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Interview With Senior Adviser To Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Mark Regev; Interview With The Economist Deputy Editor Tom Standage; Interview With YIVO Institute For Jewish Research CEO Jonathan Brent. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired December 19, 2023 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.

The extremist Israeli settlers accused of terrorizing Palestinian civilians in the occupied West Bank. We'll have a special report.

And Israel's closest allies voice concerns about the country's wartime conduct. Mark Regev joins me. He's senior adviser to the Israeli Prime


Then, a look ahead at 2024 with the economist Tom Standage. He tells Hari Sreenivasan next year could be a make-or-break moment for democracy.

And finally, the other Ukraine war to save a priceless piece of Jewish heritage. Historian Jonathan Brent joins me.

Welcome to the program everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

As casualties continue to mount in Gaza, Israel's allies are also continuing to mount criticism about surging settler violence against

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. The U.K., France, and the United States are all calling on it to end and slapping travel bans and sanctions

on some extremist settlers.

This comes as the European Union, Britain, and 13 other countries, including Australia and Canada, release a joint statement saying "Israel's

failure to protect Palestinians and prosecute extremist settlers has led to an environment of near complete impunity in which settler violence has

reached unprecedented levels."

And according to the United Nations, this year has been the deadliest on record since 2005 for Palestinians in the West Bank. 477 have been killed,

with more than half happening after October 7th.

Correspondent Nima Elbagir has this special report from Hebron.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): We stop at a service station in the occupied Palestinian West Bank. A man in military fatigues demands to check our I.D.s.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said, I have the right to secure this area. And I need to check who you are and what you are doing here.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): He has no identifying insignia, won't tell us who he is, but he's got a gun. So, we oblige. We're confused. And we're not the

only ones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You are a settler.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Shut your mouth. I'll start shooting.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): CNN obtained this video from inside Hebron, a divided city, filmed a few days after the Hamas October 7 attack.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You're not a soldier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): You want me to shoot?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Anyone who's not clearing out, I'll shoot.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): The Palestinian man won't comply. He says he recognizes the man with the gun as a settler, not a soldier. In this tense

climate, if a soldier issues an order, you comply. But is everyone with a gun and fatigues a soldier?

The West Bank is under Israeli military occupation, it's also believed to be home to almost three quarters of a million settlers, Israeli civilians

living in the occupied territories. Settlers consider this part of their biblical homelAnd are expanding into Palestinian territories, even though

the U.N. Security Council considers their presence illegal.

Yet, settlers are integral to Israel's security plan in the occupied territories, as Israel Defense Force reservists and settlement security

squads. Responding, the IDF says to security threats in settlements, towns, and villages.

Palestinians told CNN they consider armed settlers a greater threat than ever before. Their remit from the IDF is blurring the lines as settlers

encroach on Palestinian land. Like here, in the Palestinian village of Tuwani, where there's a settlement at the top of the hill.

In this video, you see men in military fatigues. The IDF equips both civilian settler security squads and soldiers in the region. As you can see

here, it's almost impossible to differentiate. They point their rifles at residents and then they shoot, according to eyewitnesses.


CNN shared the images we gathered in the West Bank with a senior IDF official who was unable to tell us who here is in the IDF and who is not.

We asked how then are Palestinians expected to differentiate. The official told CNN there have been cases of reservists who did not act in accordance

with army standards, adding, there is no place in the IDF for such behavior. Every case that breaches army standards will be investigated.

Palestinians, the official said, should contact their local brigade.

But Palestinian rights activist and local resident, Basel Adra, says settlers in military fatigues are forcing Palestinians off their land.

BASEL ADRA, RESIDENT AND ACTIVIST: These settlers with their guns and they're pointing it to the head of the residents and they tell them, if you

don't leave in 24 hours, we will shoot you.

So, the family would understand that they're not playing. It's a serious threat of killing if you don't leave your home. That lead for like 35

families to leave and these settlers have been wearing uniform also.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Settlers have heavyweight support in Israel's far- right government. Itamar Ben-Gvir, minister for national security, settler. After the Hamas October 7 attack, Ben-Gvir loosened gun permit regulations,

making it easier for tens of thousands of Israeli civilians to bear arms.

Bezalel Smotrich, minister of finance, settler. Also, post attack, pushed through over a hundred million U.S. dollars for West Bank security,

including funds for training and equipping settler security squads.

But it's not just arming and equipping. We witnessed firsthand some of the restrictions the IDF imposed on Palestinians. Ihtidal's (ph) house is not

even five minutes away from the other side of this checkpoint, but she can't get through.

ELBAGIR: Every day they tell her to go back and every day she has to do this extraordinary long loop to try and get in. She sit there. They are

intentionally making it difficult for us, making so we have to cross through areas that are hostile to us to get to our homes.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Ihtidal's (ph) picks up a few more things before she sets off home, but not too many. It's a long walk uphill.

IHTIDAL (PH) (through translator): They've closed off the road. For the sake of a five-minute walk. Now, I have to go around a one-hour journey.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Since the 1990s, the City of Hebron has seen many curfews. The day we visited, there was a curfew in place from 7:00 p.m. to

7:00 a.m. Ihtidal (ph) has to go through this checkpoint. Palestinians have to be searched. Settlers aren't normally checked. Ihtidal (ph) has to walk,

settlers can drive. Palestinians need permission for visitors, settlers don't.

