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Interview With University Of Haifa History Professor Emeritus Fania Oz-Salzberger; Interview With "Tomorrow's Freedom" Director Sophia Scott; Interview With Marwan Barghouti's Son Arab Barghouthi; Interview With The Bulwark Policy Editor Mona Charen. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired March 06, 2024 - 13:00   ET



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

Starving to death, the war over food in Gaza, five months into the Israeli siege. And shuttle diplomacy. From Washington to London, war cabinet member

and Netanyahu rival, Benny Gantz, does his best to keep up appearances.

Israeli historian and writer Fania Oz-Salzberger reflects on the sorrow and morality of this war.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a terrorist and he is murderer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody in this world know that Marwan Barghouti is fighting for peace.



AMANPOUR: -- Israel called him a terrorist but the Palestinians see a leader. A new documentary explores the enduring popularity of the jailed

political figure Marwan Barghouti. I speak to co-director Sophia Scott and Barghouti's son, Arab.

Also, ahead --


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND U.S. PRESIDENTIAL REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: They call it Super Tuesday for a reason. This is a big one.


AMANPOUR: -- Trump wins and Nikki Haley drops out of the GOP race. Conservative journalist Mona Charen joins Michel Martin to discuss how

women's rights are on the ballot this November, her latest piece "IVF and the GOP."

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

And we begin with Gaza, where the most vulnerable are paying the cost of Israel's war to avenge the deaths of the 1,200 killed and hundreds

kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th.

The most urgent need now is access to basic vital necessities like food and water. Aid agencies say children are facing extreme malnutrition and

dehydration. Fifteen children have already died because of it, according to the ministry of health. And with so many orphaned and injured, health

workers now commonly use a heart-breaking euphemism, wounded children, no surviving family.

So, with fears of a full-blown famine from millions across Gaza, the E.U. Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, will travel to Cyprus to

discuss plans for a maritime aid corridor to the Gaza coast. As Nada Bashir reports right now, parents are saying goodbye to their sons and daughters.

And of course, while these images of their reality are extremely distressing, the mothers who were interviewed say that they do want the

world to see.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Tiny limbs, bones protruding. The constant sound of crying from children now facing starvation in Gaza.

In this overrun hospital ward, anxious mothers watch on as doctors provide whatever care they still can. But for some, there is nothing more to be

done. Three-year-old Mila (ph), who had been suffering from acute malnutrition, now another victim of this merciless war.

She was healthy. There was nothing wrong with her before, Mila's (ph) mother says. Then suddenly, everything dropped. She wasn't eating anything.

We had no milk, no eggs, nothing. She used to eat eggs every day before the war. But now, we have nothing.

Across Gaza, too many are feeling the pain of this deepening hunger crisis. Small children, emaciated and malnourished.

These were little Yazan's (ph) final moments. His tiny fingers gripped in his mother's hand. He, like Mila (ph), would not make it. Others are still

just barely holding on. But there is no telling how long they will survive. Standing beside Mila's (ph) body, Dr. Ahmed Salem (ph) says many children

at this hospital are now dying due to a lack of food and oxygen supplies.

With limited aid getting in, many have grown desperate, searching for food wherever they can. Nine-year-old Mohammed (ph) says he walks for about a

mile every day to collect water for his family.


You seem sad. Why? This journalist asks him. Because of the war, he says. It is all too much.

On Tuesday, U.N. experts accused Israel of intentionally starving the Palestinian people in Gaza. Noting that the Israeli military is now

targeting both civilians seeking aid and humanitarian convoys.

Israel has denied targeting civilians and says that there is "no limit to the amount of humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza." But the reality on

the ground paints a very different picture.

There is no food, no water, no flour, cooking oil or anything, this woman says. Death is better than this.

According to a senior U.N. official, at least a quarter of Gaza's population is now said to be just one step away from famine. With aid

agencies facing overwhelming obstacles levels in getting the bare minimum of supplies into Gaza.

And as Israel's ground offensive threatens to push further into the strip's densely populated south, time is quickly running out.

While international efforts to airdrop humanitarian supplies have provided some respite, it is simply not enough.

With stalling negotiations leaving a little hope for an end to the suffering and hunger of the Palestinian people in Gaza.


AMANPOUR: Nada Bashir reporting there with, of course, the example, the reality of why so many around the world are now calling for a humanitarian


Israel's war cabinet member Benny Gantz has flown here to London from Washington as the U.K. also warns about urgently expanding a humanitarian

aid convoys to Gaza. Gantz was reportedly taken aback after he was told repeatedly that Israel must alleviate the humanitarian suffering by both

Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. That's according to U S. and Israeli officials.

And inside Israel, more and more citizens are publicly wrestling with moral balance over their shocking loss and trauma and that being inflicted now by

their government on Palestinian civilians.

