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Interview With Axios Politics And Foreign Policy Reporter And CNN Political And Global Affairs Analyst Barak Ravid; Interview With Middle East Institute Senior Fellow And "Blind Spot: America And The Palestinians, From Balfour To Trump" Author Khaled Elgindy; Interview With France European Parliament Member And European Parliament Security And Defense Subcommittee Chair Nathalie Loiseau; Interview With Grameen Bank Founder Muhammad Yunus; Interview With "Our Hidden Conversations" Author And The Race Card Project Founder Michele Norris. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired February 26, 2024 - 13:00   ET



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

As the Palestinian government resigns in the West Bank, we discuss the latest with Israeli journalist Barak Ravid and Khaled Elgindy of the Middle

East Institute.

And --


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Success forward will depend on the United States.


GOLODRYGA: Kyiv calls for aid as it says 31,000 Ukrainians have died since Russia invaded. I'm joined by French MEP Nathalie Loiseau who wants a

European defense fund for the embattled nation.

Also, ahead, Bangladeshi Nobel Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus speaks to Christiane as his supporter spear a politically motivated jail sentence

could be imminent.

Then --


MICHELE NORRIS, AUTHOR: You want to move forward. And in order to move forward, you can't hold someone else back.


GOLODRYGA: -- what Americans really think about race and identity. Walter Isaacson talks to award-winning journalist Michele Norris about her new

book, "Our Hidden Conversations."

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the program. I'm Bianna Golodryga in New York sitting in for Christiane Amanpour.

The Palestinian Authority prime minister and his entire government have handed in their resignations to President Mahmoud Abbas. It is a stunning

shake up that raises even more questions about the future of Gaza and what the Palestinian leadership could look like after Israel's war there.

Now, it comes as a death toll in Gaza near 30,000, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The United Nations has said some 70 percent

of those casualties are women and children, and that humanitarian aid deliveries have plummeted by half since January. Meantime, negotiations for

the release of Israeli hostages have resumed in Qatar. More than 100 remain in Gaza after they were taken by Hamas during the brutal attack on October


Joining me now on all of this is Axios journalist Barak Ravid. Barak, always good to see you. We've been at this point before talking about

negotiations, a potential deal that falls through. Now, according to the U.S., negotiators have reached "an understanding on the broad contours of a

potential deal." An Israeli delegation left for Qatar this morning. Does this deal look like it has more potential than the past?

BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think there is more potential because there's a deadline that everyone are trying to meet.

And this is the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, on March 10th. Both Israel and Hamas and obviously the mediators, the U.S., Qatar, and Egypt,

all have an interest that there is not going to be intense fighting during Ramadan, each for their own reasons.

So, I think that maybe this deadline now will give everyone the incentive to try and cut the deal. But I have to say, at least at the moment, right

now, what I hear from Israeli officials that the gaps are still wide. I hear the same from, you know, the U.S. and from other mediators. So,

there's still a lot of work to do. But on the other hand, there's still enough time to get the deal until Ramadan starts.

GOLODRYGA: There were reports that Israel then upped the demand, saying that they need proof of life as well for the hostages. Is that what you're


RAVID: Yes, yes. I'm not sure I would characterize it, you know, as toughening their position or anything. It's almost -- and there was the

same process in the previous deal in November. So, I think, you know, it's sort of like a routine thing.

I think the more interesting thing is that Netanyahu told Israeli negotiators before they headed to Qatar that one of the things that he

wants Israel to demand is at least some of the Palestinian prisoners that will be released as part of this possible deal, especially those who served

longer sentences, who are more in leadership roles, who are responsible for killing Israelis, those will be released, but not to the West Bank or to

Gaza, they'll have to find some other place to go, some Arab country in the region maybe. And, you know, I think this might be a hurdle that will be

hard to pass.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, the prime minister also over the weekend at CBS "Face the Nation" said that a hostage deal could delay a Rafah operation. Let's play

this clip for our viewers.



BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: If we have a deal, it'll be delayed somewhat, but it'll happen. If we don't have a deal, we'll do it

anyway. It has to be done because total victory is our goal and total victory is within reach. Not months away, weeks away, once we begin the



GOLODRYGA: So, we've been talking about this potential Rafah operation now for a couple of weeks. The U.S., other western countries have warned Israel

that they should not proceed with an operation into Rafah unless there's a clear plan in terms of protecting and evacuating civilians. The IDF was

presented a plan to the war cabinet for evacuating civilians from the areas of fighting. What more do we know about this plan? Because according to US

officials Jake Sullivan, over the weekend, says he hasn't really seen one.

RAVID: So, first, the plan was approved last night by the Israeli War Cabinet. And it talks -- you know, in broad lines, it talks about moving

the more than million Palestinians in Rafah to areas that are northern of the City of Khan Younis and Southern of the City of Gaza. To be honest, it

might sound good on paper. I'm not sure this is executable. There's not a lot of space there for so many people.

