same tragedy when -- if I'll get a phone call from Gaza Strip. Even me -- and forgive
me, Dr. Abuelaish, we are friends since your tragedy.
After I've heard what happened in Gaza, our settlers and the slaughters and everything, and killing and murder and raping women, and I couldn't find
any place in my heart to call my friend in Gaza to ask them after the war began because we're in a different time, something that I'm searching my
soul. It's a soul searching what is happening. Even to my coverage, did I - - was blind? Didn't I see everything from Gaza Strip? Did I believe that we can find any consideration from Hamas -- with Hamas? And unfortunately, the
answer is no.
It's a different time. It's a totally different time, and it's our time to grieve, to feel the pain, to try to find any solution, and it's very hard
to see everything is here in this place.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to come back to you, Shlomi. But finally, to you, Dr. Abuelaish. Can you still keep to your philosophy, which is, I shall not
DR. ABUELAISH: I will keep it and I believe in it. And as my friend, Shlomi, he said -- what he said, I respond to that, life is what we make
it. Always has been, always will be. It's in our hand and we have to change the context and the root causes of what is happening in order -- and it's
not with revenge, because revenge will never be met with revenge. Violence will never be met with violence or hatred.
It's to sit on the table and to acknowledge the rights of all because I fully believe the freedom, the justice, the future, the life, the security
and peace of Israel is linked and dependent on the Palestinian's freedom, safety, security and life. And that's what we need now to stop the
bloodshed and to focus on saving lives.
AMANPOUR: Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, thank you very much. And I'm going to continue this conversation with Shlomi now.
Shlomi, I need to ask you because part of your incredible knowledge and value as a journalist and as a writer is that you have actually had contact
with Hamas. You were the first, if not the only, Israeli, to interview Ismail Haniyeh, who is the current head of so-called political Hamas, at a
time when they said they accepted some kind of a two-state solution even if they didn't formally accept the state of Israel. Tell me how you reacted to
them then and what's changed?
ELDAR: They the leaders of Hamas, even Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, that were in the -- that was in the prison, tried to find out if they can recover the
movement because they were afraid that the Israel would exterminate them. And Ismail Haniyeh called me in the '90s to his house and open our kind of
plans, suggested that they can think to be part of the consideration and the coexistence between Israel and Palestinian people.
I think he wanted to send the messages to Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister that was assassinated in 1995. But one more time, he called me to
his house, after he was elected in 2006, January 2006, Hamas elected, wins the election, and he called me to his house. And his messages, as I
understand today and before, was, leave us to control Gaza and we'll let you live. And I'm not sure to live together, but we'll find any
consideration to live together.
But what happened later in 2007, the military wings took control over Gaza, kicked out the PLO, killed PLO and the -- Mahmoud Abbas' soldiers and made
a military coup, and they controlled Gaza Strip since 2007 and threat Israel.
This is the situation that we are living since 2007 until now. But I must tell you, Christiane, I've never believed that we'll reach to a time that
they can invade and cross the border and murders babies, burn babies, rape women, slaughters, massacre families, families, Holocaust survivor, this is
something that I couldn't imagine.
And even me as a correspondent that cover the Gaza Strip and all my career, I think that I was open to the Palestinian tragedy and the suffering of --
in Gaza Strip. I think that also me have to make a soul searching, where did I made a mistake about reading Hamas leader.
AMANPOUR: Are you more horrified by what you call militarized -- you know, different Hamas than you first knew has done all by your own country's, I
ELDAR: I asked myself many, many questions, and I tried to figure out what happened. What did I miss? And I called my -- one of my friends in Gaza
Strip today, and he was one of the Fatah leader in the first intifada. And I asked him, did you believe that something -- this massacre can be by
Hamas? Because we know them, they are not -- you know, they are a terror organization, but something crossed -- something -- the red lines, even
between them. And he said to me something that I didn't think before. He said, definitely, yes, without hesitation.
And he said, look, you are the Israeli, missed something. Because we have now a new generation, a generation with brainwashing that went through all
the years. And the Hamas, especially now, during these years, convinced them that they bring them redemption. And most of this, they convinced them
that the Israelis, they are not human beings.