Fania Oz Salzberger is an emeritus professor of history at the University of Haifa. She's also the daughter of the famed Israeli novelist Amos Oz,

and like him, a self-proclaimed peacenik. She joined me from Tel Aviv to talk about the need for a political solution and for defeating Hamas while

also protecting the soul of the nation.


AMANPOUR: Fania Oz-Salzberger, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, because you are an Israeli intellectual and there seems to be a number of your fellow intellectuals starting to -- I don't

know if question is the right word, but starting to talk about and write about the enormous cost in global acceptance, public opinion, that Israel

is suffering right now because of what is happening in Gaza with the death of 30,000 people, you know, starvation, famine, or all of those things that

you know?

OZ-SALZBERGER: Yes. So, yes, we have started -- we have not started actually, we've been at it for quite a while now. It was absolutely clear

that a war in Gaza will have a terrible toll, a terrible cost in human suffering in Gaza. And I think many of us knew this from the very

beginning. And still we felt and I still feel, as we talk now, that defeating Hamas is wholly necessary, it is morally right.

However, this is certainly not the kind of war that I and many other Israelis would have liked to fight against Hamas.

AMANPOUR: Do you think, as Yuval Noah Harari has said, that he fears for the soul of Israel? And I wonder whether you think -- given you've seen

with your own eyes these selfies that Israeli soldiers are taking of themselves in Gaza. Do you think that, you know, this is, I guess,

diminishing the self-proclaimed notion of the most moral army in the world?

OZ-SALZBERGER: I will not call any army in the world, the most moral army in the world. I think that this is a doomed kind of competition.


I do think that Israel, the Israel that I have grown up in, that I have known, that I have loved, that I still love, this kind of Israel has

attempted in the best possible way to diminish the suffering of both ourselves and our enemies, and certainly our enemies, civilians, and


Gaza has innocent people. Not all civilians are innocent, unfortunately, but we cannot tell the difference when we fight. And hence, all civilians

deserve to be protected as best we can. I think that in this war, we have partially failed in doing that, although we have been trying.

The IDF has attempted to diminish the danger to civilians, not always successfully, and sometimes preferring the safety of our own soldiers to

the safety of local civilians. It is a complicated case. It is a horrible, a set of horrible moral dilemmas.

And I certainly wish that another leadership, another prime minister, another kind of war cabinet would have been running this war, not the

previous wars where paradoxical, but this war is among the worst, perhaps the worst, perhaps the ugliest, perhaps the dirtiest that we ever had to


And still, Christiane, I have to say that we have to defeat Hamas, not disregarding the moral dilemmas, but doing our best, which we haven't,

unfortunately, but trying to keep doing our best for the innocent, for the unevolved.

AMANPOUR: How many Israelis do you think share that opinion? Because I know that the overwhelming majority of Israelis believe in this war. And as you

say, the overwhelming majority of Israelis also do not believe in the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, your current prime minister.

OZ-SALZBERGER: Well, first of all, let me say, and this is a caveat that I have to make absolutely clear, that unlike the rest of the world who is

watching us on the screens and moralizing from the armchair, we are a battered nation right now. We are not only heartbroken, so heartbroken that

sometimes it's difficult to be heartbroken for the civilians on the enemy side.

We are also mind-boggled, shocked, humiliated. Very few Israelis will admit that, but we might as well say that we also feel humiliated, terribly

saddened, and terribly scared with a sense of an ongoing crisis, the worst in our history for sure, and an ongoing sense of tragic loss.

I'm saying that this is not only in order -- not in order to play the victim's card. I don't believe in playing a victim's card, but I do believe

that many of us have been truly victimized on the 7th of October, and of course, the hostages are still suffering a horrible, horrible fate.

I am wearing, like so many Israelis do now, the bring them home token. And our heart, as it says, is captive in Gaza, we are not being totally

rational now. I don't think that we are sitting here, most of us, apart perhaps from a few very strong women and men, most of us are not weighing

the moral options and necessities in a totally rational way because we are deeply, deeply involved, hurt, injured, surprised in a negative way beyond

the capacity of many people to take up complications, nuances, to understand or to try to imagine the other side.

And having said that, I think that many Israelis believe that we should have had a humanitarian ceasefire and hostage exchange, another ceasefire

and hostage exchange months ago. So, alongside the fear and the sadness and the shock, there is also a mounting sense of anger among the Israeli

population against our own leadership, our coalition government and especially our prime minister.

AMANPOUR: You know, it's just so interesting to hear you say that. And I just want to, at this point, bring in an interview that I did with your own

father, the great novelist Amos Oz in 2010 with a Palestinian lawyer by the name of Elias Khoury, whose own son was killed by a Palestinian gunman, in



But this is what your father said to us about the story of the other, about the eventual day after, about the eventual solution. And I just want to

play this and see what you say.


