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Interview With Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi; Interview With Former IDF Soldier Benzi Sanders; Interview With Dartmouth College Chair Of Middle Eastern Studies Tarek El-Ariss; Interview With Dartmouth College Chair Of Jewish Studies Program Susannah Heschel. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 06, 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.
Israel under mounting pressure to pause as deaths in Gaza escalate. I get the view from Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, after crucial
meetings with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Then, under the radar, Nada Bashir reports on extreme settler violence in the occupied West Bank.
Also, ahead, a former IDF soldier brings us his eyewitness account about how the last Gaza invasion changed him forever.
Plus, two professors talk to Michel Martin about how American college campuses have been a flashpoint and how they are trying to bridge the
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Israel comes under mounting pressure to pause as the death toll in Gaza passes 10,000, nearly half of them children, according to the Hamas run
health officials there. But not even Israel's staunchest ally seems able to convince them to stop of that humanitarian track.
President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu by phone today, this after the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spent the weekend
crisscrossing the region for urgent talks in Tel Aviv, Jordan, the West Bank and Iraq. He concluded today in Turkey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We know the deep concern here for the terrible toll that Gaza is taking on Palestinians on men, women and
children in Gaza, innocent civilians, a concern that we share and that we're working on every single day. We've engaged the Israelis on steps that
they can take to minimize civilian casualties.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Israeli officials are rejecting any pause, much less a ceasefire, saying that that would only benefit Hamas after the slaughter of 1,400,
mostly civilians, 14 weeks -- four weeks ago. Listen to this from Israel's ambassador to the United Nations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GILAD ERDAN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. In coordination with the U.S. and the U.N., we
allowed the number of trucks entering Gaza now with food and medicines to reach almost 100 trucks every day. So, we don't see the need for
humanitarian pauses right now because it will only enable Hamas to rearm and regroup and prevent us from achieving our goal to destroy Hamas
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, how is that being received around the world, especially in Arab capitals and on the streets? Jordan's foreign minister, Ayman Safadi,
met Blinken this weekend. And now, he's with King Abdullah at E.U. headquarters, trying to press for getting more aid into Gaza. Jordan says
it's delivering aid itself now. It's air force dropped medical aid into Gaza into a hospital early this morning.
Foreign Minister, welcome back to our program. Can I first start by asking you it must have taken some coordination and quite a deliberate stance to
start air dropping into Gaza? Is this a one off or you're going to continue to do it?
AYMAN SAFADI, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, it did take some coordination, Christiane, and we dropped the essential supplies to a field
hospital that we've had in Gaza since 2009. Obviously, those supplies would only last for so long, given the enormity of the humanitarian challenge
And we hope not only will we be able to do more of that but that all of us in this -- in the International Community come together to pressure for
delivering the necessary supplies to Gaza because contrary to what the Israeli rep. to The U.N. just said, there is a humanitarian catastrophe.
And I think if he doesn't see that, I can only explain this by saying, it seems he doesn't see Palestinians as humans.
He's talking about 100-truck, when the average before this catastrophic war started was about 500 trucks per day. And then, that was not enough. So,
just to say that there is no humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza speaks to the complete blindness of this, of this person to what's happening in Gaza.
AMANPOUR: But clearly, also, what he's saying doesn't match our reality because you obviously had to coordinate with Israel. So, the Israeli
military, the Israeli government had to presumably acknowledge that there is a humanitarian catastrophe no matter what their U.N. Ambassador says.
SAFADI: Well, I mean, we would like to see the acknowledgement translated into effective impactful action on the ground. People are dying from the
Israeli bombs, but they're also dying from the lack of water, the lack of medicine. The very, very dangerous situation at hospitals where a lot of
them are simply not functioning beyond the basic, basic essential.
So, if there is the acknowledgement, we'd like to see that translated in real action that does even begin to address the catastrophic situation we
have in Gaza.
AMANPOUR: Foreign Minister, you're with King Abdullah in E.U. headquarters. What have you managed to extract from them in terms of stronger
humanitarian deliveries? Tell me what the mission is for Jordan there in Brussels right now.
SAFADI: Well, Christiane, we just arrived. As you said, his majesty is here. We just met with the Belgian prime minister. We met with the
secretary general of NATO. Tomorrow, there'll be meetings at the E.U. And our message is clear and simple, this war on Gaza has to stop. A ceasefire
is a must. Delivery of sufficient and sustained humanitarian supplies is a responsibility, is a human duty, let alone a legal obligation by Israel is
an occupying power.
So, this is the message in which we're working. And obviously, trying to put things in context as to why we are here and that the only way out of
this nightmare, this catastrophe is for the war to stop and the needs of Gazans who are -- who've been suffering even before this war started be
And then, we all look at how we can get to a situation where what happened never happens again, and that can only happen through a peace plan that
would fulfill the rights of the Palestinians to freedom and will address the Israeli concerns as well.
AMANPOUR: I'm going to get to the peace plan in a moment, but first, obviously Jordan is one of the first two countries to Arab countries
neighbors to make, you know, peace with Israel, it goes all the way back to the mid-'90s. Now, we've got, you know, past 10,000 deaths in Gaza,
according to the authorities there, the Hamas authorities, half of them, nearly children.