The IDF says all these measures are in accordance with their security assessments to provide security for all residents. Settlers and

Palestinians live side by side, but the rules for each are very different.

Faiza (ph) and her husband have lived in this house for 14 years. They inherited it from her husband's grandparents. Their house is overlooked by

an IDF sentry post, yet they fear for their safety.

FAIZA, HEBRON RESIDENT (through translator): This scene is so inappropriate and depressing for our home. You can see up here what we've had to put in

place to protect ourselves from the settlers.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): As we leave Faiza's house, we get stopped by an Israeli soldier. He says we're not allowed to walk along the main road. We

have to go back to the checkpoint to be searched again because we've been inside a Palestinian home.

ELBAGIR: I would just point out a lack of logic, which is that these Palestinian houses, the Palestinians have come through that checkpoint, so

they can't have possibly brought in anything.

Sorry, just so I can understand, just so I can understand. So, I'm really confused, as usual. So, even though we went through that checkpoint -- even

though we went through that checkpoint, because we have been in the house of Palestinians, we now have to go jumping over people's garden walls --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we can't walk on the streets?

ELBAGIR: No. We can't go straight down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were going through the checkpoint and you stay here, it's great, but as soon as you move from different areas --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you need to get rechecked.

ELBAGIR: Now, do you understand it? Yes. So, we need to get rechecked. So, we're going to the route --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, you know for next time.

ELBAGIR: Come on. Let's just go. Thank you. We'll see you in a bit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have a good day. See you soon.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): But we can't get down. The access to the garden is closed.

ELBAGIR: So, the path I can see is the other side of that fence. But if you can see one, I can't.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): We can't walk on the street because we've been in a Palestinian house and now, we're deemed a security risk. So, we're stuck.

Eventually, the soldier has to call into his superior to give us special permission to walk on the main road.

ELBAGIR: Thank you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): We head out and back through the checkpoint where we're searched again. A tiny glimpse into what Palestinians navigate every



The U.N. Says that post October 7th over 1000 Palestinians in the West Bank have been displaced, forced from home by security restrictions and settler


The U.S. and U. K. are now sanctioning extreme settlers, but Palestinians say it's not enough. Not when settlers can cloak themselves in the

authority of the Israeli State.


AMANPOUR: Nima Elbagir reporting there. Now, to the growing international pressure on Israel to protect Palestinian civilians in their war on Hamas.

Internal pressure, too, is rising.

Today, Prime Minister Netanyahu met with families of Israeli hostages after the IDF killed three Israelis kidnapped by Hamas in Gaza on Friday. Joining

me now to talk about all of this is Mark Regev, senior adviser to the Prime Minister. Mark Regev, welcome back to the program.

Can we just first start with --


AMANPOUR: Thank you. Can we first start with the report from Nima Elbagir in in Hebron and other parts of the occupied West Bank there? I don't know

what your reaction is, but I wonder whether you might react also to what President Biden has said, and he warned many months ago, actually two

months ago, that these settlers are pouring gasoline on the fire. And yet, it looks like the situation just persists and if not gets worse. Is this a

government policy or what?

REGEV: Israel's government policy is clear that anyone involved in extremist vigilante violence, then law enforcement will bring them to

justice. Anyone who breaks the law or anyone who commits violence they will be arrested and they will face the full weight of the law. We have no

tolerance for this sort of vigilante violence.

I use the term, Christiane, vigilante violence because, as you said, there are hundreds of thousands of settlers who live over the Green Line. The

overwhelming majority of them are not involved in violence in any way. We're talking about a very, very small minority. And we -- as I said, we --

our policy -- and it's agreed, the settler leadership agrees with us, we can't allow these people to take the law into their hands and commit

violence. That's unacceptable.

AMANPOUR: And yet, as we saw in the report, you know, government minister Mr. Smotrich and the others have increased gun permits and gun availability

to them. They exist and appear to operate alongside, in some cases, IDF soldiers. And it does look like it's getting worse to the point that, you

know, as we just reported, U.S., France, you know, Britain, other countries are getting very anxious about this and are slapping sanctions and travel

bans on these extremists.

So, you say it's unacceptable, let's take you at your word, but what is the accountability? I mean, these people are recognizable, we've filmed them.

REGEV: So, I've been in meetings when these issues have come up with -- you know, with foreign interlocutors, and I can tell you the numbers show

clearly that we're actually being successful. That the level of this sort of vigilante violence is going down and we are defeating this. And that's a

good thing.

But if one wants to discuss violence on the West Bank, it's not even a two- way street. The overwhelming majority of the violence is, of course, Palestinians against Jews. We saw that recently there was the terrible

attack In Jerusalem where three people were shot dead at a bus stop just going to work on a weekday morning. Most of the violence is unfortunately

Palestinian on June, not the other way around.

AMANPOUR: Mark Regev, any violence is despicable, but the numbers obviously show that the overwhelming number of dead and wounded on the occupied West

Bank are Palestinians. We just quoted the United Nations saying that how it was a record year for the killings of Palestinians in the West Bank. But

let me move on because --

REGEV: Yes. Can I respond to that, please, Christiane? I want to respond to that because the -- those people are fundamentally terrorists. And I'd ask

you to look at those numbers very carefully.

Since October 7th, there are unfortunately Hamas cells across the West Bank and Hamas has given instructions to itself, this is a time to kill. This is

a time to cause terrorist incidents. And we've been preempting -- and there have been gunfights where when we can arrest people peacefully, we of

course do that.

