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Interview With Senior Adviser To Israeli Prime Minister Mark Regev; Interview With U.S./Middle East Project President Daniel Levy; Interview With "The Women Of Now" Author Katherine Turk. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired November 14, 2023 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defies the pressure from people at home and friends abroad. I speak to his top adviser, Mark Regev.
Then, former Israeli negotiator Daniel Levy tells me it is time finally to get serious about a peace settlement.
Plus, the women of now. Historian Katherine Turk talks to Michel Martin about the feminist organization that changed America.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
From Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, families of Israeli hostages today began a five-day march to pressure their government to bring home their loved ones.
Polls show Israelis are souring on Prime Minister Netanyahu. Though trust in the military remains high.
In Washington, President Biden says he believes a deal on freeing hostages is going to happen soon.
But at the White House and around the world, prosecution of the war is creating huge anxiety in the face of constant Israeli bombardment,
including around homes and hospitals and the ever-mounting civilian death toll in Gaza.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Is my hope and expectation that it'll be less intrusive action relative to the hospital.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: De facto, today, civilians are bombed. De facto. These babies, these ladies, these old people are bombed and
killed. There is no reason for that.
RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: So, Israel must be able to defend itself against terror, restore its security, and bring the hostages home.
But there are many things that Israel must do as part of its response. We've been clear that they must act within international law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Netanyahu has so far rebuffed any calls to change course. Here now is the prime minister's senior adviser, Mark Regev. Welcome back to the
program. You're joining us from Tel Aviv. Can I first start by asking you about these really large marches that are happening and what both your
government and President Biden has said? Tell us more about these potential deals when a release could happen.
MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: If we are closer to a hostage release, and I'm not sure we are, but if we are closer, it's
because Hamas is under amazing pressure.
As you know, our forces are now in the middle of Gaza City, the epicenter of Hamas's military machine. They're taking on the Hamas terrorists in
hand-to-hand combat. The -- we're getting close and closer to the Hamas leadership. They are feeling the pain. They might now, I hope, move on
releasing hostages. But we have to wait and see.
AMANPOUR: OK. You said, I'm not sure we are. Both your government, I believe, put out some kind of alert or statement that we received. And
President Biden says, you know, they believe it is going to happen soon. They're making progress. You don't seem to be believing that.
REGEV: It's not done until it's done.
REGEV: No, we would be more happy than anyone to see hostages released. But we know who we're dealing with. We're dealing with Hamas, a brutal
AMANPOUR: Right, right.
REGEV: Of the 239 people being held, 32 children, of them babies and infants. These people are not going to do the right thing. They're not
going to suddenly become humanitarians. They will only release hostages if they're under amazing pressure. They're under massive pressure from us at
the moment. Maybe that is going to expedite a release. I hope so.
AMANPOUR: And also, you know because you have exchanged with Hamas. So, I guess I'm just asking you as somebody who knows, but you are not going
there. So, what do you make and what does the prime minister make of the pressure now by Israeli people to actually bring them home?
We've seen polls showing that most Israelis now think that should be a prime object of the military operation and you're seeing actual marches,
and they were very pointed angry, angry people, including, you know, the granddaughter of the former prime minister, Shimon Peres, and many others
who are very upset that the government doesn't seem to be doing as much as far as they know -- as far as they can see to bring their loved one home.
REGEV: So, I can tell you and all the people watching that bringing the hostages home is a primary goal in our military operation. Once again, the
way to do that -- I mean, I'd like to tell you that Hamas became, you know, humanitarians, but they're not. They're tough brutal terrorists. We saw
what they're capable of when they butchered our people on October 7th. We see what they're doing in Gaza, the way they're sacrificing Palestinian
lives right and center for their crazy aims.
These people will only release hostages as a result of pressure. That pressure is being applied and we believe, we know that's the best way to
facilitate the release of the hostages. What other alternative is there? To smile at them?
AMANPOUR: No, no, Mark. We're not talking about smiling. These are really smart questions about things that you've done before and things that your
people are asking you. Nobody thinks Hamas is humanitarian. But we do know that Israel has gone into deals. In fact, 1,000 plus Palestinians released
for one Israeli soldier.
So, this is where this question is coming from, including trying to get you to confirm what the president of the United States says. But let's move on,
because you're talking about the pressure. You heard, because I put a "mash up" of some of your staunchest friends and allies.
President Biden, I hope there's going to be less intrusive activity, those were his words, around the hospital. President Macron, de facto civilians
are being killed. This is not comporting with international law. Prime Minister Sunak, the same, you have the right to self-defense, but you also
must observe international law.
What do you make of those comments and those feelings now amongst your most staunch allies?
REGEV: So, I mean, I could only embrace what's been said. Israel is conducting itself in the framework of international law, and we're acting
to defend ourself in a proportional way. And also, in a way that is -- differentiates between combatants, the Hamas terrorists who are out to
kill, and noncombatants, the civilian population, who we don't want to hurt.
And actually, now that we've got our ground troops on the ground, it's my understanding that the number of civilian casualties has not gone up, it's
going down. That's a good thing. Having ground forces, boots on the ground allows us to be maybe more surgical than airstrikes, that's a good thing.
And we're using those forces to hit Hamas and hit Hamas hard.