President Biden has spoken to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Blinken has been talking to Prime Minister Netanyahu and Herzog over the weekend. What did
he tell you? Is the message getting through? They've said, forget it, no pause, no ceasefire, because that'll just enable Hamas.
SAFADI: Well, I mean, obviously all of us are trying to end this sanity, you know, but sadly, tragically, this Israeli government is not listening.
It does believe that it has the right to go and destroy all of Gaza. We saw an Israeli minister yesterday, a sitting minister, a minister of culture,
calling for nuke in Gaza and therefore destroying Gaza and its entirety.
And this really is reflective of what we've seen, not just now, Christiane, but over the years. Israel acted on the assumption that it can ignore that
there's something called the Palestinian issue, that it can parachute over the Palestinian issue and make regional peace and. And this war shockingly,
tragically, sadly, with all the casualties it has brought is saying that this assumption is simply illogical. It will not fly.
So, basically, Israel is saying no. And it will have to show that the responsibility of its actions. It is committing war crimes in Gaza. It is
creating a sea of hatred that will define generations to come. And yes, we did have a peace treaty with Israel because our commitment to peace has
always been unwavering, because we always believe that peace is the only way to guarantee the security of Palestinians and Israelis and allow this
region to break away from this vicious cycle of violence of wars.
But what Israel is doing is creating that much of hatred, which to be honest, given where public opinion is right now, will be a document that
will be collecting dots -- dust, I mean. Do you foresee any real work now towards what we all wanted to work for regional cooperation, for regional
integration? How could you convince people who are boiling right now that a country that is killing innocent civilians, destroying hospitals, and is
denying the humanity of Palestinians, violating every tenet of international law wants peace?
It is just -- Israel is putting us all in the spot which we never wanted to be, which radicals want us to be in, and it's just acting driven by what
seems to be a rage. Not if -- not listening to its friends, its allies, the U.S. and Europe, that just say something about how blind they are to the
ugly reality that they're creating.
AMANPOUR: So, first about the heritage minister who talked about nuking Gaza. The government did disavow that. He has been suspended. But to your
point about rage and revenge, you know, every time we ask an official about that, an Israeli official, they say it's not about rage and revenge, it's
about making sure that those who slaughtered 1,400, civilians mostly, will never have the capacity to threaten Israel again. Do you get that?
SAFADI: Honestly, we don't get that. I mean, we all understand the enormity, the pain inflicted on Israel. October 7. We condemn that. We will
never accept the killing of civilians, but killing 10,000 Palestinians, displacing 1.4 million, denying people even their basic right to a drop of
water or to a pill of a painkiller, that is not going to guarantee security for Israel.
Hamas is fighters, but Hamas is also an idea that was born in the conditions of misery that the occupation and the failure by the whole
International Community to solve this crisis have put us on. So, the only path to guaranteeing the security of all, which we want, which we've worked
for decades for is to find a just peace that will fulfill the legitimate rights of Palestinians and address the legitimate concerns of Israel. This
war is not doing that. It's killing innocent. It's killing women, children.
You've seen the images, and those images are in every sitting room of millions of people, not just in the Arab world, across the whole
International Community. Look at the reaction in the United States. You referred to campuses in the U.S., Europe, everywhere. Simply this is
brutality. This is just utter inhumanity and that will not produce peace. So, no, we don't get it.
AMANPOUR: On campuses, you have antisemitism and threats. You also have Islamophobia in the United States on campuses. It is a terribly heightened
situation right now. But regarding peace, obviously the West Bank, which is right next to you, is part of -- the occupied West Bank is meant to be part
of a Palestinian State.
Right now, there are two things happening. Settlers and soldiers are basically -- you know, there's 150 Palestinians dead, according to
authorities on the West Bank, and they're being moved away from their land in some instances, several hundred. Do you think that there is a deliberate
plan, as many people do believe, that the settlers who are in charge, essentially, of the government, are wanting to, under this cover, you know,
create their own ideological end to have the West Bank for themselves? Do you believe that's the case or is it just the fallout from this terrible
war that's going on?
SAFADI: If I may first, Christiane, just say unequivocally that we are against antisemitism. We are against Islamophobia. We condemn that. We warn
against it. And we urge all of us to come together and really clearly say that this is not a Muslim Jewish war, this is a war between an occupier and
So, I just want to make clear that we have been warning against this culture of hate. We condemn antisemitism as much as we condemn
Islamophobia. That said, going to the West Bank, even before this, a vicious cycle of and war started, there's been a systematic Israeli policy
to kill any aspiration for the Palestinian people for statehood.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said it himself, in the Israeli government, you have cabinet ministers being (INAUDIBLE), who publicly openly called for
wiping out the Palestinian people. So, settler terrorism -- and I'm calling it settler terrorism, because it has been there for a while. And now, with
these new unfortunate tragic circumstances we're seeing more of that. We're seeing people -- settlers attacks increasing.