Another interesting detail, is that last week, last Wednesday, the IDF chief of staff, General Herzi Halevi, and director of the Shin Bet security

agency secretly traveled to Cairo. They met their Egyptian counterparts and presented them with the ideas Israel has for an operation in Rafah. And one

of the things they presented them is how Israel claims it can do such an operation without tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees just breaking

the fences and moving into the Sinai, into Egyptian territory. The Israelis claim their operational plan will prevent it, or at least decrease the

threat of that happening.

GOLODRYGA: I was listening to one Palestinian expert in saying that he really is concerned that if there isn't a significant resolution, a step

forward, whether it's regarding the hostage deal or statements from the IDF regarding Rafah operation, if none of this isn't agreed upon by Ramadan and

Ramadan comes, that he is really concerned about what will happen not only in Gaza, but in the West Bank. Are these concerns legitimate?

RAVID: It's -- not only that they're legitimate, that -- is that they're very real. And I would go even further. Because if that happens, then

obviously we will see an escalation in the West Bank. We will -- and if that's the case, we will see an escalation all over the region.

We have to remember, since October 7th, there's fighting between Israel and Hezbollah on their border with Lebanon. There's fighting with their attacks

from Syria against Israel. We see what's going on in Yemen. We see what's going on in Iraq. So, get -- take all of that, add to this Ramadan, OK,

that's a recipe for a much, much bigger conflict in the region.

GOLODRYGA: All right. Really sobering their perspective. Wonderful reporting, as always. Barak Ravid, thank you so much.

Well, let's get a different perspective now with Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Initiative and someone who's author -- an author

who specializes in Palestinian issues. Khaled, thank you so much for joining us.

I hope you had been listening to the conversation there with Barak Ravid. If you want to pick up on that last conversation about what could happen if

the fighting continues or even escalates over Ramadan, the concerns that this spreads beyond just Gaza, beyond just the West Bank, but the region.

Do you share those concerns?

KHALED ELGINDY, SENIOR FELLOW, MIDDLE EAST INSTITUTE: No question. I think the risks of an explosion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are real.

Perhaps even before Ramadan. We still have a couple weeks. And the situation -- so much of it depends on the situation in Gaza. Will it get

less awful? Will there be more humanitarian supplies? Will we continue to see people die of hunger?

But Ramadan is especially important because it's -- you know, obviously people will go to their mosques, but especially to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Israel has already put in restrictions on the numbers of Palestinians and the kinds of Palestinians who can attend Friday prayers. And to be able to

reach Jerusalem in general. So, that will create tension in and of itself.


We've seen in the past how, even without events in Gaza, the Al-Aqsa Mosque has been a flashpoint because of Israeli restrictions and as well as

provocations. I think we can expect some of the more radical members of the Netanyahu government, like Mr. Ben-Gvir. He's quite fond of provocations at

the Al-Aqsa Mosque. You may have something planned for then as well. So, it's definitely a very, very sensitive moment the month of Ramadan.

GOLODRYGA: Well, let's talk about the moment today with the rather surprising news and I'd like to get your take on whether you were surprised

by the Palestinian prime minister submitting his resignation, what that means for the P.A. and Mahmoud Abbas in his future as president.

ELGINDY: Yes. Yes. I mean, I think it's an important development. I think it's important to not overstate its importance. It's partly performative.

The resignation of the government is sort of procedural. Essentially, President Abbas has accepted their resignation, but they will remain in

place as a kind of caretaker of government indefinitely.

It could be a week or two weeks, or it could be many months. We don't know. I think that exact timing will depend. If and when we do see a new

government put in place, it will depend in very large part on what happens in Gaza.

I think this is an attempt really by President Abbas to demonstrate his relevance on one hand. He's sort of shaking things up. Looks like he's in

charge. I think he's also under a lot of pressure, not just domestically, but also from outside actors, particularly Arab states, who have indicated

that they're not going to provide financial support to Gaza's reconstruction or to the Palestinian Authority more broadly without major

reforms in how the P.A. operates.

And so, I think this is a step in which Abbas is trying to get ahead of the curve, so to speak, and show that he's putting in place a future

Palestinian government, even though this one is likely to remain indefinite.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And Abbas was elected to a four-year presidential term back in 2005. Elections in the occupied Palestinian territories have not been

held in nearly two decades. Do you see any broad consensus among Palestinians moving forward in terms of leadership if there isn't another

election sooner rather than later?

ELGINDY: Well, it's clear that there's going to have to be a major reform of the Palestinian leadership even before an election can take place. I

think most people agree it'd be difficult, if not impossible, to hold an election under current conditions, or even, you know, if the fighting were

to stop today, Gaza is essentially in ruins and is not in any condition to host elections. And of course, you can't hold elections without the 2

million people in the Gaza Strip.

So, I think it's going to be some time before we see elections. It is a key demand of the Palestinian public. They've grown quite frustrated with

Mahmoud Abbas' rule. He's extremely unpopular. And they want to see a renewal of the leadership. They want to see some new blood, some fresh

thinking. And it's definitely not coming from this leadership.