But it has to be understood, first of all, the numbers coming out of Gaza concerning casualties are provided by Hamas. There's no other independent
verification for those numbers. And so, we have to presume they're exaggerated. And secondly, they give you no differentiation between of the
people who have been fatalities, whether they were Hamas terrorists, and it's good that they were killed if they were, and between civilians caught
up in the crossfire. And no one can give you at CNN data that is more precise.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But, Mark --
REGEV: And so, we're all -- the numbers that people are talking about of the Hamas numbers.
AMANPOUR: Mark, whatever the numbers are, and in history, nobody's questioned these numbers, in all the previous -- and the Hamas was always
in charge, all the previous operations, nobody questioned their numbers. And we have seen half of these people or -- well, up to half, nearly, four
plus thousand are children, all the authorities are saying that.
REGEV: That's Hamas's numbers though.
AMANPOUR: Let's not -- please --
REGEV: That's Hamas's numbers.
AMANPOUR: Yes. But --
REGEV: When you say 4,000 children, that's what Hamas says.
AMANPOUR: Well, we've seen the pictures, OK. And we did this last week together. We've seen the pictures, and it is causing huge unrest and
disquiet amongst your closest friends, not to mention in Gaza and amongst the Palestinians and the Arab Street.
But what I want to ask you is this, your defense minister has said, and I'm really interested that you make a difference now, you say, presumably, you
realize that it was way too much by air. And now, you say it's more contained and more directed on the ground. Your defense minister has said
that the main objective, Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas, military and politically in Gaza, is hiding in his bunker.
If that's the case, do you know where he is? Why don't you go straight after him?
REGEV: So, first of all, I can't unfortunately share with you any intelligence that I might have. All I can say is it's clear that the Hamas
leadership whether in Gaza or outside Gaza is a target. Anyone who was involved in orchestrating in commanding, in facilitating the October 7th
massacre of our people is a legitimate target in our eyes, just as Osama bin Laden might not have himself flown an airline into the World Trade
Center, but he was the man responsible.
So, of course, the Hamas leadership responsible for the butchering of our people, they will be reached and punished.
AMANPOUR: Yes. So, I guess my question was, if apparently your defense minister knows where he is, why isn't that the target as opposed to a much
wider target? And a concurrent question is, you keep saying that there is a Hamas bunker, command center tunnels underneath these hospitals. So, it's
fair to ask, based on what intelligence? Can you tell us why and how you know that?
REGEV: First of all, we know that. And to speak frankly, I think most of the people of Gaza City know it too. It's -- if it's a secret, it's a
secret that everyone sort of knows. The Americans have confirmed, their intelligence. The European Union came out and said they know for a fact
that Hamas uses the civilian population as a human shield.
And actually, the Rantisi Hospital, the one that our forces reached yesterday, we showed to CNN and other journalists the underground tunnel
network adjacent to the hospital. So, I don't think there's any doubt about this anymore, unless one wants to believe Hamas is propaganda.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, listen, Mark, I saw that piece. I saw the -- I saw what you showed the journalists. And from what we saw, there were no Hamas
people in there then, then, and there were no huge stockpiles of weapons then. So, it raises the question, where are these people? And therefore,
why is the hospital still a target? This is honestly what I'm trying to understand.
REGEV: So, first of all, the hospital is not a target, right? It's the Hamas terror subterranean network of tunnels and of bunkers and of arms
depots and of launching sites for their missiles, their command and control, that is under the Shifa Hospital, but it's also under the other
hospitals, too, as we saw at Rantisi.
But we have to destroy that military machine of Hamas and we are destroying it now. Our soldiers are there on the ground and Hamas is feeling the heat.
And we will reach the Hamas leadership and we will take them out.
AMANPOUR: So, can I just ask you a series of questions about the prime minister? So, you've seen all the reporting and they're very, very good
journalists who've done a lot of reporting, Israeli journalists, Americans and others. And they have reported a series of whatever you might say, I'm
going to just say mistakes, by the government in dealing with Hamas over the years.
Most particularly I want to ask you, and if you don't know, I'd really love you to get the answer for me, the report that the military intelligence
chief, one of them very significant personage, went to the prime minister, went to the Knesset with classified information talking about how he
believed and how intelligence believed that the, you know, the uproar in your country over the attempt to overturn the judicial situation was
weakening the image, weakening, you know, the military and the intelligence in the eyes of the enemy. And apparently, the prime minister refused to see
Then separately, General Halevi, if that's how I pronounce his name, went to see the prime minister in July with a similar set of concerns. And the
prime minister refused to see him. Can you tell me whether that's true? And if so, why?
REGEV: So, first of all, all these questions will be dealt with.
AMANPOUR: No, Mark, this is --
REGEV: But you have to know -- no. But no, I'm answering you, Christiane. Christiane, it has to be said that Israel in the first months of this year
had a very polarized politics and there were demonstrations against the prime minister and their demonstrations for the prime minister and some
people supported the judicial reform and others were opposed to it. And we had a very, very contentious political debate in this country.
But what we saw on October 7th, as was reported on CNN, is that Hamas didn't ask Israelis when they killed us, when they butchered us, are we
left-wingers or are we right-wingers? Do we like Netanyahu or do we not like Netanyahu? Are we secular or religious? They don't care. They killed
Israelis because they are Israelis, because there are Jews.