This year, by the way, is the bloodiest year for Palestinians on the West Bank in over decades. And this speaks again to the complete absence of
political horizons and to the unleashing of settlers by cabinet members who speak that rhetoric of hate, who's just fueling those kinds of movement.
If you look at facts on the ground, there's been over 90,000 new settlers coming to the West Bank since 2019. Area C has been completely also being
incrementally taken away from the Palestinians. Settler expansion is continuing. The number of settlement expansion or the amount of settlement
expansion we've seen in the past few years is unprecedented for decades. Confiscation of land is the same. Encroachment on the holy sites are the
So, I think there is a group within Israel, the radicals, the religious Zionists who are pushing for confrontation, and that does not help Israel.
That does not help us. That does not help the Palestinians. So, I think everybody needs to stand up to their responsibility here and stop these
kinds of actions.
And if the West Bank explodes, then you're looking at a broader conflict that is just going to affect everybody in the region. So, that has got to
AMANPOUR: And finally, you took action, you know, recently to basically pull your ambassador from Israel and the Israeli ambassador is not in
Jordan. And today, your prime minister has said, all options are on the table for Jordan in our dealing with the Israeli aggression. What does that
mean exactly? What all options?
SAFADI: Basically, what we did was we recalled our ambassador as a very blunt and direct message that we are totally opposed to what's happening
that we believe it will not help anybody in the region, not the Israeli people, not the Palestinian people. So, it's a message that this has got to
What we said is that whatever we believe will help end this madness, whatever we believe will help because of peace to which we've dedicated
years and effort -- of efforts we will do. So, everything is on the table. And as far as we believe it will help us in our efforts to end this war and
to push towards a comprehensive just peace that will once and for all make sure that we never are in conditions where Palestinian civilians or Israeli
civilians will have to live the inferno that we see unfolding before our eyes.
And I just want to say to all our partners, all our friends in the International Community, their message has been consistent that Israel
should act within the realm of international law. Well, it is not. And obviously, it's not listening to advice of its friends, and it's not
listening to the genuine calls that are coming from people across the world to say what they're doing is simply war crimes.
So where do we go from here? I think it is within Israel's view to decide where we go from here. Continue with this war and we will pay the price for
generations to come. Stop this war. Let's all bite the wounds. Let's all say enough -- that enough killing and really come together and see what --
how -- what is the path that will make sure that none of us have to go through this again. That path is peace. We're ready to engage with all our
partners to start immediately on that path. But Israel is not there yet.
SAFADI: It has to get there. Otherwise, it's hurting itself as much as it's hurting everybody else.
AMANPOUR: And we will do our best to put that to the prime minister's office on our program tomorrow. Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, thank you
very much, indeed, for joining us.
Now, as we mentioned earlier, and we've just been talking about this, Secretary Blinken was in Ramallah this weekend meeting with the Palestinian
Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, who called also for an immediate cessation amid escalating violence in the occupied West Bank.
According to the Ministry of Health there at least 150 Palestinians have been killed since October 7th by Israeli forces or in settler attacks. As
Nada Bashir reports, Palestinians are living in fear as hundreds have already been forced to flee their homes.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voiceover): Armed and threatening, this is the face of Israeli settler violence in the occupied West Bank, is these acts
of aggression, which are chasing Palestinian families out of their homes. Piece by piece, Palestinians in the village of Khirbet Zanuta (ph) pack
their lives away, never to return.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The settlers come at night while we're sleeping. They beat us and try to kill us. They try to force us out
of our homes. I can't sleep anymore. I'm too afraid.
BASHIR (voiceover): Families in this village once home to some 140 Palestinians tell us they have been left with no choice but to flee their
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): What's happening now is another Nakba, a catastrophe. I'm 60 years old. I've lived here my entire life.
BASHIR (voiceover): And despite the fact that settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal in the international community, they
continue to grow and expand with the backing of Israeli authorities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We inherited this land from our forefathers. We've lived here for generations. Now, it's only getting
worse. The war in Gaza has only encouraged the settlers.
BASHIR (voiceover): According to an Israeli rights group, B'Tselem, at least 15 Palestinian farming communities have been forcibly displaced since
YEHUDA SHAUL, ISRAELI HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The real thing that is influencing the life of Palestinians here is the outpost up there.
BASHIR (voiceover): Yehuda Shaul, an Israeli human rights activist says encroachments of Palestinian land are rapidly advancing, and personalized
attacks in the occupied West Bank have only intensified.
SHAUL: The next stage is not only attacking Palestinians when they're out in the field, going into the communities, into the homes, burning houses,
slashing water tanks, beating up people, threatening women and children, elderly, and the result is what you see in front of our eyes.
BASHIR: People leaving?
SHAUL: Entire communities packing up and leaving. Settlers are taking advantage that all eyes are in Gaza to accelerate their violence, because
there is no protection from the Israeli army, there's no protection from the Israeli police. In many cases, the Israeli army is accompanying the
settlers, and in many cases, the settlers are the army.
BASHIR (voiceover): In a nearby village of Atuba (ph), a remote Palestinian community, Israel's military keeps a watchful eye. IDF soldiers never too
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. You need to go, you need to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because you were in the (INAUDIBLE). You need to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need to go right now.