But even before the elections can happen, there's a lot that can take place to put the Palestinian house in order. First and foremost, resolving this

almost 17-year rift between Hamas and Fatah. It's clear that any future government, even one that is appointed by Mahmoud Abbas, is going to have

to have the consent and acquiescence of Hamas, and for it to be able to operate in the West Bank and especially in Gaza.

So, I think that's a step that we haven't seen yet. We don't know if the government that Mahmoud Abbas has in mind is one that is being ironed out

with Hamas' consent. And if it's not, I think it will be very problematic.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. And very curious to see how the two sides, if at all, could work together in the day after. But there does seem to be a major

disconnect, even talking about what a day after would look like or what elections would look like when you look at what Gaza looks like right now.


And the growing humanitarian crisis there. The World Health Organization says sanitation crisis is just widening. Cases of hepatitis A are

spreading. Several thousand people with jaundice, obviously. A lot of concern about food shortages. "The New York Times" has promenaded

epidemiologists estimate that an escalation of war could cause up to 85,000 deaths alone. Talk to us about that aspect of the situation right now. And

in terms of what comes first, how do you even address reforming a government when you've got such a humanitarian crisis that only gets worse

by the day?

ELGINDY: Right. I mean, it's a humanitarian disaster. It's a catastrophe. I mean, I think we've run out of even nouns to describe it. It's just an

enormous, almost unimaginable the scale of destruction and death and disease and the miseration (ph) that's happened in Gaza as a result of

massive bombing, the destruction of most of Gaza's infrastructure, most of Gaza's hospitals have been destroyed by the Israeli military. The health

sector has collapsed.

But most importantly, Gaza's under a siege. Israel -- I think by now, it's clear to most people that this is not a famine that is incidental. This is

a direct result of Israeli policy. Israel has essentially weaponized mass starvation and disease in order to put pressure on the population as, you

know, to release the hostages. I think it's clear that the holdup in the delivery and entry and distribution of humanitarian aid is a result of

Israeli policy. We've heard this from U.S. senators and others who have gone out to the region.

So, it's imperative, you know, even before we start thinking about a future Palestinian government, that that problem has to be addressed, and really

only the United States can put enough pressure on Israel to stop weaponizing food and medicine and to allow humanitarian assistance in,

regardless of the political and military calculations. I mean, it should be unconscionable for anyone to use starvation as a weapon. But the United

States has taken a much softer approach.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, and one would think maybe in terms of a future P.A. or reformed P.A. there's an incentive to say that this never happened under

our leadership and maybe opens the door to reform after addressing the current crisis at hand. Khaled Elgindy, thank you so much. Appreciate your


ELGINDY: Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Well, as the death toll mounts in Gaza. In Ukraine, President Zelenskyy has, for the first time, announced the toll of Russia's invasion,

31,000 Ukrainian soldiers dead. It's a shocking number. The U.S. officials believe it's probably much higher

Well, now Kyiv continues to urge Congress to pass the foreign aid bill. And Zelenskyy saying millions could die without it.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Success forward will depend on the United States. Yes. Not defending -- not only defending line. Because

if you defend, just defend, you give possibility Russia push you. Yes, small steps back. But anyway, you -- we will have these steps back. Small

one. But when you step back, you lose people. We will lose people.


GOLODRYGA: Well, as the U.S. dithers, inside Europe there is a growing desire to step up. Western leaders gathering in Paris in a show of

solidarity with Ukraine. But my next guest wants more. Nathalie Loiseau is a French member of the European Parliament and heads up its Security and

Defense Subcommittee. Right now, she's fighting for a European defense fund for Ukraine.

Nathalie, welcome to the program from Strasbourg. Listen, a big day in Europe, can't deny that Sweden finally entering the alliance, 32 countries

before the war, there were two less assigned to Vladimir Putin that this is clearly not the direction he thought his war would take. That having been

said, we do see a change on the battlefield in Ukraine, and President Zelenskyy making clear that every day that goes by without additional U.S.

support, the $60 billion supplemental, it is an additional setback for the country.

My first question to you, how imperative is it among Europeans that that the U.S. pass this supplemental bill?


NATHALIE LOISEAU, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, we all have to do more and faster to support Ukraine. All meaning, Europeans, Americans alike.

Ukraine has been able to resist two years of a brutal war of aggression imposed by Russia, but Ukraine needs financial and military assistance, and

it comes too slowly.

It's impossible to listen to discussions on procedures within the U.S. Congress when lives are at stake, and the future, not only of Ukraine, but

of western leadership is at stake. This should be a priority for all of us.

GOLODRYGA: You wrote in "Politico" earlier this month, there is no question that both the United States and Europe should increase their military

support, dithering and delaying has only given Russia the time it needed to mobilize reserves and prepare for a renewed offensive. As we answer

Ukraine's call, however, we must be under no illusion, this war will be long.

When you say that and when you talk about the fact that -- in addition to supplying Ukraine with funding, there's also the need to procure new

weapons, how realistic is that among E.U. members and even for the United States with the possible scenario that this war could go on for a few more

years, if not more?