There was a report on CNN just before we got on this broadcast about a peace activist, a feminist, a woman who was butchered by Hamas on the day
of the attack And I think this has been a wakeup call for Israelis, because as much as we in this country like to debate politics, we passionately
argue our positions.
But what is the truth, Christiane? That the Hamas killers don't care about our arguments. They believe this country has no right to exist, not in any
borders. They oppose any peace. They oppose any negotiated solution. And they believe every Israeli, irregardless of his political or her political
beliefs, is a legitimate target for terrorism.
REGEV: And that that has brought us together. And as you know --
REGEV: -- parties that were in the opposition have joined the government. We've now got a national unity government. And when this war is won,
there'll be plenty of time to discuss who was responsible for what and to get back to politics as usual.
But at the moment, this country is united as never before in dealing with a terrorist threat. We will defeat Hamas, we will end its rule in Gaza, we
will dismantle its military machine. It'll be good for the people of Israel, it'll be good for the Palestinians in Gaza too who deserve better
than this Hamas terror regime that's ruled them for 16 years and has only brought them pain, hardship and poverty.
AMANPOUR: That all may be the case. The question though is, and I'm talking about Israelis asking about whether this government, an emergency
government more than a unity government, is in fact capable of being, as Prime Minister Netanyahu, your boss has called himself, Mr. Security for
all these years.
Now, according to polls, and I'm just going to tell you which poll I'm talking about, Channel 13 says like 76 percent of Israelis think he should,
you know, retire -- or rather resign now after the war. So, my question is, this was a really pointed question because it's about security and he
refused to meet the security. It doesn't matter about the -- well, it does matter, the demonstrations. That's not what I was asking. Why did Mr.
Security refused to meet with the security and intelligence chiefs who had worries about something that might happen?
REGEV: Once again, all these questions can be addressed after the conflict. And I'd remind you, and you know this better than most, that when we've had
security mishaps or challenges in the past, we have known in this country how to investigate ourselves.
After the 1973 Yom Kippur War debacle at the beginning where we were surprised, this country had an investigation led by a team of former
military people and Supreme Court justices. And people paid consequences. It was the same after the 2006 Lebanon war, there was an official Committee
I'm sure that when this is over, we will follow the same pattern. There will be inquiries, there will be investigations, questions will be asked.
All the people from the prime minister down who are in positions of authority will have to answer those questions. That's the way it's done in
AMANPOUR: I mean, I could ask, do you think this prime minister will survive as others haven't? You mentioned after the Yom Kippur war. But what
I want to finally ask you is the -- there is a report that the American defense secretary, Lloyd Austin, spoke to Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and
essentially, essentially, and I'm paraphrasing, cool it on the northern border, worried that over provocation or over activity by Israel could
spark something wider. Can you confirm that?
REGEV: I cannot confirm it. And I can tell you what our policy is in the north. Israel wants to be able to focus all our military efforts on Hamas
in the south, on destroying the Hamas military machine and getting our hostages back. In the north, we prefer deterrence. We don't want to see an
escalation in the north.
Unfortunately, as you know, we can't be sure that that's not Hezbollah's interest in -- on the country. Maybe Hezbollah feels it has to come to the
aid of its sister terrorist movement. And therefore, we have to be prepared.
And my message to Hezbollah, who might be watching us at this moment, is that they should be very, very careful. Because if Hamas took us by
surprise on October 7th, and we paid a huge price in blood on October 7th for not being ready, we are now mobilized. Our eye is on the ball. And if
Hezbollah decides to start something serious, they can expect an overwhelming Israeli response. We will respond expeditiously and with force
to any escalation by Hezbollah.
AMANPOUR: I fully understand that. I get what you're saying, just that you also, like all of us, watched Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah last week,
who basically said they did it. We didn't do it. To me, it was like this was a Hamas problem.
The question I was asking you is, is it -- can you confirm whether the defense minister of the United States warned Israel also not to be
provocative and escalatory in your attempt to be deterrent on the northern border?
REGEV: No, I've been in meetings with my prime minister, I can assure you. Our policy is victory in the south and deterrence in the north. But once
again, we don't know what Hezbollah is going to do. You refer to Nasrallah's speeches, but we're watching not what he says, we're watching
what he does. And we know that he shares that same extreme theology, ideology, like Hamas.
He's a terrorist, not just in Israel's eyes, even the Arab League has declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization. He's an Iranian proxy. He's,
as I said before, like the twin sister of Hamas in Gaza. And we're watching the ball closely. We would be irresponsible to do otherwise.
AMANPOUR: Mark Regev, thank you very much for being with us tonight.
And joining me now here in the studio, Daniel Levy, the president of the U.S./Middle East Project. As a former Israeli peace negotiator with the
Palestinians, he worked under two prime ministers, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak. And he's joining me now to discuss the plan now, but really for post
So, first and foremost, what did you make of what we just -- you know, the discussion we've just had about the hostages, for instance, unclear from
Mark Regev, whether there is as much optimism as President Biden has suggested.
DANIEL LEVY, PRESIDENT, U.S./MIDDLE EAST PROJECT: Well, we heard something which gave me a tiny bit of encouragement, which is, from everything we
know, the kind of deal that's available now to get the hostages out was available three weeks ago and perhaps some of the hostages have
subsequently lost their lives in the Israeli attacks.