BASHIR: Why are we not allowed to film?
BASHIR (voiceover): This village knows the price of settler violence all too well. Palestinians here say their attacks are edging closer each night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): They come and threaten us, saying we have to leave or they will be back to target us. They're all armed. They
never come here without weapons.
BASHIR (voiceover): In the last week alone, residents here say Israeli settlers have slashed this village's water tanks and cut through local
power lines, an effort, NGO workers say, to pressure Palestinian families to leave the area.
ELAD ORIAN, CO-FOUNDER, COMET-ME: What we're seeing now is under the cloak of the war that's happening now. The settler activity is -- settler
violence has increased tremendously over the last few weeks.
BASHIR (voiceover): This crisis is not new to the Palestinian people, but it's a crisis that is deepening. Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip
said to be emboldening violent settlers.
Across the Southern Hebron Hills, there are now fears that smaller, more remote Palestinian villages could be next.
But for Palestinians in Khirbet Zanuta (ph), it is already too late.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: Nada Bashir reporting there from the occupied West Bank.
Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas, but can that be done militarily? My next guest, former IDF soldier, Benzi Sanders, was deployed into Gaza
during the 2014 war, and at the time was full of certainty about his mission. But now, he says, the idea that Hamas can be military eliminated
was a lie then and now. And Sanders has become a peace activist. He's joining us now from Jerusalem.
Welcome to the program. You've been listening to some of the reporting just, just airing just before you, and you're obviously seeing everything
that's going on around you. Tell me first, what has been going through your head and your heart since October 7th?
BENZI SANDERS, FORMER IDF SOLDIER: Well, since October 7th, everything has changed in some ways, and in other ways, everything is -- my worst fears
are coming true. I -- as you mentioned, I fought in Gaza in 2014, that war was also preceded by a horrific terrorist attack, just like we saw on
October 7th, three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered, which led to --
AMANPOUR: Don't worry.
AMANPOUR: Don't worry.
SANDERS: Which led to a horrific -- which led to the firing of rockets -- a massive crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank and firing of rockets and then
a ground invasion. The images that everyone is seeing, that I'm seeing, remind me very vividly of that fighting.
And frankly, it's my worst fears because many people, colleagues in the Israeli peace camp, in the Israeli antioccupation camp have been warning
for so many years saying that there is no military solution. We can't just manage the conflict and maintain, a very, very brutal military regime of
control over Palestinians. That actually plays into the hands of Hamas and plays into the hands of these murderous, terrorist groups.
And so, all I've been doing since then is trying to share my message, try to share my experience, and try to avoid making the same mistakes that we
made in 2014 when Hamas only got stronger after we bombed them and killed thousands and we struck them a decisive blow, or that's at least what I
thought at the time, but I only saw afterwards that my own government strengthened Hamas.
AMANPOUR: You know, it's pretty intense to hear you say that. Look, we know that the majority of your country right now is in favor of this war. They
might not be in favor of the current government, but they definitely believe that somehow, somewhere, Hamas has to be defeated. You're saying it
can't be done militarily.
Tell us -- I guess the first question really is to you. Are you out of step with the majority of your country people right now? And are you able still
to talk about, you know, what you saw, what you feel, what you've learned, how you've changed?
SANDERS: Yes. Well, I'll add, you know, I'm not a pacifist. I believe that Israel has the responsibility to defend itself against Hamas. And of
course, that includes military actions. But I think that right now in Israeli society, there's a debate going on as to whether this war that
we're fighting should be against Hamas or should it be against the Palestinian people?
And you have members of this current government who have said since the horrific atrocities that we saw in October -- on October 7th against
Israeli civilians and the kidnapping of Israeli civilians who are still being held, they have made it clear that they aren't differentiating
between civilians and Hamas.
Even last night, a senior member of the coalition -- sorry, on Saturday night, senior member of the coalition of the -- a member of the cabinet,
Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister, and the minister overseeing the West Bank in the Ministry of Defense, said that he doesn't really see a big
difference between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The Arabs are the same Arabs.
So, there are many Israelis who disagree with that and there are many Israelis who are questioning the assumptions and questioning the lies that
they've been told for so many years. And maybe it is a majority who has believed the lies that our government has told us, but, you know, I think
that this is an opportunity for partners of mine in the Israeli peace camp.
I saw many of my --
AMANPOUR: Yes? I can hear you. Let me ask you another question, Benzi. Let me ask you another question. OK. Benzie, your line has dropped. We're going
to redial you and we're going to bring you back. We're going to bring you back. OK? So, stand by and we'll bring you back.
As we mentioned earlier, tension and division mount in most corners of the world over this. University campuses in the U.S. have become one of the
focal points, from Ivy Leagues to public schools and colleges. Five recent incidents at Stanford University are under investigation as potential hate
crimes, according to the school.