But often there are gun points and that's where the casualties are coming from. This is us preempting Hamas violence. And so far, relatively, except

for that terrible attack we had in Jerusalem, we've managed so far to keep the level of terrorist violence very low by being proactive and by being --

by preempting.

AMANPOUR: If I'm not mistaken, a huge number of Palestinians were killed before October 7th, including there were instances of, for instance, an

unarmed teenage boy being killed and the like. But let us not nitpick now, because you've said your thing. We've shown what's going on, and you say

it's unacceptable. People are going to be waiting for the accountability.


May I ask you, as prime minister's chief adviser, particularly with the -- with us, the International Community, to assess what's happened in the last

few days.

I mean, it looks like there's a huge amount of pressure mounting on the prime minister internally. People are very upset, getting more and more

upset, your own people, about the hostages, particularly about what happened in, I guess, you can call it a friendly fire incident on Friday.

The prime minister apparently is meeting with hostage families today at the defense ministry, where there have been protests about this.

What is going to come out of that? Because I'm just going to read you what some families are saying. One of the fathers of one of the three killed

hostages says the IDF murdered his son. You know, a very well-known Israeli commentator, Nahum Barnea, says the killings are a war crime. These are

Israelis. These Israelis saying that. He said, we're at war now. Our hearts, all of ours, including mine, are with the soldiers But nothing good

came of blind love

What is the -- yes, go ahead.

REGEV: And I agree.

AMANPOUR: What are you going to do about this stuff?

REGEV: So, what happened with the three hostages was really a tragedy because they'd managed to escape Hamas somehow, and they were walking

towards our forces and unfortunately, they were tragically, tragically misidentified as a threat and they were killed. And that is a tragic


I can say in defense of the soldiers, though the investigation is ongoing, yes, but the intelligence to the soldiers on the ground was hostage as you

expected to see them in some dark dungeon, in a tunnel, in some. room in a house. We didn't expect to see hostages walking around the streets. And

there was obviously -- they perceived these three men as a threat and that's why they were killed.

But it is unacceptable. And we've made changes now to the instructions of our soldiers so this won't happen again. But for Israelis, it was the worst

thing, as you said, in any combat situation, especially in urban combat, where you've got close quarters fighting in an urban area, you'll often --

unfortunately, you'll get friendly fire incidences where you kill your own people.

This was even worse because we didn't kill a soldier, we killed civilians who had been -- I mean, close to 70 days they had been held by Hamas. They

managed somehow to escape to freedom and they were close to being saved and then by a tragic mistake, they ended up dead. Terrible.

AMANPOUR: It really is terrible because, you know, they might not have expected to see them walking -- as you say, walking around the street, but

it looks like they were trying to approach the soldiers and try to get rescued by their own soldiers, to the point that they were shirtless and

waving a white flag.

So, you can imagine that this is -- has gone down as you've seen very, very poorly, obviously with the families and with many people in in your


Now, your defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said yesterday alongside the British -- sorry, the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that you, they,

the IDF are adjusting tactics. Can you explain that what are the new rules of engagement?

REGEV: So, obviously, I'm not going to go into details because Hamas is also watching. But we are -- as this conflict goes on, there's always

lessons that can be learned. You're always redefining and looking again at what you can do better.

And I'm happy to tell you that as far as I've seen the numbers, and these numbers have been shared with the Americans, we're actually seeing the

number of uninvolved people, what the experts call very dryly collateral damage, the number of civilians getting caught up in the crossfire is going

down and we are managing to be more surgical and hitting Hamas and hitting Hamas hard, as you know, in the north. There have been many, many

surrenders of Hamas terrorists. We're close, we believe, to a collapse there.

In the south, because we started our operation a bit later, it'll take a little more time. But we are going to win this war. Hamas will be destroyed

as a military organization.

AMANPOUR: Yoav Gallant, again, defense minister, said, and we reported it, I reported it, on October 10th, two -- three days after the slaughter

inside Israel. He said, I have released all the restraints. We have regained control of areas and we are moving to a full offensive, but I have

released all restraints on my people.

Do you think, in retrospect, given the massive number of civilians who've been killed, and now your own soldiers who've been killed, that this was a

mistake, not to follow the rules of war from the very beginning?


REGEV: So, I would argue that Israel has always been following the rules of war, and that if you actually compare the behavior of the Israel Defense

Forces in this campaign against Hamas in Gaza, let's say to other foreign armies, whether it was fighting ISIS in Mosul or in Fallujah and so forth,

that actually the behavior of the Israeli Defense Forces compares very well to other western armies in similar situations.

We uphold the rules of law. That's why we asked civilians to vacate areas of combat because we didn't want to see civilians caught up in the

crossfire. And while Israel makes an effort, a maximum effort, to try to avoid hurting civilians, of course, Hamas has the absolute opposite

strategy. As our IDF spokesperson said yesterday, for us, it's a tragedy when a civilian is killed, for Hamas, it's their strategy.

For us, a tragedy, for them, a strategy. And that's why they've embedded themselves using Gaza civilians as a human shield. Not just Israel says so.

The E.U. says so. The U.K. says so. The U.S. says so. They have a defined strategy which wants to see maximum civilian casualties to protect their

terror machine.

AMANPOUR: And all those countries, those allies of yours have also urged you to follow the rules of war. So, there is a bit of a disconnect here and

to greater protect civilians. I'm going to get some of the munitions in a moment, but I do want to ask you about hostages because it appears that

obviously your own people want that. They want their people, their family members, their friends released.