However, if that's the victory narrative that the adviser to the Israeli prime minister, and by extension, Israel needs. If they need to say,
despite what we know, that it's not the case. If they need to say that only because of the ground incursion, do we now have the ability to get them
out? I think most people would say --
AMANPOUR: He didn't say just that, he said the entire campaign, the pressure.
LEVY: I think he said the intensification of the pressure. There were a couple of other things that I found interesting. He acknowledged that the -
- prior to the ground invasion, they were not using surgical strikes, which is of course something that we've all seen.
I think it's a shame when you hear the question -- the numbers being questioned, we've all seen the images. We know that in previous rounds, the
numbers that the Hamas run health ministry, Israel and the U.N. have put out are all very, very close, aligned plus minus 5 percent. So, we rely on
the U.N., the humanitarian agencies, the human rights organizations, as we do in Ukraine and Syria and elsewhere, and they're pretty confident in
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, Daniel, because you wrote an important piece for "The New York Times," and you out -- laid out a couple of things. One,
definitely you called for a ceasefire, but partly to get hostages out. Tell us how you mean and why that would work, or how that would work in the
middle of something like this?
LEVY: So, I think what we're seeing at the moment is that the potential on ramp to a full ceasefire probably runs via a time limited cessation of
hostilities that allows some of the hostages to get out, perhaps then leading on to getting a deal for the rest to get out. I think once it comes
to the soldiers being held by Hamas, that will be in a more significant prisoner exchange.
And I think what we are perhaps moving towards is that there would be, I think we're now talking possibly five days, a five-day cessation, get out a
significant number of those being held, possibly have Palestinian women and children being held in Israeli jails, released in exchange, get a much
bigger infusion of humanitarian aid in.
But then two things happened, Christiane, and you showed the march inside Israel to get the hostages released, and you've talked about the dynamic in
the Israeli internal conversation. And I think two things happen if that first prisoner hostage release happens, the dynamic of the conversation
inside Israel shifts and you have more pressure to get the rest out. And then the choice is clear, it's either the military mission or it's the
prisoner release. And the other thing that happens is the outside pressure, which is now accumulating.
The West is playing catch up. America and Europe are playing catch up. The rest of the world was there much earlier, but this needs to end. But the
pressure from the outside, once there is a five-day cessation, will it be so easy for Israel to resume with this kind of bombardment and killing?
AMANPOUR: Well, the Israeli people want to see -- of course they want their loved ones back, but they do want to see the prosecution of the war as
well, and they do want to see Hamas neutralized. So, that -- and yes, and we pointed out the sort of unease now amongst some of the staunchest allies
Everybody's talking about if Hamas is destroyed, neutralized politically, militarily, what then? We know that Prime Minister Netanyahu twice has
taken -- or three times has taken the opportunity to speak to American media, each time sort of moving the goalposts on what Israel would do
First it was, you know, security presence for the foreseeable. Then it was a military envelope that we just heard this weekend. How much appetite is
there for that?
LEVY: Well, I think Israel has gone into this without a clear plan for the morning after. And in order to understand that, I think we need to
understand that Israel has largely neglected the idea that one does politics with the Palestinians, one does solution oriented approaches. And
therefore, it's been difficult to get that answer in any kind of clear fashion.
Now, I think the most likely outcome is that Hamas will continue to exist. It's military capacity may be downgraded, politically it is probably
stronger than before. There will still be a Hamas. How conflicts end is when the people of violence eventually find ways out of that.
Palestinians are in no hurry to sit down with Israel after the killing of 4,500 children. And of course, the Israelis want to see Hamas removed, but
that is an almost --
AMANPOUR: After killing of 1,400 --
LEVY: After the killing of the -- they loaded 1,200, but it doesn't -- that the numbers don't matter. It was horrific. So, this is the unrealistic part
to expect that a movement embedded in a people who are living without freedom and rights that there will not be armed resistance.
However, the other part of this equation, of course is what about the Palestinian Authority? What about Abbas? What about this whole other side?
And this is what's missing.
AMANPOUR: This is what I want to ask you, because you have actually worked with them. And you worked, you know, for Yitzhak Rabin, who was the first,
you know, to go into this sort of peace process. And then, with Ehud Barak, who was the last, practically, to offer a big deal that was rejected by the
The United States has called for a revived, revitalized P.A, Palestinian Authority, to be the Palestinian leadership, not just on the occupied West
Bank, but also in Gaza. Mahmoud Abbas is the head of the P.A. He's not a popular figure. He's just not a popular figure at home or certainly not
with this current Israeli government. No elections.
Well, how do you see Palestinians actually being able to takeover, politically, in a place like Gaza? What do you -- how do you see the
question of militarization or demilitarization working? Is there some kind of interim international mandate to keep security? What?
LEVY: So, in many respects, it's the continuation of the Hamas question. Why is it that Hamas has grown stronger? And why is it that Abbas has lost
credibility, popularity, legitimacy with his own people? And the answer there is that they signed a deal with Israel. What Fatah, what the PLO,
what the Abbas-led P.A. did was to say, no armed resistance, political negotiations, and that will deliver us statehood.
AMANPOUR: And recognizing Israel's rights --
LEVY: Recognizing Israel.
AMANPOUR: -- as a state.