AMOS OZ, ISRAEL AUTHOR: You know, it's difficult to be a prophet coming from the land of the prophets, but let me give you one prophecy. One day

there will be a Palestinian embassy in Israel and an Israeli embassy in Palestine, and those two embassies will be walking distance from one

another because one of them will be in East Jerusalem and the other one in West Jerusalem.


AMANPOUR: So, Fania, that was in 2010, 14 years ago.


AMANPOUR: When you hear that, is that an extinguished hope, or is that a hope that this horror has relit? What do you think?

OZ-SALZBERGER: Well, my father had two kinds of hopes. I would not be a loyal daughter if I didn't sometimes disagree with him, but he believed

that peace is possible in our day and age, and he also believed in the two- state solution.

I unfortunately cannot use the word peace very easily after the 7th of October. I will not have peace with the brutes of Gaza, and I'm not talking

about all Gazans, of course, but about Hamas and its supporters, not in this generation, perhaps not in the next.

But I do strongly believe that the two-state solution is alive. It is the one-state solution, the idea that we will all live happily ever after as

fellow citizens in one, as people demand, a liberal secular state that I think is a fantasy for this day and age, but I believe strongly, as my

father did, that the two-state solution in reasonable neighborhood, perhaps not love, perhaps not full peace, perhaps not friendship, but reasonable

neighborhood across a solid fence this time should work and is, in fact, the only viable solution for the future of both Israel and Palestine.

AMANPOUR: And your father described himself as a peacenik, not a pacifist. What do you think he meant by that? And do you feel that as well?

OZ-SALZBERGER: Well, I remember him expanding on this. And yes, I feel the same. I'm certainly not a pacifist, because a pacifist is the kind of

person who facing aggression would lay down and die, or run away, or leave the country, as some people across the globe demand of us, to leave our

homeland and go back where, where, to the Jewish past, to the Holocaust.

I do believe that Israel should have a strong army. I'm proud that I also served as a soldier and an officer in the Israeli army many years ago. And

I think that this army is the only thing keeping us from being exterminated as a people and as a country in this part of the Middle East.

AMANPOUR: Why do you think it is the creatives, the writers, the artists like yourself and your -- and the others in Israel who are beginning to

have this open discussion now?

OZ-SALZBERGER: Because writers, Christiane and creators and artists are people who have already been injured. You don't become a great artist if

you do not have a wounded soul. And having a wounded soul usually means that you understand and empathize with the wounds of others. You are, as my

father used to say, capable of imagining the other.

Having said that, no, it is not only the writers and the artists who are coming forward to speak about the humanity of the other side and of course,

our own humanity that needs to be preserved. Many parts of Israeli civil society, including the veterans of the pro-democracy movement of last year,

many good people in this country, most part of the Arab citizens of Israel, the Israeli-Palestinians, my fellow citizens here, and much of the liberal

and centrist, left and central liberals, are people who would be willing to talk reason and to see reason and to move towards an international

guarantee agreement that is towards hope.

So yes, the artists, the writers, the poets may be leading the way, but a lot of good souls in this country which has not lost its soul as yet, a lot

of good souls will be able to chime in and to take part when a true process begins.

Again, perhaps not peace in our time, perhaps not reconciliation in an emotional sense, but a rational agreement leaving Israel within defensible

borders and a strong democracy alongside a viably stable Palestine is the only way we can move forward and this means hope.


So yes, I still follow my father and many other great Israeli women and men in the general hope for the future of all of us here of this wonderful Tel

Aviv whose lights are twinkling behind me. There is hope and we shall keep it up.

AMANPOUR: Well, we are happy to hear you voice that hope. Fania Oz- Salzberger, thank you so much for being with us.



AMANPOUR: So where should Palestinians look for new leadership for the day after? The governing P.A. is deeply unpopular. Israel's aiming to eliminate

Hamas from any future governors -- governance. So, a man who has been imprisoned for two decades is back in the spotlight, Marwan Barghouti. He's

considered a terrorist by Israel. By others, he's seen as a Palestinian Mandela.

Barghouti, a central figure in the Palestinian political scene throughout the 1990s, was convicted on five counts of murder in 2004. He denies those

charges and he refused to recognize the Israeli court. A recent documentary called "Tomorrow's Freedom" paints a portrait through intimate access to

his family who are carrying on his cause on the outside. Here's a clip.


MARWAN BARGHOUTI: Israel succeeded to arrest my body but not my head and not my soul. They will not succeed to do that. They will not broke our will

for independence and for freedom.


AMANPOUR: Joining me now is co-director Sophia Scott. She's joining me here on set in London. And Barghouti's son Arab who is in Ramallah on the

occupied West Bank. Welcome to both of you.