For them, it appears that it is, if not the first order of business equal order of business in your counteroffensive. And you keep saying that

pressure has -- is what brought Hamas to the table with 100 and -- you know, more than 100 releases a few weeks ago, and yet it, was negotiations

and negotiations continue. And you've heard that some released hostages have said that they are terrified when they hear about airstrikes, they're

near the militants, they're terrified that they're going to get killed.

So, is it pressure or is it negotiations? What are you going to do now to try to engage in more releases?

REGEV: So, I don't think it's either either or. I think the only reason, as you said correctly, we got over 100 people out last month. It was precisely

-- not because Hamas suddenly became humanitarians, they released them because they were facing a lot of military pressure from the Israeli

Defense Forces and they were desperate for a timeout, for a ceasefire.

And we said we will agree only to a ceasefire if you release people, and I think that forced their hand. And that could be repeated in the future,

that's not impossible. As we now increase our pressure on Hamas, it's possible we can see the release of more hostages, that's our goal.

AMANPOUR: Mark, can I ask you a little bit about, as everybody calls it, the day after, in those air quotes, what is your plan for post war?

It appears that there is a big -- it appears that there's a major split between what your government and what the United States and other allies

are suggesting. And we've heard that -- many times from the United States that they want to see a political solution. They insist on the two-state

solution, that they want to see a reformed, revitalized Palestinian Authority try to rebuild and re control or re-govern Gaza.

But from your end, exactly the opposite seems to be coming, at least from Prime Minister Netanyahu. He doesn't want to see that. So, where are you

all headed? What is going to happen? Are you going to reoccupy it, despite what your allies say?

REGEV: So, initially, we're obviously going to have to have security control in Gaza. But we stay -- we've said openly, we don't want to

reoccupy, we don't want to see a permanent Israeli presence there. On the contrary.

But we have two major goals. After Hamas is defeated, we want to see a demilitarized and the radicalized Gaza Strip. And ultimately, getting rid

of Hamas is obviously good for Israelis because we -- you know, we've got this terrorist enclave on our southern border and our people live in fear

of terrorists crossing the frontier and murdering their children. Yes.

But it's also good for the people of Gaza. You know, you've been covering this story more than most. For 16 years, Hamas has been ruling the Gaza

Strip. What have they bought the Gazans? What positive things that they bought the Gazans? I can only think of bloodshed, misery, and of course


AMANPOUR: And yet, most people believe that for the sake of Israelis and Palestinians are that it will only be a political solution and not a

reoccupation, or as you say, in the words you use a demilitarized security zone, which amounts to what people fear is another occupation.

And if you know -- if you note, Secretary Lloyd Austin has warned that, for instance, and this is in the conduct of the war with the huge civilian

casualty toll that, your aim for a -- you know, well, your tactics right now could lead to eventual strategic defeat.


So, you've sort of -- I'm sorry to say you, you, you've -- we've seen this pattern before, problems in Gaza, Israeli counteroffensive, truces, and on

and on it goes, without any political solution. This is the worst there is, surely where the pedal hits the metal here.

REGEV: So, I would argue and we sincerely believe that in defeating Hamas we open the opportunity for political solutions that become -- that are

impossible today. Because Hamas, as you know, is the most violent enemy of peace. And if their path is discredited -- I'll give an example. People

say, well, by defeating Hamas and all the destruction that's involved in that, you're going to create a new generation of extremists.

AMANPOUR: Correct.

REGEV: And we believe the contrary is true. If Hamas wins, if Hamas somehow stays in power after the terrible October 7th massacres, that's a victory

for them, that energizes Islamist extremism, not just in Gaza, but across the region and beyond.

But if Israel resoundly defeats Hamas, as I believe we will, if it's clear that Hamas' path of radicalism and brutal terrorism and violence, if that

is seen to be a losing strategy, if that is a dead end, that's a victory against that sort of terrorism also everywhere.

And I believe when we do win this war, and we will, and Hamas will be discredited, and the people of Gaza will be able to express their pent-up

anger for Hamas for starting this war in the first place, and bringing all this destruction upon them, I really believe there'll be room for

arrangements that can be far superior than what we've had up until now.

AMANPOUR: Except that your prime minister says he doesn't want Hamas and he doesn't want Fatah either, the group that's actually recognized Israel as

the PLO, the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank. They're being discredited and weakened as well. Internally, yes, but also by you as well.

He doesn't want them either. So, what is the political plan?

REGEV: Well, it's not just Israel that has problems with the Palestinian Authority. I mean, you quoted before the Americans who talk about a

revamped and revitalized Palestinian Authority.

AMANPOUR: Yes, but they still want them. They're still the only option right now.

REGEV: But can I just say two things? We've -- it's, I think, close to 74 days since this -- the October 7th massacre. And as you know, they've --

the Fatah leadership, the P.A. leadership on the West Bank has still refused to condemn the beheadings, the burning of people alive, the rapes

the violence.

And even the official P.A. ministry of foreign affairs, what was it three weeks ago, puts out a letter on its official stationery. This is the

foreign ministry of the P.A. saying that the killings at the music festival where Hamas fighters machine gun, the young music revelers there --


REGEV: -- that was actually, they said, done by Israeli helicopters. This sort of -- it's almost obscene conspiracy theory material. That's put out

by the P.A. And I would ask you, if the P.A. can't --

AMANPOUR: And yet, on this program, I have had -- Mark, on this program, I have had P.A. condemn the death of civilians and the killing of civilians,

and admit that is not at all what they want.