LEVY: Fast forward, where are we? 450 percent increase in illegal Israeli settlers in the West Bank during the time of Oslo. An entrenched
occupation. A system of structural violence meted out against Palestinians every day. So, the West Bank is a much worse place for Palestinians to live
in than it was previously, and they have nothing to show for it.
And the idea that you can now heap on the shoulders of these people, bringing them in on an Israeli tank after the devastation with total
destruction in Gaza is not realistic. The Palestinians will have to rebuild their political institutions.
AMANPOUR: So, what is realistic? What is it?
LEVY: I'm afraid that the only thing that might be realistic is placing this in a broader approach to solving the actual problem of Palestinian
dispossession and statelessness and lack of rights.
AMANPOUR: But in the meantime, who does the -- who's the -- who does the Palestinian guardianship of Gaza, West Bank, the Palestinian people?
LEVY: I'm not sure you're going to have volunteers for that.
AMANPOUR: But who does it then?
LEVY: I think it may well be the humanitarian agencies that are there for a period of time. Israel is apparently not willing to withdraw. I don't think
it would be wise for any Palestinian movement to say, we will do this under the watchful eye of Israel. What happens in the West Bank is that the P.A.
does security cooperation with Israel. But it doesn't get any political progress. And therefore, that security cooperation is hated, it's seen as
collaboration. And that's bad for Palestinian politics. It's bad for Israel as well.
AMANPOUR: Can I ask you this then, you just mentioned, you talked about the settlements and the settlers. As we know, the settlers are a major part of
the Netanyahu government. I mean, some people say they, you know, they pretty much run the ideology of the government. And we've seen the settler
violence now since October 7th are on the occupied West Bank.
But we also have heard that certain settler leaders have said, do -- you talked about the P.A., you know, doing their best for security there, but
trying to stop the funds for that. And even the Israeli defense minister saying, don't do that. We need the P.A. to keep helping us with security.
How bad is that? And are those funds -- do you know whether they're still suspended or they get --
LEVY: Some of them are going through. They can't pay all the salaries. I think we've done a disservice to our own seriousness and our own ability to
chart a course forward by not taking seriously what the Israelis have been telling us. They have a government, with ministers, who make no bones. It's
not someone's accusing them of being an apartheid state.
They wear that badge with pride. They have openly advocated ethnic cleansing. One of the ministers said Gaza should be nuked. By the way, not
a smart thing --
AMANPOUR: He was suspended from cabinet meetings.
LEVY: He was -- he hasn't been fired as a minister. In this country, someone did something stupid. She was fired as a minister. At least that.
However, we haven't taken them seriously. And it's time we did take them seriously, because what has been allowed to happen it's the tail wagging
the dog with the settlers for years.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you, because you have a U.S. view into this. You're the head of the U.S./Middle East Project here. You've seen that
Biden is beginning to shift his public stance. You've seen that they're -- definitely today, there's a big pro-Israel march in Washington, but even
within the government, there's the dissent channel at the State Department. Some 400 foreign service and others have written, you know, a letter
questioning and expressing their disquiet with the -- with Biden's closeness to this operation, the military operation.
Where does the U.S. stand in this? And we know the U.S. wanted to essentially pivot away from the Middle East and pivot towards China. Where
does this leave the United States in terms of being able to have some really serious influence over a really serious post-war political process?
LEVY: I think the U.S. has that influence. I think it's a problem that having been given a warning. Remember, in May 2021, we had a serious
escalation. That's this administration. But they decided -- they probably thought, oh, good. We've had our mini flare up. We should be good through
to November 24. It didn't happen. They parked the question. They continued not being serious. They were busy with an alphabet soup of normalization
and I to, you to, India, Israel, UAE. USA. Corridors with India. They thought this was the way forward.
Now, we are where we are. I wish the death toll had budged Biden. It seems the opinion polls of what budged Biden. But now, I think in private, they
are scared of the regional escalation. They see this isn't working well for them. They see they're losing huge credibility in the Global South. They
want to end it, but if there's too much of a gap between what they're saying in public and in private, the Israelis know how to play with that.
AMANPOUR: Daniel Levy, thank you very much indeed.
LEVY: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And next we turn to the historic fight for women's rights in the United States. Founded in 1966, the National Organization for Women, also
known as NOW, laid the groundwork for challenging gender discrimination there. In her new book, "The Women of NOW," historian Katherine Turk
details the tumultuous journey of establishing the largest feminist organization. And she joins Michel Martin to discuss how lessons from that
past can inform the activism of today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL MARTIN, NPR, HOST: Professor Katherine Turk, thanks so much for talking with us.
KATHERINE TURK, AUTHOR: My pleasure.
MARTIN: You've spent two decades now researching the history of the women's rights movement, in particular, the National Organization for Women. You
know, I'm guessing a lot of people have heard of NOW, but don't really know what it is and what it was designed for. What is NOW? What was NOW supposed
TURK: Yes. So, NOW was founded in 1966 by a group of several dozen women, and then several dozen more women and men who joined them to form what they
called a civil rights movement to speak for women. This was a moment when the labor movement was quite strong, the civil rights movement was quite
strong, and women, of course, were part of those movements. But they also looked around and saw that movements around group-based solidarity were
getting a lot done in American life.
And so, a lot of women felt that there was a kind of contrast between the optimism about the American dream and the hopefulness about the power of
democracy and all of the things America offers the people who live there a contrast between that and the limits that they experienced in their own
lives. So, that's sort of the basic premise of NOW, to organize on behalf of all women.
