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Interview with Israeli Author and Historian Yuval Noah Harari; Interview with Akub Restaurant Chef and "Bethlehem: A Celebration of Palestinian Food" Author Fadi Kattan; Interview with "The Infernal Machine" Author Steven Johnson. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired May 21, 2024 - 13:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello everyone and welcome to, "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up. Alarm over getting aid

into Gaza as the ICC's pursuit of arrest warrants reverberates, historian Yuval Noah Harari joins me on whether there can actually ever be peace

between Israel and the Palestinians.

Then --


FADI KATTAN, CHEF, AKUB RESTAURANT: My mission is to share with people the beauty of Palestine.


AMANPOUR: -- "Bethlehem: A Celebration of Palestinian Food," why that's more important than ever to Chef Fadi Kattan. He tells me about his new

cookbook, fine Dining, and what it all says about his homeland.

Also, ahead --


STEVEN JOHNSON, AUTHOR, "THE INFERNAL MACHINE": We see in the kind of 1870s, 1880s, the emergence of really the first real example of terrorism.


AMANPOUR: -- "The Infernal Machine," how the New York police stopped a wave of extremist violence a century ago. Author Steven Johnson speaks with

Walter Isaacson.

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

Right after the ICC cited unlawful obstruction of humanitarian aid in its request for arrest warrants against the Israeli prime minister and defense

minister, a senior U.N. official warns it's getting even more difficult to transport food and supplies within the enclave, saying, we are running out

of words to describe what is happening in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the head of the Kamal Adwan Hospital in Northern Gaza says the IDF wants to force it shut, and one shell has landed in the reception and

emergency area. These pictures showing people who are trying to flee.

The ICC action targeting both Israeli and Hamas leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity has prompted furious condemnation from Israel and

the United States. But France and Belgium have broken with those allies by supporting the court, Paris, backing its "independence and the right -- and

the fight against impunity in all situations."

Bestselling author and historian Yuval Noah Harari has been thinking deeply on his homeland even the possibility of peace between Israelis and

Palestinians. Asking in an op-ed for the F.T., is there a way out of the Israeli-Palestinian trap? And he's joining me now.

Yuval Noah Harari, it is always good to have you on this program.


AMANPOUR: And frankly, any program because you're a big thinker and you help us, you know, navigate areas that perhaps we hadn't thought of. But

first I need to ask you as an Israeli, what is your reaction to the ICC request for warrants?

HARARI: Well, it's deeply shameful for the citizen of any country when the leader is even accused of such crimes. And I think on a broader

perspective, I know that there were a lot of accusations against the ICC of making comparisons between Netanyahu and Sinwar and so forth. This is

really a spin of trying -- I mean, the question is not the comparison, the question is the allegations and the evidence that backs them.

And the other thing, looking at the whole episode as a whole issue from a broad perspective, is whether we would like to live in a world where

leaders are held accountable to international law or not, whether we would like to live in an orderly world, a world of international law.

But here, the main problem is that the international order really has two main goals. The primary goal is to prevent wars from happening. The

secondary goal is to mitigate wars if they happen by providing humanitarian aid and punishing crimes. But if the international order is not able to

achieve the primary goal of preventing war, then the secondary goal is ultimately hopeless.

If more and more wars erupt, then just trying to punish crimes and provide humanitarian assistance, it won't work.


AMANPOUR: What is the alternative, given that war so awful? And that there are laws of war, and there needs to be some assistance provided to those

who, you know, do it under international law? What is the option?

HARARI: No, absolutely. I mean, I'm not saying -- of course we need to do it. Of course, we need to provide humanitarian assistance and to hold

leaders accountable. But this is sustainable in the long run only if it's possible also to achieve the primary aim of preventing wars.

Because otherwise, if we reach a world, if the global order that we have been used to in recent decades collapses, and we see more and more wars

erupting around the world, then the entire structure will also collapse.

AMANPOUR: I mean, it is a really difficult moment and there seems to be so many significant wars happening at the same time right now, challenging the

world order that we thought was here to -- you know, to stay after the Second World War.