REGEV: Yes. But they won't specifically condemn Hamas. They won't condemn Hamas' violence. They won't do that specifically. And on the contrary, they

will justify it. And I think the Palestinian prime minister just said the other day that Hamas is part of the Palestinian family. If they were part

of my family, I'd be embarrassed.

AMANPOUR: Yes. So, I think many people believe and that's -- anyway, we're going to run out of time. But many people believe that they won't be

destroyed, as you say, and that they might have -- some political situation is going to have to come out of this. But anyway, we've tried to explore

it, we'll come back to it.

Mark Regev, thank you very much indeed.

Now, as the year comes to a close, we look ahead to 2024, which is set to bring a world of challenges from turmoil in the Middle East, a grueling

battle in Ukraine to growing tensions over Taiwan. And on top of that, more than half the global population is heading to the polls in a groundbreaking

year of elections. The most important of which will be in the United States, and that will likely be a Trump Biden rematch.

Deputy editor of "The Economist," Tom Standage, joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss the 10 trends to watch in 2024.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Christiane, thanks. Tom Standage, thanks so much for joining us.

You write in "The World Ahead" in 2024 that it is a pivotal year for democracies. Why so?

TOM STANDAGE, DEPUTY EDITOR, THE ECONOMIST: Well, we think it's the first time in human history where most people in the world, more than half of the

global population, live in a country that will hold an election in 2024.


So, it's about 4.2 billion people. And the population of the world, as you know, is 8.1 billion. So, that means that more than half -- most people in

the world are living in a country that will have a national election in the coming year, and that's never happened before.

And so, you would say, well, that surely is a triumph for democracy, but I think it's going to put a spotlight on the nature of democracy and the fact

that there is more to democracy than voting that there's, yes, sure, a great big quantity of voting happening, but there's actually quantity and

quality when it comes to democracy.

SREENIVASAN: You know, you have a quote in there that I want to pull out. It says, in theory, it should be a triumphant year for democracy in

practice, it will be the opposite. Why?

STANDAGE: Well, because a lot of these democracies are extremely flawed. So, at "The Economist," our sister company, the EIU, actually prepares

something called a democracy index, and it gives every democracy around the world a score. And some countries are classed as full democracies. So, if

I'm talking to you from London, and we're going to have an election in Britain in 2024, and it seems very likely that the current government will

be chucked out. Now, that's, you know, one of the features of democracy that you should be able to vote to change the government or change the


And if you go to the other end of the spectrum, we also know there's going to be an election in Russia in 2024, and I could tell you what the result

of that election is going to be right now. Vladimir Putin is going to be -- he's going to win. He's going to continue to be president of Russia, and he

wouldn't be having that election at all unless he was sure that he could guarantee that outcome. So, that's not a democracy. That is a sham.

And then, you have lots of other countries in the middle that sort of are more or less authoritarian. And then, sort of right at the top, just below

the full democracies, you get the flawed democracies. And I have to say that the two biggest democracies in the world, India and the United States,

both of which are voting next year, are both classified as flawed democracies for one reason or another.

So, it is still possible for the outcome to change the leadership of the country, but there are other problems with their democracies.

SREENIVASAN: Being here in the United States, I've got to ask, well, what is the definition of flawed or and why does the United States meet that of

a flawed democracy?

STANDAGE: So, there's no single definition. It's a question of how many points you score on a range of metrics. But essentially, in the case of the

U.S., there's a few problems. There's very clearly a sort of breakdown in trust in the whole democratic process, whether you're on the left or the

right, you think that the process is broken in one way or another.

And then, there's also things like, you know -- I mean, as an outsider, it seems extraordinary that in America, politicians are allowed to draw the

boundaries of their own elections. You have sort of partisan boundary commissions. And I mean, not in the whole of America, I think California

has sort of gone back to the sort of situation you get in many other parts of the world.

But essentially, that means that you can draw electoral boundaries that guarantee that your guy always wins. And what does that mean? The only way

that you can lose in a situation like that is if you are primaried by someone more extreme from your own party. So, that is a recipe for

polarization, which is exactly what we've seen in America.

So -- and then, that in turn leads to a breakdown in trust in the overall democratic process. So, that's the kind of thing. I mean, to be fair, the -

- I think the U.S. scores seven and a bit out of 10 which is pretty good.


STANDAGE: It's only just a flawed democracy.

SREENIVASAN: Now, you are also a publication that says that this election coming in the United States is incredibly important. It's one of the most -

- if not the most crucial, that our future is on the line, that we have heard that over and over again from 2016 to 2012, 2020. So, what's

different about it this time, you think?

STANDAGE: Well, a few things. I think last time Donald Trump was president, he tried to do various things and a lot of the things he tried to do, he

was prevented from doing. And this time around, he seems to be planning to ensure that he can make more of the changes. He wants to, you know,

politicize the sort of executive, the -- things like the Department of Justice. He wants to chuck out everybody and replace them with his own

people who can then prosecute his enemies and that sort of thing. So, that's very concerning.

And also, he's making noises about how, you know, at the end of the term, if he wins again, he might want to stay on for a bit longer. I think

there's a word for that where you get to stay in power for as long as you like. And I seem to remember that you weren't terribly keen on that

arrangement in the 18th century. But anyway, so there's that.