So, Sophia let me start by asking you. I read that you said that before you started this you were doing a documentary elsewhere. You had never even

heard of Barghouti, and you know the Middle East pretty well. What made you want to do a whole documentary on him then?

SOPHIA SCOTT, DIRECTOR, "TOMORROW'S FREEDOM": My sister and I were in Lebanon. And obviously, there's a lot of Palestinian people there a lot of

murals of Marwan Barghouti we started to see. And we were interested. His face was charismatic.

When we Googled his name, an interview came up with Lindsay Hilsum just a few years after he was arrested. And he spoke passionately. And we were

intrigued by this person that some of the Palestinians in Lebanon were telling us could be our Nelson Mandela, and we hadn't heard of him before.

So, we reached out, just immediately actually, to his family to see whether they might be interested in us trying to tell some kind of story.

AMANPOUR: And you know, you talk about Lindsay Hilsum our colleague from Channel 4, in fact that clip that we played was from her interview, and

it's the only interview with a -- well, with a western press that he's done, and maybe with any press, since he's been in jail.

But did you -- so, you wanted to tell -- did you ever get access or ask the Israelis to give you access to Marwan himself?

SCOTT: We were very nervous traveling into Israel to get into Palestine. So, we didn't want to raise any awareness about what we were doing. So, we

went in very quietly. So, we never actually put a request in to interview him.

You know, we're making a film where our main character is absent to us. So, that gave us lots of issues initially. But actually, the more that we spoke

to his family, the more that we started to speak to people in his circle, not just Palestinians, but Israelis that knew him before he was arrested,

we really started to put together this puzzle of this man that I find interesting.

AMANPOUR: Let me turn to you, Arab Barghouthi. You are his son, and we're talking to you in Ramallah. Sophia didn't have any access. Have you been

able to see your father? And when was the last time? And what was your interest and the family's interest in cooperating? What did you want to get


ARAB BARGHOUTHI, SON OF JAILED PALESTINIAN LEADER: So, first of all, thank you so much for having me. For the past 22 years, since I was 11, that's

where my father was in prison. I have seen my father there twice a month until I turned 16, and then after that, I would see him once every two

years, sometimes three years.

It's been 18 months since the last time I've seen him, and I still, you know, think about him every single day. He's missed the main highlights of

my life and my siblings' life, and this is something that -- I share this pain with thousands and thousands of Palestinian families who are going

through the same.


And why we wanted to cooperate? It's because Sophia and Georgia are great producers, are great people, and they came and they were interested

personally in the story, and to get access to the family and to see what pain we're going through, and that was enough for us to cooperate with such

amazing people like them.

AMANPOUR: So, there is a scene of you in the film, obviously, with your brother as you're traveling to meet him, the last time you saw him,

presumably, and the film, Arab, really revolves so much around your mother, this sort of powerhouse of a lawyer who has carried on her jailed husband's

mission and reads his words to supporters outside.

Describe your mother and where she fits in, in his life, in the struggle, and in Palestinian society, which can be quite conservative. You don't

often see women leaders.

BARGHOUTHI: I think if I need an hour to describe my father, I need days to describe my mother. She's such an amazing person, and I think that she is

the one who held his message and took it everywhere all over the world. She's someone who is a true role model, not only for me, but also for all


I think that my mother had two choices, either to stay upset and sad about the fact that her husband was illegally taken away from her, or to struggle

and take his message all over the world. Of course, she chose the second. She's such an amazing, strong woman. She's very well educated.

She launched his campaign and then launched his international campaign. She's met with all the prominent leader all over the world, including

Nelson Mandela himself. And her efforts will never be forgotten, at least not from us, her children. And I think that she is still going, she never


And it pains me to see. her pain right now seeing the children of Gaza. I know how much that's taking a toll on her as well, in addition to that,

what my father is currently going through. But at the same time, she is a strong woman and she has never stopped working for the rights of the women

of Palestine even before working in politics or anything like that. She's very interested in that topic and has made great achievements there.

AMANPOUR: What surprised you most Sophia about Fadwa?

SCOTT: You know I think she's got a very strong voice. You know, we were filming her during a big hunger strike and she was taking the stage. So,

she was on microphones a lot speaking to big crowds, addressing people.

AMANPOUR: Marwan's hunger strike.

SCOTT: Marwan's hunger strike --


SCOTT: -- in 2000 and 2017.


SCOTT: That's right. And you know, she was speaking to the people. She was very passionate. Very loud. You know, she really controlled the mic, and I

found that fascinating. But then what was so wonderful is when we went home with her. And I would film her sitting around the sofa with her

grandchildren. And those two, I was very honored and privileged to have access to that.