I want to ask you because you talked about evidence as opposed to equivalence of people and alleged perpetrators. That's what the prosecutor

told me in the interview yesterday. And he said, our mandate is not to -- is solely actually focused on putting victims on the same level. Not --

this is about the equivalence of victims and not the alleged perpetrators.

Be that as it may, Israel has the mechanism. It is a democracy. It's done this in the past. It's investigated, you know, post-war situations, you

know, in many of the wars that your country has fought. And this prosecutor has said that he's tried to get Israel to actually hold itself accountable.


AMANPOUR: It hasn't done it. Wouldn't it have been better if it did?

HARARI: It would have been much better. But again, the Netanyahu coalition has been weakening the independence of the Israeli court and has been

attacking Israeli courts for a long time now. So, I don't think that the Israeli court system is now in a position to do something like that.

AMANPOUR: That's a pretty dire sentence. Do you think it ever will? People believe that there will be some kind of investigation like after the 1973

war and et cetera, et cetera. Even after the 2006 Hezbollah war.

HARARI: I hope there will be. Again, we are -- I mean, I've been part of the struggle to keep the independence of the Israeli justice system and to

preserve Israeli democracy for more than a year now, and we are -- people are still struggling in the streets. And I hope that we will succeed.

AMANPOUR: Let's move on, because what you've been writing, admittedly, just before the actions by the ICC yesterday, there were elements of hope.

And I wouldn't mind asking you, right off, why you -- well, first of all, let's talk about October 7th and the war in Gaza.

You said it showed and revealed the worst fears and nightmares of both Israelis and Palestinians. Let's take it from the Israeli side first.

HARARI: Yes, I think what is crucial to realize about this conflict is that both sides are terrified deep down that the other side is trying to

exterminate them, to expel or kill each and every member of the group, of the Jews or of the Palestinians. And the tragedy is that both sides are

right. That both sides have good reason to suspect that their existence is at stake, that if the other side will ever get the opportunity, they will

try to completely get rid of us. Not necessarily kill each and every person, but certainly expel them.

And this is something that a lot of people -- you know, people tend to see the conflict from just one side. And the key thing is to realize that both

sides are right in their deepest fears. And a path forward towards a real solution to the conflict is only when each side can say honestly about

itself. Even if we get the opportunity down the road in 10 years or 20 years or 40 years, we will not try to exterminate the other side.

We recognize our shared humanity. We recognize that they are also people deserving of rights, including the right to self-determination. And this

sounds so obvious, yet, so many people, not only in Israel and Palestine, but all over the world, are unable, for some reason, to hold this simple

thought that the Palestinians are -- that there is Palestinian people, they have a right to self-determination, and they have a deep historical

connection to the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.


And at the same time, there is a Jewish people. It has a right to self- determination and it too has a very deep connection to the same land. This is just a reality.

AMANPOUR: And actually, they also talk about the river to the sea. And this statement has been weaponized and, you know --

HARARI: Yes. Both sides weaponize it without realizing that they are guilty of the same thing, that each side wants everything and is unwilling

to compromise. Again, on each side there are people who are willing to compromise, but unfortunately, they are not the ones guiding it at the


And, you know, it's also weaponized in the U.K., in the USA. I hear, you know, all this anti-Zionist propaganda that people equate Zionism with

racism without understanding what Zionism means. Zionism is simply the term for Jewish nationalism. It's just the simple idea that the Jews constitute

the people, a nation, and as such, they have not just individual rights, but also a collective right to self-determination. This is the only thing

that Zionism essentially says. It should be uncontrovertible -- incontrovertible. And it doesn't imply necessarily that there is no

Palestinian nation, or that Palestinians don't have rights.

You can, at the same time, acknowledge that the Jews are a nation with rights and that the Palestinians are a nation and also have rights.

AMANPOUR: And do you believe that this current government believes that second part?

HARARI: No, no.

AMANPOUR: And they talk about Erez, Israel and, in other words, Greater Israel.

HARARI: The Netanyahu coalition doesn't accept it. I mean, they think -- again, like the demonstrators chanting from the river to the sea, Palestine

will be free. So, also, the Netanyahu coalition says from the river to the sea, it's all belongs only to the Jewish people. It has an inalienable and

exclusive right to the entire land. And you know, you have maximalists on both sides, as long as they're in control, there will be conflict.