But I think the other big difference is that the world now is sort of much more aware of the global implications of a second Trump presidency. If

Americans want to vote for Donald Trump in America, that's fine. That's, of course, up to them, and it's their democratic choice. But the global

implications would potentially be huge.

He's talking about pulling out of NATO. Obviously, he wants to pull the plug on support for Ukraine. We don't know what he'd do over Taiwan.

SREENIVASAN: I wonder what the consequence is of reelecting a president that was discontent with the results last time and actively tried to

overturn those results. If he was to get back in power, what does that signal, I guess, to the world about us, the grand experiment that is



STANDAGE: Yes, exactly. It's -- I mean, America is -- it's not a great advertisement for democracy right now, and it would be an even worse one if

you have an election denier who comes back in, says that maybe we don't need elections anymore in the future.

And the other weird thing about it was that, you know, the 2020 election, it was the -- you know, he's cast doubt on the -- you know, the big lie is

that he really won the presidential election. But miraculously, the cheating only he claims happened for the presidential election.

And all of the -- you know, the Senate seats and the House of Representatives seats, that -- all of that worked fine. I mean, it seems

very implausible that the meddling only happens in one part of the ticket when, you know, people are voting on the same piece of paper.

So, yes, the whole thing is deeply implausible. And you know, it's -- it would just send a very odd message to people around the world to whom

America is trying to preach the virtues of democracy. But America doesn't preach the virtues of democracy quite as much as it used to. The place

where democracy really needs defending right now is Ukraine. And it's pretty clear that, you know, Republicans don't want to be continuing to

support Ukraine financially and militarily in the way that it has been. And that's very perilous, not just for Ukraine, but for, you know, a European

democracy that is in grave danger.

SREENIVASAN: I wonder, since you mentioned Ukraine, right now, one of the central premises for President Biden is that we need to support democracies

such as Ukraine with arms. We need to support the democracy that is Israel with our support in the Israel Gaza conflict, right?

And I wonder as these tensions keep getting strained further and further and as the public might evolve their thinking about what they're willing to

stomach, what does that do to that sort of underlying principle that seems to be the binding factor here, which is that we need to support


STANDAGE: Yes, exactly. And I think there is -- you know, America has gone through isolationist periods in the past and seems to be going into one

now. I think what I'd say, particularly with regard to Ukraine, because that seems to be where there is more resistance to continued funding, and

we know that the Republicans historically have beef with Ukraine and with Volodymyr Zelenskyy in particular.

But just being completely sort of, you know, looking at an accountant's view of this, this is an incredible deal for the United States to basically

wear down the military of one of your biggest geopolitical rivals without having to put American servicemen and women in the line of fire and, you

know, at very low cost, because, in effect, the subsidies that you give to Ukraine are going straight in a large -- for a large part of it, it's going

straight to your own arms companies.

So, it's subsidies, it's creating jobs at home in America, and it's wearing down the Russian military at very -- this is an incredible deal. So, even

if you don't care at all about democracy but you do care about, you know, America's continuing, you know, military supremacy over other powers, then

I don't know why you wouldn't want to continue to support Ukraine. So, yes, it's a mystery to me.

And yes, I realize that there are concerns about border security and so forth, but you can have both, right? I mean, this is a great deal and

America should be continuing to support Ukraine just for that reason, for its own self-interest.

SREENIVASAN: You know, in the magazine, you point out how in Africa right now, there have been nine regime changes in the past three years. What is

going on with the shift where people might be in some ways OK with military strongmen?

STANDAGE: Yes. So, there's quite a worrying load of polling coming from South Africa where people are very upset with the way their democracy is

going, that they've had the ANC in power ever since democracy was introduced, the multiracial democracy and yet, they have, you know, big,

big problems. There's lots of unemployment. The power grid doesn't work and so forth.

So, this may be -- it seems very likely to be the first election at which the ANC gets less than 50 percent of the vote. And what's astonishing is

that the polling shows that people are less concerned about preserving the democracy. Really, they want order and they want jobs. And I think it was

something like 70 percent of South African voters said that they would accept a strong man showing up and ruling. And even if that was

undemocratic, as long as they sort of, you know, fix the economy and got jobs going again. I mean, people really are at the end of their tether on


And actually, you see the same, you know, you -- not quite to the same extent, but you do see people saying, well, actually, democracy is all fine

and good, but, you know, what we really care about is this issue or that issue, and it is very often economic stability or jobs or whatever. So, I

think there's a danger for those of us who live in democracies that we sort of take it for granted. And we think that things would be OK if we had a

more authoritarian leader, as long as they could make other things work well.


SREENIVASAN: Do you see any bright spots in terms of democracy looking out of 2024?

STANDAGE: I have to say I see very few bright spots altogether looking at 2024. This is a world of increasing disorder. It's a world where they're

increasing the sort of zones of impunity, where nobody in particular is in charge.

You've got Iran's proxies causing trouble across the Middle East. You have this short war between Azerbaijan and Armenia in Russia's backyard. Then

you've got the whole situation in the Sahel. You can now walk from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, 6,000 kilometers, just passing through countries

that have had a coup since 2020.

So, the world seems to be preparing for a situation where there's more conflict in future, rather than less, the unipolar moment where America was

the sole superpower has definitely passed. And there are now, you know, many, many great powers, large powers sort of vying for influence.