And I think the ability for her to switch on -- when she's got so much going on privately, to switch on that strong face and still speak to the

crowds of the people in a passionate, sort of gentle way, I thought that was a very beautiful ability that she had.

AMANPOUR: You said when we -- you know, a couple of seconds ago that you talk to Palestinians and Israelis about Marwan. One of them was Yossi

Beilin, right? OK. So, let's just put this case first and foremost so that everybody knows what Marwan has been accused of.

They basically have given him five life sentences. They say that he was a leader of the Second Intifada and that not only that, he was the leader of

these brigades that then created -- you know, they were murders and the other. He denies everything. He's a political leader, he says.

And you talk to Yossi Beilin, who's the former Israeli justice minister and a participant in the Oslo negotiations. And the reason I say that is

because Marwan himself supported the Oslo Peace Accords, which were, you know, recognized by the palace, by Yasser Arafat. And it was a road they

hoped towards peace with Israel.

Let us play the Yossi Beilin soundbite from your film.


YOSSI BEILIN, FORMER ISRAELI JUSTICE MINISTER: He used terror, and that was, in my view, a huge mistake by him. But is Marwan a terrorist? I think

that he is not a terrorist who just wants to kill all Israelis or whatever. I called upon releasing him from day one. I said that somebody like him who

is a political leader should not be in jail.


AMANPOUR: So, expand a little bit on what more you heard from the Israeli side?


SCOTT: So, when we decided to make this film, apart from initially contacting the family in Ramallah, we also wanted to get an idea of outside

of Palestine and who supported Marwan and what they thought of him. We wanted it to be able to make a film that spoke to many people.

So, we tracked Yossi Beilin down, and he very kindly gave us an interview. We went to his house. We met his wife. And that was the first time we

really spoke politically about Marwan. And it was through Yossi Beilin that we felt we could make a film.

That wasn't just a very pro-Palestinian film about a Palestinian leader in jail, but about someone that actually the Israelis were interested in. Back

during Oslo, you know, Marwan used to work with Yossi. They traveled together. He was liked. And it was always Marwan who was going and saying,

come on, we need to maintain this, this model for peace for it to last.

So, he gave us the confidence that Marwan was interesting for Israel. And that was needed, because there would be no point otherwise to make a film

that was just about someone that no one in Israel supported and the International Community thought wasn't a complete terrorist.

AMANPOUR: Can we just use -- bring up the current and latest poll figures on Marwans popularity? So, he is the most popular Palestinian political

figure. In December, well, 2023, months after October 7th, he shows more support than either the Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh and far more than

President Mahmoud Abbas. How do you, Sophia, account for his popularity?

SCOTT: I mean, you know, we interviewed people on the street. We wanted to speak to people outside of the family. And everyone we asked, from

students, to elderly people in the market, Marwan Barghouti, everyone said he is an honest man. He's a man of the street. We know where he comes from,

and he's sitting in jail now, and we would we would want him to represent us. He is a figure that we believe in. And that's important.

And I hope that, we can spread the message and I hope, that through this film we, can let more people know about Marwan. Because, you know, he is

sitting in jail, he's educated, educating himself continuously and he's educating the next generation.

AMANPOUR: Arab, I need to ask you because Marwan Barghouti, as I just said, is the most popular Palestinian leader at the moment, and he is in jail.

Had he been able to take part in the previous elections, which never happened, it's considered that he would have won as the independent

candidate that he presented himself as.

Do you believe, and are you surprised, that now since October 7th -- obviously the film was done before October the 7th. But since October the

7th, so much more spotlight has now come to him because he's neither Hamas nor Fatah. He's a different -- you know, he is not one of those factions.

BARGHOUTHI: So, I think that the spotlight is on him, because my father hasn't started, you know, struggling for the Palestinians rights for a year

or two. He's been doing that for more than 50 years now.

And as Sophia mentioned, he didn't only play a role in leading the Palestinian people for any uprising, but also in the peace process. And I

think that it only makes sense that he gets this much attention. And at the same time, unfortunately, he is being targeted personally by the Israeli

prison authority.

After October the 7th, he has been moved to solitary confinement. He has transferred to four different prisons in the last three months. We know

about very harsh conditions, like inhumane conditions that he's going through. He's put in a cell that is a very -- you know, that doesn't have

electricity, doesn't have hygiene, clothes, any human -- that any humans would need.

And this pains me so much, because he does not belong there. He belongs between -- amongst the Palestinian people. He is a figure that is -- a

unifying figure for the Palestinian people. And he's also someone who struggled his whole life for peace. And for peace not only for Palestinian,

but also for the region.

But I think that maybe the Israeli government is not interested in a that figure is working for a true two-state solution or just peace, not any kind

of peace. And this is why they are targeting him right now. And he's -- of course, we know that -- like, of course, I'm scared and concerned about his

life as his son.