But, our next guest, Dartmouth College Chair of Jewish Studies, Susannah Heschel, and chair of Middle Eastern Studies there, Tarek El-Ariss, wanted
to create a forum for students to discuss their positions and their thoughts. Michel Martin speaks to both professors about that response and
what it achieved.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
MICHEL MARTIN, JOURNALIST: Thanks, Christiane. Professor El-Ariss, Professor Heschel, thank you both so much for joining us today.
TAREK EL-ARISS, CHAIR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE: Thank you.
SUSANNAH HESCHEL, CHAIR OF JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAM, DARTMOUTH COLLEGE: Thank you.
MARTIN: As we are speaking, we are about a month after these terrible events that have consumed so much of our attention, this terrible, you
know, attack, by Hamas in Southern Israel. And if I could just ask you briefly to take me back to that moment. Professor El-Ariss, do you remember
how you found out what had happened and what went through your mind?
EL-ARISS: Well, I was in Cairo when this happened and I was following as the events unfold on the Arabic channels and so on. And I -- you know, I
mean I'm originally from Lebanon but I also lived in New York on 9/11. I mean, it was one of those moments where I felt this is really a horrible,
I immediately got on the phone with, you know, with Professor Heschel and we said, this is really -- this is not just any other attack or, you know,
another episode that, that we see a lot of. This is something that is going to open a portal into a form of violence that we're not -- we haven't like
this. And immediately we talked and said, OK, we need to create a forum for this.
We need to create a space where people can come and talk about this and engage with this and think about this. This is going to, you know, capture
people's minds. I mean, this is going to really make people want to -- it's going to consume people, not only in the Middle East, but also obviously,
you know, in the U.S. as well. And whenever there are diasporas identifying with that part of the world in some way.
MARTIN: It sounds as though both -- for both of you, your immediate instinct is, we have to create a forum to talk about this. Professor
Heschel, talked to me about that. Because look, it has to be said, that was not every scholar's first instinct. I mean, some scholars were, you know,
organizing rallies. Some scholars were -- you know, say more, if you would, about the conversation that you and Professor El-Ariss had.
HESCHEL: I was extremely upset, as you can imagine, but I have a professional obligation as a scholar to my university and to my work. And
so, we spoke on the phone. We decided we would have two academic forums at the Dartmouth College campus and set those up. I was one of them, and the
others were three other scholars who are teaching in Middle Eastern studies.
I have to say, the Jewish studies and Middle Eastern studies have had a long and very fruitful collaboration on campus. So, we have relationships.
We coach each courses. I'm co-teaching the course with Professor Jonathan Smolin from Middle Eastern studies this term on the 1967 Arab Israeli war.
And so, he spoke. And then, we have another course on Israel Palestine taught -- co-taught by Bernard Avishai and Ezzedine Fishere from
So, we offered this as a panel to demonstrate to the college, students and faculty, how we come together in this moment. We model for them what it is
to be a scholar, what it is to be an academic and an academic institution to discuss the issues thoughtfully, not to look for condemnations or to
speak about emotions, but to think in context, what can we as scholars contribute to the analysis of this moment and also demonstrate how we
should think in this moment.
How should we be responding as academics. And that, we felt, also what we succeeded in doing really at Dartmouth was to keep all sides together as a
community of academics, which is exactly what we do in our classroom.
MARTIN: One of the reasons we called you is that we saw an article in the "Forward" titled "Many universities fumbled reactions to Hamas' attack.
Here's how Dartmouth got it right." Did the administration play any role in this? Because as we've seen in a number of other universities, you know,
university presidents have been heavily criticized for not speaking or not saying enough or not saying something soon enough.
HESCHEL: Absolutely. We have a new president of Dartmouth, President Sian Beilock, who immediately said, we have to do something. And she asked the
dean of faculty, Elizabeth Smith, to call me, and she did. And I told her Monday morning early, we've already made plans to do something.
So, the leadership at Dartmouth has been very strong and very much in support of what we are doing as faculty, and that has made a huge
difference as well.
MARTIN: Tell me about that first forum. What was it like?
HESCHEL: We recognize that students, faculty, staff, the community were all very upset, frightened, worried and angry, and Dartmouth does offer 24-hour
a day mental health counseling for students, for example, and we emphasize that.
We also have chaplains to speak to students and to faculty, and that's also important, but our job at these forums was to come together as academics,
just demonstrate what we do in our classrooms. When we co-teach a course, Professor El-Ariss and I co-teach a course called Arabs, Jews and
Modernity, we have students who are Jewish, Christian, Muslim from all over the world, Palestinian students. We come together in the classroom to
understand and work together, to think through the problems. And the classroom becomes a place where students work together and form friendships
and think together.
So, we don't polarize, and that's what we wanted to achieve with these forums. And that actually did happen. And of course, there are students who
are very upset emotionally. I was too. I still am very upset, but that's not, as a professional, what I bring to my classroom, that classroom is a
different kind of space. It's not a space to rant and rave and do agitation and propaganda and demagoguery. Classroom is a place for scholarship.
MARTIN: Professor El-Ariss, when you did get back to campus and started participating in these conversations, what are some of the things that you
EL-ARISS: The students started coming to my office, and I opened my office to them to hear what they're feeling, what they're thinking and to support
them and to be there with them. And also, as Professor Heschel mentioned, we have students from different, you know, backgrounds and different
political, you know, views positions that are in our classes, and they come to our classes because they feel like we are able to maintain a
conversation where their views are respected. And also, we're not imposing any of our views on them.