And I don't -- I -- and never in my life I compared it to the Nazis, the Nazi's action in the Holocaust, but it's something that he said, it's like
Goebbels, the propaganda, they washed their brain. And when they find themselves in Israel, kibbutzim, in Israel's settlements, they didn't see
human being, they saw animals.
AMANPOUR: Shlomi, thank you so much. It's a very difficult time.
ELDAR: Yes, thank you for having me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And just a correction, Dr. Abuelaish lost his wife to cancer, not in that attack.
Now, though, we're going to explore the unintended consequences of national grief, rage, and revenge. And crucially, an unclear exit strategy.
In Tel Aviv, President Biden warned of American mistakes after 9/11. There was, of course, that misbegotten invasion of Iraq in 2003, which remains a
hotbed of instability and blowback. And even the 2001 justified war of self-defense against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan has backfired,
because 20 years later, mission not accomplished, the United States has pulled out. And the militant fundamentalist Taliban has taken over again.
The consequences for the country, especially for its women and girls, are too horrendous for words. And that's the focus of a new documentary, "The
Noble Guardian," which explores the courageous story of the activist, Mahbouba Seraj, and her fight for the women of Afghanistan.
Here's an excerpt from the film that lays bare the agony of young girls who are still denied the right to go to school.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAHAR, STUDENT: Should I start?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
SAHAR (through translator): Salam to your beautiful name teacher. Salam to your lesson and writing teacher. You are out like a moon in the dark night.
You are sunshine while you are talking.
SAHAR: This is my favorite dress. It's my uniform. It looks very beautiful. You can see it. Yes.
MAHBOUBA SERAJ, ACTIVIST: The last 20 years, the girls of Afghanistan were promised that they can do anything and everything that they dreamed of.
They just have to work for it, and they will get it. They are that capable, these girls. They really are.
SAHAR: Education for me, it's like a delicious food, it's like an ice cream.
ZAHRA, UNIVERSITY STUDENT: Here in Afghanistan, education for girls, it means freedom.
SAHAR: At school, you feel yourself in paradise. You can feel everything that you have in your mind, in your heart, everything.
It's a dream, and I don't want to awake from this dream.
AZIZ AHMAD BAYAN, TALIBAN EDUCATION MINISTRY SPOKESMAN (through translator): I congratulate everyone on the start of the school year.
SEDIQA NURISTANI (PH), DEPUTY PRINCIPAL (through translator): These are happier days. We were not sure school was going to be starting, but as you
can see everyone is here. I think of these kids as my children and I have not been able to teach them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I brough my children here for their future. I don't want them to be uneducated like me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): She keeps asking me, when does school start? When does it start?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I want to go to school to study and learn.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Education is very important to our girls so they can become doctors and teachers and help serve our country.
ZIBA RAHIMI (through translator): Until further notice, secondary school for girls has been banned. Stop filming, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was so angry when I heard the school was banned again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If they want us to wear the hijab, we'll wear the hijab.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They should not have allowed us to come today and give us this hope and then ban it again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They didn't let me in school today.
SERAJ: Tell me what happened? What on earth is happening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They've cancelled school.
SERAJ: You are kidding me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because the hijab was in her body.
SERAJ: You are kidding me. This is a very bad sign. This is not good at all. And to tell you the honest truth, I don't think they have any plan of
continuing. That's the philosophy, to keep the woman as a second-class citizen, and not count them, not consider them, they're just beings that
will marry these men and give them children. Boom. Finished.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're hoping to cover a story about the Taliban's --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the last half an hour, we've heard that schools are being shut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's happened at girls' schools this time?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wondering if you might be available to speak to us.
SERAJ: When do you want to do that, right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terrific. Thanks so much for agreeing to do this interview.
SERAJ: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). So, please stay with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you still in Afghanistan?
SERAJ: Yes, I am. Yes, I am. I'm right here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be with you in about a minute or so.