They were especially focused on legal change, so both getting new laws enforced strongly, but then also pushing for new legal protections. But
within just a couple of years after NOW's founding, the organization became a mass movement dedicated to dozens and dozens of goals, pretty much
anything anybody could think of.
MARTIN: So, it's kind of like an NAACP for women, right? But instead of being focused on a particular group of women, their concept was they wanted
it to be all women, which is kind of a tough goal, if you think about it. And I guess, was that a struggle at the beginning? I mean, was it sort of
obvious at the beginning that it was kind of hard to get kind of everybody on the same page as it were? I mean, we're only talking about like half the
population. So --
TURK: Yes, to say the least. The kind of optimism that NOW founders felt and the kind of determination. It's a good thing they had it because it
convinced them to begin this organization. But very quickly, there were internal struggles, there were fights around which issues they should
prioritize, which women, which -- the concerns of which women should be prioritized. And this was an ongoing conversation that lasts up until this
day about who can speak for women and what do women on the whole need.
MARTIN: Could you just set the table for us, like what was the legal landscape for women at the time that NOW was formed?
TURK: Women were solidly second-class citizens in this country when NOW was formed. Abortion was illegal pretty much everywhere. Women could generally
not get credit cards in their own name, get mortgages. Until the mid-1960s, women could be exempted from jury duty. The idea being that, you know, why
would you want to go through with jury duty when you really needed to be at home with your children?
Women could receive harsher penalties for the same crimes, a husband who had a traffic accident could find that his wife's driver's license was also
taken away. Workplace discrimination and sexism was not only permitted and pervasive, it was actually codified in the law in the form of state laws.
All 50 states had different laws that required employers to treat women differently because of sex.
So -- and there's plenty to say, too, about the cultural misogyny that was just everywhere in American life and was also just so a common joke for men
in power to make.
And I would also add that for women of color, for women who were queer, for women who were older, working class those women experience all of these
injustices and more. So, I think that kind of backdrop really gives a sense for why this diverse group of women who came together as a sex to found now
believe that such organizing was urgent.
MARTIN: It started out as being really big, really broad. We want to do, you know, all the things. We want to focus on things from a number of
fronts. But at some point, they kind of narrowed their focus to the Equal Rights Amendment. And why is that? And why was that such a consequential
TURK: NOW was a big umbrella, a big coalition for the first decade or so of its life. But by the mid-1970s, a couple of things had happened in American
life that NOW's founders did not anticipate, the Equal Rights Amendment, which had long been one of dozens of NOW's goals and had a lot of momentum
in the early 1970s. It passed both houses of Congress. And won in a number of states really quickly, but then it started to lose momentum.
And the second thing I would point to is the Roe v. Wade opinion of 1973, which, of course, for a time, established a constitutional right to
abortion. And both of those things, the ERA's momentum and Roe v. Wade helped to galvanize a renewed movement of conservative women who organized
explicitly against NOW. It sort of took NOW's organizing style of nationally federated group, but turn now its premise on its head, arguing
that equality and reproductive rights would hurt women, would not help them.
And so, NOW's leaders in the mid-1970s really felt themselves to be at a crossroads. They could either let the ERA go, let it expire without doing
much more around it, or they could really focus their resources and try to get a lot more to try to push this amendment over the finish line and get
it written into the law.
So, that latter choice is what they did. They began engaging in new fundraising methods. They began to streamline the organization and
concentrate power at the top in a new headquarters in Washington, D.C. and became a quite effective lobbying and fundraising machine.
MARTIN: I have to say that was one of the most fascinating things about your research. Just something that, again, as I said, it's one of those
stories that's hiding in plain sight. One of the points that you make in the book and in an excerpt from the book that many people may have seen in
"The Atlantic" is that eventually they earned money through a surprising donation strategy. Something that a lot of people associate with the
political right, but which now used very effectively. So, tell us about that, and how did it prove so consequential?
TURK: Yes. So, starting in the 1960s, the very right-wing of the most conservative fringes of American politics were really frustrated with both
political parties and frustrated with the status quo. And so, they developed a new strategy for reaching conservatives in their homes and
raising money from them called direct mail.
And direct mail initially -- now, it's e-mails, but it started out as letters, personalized letters that were tailored to donors and supporters
of conservative causes, and direct mail letters are written with a very specific purpose in mind, typically designed to outrage or anger or at
least motivate some action on behalf of an -- by an individual, a recipient of that letter who will already be sympathetic to that cause.
And so, it was the right that was using direct mail quite effectively by the late '60s and early 1970s. And a number of groups on the political left
saw this and decided to first dip a toe in and then dive all the way into direct mail. So, they started putting together lists of members of liberal
and progressive organizations and merging those lists and sorting those voters into folks who would be most sympathetic to certain kinds of
And so, organizations on the left and right start bringing in much more money across the 1970s using direct mail.
MARTIN: So, you write that the direct mail donation soliciting strategy ballooned NOW's budget, but it also centralized power and narrowed the
group's focus, undermining the influence and the involvement of ordinary members. So, what makes you so convinced that it was this kind of pivot to
the fundraising strategy that was so powerful and changing the shape of the organization?