AMANPOUR: Arab, I want to ask you the final question, because not just Palestinians say he should be the leader, but for instance, Ami Ayalon,

former head of Shin Bet, Israeli security forces called your father the only leader who can lead Palestinians to a state alongside Israel.

But then you must also know, because you've just referred to the Israelis, they released Yahya Sinwar. In fact, your father was denied release in that

exchange for Gilad Shalit. They released Sinwar, who went on and led this catastrophe against Israel.


Do you think that that plays into it as well, that even though he might be seen as someone who could actually be a unifying leader, that fear is also

existing in Israel?

BARGHOUTHI: Well, I think that anyone with the right mind would look at my father's career and would see that he's someone who is -- who has been very

brave in the peace process. He's somebody who has taken real steps to collect the Palestinian people and to unify the people into the two-state

solution. And he didn't shy away from that.

So, anyone who -- like I alone and other figures in Israel, who thinks that he can play a role in the future of this cause and what's -- what will

happen and how we will get to peace, obviously knows what they're talking about.

And for me, I just want to say that all I care about, as his son, to be very honest with you, is that his safe is, he's released. That, of course,

the main priority for every single Palestinian is for the ceasefire and stopping the genocide, because we want to be sensitive to our people in

Gaza that are going through like something that we've seen before.

AMANPOUR: Arab Barghouthi, Sophia Scott, thank you so much. And the film can be seen, Sophia, on streaming, right, on Apple TV.

SCOTT: At the moment, yes.

AMANPOUR: At the moment. And you're hoping for a wider broadcast to get people to know this man.

SCOTT: Absolutely.

AMANPOUR: So interesting. Thank you both so much.

Now, leadership is at play in the United States as well of course. Nikki Haley is suspending her presidential campaign after losing to Donald Trump

in yesterday's Republican Super Tuesday primaries. So, where will she choose to send her delegates and her voters?

A key issue dividing the party is reproductive rights where Haley has a much more nuanced view than Trump or hardline Republicans like the Alabama

Supreme Court justices, which caused such a nationwide uproar with its ruling, jeopardizing the possibility of IVF for families who are trying to


Now, in her recent piece, "IVF and the GOP," Mona Charen, policy editor at "The Bulwalk" news site, details the conflict between legislation and

fertility treatments. And she's joining Michel Martin to discuss how conservatives can maintain voter support.


MICHEL MARTIN, CONTRIBUTOR, NPR: Thanks, Christiane. Mona Charen, thank you so much for joining us.


MARTIN: Could you just start by talking a little bit about your own thoughts about when life begins? I know you've previously identified

yourself as a member of the pro-life movement. I mean -- and obviously, these decisions are always complicated. But as briefly as you can, if you'd

just describe how you came to that decision for yourself, that that's where you plant your feet. What informs that decision for you?

CHAREN: My path was quite different, I think, from most people. I did not grow up in a religious household. I didn't come by this that route. But I

studied the philosophy of law in college, of course. And one of the sort of fraught topics that we addressed was abortion. So, I was assigned to do all

this reading on it.

And it seemed to me that the most moral position would be one that took life very seriously, treated it as sacred. And of course, there's always an

understanding that pregnancy is unlike anything else in human experience, and there are competing rights. But I found myself very much on the side of

trying to do everything possible to prevent abortion whenever possible. But within the framework of understanding that there are certain situations

where the mother's rights need to prevail, for her health, for life, and for certain other kinds of situations.

MARTIN: You are known as a conservative writer, policy analyst, you've been a speech writer in Republican administrations, et cetera. So, you would

say, what? You've sort of described yourself as pro-life, as part of the pro-life movement but part the mushy middle. Is that -- would that be fair?

CHAREN: So completely fair. Look, during the last 15 years or so, I have been writing a great deal about civil society efforts to help moms who find

themselves with crisis pregnancies and want an alternative.


So, that's been my focus. I've helped to found a Jewish organization called In Shifra's Arms, which is a nonprofit that helps women who have crisis

pregnancies and feel they need the support to carry on with the pregnancy.

In Shifra's Arms was never about changing the laws. It was about just helping women and babies. And I have been very comfortable with that

approach to the issue. And I have been a little disappointed that in the wake of the Dobbs decision, the larger pro-life movement, rather than

stepping up and saying, now is our opportunity to provide more support for women and would-be moms to make their lives easier, to make it easier for

them to choose life.

The efforts seemed to be very punitive. And to make it difficult even to get birth control mailed through the mail. And so, I've been distressed

that that has been the reaction.

MARTIN: So, as we are speaking now, one of the reasons we called you, obviously, is this decision by the Alabama Supreme Court. The Alabama

Supreme Court issued a decision last month in a pair of wrongful death cases, which were brought by couples who had frozen embryos who had been

accidentally destroyed at a fertility clinic. The court ruled that these frozen embryos should be considered children under state law.