SERAJ: OK. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're joined now by Afghan Women's Network co-founder Mahbouba Seraj.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mahbuba Siraj joins us from Kabul.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is this what you're hearing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or we just wanted to check in with you.
SERAJ: Yes. No, it's the truth. It's a decision, but it's an excuse. And that's what it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really appreciate your help today. Thank you so much for talking to us.
SERAJ: Thank you.
The education of the girls is the number one priority. This is the right of every single person on earth.
It's so good to see them. They're all my people here, you know.
This is Mr. Iqbal Waq (ph).
He calls me the soldier in the first line. I'm the one standing and holding on to the first line of defense.
Ready? Shall we go down now? Thank you.
When dreams of a nation, especially dreams of 18, 19 million women of this country, were completely wiped and it's getting wiped every single day in
the ways that nobody can even imagine how hard it is. And those girls, they have to live it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): How did you find the world's reaction?
SERAJ: My heart is really breaking. I really don't know what to do anymore.
SAHAR: It's not good for me, it's not for my friends, because you cannot decide your lessons. I'm sorry because of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The heartbreak of those girls and their defender, Mahbouba Seraj. I'm joined now by my colleague, Correspondent Anna Coren, who's the
film's director and producer. And she worked on this project with our mutual colleague, director of photography, Mark Phillips. Anna, welcome to
You know, I don't know -- a war to displace militants, then allowed them to come back and the victims are the girls. And it's still like that, you
know, even a year after you did that film.
ANNA COREN, DIRECTOR, "THE NOBLE GUARDIAN" AND CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, Christiane, to think that, you know, when we were there, we
thought that surely in the months, maybe a year onwards, that girls would return, that the Taliban would cave in to the international pressure. And
if anything, it's a further erosion, degradation of women's rights, as you well know.
Girls don't go to school. They don't go to university. They cannot work. You know, basically they are prisoners in their own homes. And Mahbouba
continues to, you know, fight on their behalf. You know, campaigning for girls to go to school, but it is just falling on deaf ears.
AMANPOUR: Anna, you started your major part of your career shortly around 9/11 and you've traveled to Afghanistan many times and you've done stories
about civilians who were killed by U.S. airstrikes and others, and I wonder what you're thinking right now of the effect of that, you know, the road to
hell is paved with good intentions, the effect of trying to bring, you know, education and rights to women, but the way it was done cause so much
backlash and now, the militants are back in charge.
COREN: Yes. It's hard to think that 20 years on, it's deja vu, if not, you know, worse. And I know that you have covered Afghanistan extensively with
the wonderful Mark Phillips. For me, Christiane, and my reporting in Afghanistan over the last decade, I think to see that the hope of these
girls just vanish in an instant.
You know, we went to Afghanistan last year in March for the reopening of schools, that was the premise of the documentary. But what transpired on
that day, as you say, these girls were absolutely heartbroken. It was almost cruel. It was like the Taliban was playing with them. You know,
we'll let them go back to school for 90 minutes and then we'll take it away.
That was the only thing that they were holding on to. So, I think the world, for 20 years, promised these girls, you know, hopes and dreams and
you can be educated, you can be anything that you want to be. And now, they are basically trapped in their homes.
You know, some of them might be able to get online join a course. But as for school, it's out of the question.
AMANPOUR: And we hear so much also about, rising mental health crises, the girls in states of depression and worse. And clearly, the whole country is
worse off because there's a lot of poverty. The Taliban is closed off -- essentially the country to the rest of the world and engagement.
And the earthquake that's just happened, the series of earthquakes have left the whole country in a terrible, you know, plight. What can you tell
us about some of that?
COREN: Well, I covered the earthquake. And to think that this country that is going through, you know, absolute economic turmoil, you know, people
can't get a job. As you say, we can't really get news out of there.
I tried to return to Afghanistan earlier this year, the Taliban has refused me a work permit. I'm banned from entering, as are a bunch of journalists,
because of our reporting. But then to think that this earthquake happened more than a thousand people, it was initially two thousand, it was revised
to over a thousand, have died. You know, it's a country that just faces more and more trauma.