TURK: Sure. Well, so NOW continues to gain members across the 1970s through direct mail. So, using direct mail both for fundraising and for just
reaching out to sympathetic folks, NOW gets much, much bigger. And as it becomes associated with the Equal Rights Amendment in both its members'
minds, but also in the mind of the broader public, NOW becomes much more prominent on the national scene.
And my book shows how after the Equal Rights Amendment expired in 1982, NOW is in this kind of paradoxical position where it has a lot of prominence,
it has resources and the ability to get more, but it's not really sure what its identity is. If it's not the ERA anymore, what is this organization and
what can it do?
So, certainly, the sociologist, Theda Skocpol, has written brilliantly about how many membership organizations lost people. They lost members
across the 1970s for the reason that you described and for others too, the sort of weakening of the labor movement, a kind of more individualistic
culture. But through the 1970s, NOW actually bucks that trend and gains members.
So, direct mail, a kind of tactic that's especially suited for one goal, one vision, one objective. Direct mail was actually quite effective for NOW
in helping it to grow. It's just the nature of membership change. That suddenly with direct mail, you could -- you would receive a letter from the
national headquarters as opposed to seeking out your local chapter. And then, you would perhaps give some money, perhaps sign up as a member, but
that might be the only contact you have with the organization until it's time to renew your membership the following year. So, it's just a whole
different model of belonging and of being part of an organization.
MARTIN: Do you see a parallel to the current moment where somehow that there seems like an inverse proportion between how much money you can raise
and how quickly and how effective you can be as an organization?
TURK: I think that's right. And, you know, you could also look to all of the national organizations that have been working towards reproductive
rights and abortion rights, right? The Dobbs opinion came down despite those organizations having raised millions and millions of dollars and, you
know, mobilized supporters to give that money.
So, yes, I think NOW's story can help us understand what we lose when the grassroots is no longer in the driver's seat. So, there are folks in every
community all over this country who want to do something about workplace violence and sexual assault and want to do something about our abortion
But the national landscape, at least of these D.C. based organizations, what they're offering people is oftentimes a way to give money, a way to
sign up as a member, perhaps sign a petition, open your e-mail inbox to lots of messages, but what's missing from the research that I've done on
NOW in its most productive years in the early '70s is a way to do something, a way to organize in your community around those issues in a
local sense, a way that matters to you and to the people where you live, but can also be nationally coordinated.
So, the book talks about how NOW in its -- in the early '70s, in its first decade or so, was really only loosely coordinated from the top, and it was
local members who were in the driver's seat, not only signing petitions and, you know, paying those membership dues, but actually driving the
movement's agenda. And what's lost when it's a more top-down model is people's sense of ownership, not only belonging, but really being able to
shape the agenda of a movement that is also theirs.
MARTIN: Once people have moved away from something, can you really go back to it?
TURK: I think you can. I think you could. I think you would have to define women expansively to include not only, you know, self-identifying women,
but gender nonbinary people, and of course, all of their allies as NOW did. But I think that there would be a lot of power in that kind of organizing.
There's power in solidarity, power in coalition.
And well, NOW -- you know, when NOW was founded, there was not this mass movement of conservative women that we have now. So, an organization like
that would have to perhaps reach out to those folks to the extent that they could, but might also have to be OK with leaving them behind in forging an
agenda that is broadly conceived as beneficial to women. But I think you could get a lot done.
MARTIN: I think that some conservators would argue that the reason why an organization like NOW fell from prominence is that people just don't agree
with them. OK. That they always had organized resistance from certain, you know, conservative groups, conservative women's groups because they didn't
agree with them.
They'd argue that the reason why that groups like Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter have not achieved the effectiveness that they desire is
that people don't agree with them. What would you say to that?
TURK: Well, certainly. And as we were saying before, the notion of an organization that could speak for 51 percent of the population, plus male
allies, that's a wildly ambitious, even outlandish goal, right?
Women are as diverse as the nation itself. But the -- but pursuing the goal itself really matters, right? The Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, like
today, was broadly supported. I think something like 80 percent of Americans supported the ERA by the late '70s and support it today. So, this
kind of expansive organizing can never capture everyone.
Of course, I mean, how could we -- how could our -- a nation as diverse as ours possibly host organizations that can speak for every single person,
right? Our own political institutions, which are supposed to speak for all of us are in disrepair and struggling at the moment.
But the effort still matters. The effort to craft a big tent and stretch it as far as you can and keep a broad coalition of diverse people together in
pursuit of change can accomplish previously unimaginable results. And you can look to NOW's history to -- for just one example of that.
MARTIN: It just seems interesting that your book arrives at a time when one of those animating decisions has now been reversed and the landscape is
very different across the country. I mean, the access to abortion rights is wildly different across the country in a way that was the case 50 years
ago. And I was just curious what some of the people you interviewed had to say about that. What do they think about that?
TURK: Yes. So, upset and perhaps not surprised because they've been dealing with this conservative backlash to groups like NOW for more than 50 years.
But certainly, they shared a sense that when they won these landmarks, on behalf of women on behalf of feminism, they had thought they would be
permanent and that it's frustrating to feel that benefits and gains their generation secured are now being undone.
But, you know, you mentioned that I'm a scholar and a researcher and a writer, but I'm also a teacher. And I teach women's history. I teach
feminist history. And one of the points I always make again and again in a semester is that the women who built this movement are just like you, women
and men and people, I should say.