LOISEAU: Well, the war is long when we are too slow. If we had provided all the weapons that we finally decided to provide as early as 2022, this war

would be over. Russian troops would have been pushed outside Ukraine. Every single military expert tells you there were no reasons for this over

caution that we all had.

Why didn't we send offensive weapons earlier? Why don't -- didn't we send long-range missiles earlier? How come that fighter jets are not already

flying over Ukrainian sky? How come it takes so long? It only helps Russia turning into a war economy, turning into a country which, at a high cost,

is able to sustain a war.

We are much richer than Russia. We should team up and speed up our efforts. We can afford it. What we cannot afford is a Russian victory, because the

cost would be much higher for our economies, but also for our security and for our reputation.

GOLODRYGA: Yes. You seem to be supporting comments that the Ukrainian defense minister made at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend.

And he said that half of Western military aid was being delivered late, leading to the loss of territory and people.

But you're also calling for a EUR1 billion European defense fund dedicated to Ukraine alone. Talk to us about how that would work and if there is

support to back up that idea.

LOISEAU: You may know that when we had to fight against COVID, we were able to have a 7 billion European loan doing it together. What we can do to

fight a virus, we should do it to fight an existential threat to our security or reliability and our leadership. EUR100 billion is not much. But

so far, defense industry is still waiting for orders and budget ministers are telling us that we shouldn't have deficits.

I can hear that, but there has to be a solution. And the solution can be formed with Euro bounds being emitted. That they can even be guaranteed

with the Russian public assets that we have frozen here in Europe.

GOLODRYGA: I know a big concern for you, especially in light of the tragic death, I guess the slow murder one could describe of Putin critic Navalny -

- Alexei Navalny just days ago is that of a former Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, who's now serving a six-year sentence in prison. He's

reportedly lost half of his body weight since he was arrested in 2021. A lot of concern about the state of his health as well.

And you wrote a letter to the E.U. last week signed by dozens of European lawmakers after Navalny's death talking about Saakashvili. And you said, it

is all the more shocking that a country that aspires to join the European Union should keep in prison a man who was its president, who led the

democratization of Georgia at the head of the Rose Revolution, and who fought for human rights, the independence of the judiciary, the fight

against corruption and against Russian interference. Today, we are asking you to send a clear message to the Georgian authorities that they have a

choice to make and that this choice will have consequences.


Some harsh words there, but I feel that we've seen similar threats from other Western leaders when it came to people like Alexei Navalny that there

would be consequences to pay, and maybe they have come in the form of sanctions. That hasn't been a deterrence for Vladimir Putin. What makes you

think that these types of statements will be a deterrence for leadership in Georgia today?

LOISEAU: Well, Georgia is not Russia. Russia never -- was never a candidate to join the European Union. And I have a deep respect for the Georgian

people. They did the Rose Revolution. They went to the streets last year to ask for a stronger relation with the European Union, waging European

Union's flags.

They want fundamental values to be respected. We granted the candidate status to Georgia. And Alexei Navalny and Mikheil Saakashvili are two

different people. But Mikheil Saakashvili was the former president of Georgia. Know he's in a better health situation.

I don't see what Georgia would have to lose in pardoning him and sending him abroad to be able to have a decent medical treatment. I see what it

would have to gain from this gesture of pardon and showing that it strongly believes in a European path. So, I strongly urge Georgian authorities to be

able to do this gesture, which would be a very positive signal in the accession path of Georgia to the European Union.

GOLODRYGA: And if something does happen to Saakashvili, should that cancel Georgia's hopes anytime soon for accession?

LOISEAU: Well, I want to be an optimist. If you are a politician, you are preparing for good solutions. There is a good solution that is feasible.

Let's make sure that there are conversations throughout the Western world with Georgian authorities to give good advice to Georgian authorities,

having freed, having pardoned, and having sent in exile.

He's not even a Georgian citizen right now. He lost his Georgian citizenship when he became Ukrainian. So, I don't see what kind of danger

he would be to Georgia today.

GOLODRYGA: Yes, we're showing a picture of him behind bars a while ago. He definitely does not look like that today. Nathalie Loiseau, thank you so

much for your time.

LOISEAU: Yes. Thank you.

GOLODRYGA: Turning now to the story of a Nobel laureate under fire in his own country. And Bangladesh supporters say Muhammad Yunus is being targeted

by the government of the prime minister.

In January, he was sentenced to six months in prison over allegations of violating labor laws. The government denies the charges are politically

motivated. Yunus pioneered microfinance loans through his Grameen Bank, helping some of the world's most disadvantaged people escape poverty with

small loans.

Well, he is now out on bail as he appeals his sentence. Christiane spoke to him from Kyiv.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Professor Yunus, welcome to the program.

MUHAMMAD YUNUS, FOUNDER, GRAMEEN BANK: Thank you very much for inviting me.

AMANPOUR: We've talked many times over the years about your business in terms of microfinance and what you've done for poor people, especially

women and how many people, millions you've raised out of poverty. But now, you are the butt, if you like, of some very serious legal charges. You've

just been convicted. And over the last few days, we have read and seen that your businesses have been entered.