And, you know, Christiane, I think for -- certainly for Mahbouba and for the girls that we had documented, there is a real sense of abandonment of
the -- not just the United States, but the world --
COREN: -- just picking up and leaving and forgetting.
COREN: They move on to Ukraine.
COREN: They then move on to the Middle East.
COREN: These girls, these women, they are still there.
AMANPOUR: Yes. And we're watching and following. We'll wait for your film to actually come out. But we're glad to have had that excerpt. Thank you,
Now, protests have been spilling out onto U.S. college campuses over the crisis in the Middle East between those who support Israel and those who
support Palestinians. Jack Stripling is an investigative reporter at "The Washington Post" covering higher education. And he joins Hari Sreenivasan
with that story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Jack Stripling, thanks so much for joining us.
You are an investigative reporter in the higher ed beat in "The Washington Post." And over the past week, we have seen so much activity on college
campuses, protests and counter protests, students in support of Palestine, in support of Israel. What are you seeing play out across the country here?
JACK STRIPLING, HIGH EDUCATION INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, this really is a continuation of a long-standing phenomenon
within higher education. I mean of course, protest around international conflicts are part and parcel of the experience of academia in the United
States, but particularly the Israeli Palestinian conflict has generated over decades enormous amounts of protests, political pressure, pressure
from students for colleges to do any number of things related to the conflict, whether that's to divest from Israel, whether that's to boycott
study abroad programs in Israel.
So, this is a long-standing issue that that has, of course, had a flashpoint because of the current circumstances in the conflict.
SREENIVASAN: You know, last week, we saw pictures of a billboard going around Harvard with the names and photos of students that were members of
multiple groups on campus. Let's kind of unpack that. What did those students do to get their faces and names on a billboard?
STRIPLING: It was really interesting. The -- early on there was a statement that was put out by a group of student groups at Harvard
University that held Israel solely responsible for the violence occurring in Gaza and Israel. This immediately was met with tons of public backlash.
There were efforts, I think, to identify who the students were that their organization's names were there, but not the names of the students. And I
think things really ratcheted up when Larry Summers, who's a former president of Harvard and also a former secretary of treasury, went on X,
the platform formerly known as Twitter, and really condemned Harvard for its slow response to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.
By that point, a lot of universities had already put out public statements and specifically condemning these student groups. And so, that generate a
lot of interest in them. And then, in the ensuing days, as you note, I think there have been numerous efforts to identify who these students are.
Some of them appear to have suffered some professional consequences as a result of this. So, that's kind of how this began. But that statement
really attracted a ton of attention.
SREENIVASAN: Now, there were some very prominent CEOs, Bill Ackman, the head of a large hedge fund being one of them, that started to call for the
names of all the student members so that he says so that he didn't have to hire them. I mean, and then there was an issue at NYU where one of the
students that was a member of these organizations had -- what is it their job offer rescinded?
STRIPLING: Yes. So, there have been a few incidents like this. I know there's a prominent law firm that initially said it would not hire some of
the students who were affiliated with these groups. There's been more recent reporting at saying, well, we're going to hire some, but not all of
these students, depending on their level of involvement. But it's an interesting phenomenon, because I do think that in the history of student
activism around any number of issues, but particularly this one, which is so divisive around the world, you know, I think 20 years ago, a student
could go out and protest about something like this and a future employer would be none the wiser.
Of course, now, they're performing on a world stage through social media and the pressure points and the consequences are far more profound as a
SREENIVASAN: When I talk about this with my friends, what's interesting is, is that there's, you know, a group of folks that say, listen, when you
sign your name on something, kind of be ready for it to be in the front page of "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times." I mean, you've got
to take responsibility for what you're signing your name on to, and maybe this is a life lesson.
And then, I also hear people saying, gosh, this has a little bit of a smell of McCarthyism. You know, who's a card-carrying member of which group, and
am I going to blackball them or not hire them?
STRIPLING: I think these are great points, and it's something that the colleges themselves really struggle with, right? They want to, by design,
be, to use a word, safe spaces for students and faculty to express themselves on any number of issues, but they are living in an environment
where people can be doxed, people can be found, there can be efforts to snuff out who said what. And I think that college leaders are really
struggling with that from a safety standpoint.