And we try to encourage them to form their own perspective when they look at how Jews and Arabs work together throughout the 19th century in the
Middle East and other parts of the world, how they defended each other's causes. I mean, it's a history of common struggle as well, sometimes in
relation to, you know, European colonialism or various forms of biases.
So, we also, in our work, try to present different kind of history of living together that -- and students come to this from -- you know, Jewish
students, Palestinian students, and they know each other and they come with us on our study abroad. There is a connection between them.
So, when these things happen, they are still talking. And this is important. I asked the students, are you still -- you know, how so and so?
You know, I'm asking the Jewish student about how Palestinian student is doing, you know, and vice versa. And I think it's important that we play
that role, that we play, you know, engage intellectually, explain the complexity of histories and conflicts, but at the same time, to maintain a
community of care. We are here to support them. We are here to listen to them. And we want them to support each other as well.
MARTIN: One of the things, you know, you hear from students who are Muslim or Palestinian or Arab, you know, or all three is that they feel that they
have been silenced. They feel that they can't express their, you know, legitimate, you know, fear, anger, concern.
I mean, on the one hand, you have the Jewish students who are deeply afraid and legitimately so. And then, you also have Arab and Palestinian and
Muslim students who are deeply afraid for different reasons. And I can imagine where they might look to you to be a spokesman for them. And I'm
just interested in your take on all this.
EL-ARISS: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I engage them and we create forums for them, also to go to the students in their own comfortable safe spaces
so that people can come and talk to them and ask them and see how not only what they think, but also how they feel. So, we're very, very -- you know,
very much doing this.
But I think also there is a frustration. It's understandable that there is frustration that the political resolution of this conflict has not
happened. The emphasis has been on like security measures and containment and management rather than a real political solution.
And I think it's important for us also as academics, we understand the frustration that the political solution through talks, you know,
historically has fumbled, but also we need to -- what else do we have, I mean, for us, other than conversation, other than engagement, other than
engaging the other and trying to show the other side your perspective, and do it in a way that brings them in rather than alienate them at the outset?
MARTIN: Has anybody criticized you for not being angry enough, Professor El-Ariss? I mean, I'm just curious if anybody has criticized you for not
being outraged enough under --
EL-ARISS: I mean, I lived 15 years in a civil war situation under all kinds of bombs. And it took me a long time to deal with that and deal with the
anger, but also to transform the anger into something more constructive. And -- but I also see the frustration in the students who feel like they
want to do something and they can't do anything.
And they feel -- but it is also -- like there is a culture out there that's expecting students at the university of freshman and so on to somehow have
the power to change human rights situation or to intervene in a political situation, and that's not fair. That's a huge burden on that student, and
that's crushing in some way.
And part of what we have to do, I want to, on the one hand, alleviate that burden to act and to also -- and say, I understand the frustration and --
but also, I need to calm them down, make them listen and also try to explain to them a larger picture and bring them into a larger picture and
then bring them also to talk about people who feel that burden on the other side or from the other perspective.
And if we cut those ties, if we create those walls that separate, say, OK, I won't talk to the others camp because this is what I believe and it is
absolute. Then, where do we go from here? I mean, would we still have education the way we understand it? I mean, this is how I'm trained as a
humanist, as someone who's invested in talking to the other person.
I mean, I cannot just simply say, I won't talk, this is my view, and that's it, take it or leave it. I will do anything to achieve my views. This is
not also -- this is not my mission as an educator.
MARTIN: Professor Heschel, I just want to ask you the same thing. I mean, do people have any -- have -- has anyone said this to you, that you should
be on this side or that you're not outraged enough? Has anyone said that to you?
HESCHEL: I'm sure people think it. And I know that I have colleagues in -- at other institutions who've said that a Jewish studies professor should
represent the Jewish studies or the Jewish community, the Jewish Federation on campus and so on. That's not the role of an academic.
And I want my classroom to be a place where all students feel comfortable. People will sometimes ask me, well, how many of your students are Jewish?
When I have a big class. I don't know. I don't know who's Jewish and who isn't.
And why should I want to know that? We're here to study together. And I have students from all parts of the world, students from China and Pakistan
and Vietnam. And so -- and they're interested. And I want them to come and feel perfectly comfortable and equal to every other student in the
MARTIN: One of the things I'm hearing from you is that several things came to play here. You had long standing prior relationships of mutual respect.
OK. You had a history of not just working together, but being very clear about your role in a time of crisis. And you've also kind of have deep
friendships among yourselves.
And I'm just wondering, why is this so hard? It just seems that a number of these sort of prominent universities that things seem to have kind of spun
out of control. I mean, you have kids sending hate messages. You have kids tearing down posters of other people's -- you know, posters, amplifying the
people who've been taken hostage and why does it seem so hard in some of these places? Do you have a theory about that?
HESCHEL: Yes. Well, this is something we're going to be thinking about for a long time to come.