Can you tell me what is going on? What's happening to the businesses? Because you all say that they were forcibly entered.

YUNUS: Yes, terrible things are happening and a group of people, 35 people, stormed into our building, which accommodates all our social businesses

that we have created, some of them leading businesses in the country.

So, everybody was scared. Everybody was worried what's happening. And they introduced themselves they're coming from Grameen Bank. They are taking

over some of the companies, which are created by Grameen Bank and they claimed. And now, they will them take over, the -- take over the management

of these companies.

AMANPOUR: The government appointed chairman now of your Grameen Bank says that there was nothing forceful or illegal about what happened. But why is

this happening and have you been given compensation? Have you been told why your own private businesses and private property has been expropriated?

YUNUS: If you have any claim, if you have any issues, these are legal issues, you have to go to the court, find out the settlement of all those

issues. You cannot just suddenly storm into a building and say we take it over.

AMANPOUR: But are they now still in control or do you have your properties back? What is the status now?


YUNUS: We got it back, because we held the press conference on 15th, invited all the press people into our building and explained the whole

situation to have -- what is happening. And since then, we are in control of the building and they have not come back yet.

AMANPOUR: OK. So, let me try to understand what's happening. You also face something like a hundred charges over labor law violations. You've been

convicted over, you know, all these issues. And many, many dozens of prominent world leaders and Nobel laureates for, you know, your fellow

Nobel laureates, such as President Obama, has written to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and basically urging her to stop "continuous judicial



AMANPOUR: What do you think is going to happen to you next? Do you face jail over these convictions?

YUNUS: I'm already convicted. So anytime my bill expires, either they will give me a new bill, extend the bill, or they will take me -- not only me,

the group of people who are co-accused with me would be all into jail.

And there's new cases beginning on March 3rd. This is the Anti-Corruption Commission case. We are accused of corruption, money laundering and many

other issues. So, that case will go and that case will have longer prison sentences if they go through the whole process. We don't know when that

will end.

AMANPOUR: The government and the court, you know, have found you guilty of failing to create a welfare fund for workers. I mean, there are a whole

load of charges that they've thrown at you. Can you describe them and you deny them, but why do you think these charges are being brought against

you? What is the reason?

YUNUS: Not only I'm denying them, all the lawyers that we consulted, local consultants -- local lawyers, international lawyer, they all agree that

there's no basis of these cases at all. And in the entire history of labor, they never had a case like that in their own front, to cease (ph), that

they have ever persecuted anybody like that.

So, this is something happening as a kind of harassment, as a kind of making sure that I get the message or we get the message that we are not


AMANPOUR: But why would you not be welcome in your own country? I'm going to read something that Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, said about you.

She called you, "A bloodsucker of the poor." She apparently thought you were becoming too political and that you had founded this citizen power

party in 2007.

Is Sheikh Hasina, who's now run practically unopposed and has won a fifth term, is she worried that you are challenging for political power?

YUNUS: I don't know what she feels about it, but I'm not in the political field. There's no evidence that I'm involved in politics. At one time, I

was invited to become the head of the government, I declined it. I'm not interested in joining politics. I made it repeatedly. I didn't have to do

that, but I did it so that there is no confusion about that.

AMANPOUR: Professor Yunus, you're 83 years old. You presumably don't want to wait and be arrested and be sent to jail, and then who knows what

happens? You know, I'm sitting in Ukraine, and we know that next door in Russia, the political prisoner Alexei Navalny was just killed, and

everybody accuses the government of having done it in Russia.

But I wonder whether you have any thoughts about leaving your country. Apparently, you've been offered to leave the country.

YUNUS: Yes, I was invited by many of my friends abroad to leave the country and be in their country. They will provide all the facilities and all the

ways of making sure that my program continues around the world.

I started as a lone person coming from the United States, teaching -- at that time, teaching in Tennessee State University in 1971. At the end of

1971, I declared that I'm going back to Bangladesh, and I came back. And all I wanted to do, help the people. And I saw the famine and I saw the

difficulties, so I wanted to make sure they can be useful to the poor people. That was my ambition. That was my life. This is what I've dedicated


And out of that came the microcredit, and it became popular. It became global. Young people want to see a different kind of world, and we have

talked about creating a new civilization. This civilization is based on their own premises. And we said, we have to redesign those premises, build

a new civilization so that we are not getting into the trouble that we are. This civilization is up for a disaster. It's a self-destructive


So, people are adopting this. Even microcredit is becoming so popular in the United States. The government in America has just $4 billion in loans.


AMANPOUR: But as you know, there has been quite a lot of backlash in various academic and economic circles about microcredit, saying that they,

you know, exact too high an interest, they leave, you know, the -- those who come for a loan impoverished. What do you make of that backlash? And is

that the case?

YUNUS: Backlash is happening because -- Christiane, because of the way they misinterpreted the microcredit. We created microcredit as a social

business, where we didn't want to make money out of the microcredit. We wanted to help poop people, create their businesses, move on with their

life and so on.