And then, the middle powers, this makes the middle powers, the sort of swing powers, like Saudi Arabia and Iran and Turkey, gives them a lot more

clout as well. And so, there's just a general kind of feeling that if you want to do something, like invade your neighbor, now's a good time.

And, you know, Venezuela is talking about invading Guyana. I mean, there does seem to be a sort of move towards much greater disorder and much more

conflict, and I'm afraid that's extremely depressing. So, I've looked for bright spots in 2024, but I'm afraid I really isn't a lot to celebrate.

SREENIVASAN: Is there a new cold war if there were to be this sort of multi powers and multipoles? I mean, is there a cold war now brewing between

China and the United States? And what does that look like going forward?

STANDAGE: Yes. No, absolutely. There is a cold war. So, if you then -- yes, you've got a multipolar world, but as a sort of higher level of

abstraction, you've essentially got a China led bloc, which does include Russia, and then you've got a western -- you know, American led bloc.

You've got countries trying not to take sides in the middle, like India most obviously, but, you know, other countries too who sort of want to be

friends with both sides. Vietnam is doing a great job of, you know, playing both sides. Southeast Asia is generally trying to be friends with China, or

at least not enemies, but also be friends with America. So, yes, it is very much a Cold War vibe.

The big difference though, between this and the original Cold War, is that there was no trade to speak of between the West and the Soviet Union during

the original Cold War, and there is an enormous amount of trade and economic linkage between China and the West.

And, you know, just think of your iPhone again. It's assembled in China and it has components from actually all over Asia. But, you know, this is a

very different situation because supply chains are so dependent on China. And so, this is why we hear a lot about decoupling and de risking and

companies trying to move their supply chains and their factories out of China.

It's actually incredibly difficult because even if you move your assembly to -- and this is what Apple is doing with iPhones, it's assembling some of

them in India now, and it's moved some other manufacturing to Vietnam. But the fact is an awful lot of the components and materials are still coming

from China.

So, if there were to be a war over Taiwan, and there were to be sanctions imposed, then I'm not sure that, you know, trying to build things in

Vietnam or India would help because I don't think you'd be able to get any components out of China.

SREENIVASAN: And Taiwan is one of those places with an election this year.

STANDAGE: It is. And so, it's one of the two big elections that, you know, we think are most consequential next year are Taiwan at the beginning of

the year and the U.S. at the end of the year.

And in Taiwan, there are essentially three candidates, and the two opposition candidates who look like they might have got together, which

would have been bad news for the incumbent from the DPP, the ruling party right now, they haven't been able to get together. So, it does mean that

the DPP candidate, William Lai, seems likely to win. And he is more of an independence leaning candidate, whereas the other two say, no, we should be

friends with China and so on.

So, whatever happens, it really is going to set the mood, not just across the Taiwan Strait but more importantly on, on U.S. China relations, because

if I'm Xi Jinping and William Lai does win and does sort of make a slightly more, pro-independence noises as he is want to do, then, of course, the

first thing I want to do is essentially see what would happen if I do something provocative across the Taiwan Strait.

You know, is America the overstretched superpower? Hasn't it got too much on its plate with Ukraine and Gaza, and, you know, trouble in the Red Sea

and all this sort of thing? So, the first thing I'm going to want to do is not just see how Taiwan responds, but see how America responds.

And I'm not saying there's going to be an invasion of Taiwan in 2024. That does -- you know, that seems incredibly unlikely. But essentially, this

going to set, you know, the broader framework for U.S. China relations, the outcome of that election. So, it's worth watching very closely.


SREENIVASAN: So, you end your list on a positive note, and let's end our conversation there, too, about possible unifying moments in 2024. Where do

you see that happening?

STANDAGE: Well, there's a few, but I'm afraid I'm a bit skeptical about most of them. So, one of them is the Olympics. And the Olympics can be --

even for a jaded old cynic like me, can be, you know, surprisingly moving to see, you know, all of the best people at a particular sport, you know,

facing off and you kind of think, actually, this really cool.

But the 2024 Olympics are likely to be overshadowed by arguments about, you know, what about the athletes from Russia and Belarus? And are they allowed

to compete? And do they -- you know, compete under a neutral flag that doesn't represent their country? But everyone knows that it does and it's

all a bit silly.

And also, Vladimir Putin says he wants to have his own version of the games called the Friendship Games, which is for Russia and its friends. So, that

whole thing seems to become a political football already, as it often does.

And then there's the possibility of Americans returning to the moon in 2024. There's supposed to be this this mission blasting off in November. It

may get -- November '24, it may get pushed into '25, but they're not going to land on the moon. The idea is that they go around the moon. And this

should be, you know, extremely inspiring. Surely, it's going to include the first black man, the first woman and the first non-American to leave Earth

orbit. And so, surely that's a cause for celebration.

And to some extent it is, but I think, again, this likely to be overshadowed by the sort of political messaging around this. This very

reminiscent of the Cold War. And this very reminiscent of the warm up missions that were done before Apollo 11 and the landing in 1969.

And so, I think, you know, this once again may look like America flexing its technological muscles and saying, look, you know, we're the best at

this. And in the same way that we're the best at going to the moon, we're superior in other ways too.

So, I think it's actually going to be very reminiscent of the Cold War as we are in now another Cold War. So, I'm afraid that the chances of that

leading to, you know, in theory, you're going to have like four members of the human race in one place, you know, and looking back at the earth and

seeing absolutely everybody else. And that's, you know, people find, you know, pictures of the Earth, the pale blue dots, it's all -- it could all

be very moving, but I suspect that's going to be politically charged as well.