You know, a lot of people who have been critics of the Dobbs decision or people who support more expansive abortion rights, we told you so. This is

exactly what was going to happen. And I just wondered if you felt that way too or what was your reaction when you heard this decision?

CHAREN: Well, I certainly understand the reaction of people who don't follow these things closely. You know, the reaction was, sounds like now

they're coming after IVF, right? And it felt that way.

In reality, the Alabama law at issue really didn't have anything to do with Dobbs. It was on the books. I guess it's possible that the judges of the

Alabama Supreme Court felt emboldened to rule as they did. But --

MARTIN: Because they felt they wouldn't be overturned. That's the argument. That they felt that the Supreme Court had opened the door, and therefore,

they were going to walk through it.


MARTIN: And I do want to note for clarity that the ruling does not ban in vitro fertilization.

CHAREN: Correct. It does not.

MARTIN: But the response to that is that at least three clinics stopped treatment in the wake of the ruling, being concerned that it would open the

door to legislation that would basically destroy them.

CHAREN: The reason the clinics stop functioning is because their legal liability, as a result of the Supreme Court decision, would have been

insupportable, right? If a fertilized embryo is a person, then any form of negligence on the part of the clinic or even if the power goes out, or you

can imagine a million scenarios, you know, someone drops a pipette, that could be a cause for a wrongful death suit, and therefore, it would be

unsustainable to practice in vitro fertilization as it is usually practiced in the United States under those conditions.

So, my reaction, I was mostly interested to see all of these people came out of the woodwork to say, well, I had IVF, and these are pro-life

Republican women. I had IVF, and it was a lifesaver for us, for my husband and me or, you know, my partner and me. We were able to have children we

never would have been able to have and we regard that as a pro-life stance.

So, certain Republicans immediately recognizing that this issue has now damaged them at the box -- at the polling booth in case after case, they

were eager to reject this finding, to express their support for IVF, to say that they are completely for it.

But of course, this flies in the face of other things that the Republicans have done in the recent past, such as approving of life begins at

conception bills. 160 members of the House of Representatives co-sponsored legislation that would declare that life begins at conception.

And what I was saying is, they obviously haven't thought this through. If life begins at conception and a fertilized embryo is a human being

deserving of all the protections of the Constitution, then you cannot practice IVF. It's incompatible. Because the risk to the embryo is too

great, and of course to clinics.


So, there was that reaction. But I was also -- I also wanted to point out, as somebody who is very familiar with the whole IVF process, namely my

husband and I, we did it many years ago, that it is possible to approach IVF in a conscientious fashion. That, you know -- and people do. People

make decisions about handling a fertilized -- an embryo that can be very sensitive to the unique nature of what you've created there.

These things are not so easy as a -- you know, or clean and bright as moral matter to be able to say that, for example, a couple, a friend of mine,

their family has a history of Trisomy 18, which is a terrible genetic disorder. And so, they did IVF and they were able to segregate the embryos

that were carriers of this disease and only transfer the healthy embryos. Does that violate the most strict interpretation of a life begins at

conception idea of life? It does. It Does.

But is it, in the end, worse than many other things that happen in this world? No. You know, in weighing in balance, it's not so clear to me that

the doctrinaire life always has to be protected no matter what position is really the right one. And sometimes I think our moral intuition is a good

guide, not just a bright line test.

MARTIN: So, now, the question I'm asking you is, as a conservative, I don't know if you still identify as Republican. I don't know everything that's


CHAREN: I don't. I don't.

MARTIN: Well, exactly. That's why one has to ask is, what do Republicans do now? I mean, what did they do now? It just seems that those -- now that the

whole question of life begins at conception is causing some very serious difficulties for people that they care about. What is the mainstream

position and what should it --

CHAREN: I do not know what they are going to do. I can only speak for myself and others like me that we are still -- we still regard abortion as

a tragedy and we still wish that many, many fewer women children had to resort to them or felt they had too.

And if it were up to me, there would be a lot more support for women with crisis pregnancies. There would be a lot more social support, financial

support, the whole nine yards, so that we could welcome more children into the world.

And that is my current posture, that all of these efforts to limit how birth control can be prescribed through the mail, whether, you know,

something is an abortifacient, whether you can arrest, as Texas did, a woman who you think is heading out of -- you know, they had some crazy

proposal that if they -- if some citizen thought somebody was driving you out-of-state to get an abortion, they could interfere. All of those things

are way beyond the pale. And I think that we should return the emphasis to mothers and babies and trying to help them.

MARTIN: You know, IVF is not without ethical challenges, too. You were kind enough to share. You experienced IVF yourself, and that you and your

husband made the decision that you would implant any healthy embryo. In other situations, that has resulted in people carrying eight pregnancies.