Some people use this idea of microcredit to make money out of the poor people. They took the loan shark path, and that was the departure. All the

trouble that you hear about the high interest rate and everything, coming from debt side, because they want to make money.

So, there's a right microcredit. There's a wrong microcredit. Right microcredit is a social business. You don't want to make money out of

microcredit. You want to make it as low as possible, just to cover the cost of your operation. That's all. And you don't want to make it a kind of a

charity program. That also we don't like.

Charity program doesn't continue. It doesn't have a long life. So, we want to make sure it's a sustainable program. So, that's the microcredit that we

provide. That's microcredit we're talking about. And so, this is what we have been busy. We have been doing, very happy. We get very good, warm

response from globally. But somehow, things don't go right in my own country.

AMANPOUR: Professor Yunus, thank you so much for joining me from Dhaka in Bangladesh.

YUNUS: Thank you very much. Take your time to talk to me. Thank you.


GOLODRYGA: Well, we turn now to race and identity in America, which our next guest has been exploring for over a decade.

The Emmy and Peabody Award-winning journalist Michele Norris was on her first book tour back in 2010 when she began inviting strangers to send her

six words about race on a postcard. Well, she ended up collecting more than half a million personal stories and online forum.

It's the basis for her latest book, "Our Hidden Conversations." And she joined Walter Isaacson to discuss why these conversations are so incredibly



WALTER ISAACSON, CO-HOST, AMANPOUR AND CO.: Thank you, Bianna. And, Michele Norris, welcome to the show.

NORRIS: So good to be with you, Walter.

ISAACSON: You've got this wonderful bestseller of a book and it's based on a project called The Race Card Project. Explain what that is.

NORRIS: It started with postcards. I wrote a book about my family's very complex racial legacy in 2010. And when I went out in the world to talk

about that book, I knew I would be talking to audiences about race. I was hosting a show at that time called "All Things Considered" and it was a

chance for me to leave the studio and to get out into America at an interesting time, a black family had just moved into the White House then.

But I thought no one wanted to talk about race. And so, I thought they needed an invitation, an on-ramp. And so, I printed postcards at Kinkos on

Wisconsin Avenue in Washington D.C. And the postcards were simple. I actually have one with me. This is what they look like. And they said,

raise your thoughts six words, please send. And the idea was that people would take this big toxic subject and try to distill it into the thing that

was most important to them, their memory, their lament their question, their anthem.

And I had no idea if people would actually send the cards back. And of the 200 cards that I printed initially, about 30 percent of them came back to

me. Some of them handed to me at book events. But many of them, people would find a stamp. They would write their six words, they would find a

stamp, they would find a mailbox, and then they would send them to me. And because so many of those cards were so interesting from the very beginning,

I thought, you know, I need to keep going with this.

ISAACSON: And it became what was known as The Race Card Project. I mean, you made it larger than that, right?

NORRIS: Yes. Well, I called it The Race Card Project from the very beginning and maybe, you know, I didn't know what it would turn into, but

maybe in my thought process I was thinking, if I call it a project then it's an actual thing and I have to, you know, go through with it.

But I really start to sort of to see it as a project very quickly, Walter, because, you know, when the cards came back -- you may -- viewers may be

thinking, what could you possibly say in just six words? People were really unburdening themselves. You know, the reason I ended a sweet relationship.

White, not allowed to be proud. I'm only Asian when it's convenient. Last night, they burned Roscoe's house. Very intimate stories, very open


And then, eventually, we wound up creating a website because we wanted to share those stories with other people. And that's when things got really

interesting because as much as I love the postcards in the handwriting on the postcards, now that most of the submissions -- and we've received more

than 500,000 and we have tens of thousands waiting to be officially archived.


Once people started sending in the submissions digitally, they could send a backstory. They could explain what they meant by their six words. And

that's when things got deep and interesting and they would leave an e-mail address and their name. This is the other thing that was amazing about

this, is people weren't sending these stories anonymously. They were signing their names. And once they started sending them in digitally,

leaving their contact information so I could call them and do oral histories with them.

ISAACSON: Let me read you something from the introduction. You said, these stories revealed an obscured truth. People weren't running away from

talking about race, a lot of them were desperate to discuss it through the prism of personal experience.

NORRIS: Yes, yes. The cards are very intimate. You will see that if you go to the website, you will see that if you read the book. People are writing

about their children, their marriage, their co-workers, their commute, the visit that they made to the hospital and how they were treated when they

tried to check in. Their stories that are so much closer to the ground.

And as a journalist, it was very humbling for me because I have been writing about race for years, but I realized that I didn't have access to

certain parts of people's lives. When we write about race as journalists, we're usually doing it because something has happened that merits our

attention. And so, we're writing about someone crossing a milestone, someone saying something that maybe they shouldn't have said, something bad

happening somewhere.

In this case, people are setting their own agenda and they're telling us, this is what's important to me. And many of the things that people write

about, adoption, blended families, you know, what it felt like to be in America after 9/11 if you were Muslim or North African or part of the Arab

diaspora. We're not getting to those stories. And that was the part that was humbling to me.