AMANPOUR: So, I want to ask you, because you also wrote really, you know, interestingly, and we often don't pay attention to the 2 million or so

Palestinians, Arabs, inside Israel, who are Israeli citizens, who, as you say, are not busy calling for the extinction or the eradication or anything

of anybody.

Tell me about them, and do they still currently in this environment have an important role, have shown up, you know, for their neighbors at this time?

Because they've been so much about, oh, how none of the Palestinians have commiserated with Israel or the Jewish Israelis after October 7th, but

that's not true.

HARARI: Yes. I think that Palestinian-Israelis, and there are 2 million Palestinian-Israelis, are the most maybe hopeful group in the region, they

feel that they belong to both sides, in some sense, even though they suffered from discrimination for decades. There are also citizens of Israel

with the right to vote to the Knesset, to the parliament.

And on October 7th, one of the hopes of Hamas was that this group of 2 million Palestinian-Israelis will rise against their Jewish neighbors and

also try to massacre Jews and so forth. And there was a lot of fear among Jews that this is going to happen. They're also coming to kill us. It

didn't happen.

On that day, actually, you saw that Palestinian-Israelis are coming to help their Jewish neighbors. Quite a, number of Palestinian-Israelis were

murdered by Hamas while trying to say, for instance, rescue survivors of the Nova music festival and other massacres. There are Palestinian-Israelis

kidnapped by Hamas to Gaza and held there.

And the two most prominent leaders of Palestinian-Israeli parties in Israel, Mansour Abbas and Ayman Odeh, both of them, they flatly condemned

the massacre. They said this is not the way of the Palestinian people or of Islam. They are still committed to peace. And I think, again, looking at

them, they are the most -- the group that gives most hope in the region that, yes, there are people who can hold two thoughts at the same time, be

Palestinian-Israelis and be in favor of fulfilling the right of the Palestinian people for self-determination without exterminating the State

of Israel.

AMANPOUR: So, talk to me about that then because you just said they still face discrimination. They're not fully, fully equal Israeli citizens.

HARARI: Absolutely, yes.


AMANPOUR: Clearly, they want that. So, how could they play a role in what you seem to think is possible, maybe not right now, but that there must be

a play -- a way to get to peace, to get out of this trap, as you say.

HARARI: Well, my best advice would be to invite them here and let them state their views and plans. They can do it much better than me.

But again, they stated many times, quite clearly, their support for some version, you know, of a two-state solution. It's still basically the only

game in town. You know, if you recognize that there is an Israeli nation with the right of self-determination and a Palestinian nation with the

right of self-determination, so you need to somehow satisfy the rights of both people.

Some people say, no, we'll have a one state, which will be, you know, this democratic Jewish Palestinian state providing rights and equality for

everybody. It sounds like a nice dream. The problem with -- that history is often resistant to mere theory and to dreams. And many things that sound

very good in theory, on paper, when you try to implement them, it can lead to tragedy.

So maybe down the road, it would be possible. But given the levels of hatred and violence and fear, I don't think this is a feasible solution in

the near future at least.

AMANPOUR: You've said in your -- about, you know, the future, there's enough land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean to build houses,

schools, roads, hospitals for everyone. But it can be realized only if each side can honestly say that, even if it had unlimited power and zero

restrictions, that it would not with to except the other. You were just describing that.


AMANPOUR: No matter what injustices they committed against us and what threats they still pose, we nevertheless respect their right to live

dignified lives in their country of birth. You say this needs leadership. And currently, you haven't been able to identify that kind of leadership.

And so far, the Israeli prime minister, and as you say, his coalition, does not want a Palestinian State, or even Palestinians to run Gaza after this


Where do you think -- where do you see, on the Israeli side, some kind of flipping the switch towards some kind of solution from this untrammeled


HARARI: I don't know. At present, the Netanyahu coalition -- it's not only one person, you know, he has a majority of 64 out of 120 Knesset members.

They are all supporting him. I mean, after October 7th, me and many other Israelis, we were sure that this government will fall in a matter of weeks.

It still is extremely stable. It enjoys widespread support. But, you know, history is never linear. And we can still hope that people will come to

their senses.