HESCHEL: What brought us to this point? And there are many factors. Institutional leadership is one. We have a great leader who knew what to
do. And of course, the friendships and the relationships can't just plunge right in. Why is it that so many Jewish studies and Middle Eastern studies
programs at different universities are at war with each other? They don't talk to each other. We collaborate in courses that are cross listed, co-
taught, programs that we organized together and so on.
So, we've been doing this for a long time. Sometimes it may be uncomfortable. Of course, we may hear things from a guest speaker that we
don't like, but we don't bring in guest speakers as mouthpieces for ourselves, we bring in speakers who will challenge us. And that's what we
do in our classroom.
I give students something to read and I'll say, well, now, what would you say in response to this? What's your argument? How do you formulate? What's
the evidence? What's wrong with this article and what's right with it? And if you don't like it, say something, but say it in an academic, intelligent
way that has warrants for the proof.
So those are some of the factors, and there are other elements as well. So, a student at one of the forums said, is Israel an apartheid state? And the
response was, look, first of all, it doesn't really fit the definition. But you know, another response is to say, we're not here to judge, we're here
to understand. I'm not a judge in a courtroom. I'm not a jury.
I'm an academic. I want to analyze. I want to think. What is the purpose of say defining something as apartheid or defining an incident, which may be
terrible? The bombing in Gaza, killing of people is a terrible thing. Why do I have to call it genocide? Can I just say, this is terrible? When Hamas
attacked Israeli civilians, it is terrible. It's devastating.
1,400 people murdered. Innocent civilians, but I want to analyze. I want to think it through. How did we get to this point? And I don't want to simply
fit it into a prior narrative, whether it's colonial narrative or something else. And that's what I think we were stuck. Many of us, in our academic
work, we're stuck in predetermined narratives. We're stuck in what the philosopher, Carl Hempel, called covering laws.
And we need to break out of that and think in more expansive terms and analyze more carefully and creatively and also think about what we are
trying to accomplish, not to label, not to judge, but actually to move forward because we have -- ultimately, as academics, we have a commitment
to humanity, to human lives.
MARTIN: But Professor El-Ariss, I'll ask you this, but these are kids. I mean, some of them are kids. I mean, some of the reason that they go to
college is to figure out who they are. I mean, overdoing it, you know, doing too much, saying too much, saying the wrong thing, that's part of
growing up, on the one hand, right? And I'm just --
EL-ARISS: I mean, you know, the students who said, Israel apartheid state, but he said it in such a respectful way. He said, what do you think if I
would say Israel is an -- and thank you for answering my question. I mean, this is what I retained from that also, it is also the way it is not what
you say, it is the way you say it. And it is also to have an environment that allows you to say what you want to say without completely getting rid
-- cancelling the other.
You know, disagreement doesn't mean an erasure. And that's what's very important to hold on to. I can disagree with you, I can have my strong
feeling about things and say them, but I have to find a way where I'm not - - you know, completely not letting the other person speak also and express their view or their opinion and their feeling as well. So, I think our role
is really to create that space where one -- feeling one voice doesn't cancel the other.
MARTIN: Professor Tarek El-Ariss, Professor Susannah Heschel, thank you so much for talking with us today. I believe that your words will be a bomb to
many people. Thank you.
HESCHEL: Thank you.
EL-ARISS: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: Indeed, they will. Talking across that potential divide is so important. Let's now then bring back in Benzi Sanders, the former IDF
soldier and now peace activist.
You've been standing by in Jerusalem. We had some technical difficulties, but Benzi, you are back. So, I want to ask you again about the op-ed, the
article you wrote for "The New York Times," describing what it was like, you know, in the deployment in 2014 in Gaza.
You wrote, you know, that some of your soldiers were feeling doubts at that time, then you wrote your own thoughts on a piece of paper, and you wrote
this, I wrote that some members of my team had been tallying the number of soldiers killed and discussing whether this operation was worth the losses.
I think it could be worth it, I wrote, as long as we decisively eliminate the threat. That's the lie they told us, and the lie that's being repeated
today, that we can decisively eliminate the threat of Hamas through a military operation.
Benzi, how did you come to the conclusion that you couldn't?
SANDERS: Well, you know, one of the voices that I've listened to over the years and I've been convinced by is not just the voices of human rights
activists, but also the voice of the former head of the Shin Bet, Ami Ayalon, who's the top counterterrorism expert and -- for four and a half
years in the country. And he said this openly. He said, the only way to decisively defeat the terrorism that Hamas represents is through creating
an alternative and creating hope. And that means working towards a political solution.
And our current government has been fundamentally committed to opposing a political solution and to preventing the creation of a Palestinian State
and preventing Palestinian independence. So therefore, that's why I realize that military alone will not defeat Hamas. And that's why I think that our
government needs to be changed immediately.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you then as well, because you talk a lot in your op-ed about what you saw in Gaza in 2014. Tell me, because earlier you said
you don't believe that the soldiers distinguish carefully enough between civilians and Hamas fighters. What did you yourself experience to make you
SANDERS: Well, you know, in the area that we went, we were told that all the civilians had fled. And that was true for the most part, but it wasn't
entirely true. We did find civilians. there was an entire family in the second neighborhood that my unit took over. There was an entire family who
And the soldiers -- you know, luckily when they entered the house, they didn't kill them through live fire, they gave them food and water. They
guarded them for many days. But when we pulled out, the air force, flew overhead and bombed the entire neighborhood, and eight members of that
family were killed. I learned this later.