And I don't think -- the human body is not really built for that.

CHAREN: Right. So, that --

MARTIN: And, you know, we hear about the successful outcomes, but we don t necessarily hear about unsuccessful outcomes, right? Now that people who

are outside of the world of assisted reproductive technologies have become privy to some of these things, where do we go with this?

CHAREN: Well, there's been -- that's not such a hard ethical question, because there has been advancement in the medical ethics since -- and also

in the medical technology since those early days when you did have a couple of very high-profile cases of women giving birth to multiple -- you know,

five, seven, eight kids. There was one woman who gave birth to eight. But now, that is no longer done. They don't transfer at once that many embryos.

MARTIN: But that's what gives rise to this whole question of fertilized embryos that may or may not be implanted, right, which speaks to your

point. What I'm saying is, where should we go with this now? You see my point, that's how this whole situation arose in Alabama, because there are

embryos that had not been implanted --


CHAREN: Oh, they were frozen.


CHAREN: Right. But you can freeze -- you know, by the way it's not so easy to get embryos, especially when people have been dealing with infertility

and a lot of -- you know, I guess some people get lots, but most people don't get that many.

So, they get -- say they get five, a grand total of five embryos after several cycles, then the couple can choose -- in an ideal situation, they

can choose to transfer -- I say transfer not implant because the implantation is up to the embryo not up to the doctors, all they can do is

transfer it and hope for the best. But so then, the couple can choose to transfer, say, two embryos. And then, if they're successful in a pregnancy,

great. And if they get one or possibly twin pregnancy, great. And then a few years later, they can come back and get two more.

So, it isn't contrary to the idea of treating the embryos as special and as deserving of a chance at life that you do it in a sequential fashion.

MARTIN: Our political system doesn't seem really equipped right now to handle nuance or compromise, right?


MARTIN: I guess I'm just wondering -- I know what you wish would happen, but what do you think would happen? Realistically, what do you -- what

would you like to see going forward?

CHAREN: You are so right that our entire culture is -- not just our political system, but our whole culture is built to resist compromise.

Compromise is seen as surrender. Compromise is seen as lacking in integrity, which does, you know, fails to recognize that our system, we

have a huge multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-regional country, and in order for it to succeed, there has to be compromise.

I'm very pessimistic about other aspects of our political system, the populism versus democracy contest. But I think on the subject of abortion,

you have seen a Republican Party that is beginning to get the message from voters and is kind of scurrying away from the most hardline positions that

it took.

So, I actually think they're listening, Michel. I think they're listening to the voters here, and you will see this is an awkward time. This is --

for some people, it's a tragic time. I really feel for those women and men, the fathers and mothers in Alabama who, for example, were, you know, just

on the cusp of getting a transfer, and I know how much goes into that, and how many months and years of injections and tearful waiting, and then to be

told when everything is set to go, that it has to be canceled because of a Supreme Court decision. It's awful. It's heartbreaking.

MARTIN: A number of news outlets have, you know, approached lawmakers, particularly in Alabama, but, you know, elsewhere, and to say, OK, well,

where are you on this, particularly on IVF? And a lot of them are being -- you know, being very quick to say that they absolutely support IVF. I

wonder if part of the reason is that the people who tend to -- the people who utilize IVF tend to be middleclass. It's not cheap.

I mean, most people's insurance policies don't cover it or cover all of it. You know, some do, but it's expensive. And I don't know. Is there any part

of you that wonders whether some of this has to do with class? Is that this is something that middle-class people use and want? And so, therefore,

that's why the system is responsive to it in ways that they perhaps are not other things?

CHAREN: Well, look, the Republican Party is becoming the party of the working class. And so, they are going to be more responsive to the needs of

working people than they used to be in the past.

I mean, look, for many, many years, the Republican Party was pretty much coterminous with "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page. And that's just

no longer true. So, yes, the class thing may play into this.

MARTIN: You said that you hope -- that you think that a more nuanced or sort of, I don't know, what would you -- you use better language than I,

that balanced position is sort of, we're heading toward it. When?


CHAREN: Well, I think, you know, maybe a few more election cycles where the message gets through and then you may look -- well, actually, in the case

of Alabama, we're seeing it already. The Alabama legislature is rushing to enact legislation to make it clear that IVF is exempted from their wrongful

death, of an extrauterine child, as I think they called it.

You know, so they are acting with dispatch. And I think, you know, if there's another election cycle where abortion is perceived to benefit

Democrats, Republicans will switch rapidly.

MARTIN: Mona Charen, thanks so much for talking to us once again.

CHAREN: My pleasure. An


AMANPOUR: That's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast, and always catch us

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Thank you for watching. Bye-bye from London.