This project was like finding a taproot into an America that even though I have been practicing the craft of journalism for more than three decades,

this was a taproot into an America that I didn't previously have access to.

ISAACSON: Do you think that Americans would want to talk more about race, but they're inhibited on both sides?

NORRIS: Yes, I do. And I -- it's interesting because we say, we don't talk about race, but actually, if you watch the news, if you listen to people in

life, we're always talking about race and we're always talking about identity. So, I called the book "What Americans Really Think About Race and

Identity" because that is a continuum.

People don't talk about it across difference though. And that's the thing that I hope that this book will allow people to do is to kind of peer over

the fence. People talk amongst themselves about race and identity in their tribe, in their cohort, in their comfortable circle, in their family, but

they don't always reach across that, you know, reach across some sort of cultural bridge to talk to someone else.

ISAACSON: Suddenly, it feels there's a backlash against that, that people just don't want to talk about it. What's causing that backlash or -- and

what could we do about it?

NORRIS: Well, you know, there are several things causing the backlash. I mean, we saw America go through an interesting moment after the killing of

George Floyd, and it was an awakening for a lot of people. A lot of people started to put Black Lives Matter signs and other bumper stickers on their

cars and their windows. A lot of companies were making commitments and investments in trying to bring people together to talk about, you know,

these issues that divide us.

And then there was a backlash or perhaps also a level of exhaustion. And I'm really honest about this, and I don't, you know, necessarily fuss at

people for this because it is exhausting. I think a lot of people are exhausted by the topic. Racial exhaustion is a real thing. And a lot of

people feel like we're not solving the problem. A lot of people who are white feel like when we do discuss the problem, the fingers are always

pointed at them. And there's no way for them to enter the conversation without feeling shame, guilt, anger, you know, some sort of a program. And

so, they're just like, you know, I don't even want to be a part of this.

ISAACSON: Well, wait, wait. Drill down on that with white people feeling uncomfortable that they're being blamed. And do you think that they have

felt that -- you know, a lot of people felt that they can't talk about race honestly and that maybe we really need to lance the boil, I mean, go even

deeper on this conversation?

NORRIS: Well, you know, and it's -- and I'm not speaking in generalizations because I'm not trying to speak for all white people. I want to be clear on

that. But the thing that I've learned in this project came out of a surprising result. The majority of the years that we've been doing this, 14

years, the majority of the submissions have come from white Americans. And so, I have had a rather unique perch here in listening to white people talk

about race. That was not something I anticipated.

And so, I understand that there are a lot of different dimensions to this, racial fatigue is one of them. And fear around race in different dimensions

is also one of them. The fear that you'll say the wrong thing. That is a justifiable fear, because if you try to express yourself and you don't say

something -- if you say, something that's in politics, you can get canceled. You can face a level of rejection. You will be labeled.


And so, some people think, I don t even want to be a part of that. Sometimes people do participate and they feel like there are no answers,

that people want this to be solved. That's where the notion of America being post-racial perhaps came from. They want to just get over this hill.

And this is not something that's easy to do. And so, since it doesn't happen quickly, people pull away.

But we should be honest that there's another category of people in that backlash that feel completely differently, that are actually invested in a

divided America. And so, they don't want people necessarily to come together to figure out how to work together. They don't want to have

conversations about race.

And the people who are in that category, who are invested into a divided America, are busy at work. They're spending a lot of money. They are doing

focus groups. They are figuring out how message to gin up people's fears, to make sure that we remain divided. And the people who are invested in a

divided America are usually doing that because it benefits them.

And it can be easy to prey upon people's fears and these issues. I write honestly about this in the book. If you have spent time in America, in our

wonderful country, if you've understood its history and its reality through the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s up to now. And you have looked at

how minorities in this country have been treated over time. You might reasonably be concerned about becoming one. And that fear is something that

can be fertilized and can also be exploited.

And in some of those cases, when you actually talk to them, when they actually face their fear and you talk to them about what they're afraid of,

it's interesting they are afraid of payback in some cases. How will I be treated if I'm in the minority status? What will happen to my kids? Will it

be harder for them to move through life?

And on the other side, you know, these cards are often feel like -- the stories are often feel like they're a conversation with each other. On the

other side, you know, people who are part of an at present minority, who were part of -- you know, who are black, who are Latino, who are Asian,

particularly people who are black, will respond in a way that suggests, you know, we're not looking for payback. We're looking for paychecks. We want

to move forward. And in order to move forward, you can't hold someone else back.

ISAACSON: You start this book with a quote from the poet Lucille Clifton, sort of a personal thing. It says, they asked me to remember their

memories, and I keep on remembering mine. I'm going to turn it back to you personally. How did your family members, you know, your father, your

grandmother, provoked this project?

NORRIS: There were things in my family that were not talked about. I learned that my father was trying to enter a building where returning

veterans, and he was one of them, he had served in the Navy, were entering a build in Birmingham, Alabama to learn all they could about the

Constitution in order to pass poll tests.