What is at stake, I think, is really -- it's not just Israel, I think the entire Jewish people is at a historical junction. That we need to reflect

on the history of the Jewish people, you know, for 2,000 years. If you go back 2,000 years to the great Jewish revolt against the Romans in the first

century CE, it was led by religious zealots who thought that God will help them to defeat the Roman Empire, and they were wrong. They brought a

terrible disaster on the heads of -- on the head of the Jewish people. And I think Netanyahu is building up to be the next Simon bar Kokhba, who led

one of these disastrous revolts.

And when the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem and the temple, they changed the nature of Judaism. Judaism then was a religion of -- you know, you had

the temple and the priests with all the bloody sacrifices, and the Romans destroyed that. And Judaism became a religion of learning. Jews for 2000

years, they were a religion of learning, everywhere they were.

And then they built their estate. We build our state. And the big question is, what did we learn in 2,000 years? And if you ask Netanyahu and his

colleagues like Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, we learned only the joy of power, of feeling superior, the dark ecstasy of crushing weaker people under our


Now, if this is what we learned in 2,000 years, this was such a waste of time because we could have just asked the Romans. They could have told us

2,000 years ago how to destroy city and how to enjoy feeling like being superior to others and so forth.

And I think it's a real question that I think Jews should, in Israel and elsewhere, reflect what did we learn in 2,000 years that the Romans didn't

already know?


AMANPOUR: Well, I'm going to reflect on that. Yuval Noah Harari, it's always good to have you. Thank you so much indeed.

HARARI: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: So, as Yuval was just saying, as Israeli extremists aim to prevent any Palestinian statehood, the Palestinians themselves have not

stopped asserting their heritage or their culture, even under the gun of Israeli occupation, like Chef Fadi Katan who opened a fine dining

restaurant in his hometown of Bethlehem on the West Bank.

Now, he's out with a new cookbook "Bethlehem: A Celebration of Palestinian Food." And last week I visited his popular London restaurant, Akub, to talk

about preserving identity and culture even while absorbing the impact of this war on his own family and friends. We spoke before breaking the news,

before I broke the news of the ICC seeking indictments for both Hamas leaders and Israeli leaders. But here's our conversation.


AMANPOUR: Fadi Kattan, welcome.


AMANPOUR: I'm actually in your restaurant. So, you're kindly welcoming us. But what is it about your homeland your food that you felt needed to be


KATTAN: Everything, everything. People don't know enough about Palestinian cuisine. People don't know the long history.

You know, we -- our cuisine is rooted 5,000, 6,000 years of history and it's a beautifully diverse cuisine. Tiny country with at least three

different terrains, the desert, the coast and the fig and olives landscape. And I think it was really important to be able to share with the world


AMANPOUR: Because a lot of people lump them all together, food in the Middle East.

KATTAN: Middle East, Levantine, Mediterranean are terrible words because it's as if I said European fruit. And I would put the food of Naples and

Marsai together. Each region has such specificities. That's what we need to be celebrating.

AMANPOUR: What do you say to somebody who says, OK, so what is the difference between a falafel in Palestine or one in Lebanon?

KATTAN: The Lebanese have very different cultural references. The population of Lebanon is different. In Palestine, we're the crossroads of a

lot of historic trade routes, falafel, for example, doesn't really come from Palestine. It comes from the pharaohs (ph) in Egypt originally.


KATTAN: And it traveled. And what happened is coriander was added or not, parsley was added or not, but our cuisine is beyond falafel. It's the

maklouba, which is that flipped over rice dish that has eggplants from Battir, historic village south of Bethlehem. Those are the traditions that

we try celebrating.

AMANPOUR: And chili, I read, actually came into Gaza through the trade routes.

KATTAN: Through India. Through India. So -- the chili coming to Europe, initially was being shipped from India to Gaza. Gaza was historically one

of the largest Roman ports on the Mediterranean. And the chilies would end up coming to Europe in Palestine. Gazan cuisine uses chilies, but the rest

of Palestine doesn't use chilies or very little chilies. So, it really influenced that cuisine of that area.