There's a great concern that students have put themselves at risk by taking hard line positions on this issue. And I think that the university leaders
are legitimately flummoxed about how to allow the free exchange of ideas and then free expression that institutions of higher education value and
hold so dear while also recognizing that 18- to 20-year-olds may say things that are more strident about a nuanced issue than they might, you know, 10
STRIPLING: And that's just something that colleges confront, I think, all the time.
SREENIVASAN: It's not that we -- you know, you shouldn't be held responsible, but it's also very strange because old people like us, I
guess, it kind of assume that college is the point in your life where you are mentally experimenting, trying, you know, kind of different things on
figuring out parts of yourself, and attending a protest for whatever side of whatever argument seems like something that you do in college.
STRIPLING: Yes. And I want to be, you know, careful to say that having talked to college students over, you know, 20 years of covering higher
education you know, these are people who are often very well educated on these issues.
STRIPLING: And I don't want to give the impression, you know, that these poor experimental students have whoops, you said something that they're
going to regret later. These are deeply held beliefs that I think a lot of the students will stand by for years to come. And I don't want to
infantilize the activities of students who are engaging appropriately and difficult discourse about a really hot topic.
SREENIVASAN: You know, as you've covered this, what's happened to the ability for different points of view on college campuses to be expressed?
And there was a survey recently where students were asked about whether or not it's OK for them to shout down a speaker who had differing points of
view, and I think more than half, 60 some percent of the students said, yes, it's OK to do that.
Now, explain, you know, how that happens, considering what you might have seen on campuses when you started this beat.
STRIPLING: This is a difficult discussion for college campuses. The way that students express themselves and will call attention to things is often
to disrupt an event in various ways. What I think has drawn more attention in recent years is what the phenomenon you're describing, the shouting down
where you can't invite a speaker at all who has a controversial view and they're able to speak.
I mean, we've seen several incidents along these lines, and I don't know that colleges have found clear answers around this. I mean, what academics
do is they policy it to death, you know. And so, they've tried to erect policies around this, but it is a phenomenon within higher education. And
it's something that conservatives in particular seem to get very fired up about that people who have views outside of certain liberal orthodoxy can't
get a fair shake and discussions on college campuses.
I think your mileage may vary about the veracity of that claim. There are a few incidents like this every year that get a ton of attention, but there
are plenty of controversial lectures on college campuses that you never hear about.
SREENIVASAN: Prior to the events in Israel over the past week, there was an event at Penn, writers gathering or festival of some sort, and there
have been fallout, there has been fallout from that because it was including speakers who profess support for Palestine and were considered
antisemitic. What's -- what are the repercussions, whether it's the events at Penn or at Harvard or other places? Are there financial consequences
STRIPLING: Well, we have seen -- this is always a worry for college leaders that when they stick their toe in a conflict like this people are
going to have a reaction as to how they have comported themselves in these public statements. And, you know, I hate to keep going back to Harvard, but
it is a really good example of this.
So, what happened after the conflict arose, there was a lot of pressure on Harvard to respond. The president and all of the academic leadership of
Harvard put out a statement that was long, but also not forceful enough in the view of many professors on the campus. The professors responded with an
open letter saying, this is a milquetoast response and, you know, doesn't adequately condemn the actions of Hamas.
The president of Harvard then issues another statement that is more forceful it's getting hard to keep track of these. I think she also put out
a video statement point being that the Wexler Foundation that has given a lot of money to Harvard over the years has said they're going to cut ties
with Harvard over its response to this, and it probably points to the fact that, you know, no matter how people approach this, it can be difficult to
satisfy all the different constituencies on this subject.
SREENIVASAN: So, are universities then forced to start taking stands on their views on Israel and Hamas? I mean, is that something that now
universities have to do as almost part of the brochure? What are we going to do with students on campus or we will -- I mean, it seems like adding a
layer of complexity to what's already a difficult space for institutions to inhabit.