And when he was trying to enter that building, police officers tried to stop him in a scuffle and suit, and my father was wounded when a bullet

grazed the side of his leg. He had scar on his legs, knew that, but he never talked about that. He never ever talked that incident. And I found

out about it from an uncle who shared it with me.

A lot of people whose families experienced the horrors of life in Jim Crow America didn't always tell their children about every single aspect of that

because they wanted the next generation to soar. And I realized I benefited from that in some ways because my parents didn't want me to carry that

anger forward. They wanted me see the possibilities in America.

But I also have benefited understanding these stories now and being able to share them with my own children, not so they will be angry, but so they

understand the path that we have traveled as a country and the path that we have traveled as a nation. And that speaks to this moment that we're in

where so many people don't want to acknowledge the worst parts of our history.

ISAACSON: You talk about the need to look back in our history and to see and talk about and think about where we failed. And there's a chapter in

your book, which I love, which is called "Memory Wars." And it's really about how do we teach the civil war? How do teach more importantly,

slavery. And you say, America has never had a comprehensive and widely embraced examination of slavery and its lasting impact. And there's a

simple reason, the United States does not yet have the stomach to look over its shoulder and stare directly at the evil on which this great country



Explain that to me and also wrestle with the fact that even though a lot of people would agree with you, that could also become something that has now

been very divisive to talk about how we're all built on an evil foundation.

NORRIS: It's a very difficult moment to do it right now, in particular, because there are these wars over the teaching of history, because there is

a concerted effort to erase that history or suppress that history. There have been moments of possibility that have been perhaps missed

opportunities. And I hope that we face one of these moments again and soon so that we can figure out how to look at a history that we can't erase.

You know, other countries that have been able to move by past this, and I compare America to Germany, not to compare the Holocaust and slavery. You

know, I'm not trying to set up comparative evils, but contrasting responses to a historical fissure.

And America is very different than Germany. Germany decided, and in some ways they did it because the rest of the world was standing over their

shoulder and pointing a finger at them, but they decided to figure out how to move forward by looking at a difficult past through a lens of honor and

atonement for people -- for the victims, people who were Jewish, who were Roma, who were queer or what we now call trans, who were marginalized, who,

in some cases, were disabled.

And they honor them and they teach that history in schools. If you become a police officer, you learn about this history. If you enter the military,

you learn about this history. We have been unable to do that. And, you know, you've heard me say this, Walter, in America, it feels like we are

the land of the free and the home of amnesia. We have gone through a willful amnesia, a willful forgetting, because that is a very difficult

story to tell, understandably, understandably difficult story to tell.

But unless we do tell that story, it is hard for us to reach any kind of reconciliation with the past and very hard for us to understand the

lingering impacts of slavery, the lingering impacts of bondage, the lingering impacts of the period after slavery through reconstruction and

through Jim Crow America.

People often want to suppress this history because they don't want someone else to feel bad. They don't want to feel bad themselves. They don't want

their children to feel bad. It robs other people of the opportunity, though, to understand their history and to understand the triumph over

those things.

For instance, as an African-American, you rob people of the triumph of understanding how they overcame that history. If you look at literacy in

America, black people who came to America as the enslaved were not allowed to learn how to read and write. After slavery, there was an almost 7,000

percent increase in literacy because there was a barn burning effort across the country. People were hungry to learn, to educate themselves. That is an

incredible story to tell.

So, you can balance. Yes, you have to be clear-eyed and talk about the horrors of slavery, but you can also talk about the moral triumphs, the

human triumphs. And you can also, in looking back at the horrors, understand where we have come as a country.

And you -- if you understand where you started and where we have landed and where we can go, if we are willing to look at this history honestly, it is

a benchmark that helps you appreciate where you are now and set your steps, order your steps, so you can get to somewhere better and do that in a way

that perhaps does not marginalize people in the same way, does not demonize people on the same way, and allows people to work together, even if they do

not agree. In a divided America, we have to figure out how we can work together, even with -- if we don't agree.

ISAACSON: So, after all of this, what six words would you offer up today if it were you?

NORRIS: Well, we do want it to be over. That is where the post-racial -- the idea of a post-racial America comes from. That is where the fight over

so-called critical race theory comes from, we want it to be over, but there's still more work to be done. That's my six words, still more work to

be done.

ISAACSON: Well, as I'd say, let's talk about it honestly, would be mine, and thank you for doing so. Michele, thank you for being with us.

NORRIS: Thank you so much.


GOLODRYGA: Still more work to be done. Really fascinating and interesting conversation.


And finally, for us, potentially life-changing news for children with food allergies. This is a big development. New data shows regularly injecting

Xolair, a known asthma medicine, may help prevent severe reactions like anaphylaxis after accidental ingestion.

As a number of people with food allergies continues to climb, this drug could ease the anxiety of so many who go to great lengths to avoid their

allergen, like never even eating in restaurants. One of the leading doctors calls it an amazing step forward in our field. Really helpful for so many

people with allergies.

Well, that is it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. And remember, you can

always catch us online, on our website, and all-over social media.

Thank you so much for watching, and goodbye from New York.