AMANPOUR: And I'm really surprised. And I'm like ears poke out when you say Palestinian wine. I mean, who knew?


AMANPOUR: We know that there's Golan wine. We know that -- he looks like - -

KATTAN: Wait, wait. Golan is occupied Syria.


KATTAN: So -- but -- no, no, it's good you touched on this because the oldest planted grapes in the world were planted by the Natufians in

Jericho. If we stick to --

AMANPOUR: Which is today the occupied West Bank?

KATTAN: Exactly. If we stick to a biblical story, Moses sent 12 spies to the land of Canaan. And two of those spies went back to the Israelites who

were in the desert with a bunch of grapes, a fruit they didn't know. And I'm not lying, look at the logo of the Israeli Ministry of Tourism. It's

those two spies carrying the grapes. So, those grapes were ours.

And tradition of wine. You know, I come from Bethlehem.

AMANPOUR: So, you're a Christian. You come from Bethlehem. Muslims are not known to drink wine. How is wine so popular in the Palestinian territories?

KATTAN: Bethlehem. Christianity started in Bethlehem. Wine is a ritual use -- has a ritual use. So, wine's always been in our culture. But Muslims do

drink. The invention of distillery was made in Baghdad under Harun al- Rashid (ph) by Jabir ibn Hayyan (ph).

AMANPOUR: Gaza. We're going back centuries now.

KATTAN: Exactly.

AMANPOUR: Let's bring it back to the present. You -- I mentioned Gaza. You have just come back from Bethlehem on the West Bank. What did you see,

feel, endure, experience, even though you're not in Gaza, or the war?


KATTAN: I have family in Gaza. I have friends in Gaza. In the West Bank, it is scary to say the least people are worried. The settler attacks on

Palestinians have increased. The land grabs. You know, a few months ago it was -- there was the largest land grab since 1967 that happened.

When I was going around the market -- because in the -- in my book, there's people that are -- in the book that are from the Bethlehem market, and I

was giving people the book. I mean, the sentence, I kept hearing from everybody is, are we next? And are we next means what is happening in Gaza

is going to happen to the rest of Palestine.

But for me, it's very difficult as a chef to even be cooking. And honestly, after the 7th of October for the first two weeks, I couldn't even cook.

There's a whole part of my people that are being forcibly starved. It is a manmade starvation, that has to stop.

What's the future? What is the future of all of this insanity? At a certain moment, humanity has to prevail on this. We're being denied our existence.

I mean, you've seen, and I've seen a lot of your guests, have goals that Palestine is not even existing. And stories of, oh, but we are Arabs who

came in '48 to that land.

I live in Bethlehem in my great grandfather's house that was built in 1886. I have title deeds of our lands in Jaffa that was confiscated in '48. So,

at a certain moment that -- those fears -- when I was back home, I was imagining what was happening in Gaza, calling my family in Gaza when I

managed to get through, what they're living is, I don't have the tools to understand it, I think.

AMANPOUR: And they survived?

KATTAN: They've survived. They're hiding. But, you know, it's -- I don't know what survival is. I have friends who had to leave, who managed to, you

know, pay that horrendous fee and get out of Gaza. Some of them were not that lucky.

What's really scary is none of the official speeches we're hearing from the Israelis are even acknowledging that we exist.

AMANPOUR: So you, with your book, "Bethlehem," with your restaurants, with the olive tree here, with the ancient keys that you decorated this

restaurant, which, marked the Nakba and Palestinians lost homes, you are, I think, putting Palestinian culture and the Palestinian nation right there

for everybody to see and acknowledge. Is that part of your mission?

KATTAN: No, thank you. For actually even seeing this. I don't have to apologize for being Palestinian.

AMANPOUR: I'm not saying apologize.

KATTAN: No, no, no. No, no.

AMANPOUR: I'm saying make --

KATTAN: But I'm saying about the mission. If I were an Italian chef celebrating my history, it would be normal. As a Palestinian, very often I

feel that I have to be apologizing for being Palestinian. When I talk about like lands we lost or oranges, I long for the oranges of Jaffa, which I

never got to taste. But I grew up with stories of my family picking oranges and exporting their oranges to Europe, to the U.K.