STRIPLING: Well, I think you've hit on the central issue, which is, what is the role of an institution of higher learning in weighing in on the
Dobbs decision, the Israeli Palestinian conflict, et cetera? There are certainly a movement within higher education that colleges need to be just
politically neutral on this. But I think we underestimate the vast amount of pressure on these institutions to say something. And then when they say
something, it's never enough.
And an interesting phenomenon that's occurred in this circumstance is that we're now even seeing college presidents going after each other about
whether their statements were good enough. Ben Sasse, who's the president of the University of Florida and a former United States senator from
Nebraska, issued his own statement saying, these weak-kneed equivocation from my colleagues in higher education, you know, is not good enough. And
we need to be more forceful in our combination of Hamas.
So, this is an interesting phenomenon within the sector, where even college presidents criticizing each other. I hadn't seen that before, I don't
SREENIVASAN: So, is there a chilling effect on the climate on college campuses? If students, if professors, have to figure out how to navigate
these waters in addition to just being students or faculty or part of the community?
STRIPLING: I think that that's always the question, right? Can we talk about these issues and not imperil our futures in one way or another? And I
think that that's a very real concern on college campuses about speech in general. I've done a ton of reporting on college professors who have been,
you know, either fired, forced out, suspended or sanctioned after events related to extramural speech that they did on Twitter, et cetera. And you
will often hear them say that, you know, I'm concerned that anything I say could be used against me.
And, you know, all you can say is that we have the First Amendment in this country. We -- the colleges need to have policies to deal with these
situations as a general rule. First Amendment experts will tell you that, you know, things you say on Twitter and social media are generally
considered protected speech. Classroom behavior is sort of a different phenomenon that you cannot target a student based on race, ethnicity or
religion within a public university classroom. And if that happens, as has been claimed, at least at Stanford in one case as related to the Israeli
Palestinian conflict, you know, that may be a tougher case for an instructor in that situation. Because if you're targeting students based on
these identities, that's a problem.
SREENIVASAN: Tell me a little bit about -- you know, we've talked a little bit about the Ivy's. Tell me what's happening at the University of Florida.
STRIPLING: Yes, I thought this was an interesting example because one of the things that you're hearing right now is just the degree to which this
conflict has put so many people on edge at home. So many people in the United States have either family connections to folks who are in the
conflict zone or deeply held religious or political views that connect them to that.
And so, there was a vigil at the University of Florida not long after the conflict broke out. And a strange misunderstanding where somebody got ill
and fainted and there was a call for 911 prompted a huge stampede at this vigil. People ran, running. I'm told that somebody dropped a water bottle
and people thought it might have been a gunshot. Several students were injured and taken to the hospital because of this. It's lucky it wasn't
worse. This was a big space where people could get out and I think exit fairly well, even though they were running.
But you can imagine this could have been a profound tragedy. And I think it is something that college leaders across the country paid attention to
because it really shows just what a highly volatile situation this is when you have people in large groups gathered around at a tense moment like
SREENIVASAN: Where do we go from here? I mean, how do college campuses, how do students and faculty navigate, you know, taking positions or biting
their tongue about the issues of the day, especially. ones that are so sensitive and personal?
STRIPLING: Well, the answer for higher education cannot be that everybody should shut up. That can't be the answer. That would be completely
antithetical to what higher education in this country is meant to stand for. So, that's not an option.
So, the only other option is to find safe and civil places for this type of dialogue to emerge, to allow for the free exchange of ideas and to allow
for protests. And colleges are going to have to navigate that. The good thing for them is they have a heck of a lot of practice. This has been the
nagging issue, I would say, certainly of the last decade for college and university leaders. And I think that that these institutions are very much
primed for this.
It would be a dark day if students and faculty felt that they couldn't express themselves on an issue that they care about as deeply as this. And
I don't think anybody wants that outcome.
SREENIVASAN: Investigative reporter for Higher Education from "The Washington Post," Jack Stripling, thanks so much for joining us.
STRIPLING: Hey, thanks for having me. I enjoyed it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And that's it for now. Thanks for watching. Goodbye from London.