They weren't -- they're not special. I mean, everyone is special, but they're not -- they weren't like preordained to be the leaders or even the
members of a movement and the movement was not built or powered by famous individuals, individuals who are household names, it worked because
millions of ordinary people decided to come together in their communities and be in solidarity and advocate for changes that would mean something to
them and other people in their lives.
And so, you know, the answer to the question of what can possibly counteract dark money and gerrymandering and out of control capitalism. The
answer is people. Ordinary people, masses of people. And we've seen this. I know it can happen as a historian because American history is full of
examples of exactly this kind of dynamic.
So, while for many feminists, this is a frustrating time, but there's also a lot we can draw on from our past, even our recent past to help us chart a
MARTIN: Katherine Turk, thanks so much for talking with us.
TURK: Thank you, Michel. It was a pleasure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, a safe haven for the endangered sperm whale, which is threatened by loose fishing nets and moving boats.
A new marine reserve off the coast of the Caribbean Island of Dominica has created around 300 square miles of safe crystal blue water. This beautiful
diagram is obviously trying to show us that. And this successful marine conservation is matched by miraculous efforts to keep the effects of
climate change at bay in the American City of Buffalo and that is despite rising global temperatures.
Correspondent Bill Weir brings us this climate refuge.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): There's an old joke that tells us there are only two seasons in Buffalo, winter and the 4th of
July. But in the age of global warming. The city wants you to know that now their weather is going from punch line to lifeline. Thanks to its
goldilocks location amid the Great Lakes, Buffalo has never reached 100 degrees.
STEPHEN VERMETTE, PROFESSOR AND CLIMATE SCIENTIST, BUFFALO STATE UNIVERSITY: We get -- you know, on average, about three days in the summer
get to be 90 degrees or higher.
VERMETTE: I mean, if you're in -- if you're in Phoenix, you're looking at that and saying what the heck --
VERMETTE: -- are you calling that a heat wave?
WEIR: That's mild.
WEIR (voiceover): And when Professor Stephen Vermette did a deep dive of the records the Buffalo state climatologist was shocked to find no increase
in droughts or floods.
WEIR: There was this epic snowstorm last winter --
WIER: -- really deadly and destructive.
VERMETTE: Yes, the blizzard of '22.
WEIR: But that's not an indication that those are going to get worse?
VERMETTE: No, because we had the blizzard of '77, the blizzard of '85, '81, the blizzard of '36. I'm not saying that our severe weather is going to
disappear -- it's still there.
VERMETTE: In fact, snow amounts have remained steady in all of this. It doesn't seem to be getting worse --
VERMETTE: -- and that's the key here. We're still going to have severe weather --
VERMETTE: -- like the wind and everything else --
VERMETTE: -- but we're -- it's not going to get worse.
WEIR: I've got to say it's pretty ironic and telling about the world we now live in that a place sort of associated with cold jokes --
MAYOR BYRON BROWN, BUFFALO, NEW YORK: Right, right.
WEIR: -- and Super Bowl losses could be a huge winner relative on a hotter planet.
BROWN: That's -- you know, that's the way we look at it as well. There was a professor from Harvard that was talking about the effects of climate
change and listed some cities that would be considered climate refuges --
BROWN: -- in the future, and Buffalo was one of the cities on the list. And so, we just leaned into it. We are going to not only call ourselves a
climate refuge city but do the kinds of things that are required to be welcoming with migration, with new Americans coming here, with seeing the
first population growth in the city since the 1950 census.
WEIR (voiceover): After Hurricane Maria, 3,000 Puerto Ricans became permanent Buffalonians --
ANTHONY MATTE, TEACHER'S AIDE: It was hard because when the hurricanes start -- what do we do? We move from the second floor and we move through
the first floor.
WEIR (voiceover): -- including Anthony Matte, who is now a teacher's assistant.
MATTE: I remember when I moved here people told me oh, you know where you're going because in Puerto Rico it's always warm. It's hot. And I said
no. And I moved here like in winter. But I like it -- it's good.
WEIR: Did you consider other spots or what was it about this place that appealed to you the most?
HOLLY JEAN BUCK, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BUFFALO: The Great Lakes, the freshwater, the projections of climate change looked like
Buffalo might have a climate more like New York, Philadelphia toward the end of the century.
WEIR (voiceover): Wildfire smoke helped drive Holly Jean Buck and her family out of Southern California. And as a climate scientist, she says she
was welcomed with open arms and employment.
BUCK: But really, it's the energy of the people. People are really forward- thinking in western New York and New York State about what opportunities there might be in clean energy and clean tech, and how to build those
solutions in ways that are good for communities.
WEIR: So, it's not just the latitude, it's the attitude --
BUCK: Yes, exactly.
WEIR: -- right --
WEIR: -- and the welcoming spirit of the place, I suppose.
BUCK: The city of good neighbors, they call it.
WEIR: Oh, nice.
WEIR: Nice, nice. And you found that to be the case?
BUCK: I have, totally.
AMANPOUR: Good new from Climate Correspondent Bill Weir in Buffalo. And of course, his report comes as today President Biden unveils $6 billion more
dollars in funding for climate resilience.
That's it for now. Remember, if you ever miss our show, you can always catch us online, on our website and all over social media. Thank you for
watching and goodbye from London.