My mission is to share with people the beauty of Palestine. My mission is to celebrate Palestine.

AMANPOUR: Tell me about some of the things you cooked that we have the pictures of.

KATTAN: We cooked a few recipes from the book. There's a grilled aubergine with tahini on it, nigella seeds, coriander seeds, dill, parsley, and a bit

of olive oil, and pomegranate seeds.

We did mafghoussa, which means squashed in Arabic, and it's basically courgettes that have been baked, squashed, a bit of chili.

AMANPOUR: Zucchinis, yes.

KATTAN: zucchinis, olive oil, and lemon. We did Freekeh salad that has carrots and green cabbage -- young cabbage leaves in it and sumac. And we

did a slow cooked beef, that's my great grandmother's recipe. Those are in the book.

The idea of the book was to have accessible Palestine recipes. I keep telling people, if you get the book, I'll come and check in a year's time.

It has to have tahini (INAUDIBLE), olive oil. It's something that has to be used because, you know, our cuisine is disappearing. Our farmers' access to

their land is being limited by settlers. The access to water is being -- I mean, all of the reality of the -- of Palestine.

I feel -- and this is the first time. So, you were asking about Gaza and -- since Gaza, what I felt being back in Bethlehem, and that's the first time

in my life I feel this, that we're actually racing time and working with things that are disappearing.


Some of the wine growers we work with have no more access to certain bits of the land. And that sense of urgency -- you know, the book started way

before the 7th of October. It takes two years to make a book. But having it out now, I do feel we're trying to contribute a bit to saving this.

AMANPOUR: And I'm always mindful anytime I've traveled, whether it's in Palestine, anywhere around the Arab world, in places where people don't

have much, they are so hospitable. They give you what they have. And it is such an amazing tradition, that hospitality, even the direst of direst of

circumstances. And I wonder what your reflections are on that and whether - - you know, it's a cliche, but whether there is a commonality that you can bring people, you know, a humanizing factor towards sharing food.

KATTAN: So, that hospitality, which is present in a lot of places around the region, is the essence of how we live. When you cook for five, you

always have three portions somewhere in the back. I remember as a kid going to my grandmother's house, and, you know, surprising her by like, oh, by

the way, I picked up a few friends on the way, and she'd always find something to dish out.


KATTAN: And that's true to everybody in the region. What we've seen in Gaza, when people were forced to move to Rafah, before this last attack on,

on Rafah, people were baking with makeshift stuff. But they were not baking for themselves, they were baking for everybody around them. So, this

commonality of getting people around food is essential.

Where I am careful is when food is used to food wash the realities of occupation. Getting Palestinians and Israelis to cook together and trying

to pretend the reality doesn't exist, that for me is scary. Because there is a reality of the horror of what occupation is.

But occupation is not only bombing Gaza. It's not only -- it's me not being able to travel freely and having to cross into Jordan to get a flight to be

here. While an Israeli chef living in Jaffa, on my land, drives for 45 minutes to Tel Aviv and is in London an hour later -- five hours later, it

takes me a full day to be here. That is the reality of occupation. It's the daily impact.

Getting us around the table, and it's happened a lot in the past, and you know, with Oslo, when there was this euphoric hope. I was part of the

people who were hopeful of --

AMANPOUR: We all were.

KATTAN: -- because we will finally be able to create peace. And a peace that's based on justice. It's based on repairing what has happened somehow.

There was a lot of these initiatives around, let's get together around a table. On the segregation wall in Bethlehem, there's a tag that says, Make

Hummus Not War.

AMANPOUR: You don't like that art, do you, on that wall?

KATTAN: No, no. My real sentiment towards that specific tag, I would love to be able to take a tub of hummus and actually throw it at the wall. But I

hate food waste, I'll never do it. I don't like the art on the wall, of course. The wall is an ugly, grey, concrete wall. It shouldn't be made

beautiful. It shouldn't be made fetishized. It shouldn't be made sexy. It is a horror.

This thing has to disappear. It's separating Palestinians from Palestinians. But it's also separating Israelis from Palestinians. I grew

up going to school in Jerusalem. I know Israelis. I grew up with Israeli teachers at school. I've put faces to people. I have Israeli friends. The

younger generations, what do they know of each other? The Israelis see us as cheap labor and as violent terrorists. The Palestinians see the Israelis

as soldiers and settlers, and we can't see beyond this.