SREENIVASAN: All right. Deputy editor of "The Economist," Tom Standage, thanks so much for joining us.

STANDAGE: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight, as Ukraine fights to save its sovereignty, another fight is underway to save its heritage.

Jonathan Brent is a historian and the CEO of YIVO, a Jewish academic and cultural institute, founded a century ago to preserve a record of Jewish

life in Eastern Europe. This month, he traveled to Kyiv's Vernadsky Library, which holds a treasure trove of Jewish historic artifacts that he

hopes to digitize and preserve forever. And he's joining me now from New York.

Jonathan Brent, welcome to the program. Can I just start by asking you why and what about this collection is so important that you made, inter alia, a

trip in the midst of this war?

JONATHAN BRENT, CEO, YIVO INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH RESEARCH: It's one of the most precious collections of Jewish heritage that was collected in Europe

before the holocaust. It was the product of a -- what was called the Ansky expedition of 1912 to 1914.

The express purpose of which was to collect as much material about Jewish heritage of the 1000-year-old civilization of the Jews in the face of

modernism, in the face of the threat of World War I, in the face of assimilation.

And so, these materials that he rescued are of tremendous consequence to the Jewish world.

AMANPOUR: So, as we know, Putin has pretty much denied that there is a Ukrainian heritage, and has also targeted in this invasion many cultural

sites. What is at stake? Has this one been damaged? What's at stake?

BRENT: Well, what is at stake is -- are two different things. One is the obvious physical vulnerability of these materials given the bombardment of

Kyiv, given Russia's express intention of destroying Ukrainian culture and Ukrainian history, and essentially wiping it out as a European nation.

When I was there, they showed me the reading room and pointed across the street to where a missile had landed that blew out the windows of the

reading room and also the skylight of the reading room. And had that missile just been 300 feet farther, there would have been no reason for me

to come to Kyiv.


These materials have never been microfilmed, they've never been xeroxed, very few scholars ever have seen them, they were completely hidden during

the Soviet period. And consequently, if a missile hits this building and wipes these materials out, they are gone forever.

AMANPOUR: So, I'm going to --

BRENT: It will not --

AMANPOUR: Yes, yes. Go ahead. I understand. Gone forever. So, I want to put up some pictures. You know, when I was there early on during the war, I'd

gone to Babi Yar, the memorial, and I saw this incredible piece of art, heritage, essentially architecture. It was a reproduction by a very famous

architect of what a rural synagogue would have looked like, you know, so many, so many years ago. And it's an extraordinary, extraordinary piece of

work there.

And you have come back and we're going to show you -- show right now to our viewers, one of the manuscripts that you've brought back and you're trying

-- likely it's from a religious text. Tell us about the symbols. Tell us about the importance. What we're looking at.

BRENT: Sure. Well, this something that really took me by surprise when I saw it. As you see, there are the priestly hands in the gesture of blessing

over the sacred holy words of the Jewish people. At the top are the words Mizrach (ph). And above them, however, is the crown -- a crown, and above

the crown is this strange two headed eagle.

And at first, it took me a little bit to recognize what that was, but that is the Russian imperial eagle. That is the eagle of Russia. And clearly,

this an image which is showing the means by which Russification was being enforced on the Jewish people of the sale of the -- of the Pale of

Settlement by (INAUDIBLE).

AMANPOUR: So, let me just ask you then. First of all, do you think YIVO can and will successfully preserve this? And in the environment, in any

environment we live in, how do you see the value, particularly today, of preserving this heritage?

BRENT: Well, we have absolutely every intention of preserving it. And that has two parts. One is that we are going to provide the Vernadsky Library in

Kyiv with acid free boxes, acid free folders, so that the materials do not deteriorate at the same rate at least at which they are now deteriorating.

Secondly, we're going to digitize all of these materials, and that is going to require the purchase of equipment and coordinating their digitization

team over there with ours in New York City.

AMANPOUR: OK. Jonathan Brent, thank you so much.

And just before we go, just a note to tune in tomorrow for my conversation with Hollywood megastar Adam Driver. You'll have seen him in "Star Wars,"

"House of Gucci," the hit show "Girls," the list goes on. Now, he's putting the pedal to the metal with "Ferrari," playing the car maker's larger than

life founder Enzo Ferrari.

I asked Adam Driver about taking on this role and working with legendary director Michael Mann.


AMANPOUR: How difficult was it for you to play Enzo? What about him?

ADAM DRIVER, ACTOR, "FERRARI": Well, I mean, I feel the pressure with every job. This one was -- you know, because it was -- he was such an Italian

icon and an automotive icon, but largely because it was Michael.

What I liked about the character is that Michael's version of him was that he was a racer first. So, he was calm on the surface, but had a constant

engine going on underneath. And what I love about Michael and his films is that I feel like they're accessible to everyone.


DRIVER: If you get into one of my cars, you get in to win.


DRIVER: But they're not dumbed down where he insults his audience intelligence by telling them everything. You have to -- you do have to do

work as an audience member. It's not necessarily a character, a character that's easily accessible or likable, which I think is more true to how

things are in life.

So -- and just these moments in his films that are just, you know, incredible cinema, just beautiful moving images.



AMANPOUR: And the movie is out on Christmas Day, but you can watch our interview right here tomorrow.

That's it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.