So, I've seen this with my own eyes and I'm not -- and I'm listening today. I'm listening to my own leaders, including who I mentioned, (INAUDIBLE),
who said he doesn't really differentiate between the Palestinian authority, which recognizes Israel and wants to negotiate with Israel, and Hamas,
which is the terrorist organization that carried out these atrocities. The Arabs are the Arabs. That's what he said on Saturday night on Israeli
So, it's hard for me to believe. I don't believe it. I've seen it with my own eyes. I don't believe that Israel is doing everything in its power to
prevent civilian casualties based on the statements of members of the Likud and other members of the coalition. And I think that that's a result of the
fact that this government doesn't view the Palestinian people as the future partners for making peace with.
And they are just convinced that overwhelming military power is going to bring us safety and security. And this is a catastrophic mistake. It's the
same catastrophic mistake that led us to the horrific events of October 7th. And we absolutely need to change that. We need our partners abroad. We
need the U.S. government.
Also, I'm an Israeli. but I'm also an American. And I expect that the American government also not just pays lip service to the idea of pursuing
a political solution. You know, settlements are expanding at an incredible rate. Settlers are illegally taking over land, not even according to
international law, according to Israeli law. They're going out and they're shooting at Palestinian civilians and there's no -- with impunity, there's
no real enforcement against them.
And so, I think the -- our international partners and allies need to take a stance on the side of the Israelis who are demanding, political solution
and are demanding, differentiation and that the -- our government, makes sure not to harm and kill innocent civilians.
AMANPOUR: Banzi, obviously they tell us endlessly that they are doing their best, but you can see the allies like the United States are getting
increasingly worried, not to mention everybody on the ground about the civilian toll.
There is -- there are stories, a lot, about dissent being quashed in Israel. Are you not worried about what you're saying to me publicly now and
being accused of siding with the enemy and the kind of things that are getting some Israelis in trouble?
SANDERS: You know, it's a risk that I have to take for the future of the people of Israel. You know, siding with the enemy would be ironic for my
government to accuse me after my government, in order to prevent the Palestinian State, actually facilitated the transfer of hundreds of
millions of dollars to Hamas and preferred to bolster Hamas and to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian human rights
They designated Palestinian human rights organizations as terrorist organizations. They categorized Palestinian diplomatic initiatives as
Palestinian -- as diplomatic terrorism. But Hamas, they facilitated the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars. And they also crushed
Palestinian hopes of independence, which also fed, the fuel of Hamas, because that's what -- Hamas is the enemy of peace. And, when our
government committed itself to preventing a peace process and preventing negotiations, they were actually helping Hamas.
AMANPOUR: Benzi Sanders, thank you very much. And what you've just said has been confirmed by very many people. And obviously, we know that governments
were encouraged to try to make Gaza and Hamas sort of economically OK, thinking that the threat had subsided. But clearly, we know that it had
not. Benzi Sanders, thank you very much, indeed.
And finally, tonight, we take a moment to remember the 36 journalists who've lost their lives since October 7th. According to the Committee to
Protect Journalists, these past four weeks have been the deadliest since they began documenting anywhere in the world back in 1992.
But a glimmer of hope, CNN journalist in Gaza, Ibrahim Dahman, and his family are finally safe now. He and his two sons and his wife, who's
expecting another baby, were granted passage into Egypt via the Rafah Crossing from Gaza into Egypt.
For 28 days, they had lived in fear, under constant bombardment, displaced from the north, and with limited food and water. So, we want to thank
Ibrahim for his courageous reporting, documenting his family's fight to survive. Here's the moment they knew they would be safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IBRAHIM DAHMAN, CNN JOURNALIST (through translator): Today, we have passed the Egyptian crossing and are hearing to Cairo. Are you happy, Khalil?
KHALIL (through translator): The trip was hard, but it was nice too.
DAHMAN (through translator): And you, Zaid?
ZAID (through translator): Thank God that we got out safely, and thank God.
DAHMAN (through translator):
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you can see the happy faces there, they have a reprieve. We want to thank all the journalists who are in Gaza for whatever organization
telling the world what's going on. And it's not easy. And so, we want to pay tribute to all journalists everywhere trying to tell the stories that
we should all know.
Now a quick programming note, on Saturday you can watch the brand new "Amanpour Hour" from 11:00 a.m. on America's East Coast, which is 5:00 p.m.
in Central Europe. We'll bring context, conversation and analysis of our world with newsmakers, cultural icons and the very best of CNN reporting
from the field. I'm also taking some of your questions about events that shape our future.
So, scan the QR code on your screen or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. "The Amanpour Hour" airs Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Central
Europe only here on CNN.
And that is it for now. Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London.