People who claim this is in the interest of security, I'm not a security expert, but I do think you and I get along because we're civil to each

other, because we know each other. If we don't know each other, we wouldn't be able to get along, which is basic as this.

AMANPOUR: When you created Fawda in Bethlehem, there was no such thing as fine dining in the occupied territories, or in Gaza, obviously.


AMANPOUR: A, why not? And B, how did it go down?

KATTAN: People thought I was crazy. When I started and I said, oh, I need table matting and then two white tablecloths. And I had to train a team

about doing fine dining servers. People thought I was nuts. I enjoyed it. I enjoy people thinking I'm crazy. But the -- I thought it was essential to

put Palestinian cuisine on the map.

And it's not putting it on the map because it didn't exist. I am no hero. But I ate fantastic food at home, at people's homes, and it frustrated me

that when you went out in Palestine, the only options you were getting was actually our fantastic street food, shawarma, falafel, et cetera, or mezzes

and grilled meat. And I was like, wait, but why is this gap is there?


So, we pushed it even further. We didn't have a menu at Fawda. I would cook every day whatever the farmers had. And it gave us that opportunity and

creativity to actually build on the flavors that changed daily and sometimes changed between lunch and dinner. But it was, again, celebrating

these people, because that's important.

AMANPOUR: And for Palestinians to know that they had a great tradition of cuisine.

KATTAN: Of course. For them to be proud.

AMANPOUR: Is there anything in these dark times that gives you hope for the future in your country?

KATTAN: What gives me hope is seeing all these voices across the world. Beyond faith, ethnicity, political orientation, sexual orientation, raising

their voices in a call of love. Because at the end, when you call for humanity, it's a call of love. It's not a football game. You're not taking

sides. That is not -- it's not the Israelis versus the Palestinians. It's a call for humanity.

And seeing that from the students in the U.S. to people in London, people all over the world are marching out there and calling for an end of this

insanity and seeing how diverse they are. Because -- and you know Palestine quite well. Palestine is a diverse place also. The old city of Jerusalem

has more languages spoken than anywhere else. That is who we are. And it's important that we see that diversity finally calling for an end to this,

and there should be an end to this. That's the hope I have.

AMANPOUR: Fadi Kattan, thank you very much, indeed.

KATTAN: Thank you, Christiane.


AMANPOUR: A very welcoming place to be. Now, we look back to an earlier time of extremist turmoil. New York, in the early 20th century, when

violent anarchists threatened the established order. And it's the focus of Steven Johnson's new book, "The Infernal Machine." And here he is

discussing it with Walter Isaacson.


WALTER ISAACSON, CO-HOST, AMANPOUR AND CO.: Thank you. And Steven Johnson, welcome to the show.

STEVEN JOHNSON, AUTHOR, "THE INFERNAL MACHINE": Hey, thank you. It's great to be back.

ISAACSON: You know, all of your wonderful books, they tend to look at an intersection, an interweaving of technology and big social movements and

issues and policies. And this latest one, "The Infernal Machine," referring to dynamite, talks about the invention of dynamite, then the rise of

anarchism as a political philosophy, and then the backlash from state surveillance and policing.

So, let's start with the invention of dynamite. We all know Alfred Nobel is the founder of the Nobel Peace Prize, but of course, he's the guy who

invents dynamite. Tell me how that starts the story.

JOHNSON: Yes, it's kind of a tragic story in some ways. Nobel had been obsessed with this newly discovered chemical of nitroglycerin, which was

really the first real innovation in explosions since gunpowder.

It had just been discovered in the 1840s. And most people who had messed around with natural glycerin decided it was just too unstable, that you

really couldn't handle it in a way that didn't cause it to just detonate randomly. A number of people who had explored it in that period, you know,

were either injured or killed from their experiments.

But Nobel got obsessed with this idea that there was, in a sense, a way to tame this extraordinary new chemical and he had this vision of what was

described as the controlled explosion. But if you could figure out a way to kind of detonate it on command in a safe way and create a kind of portable

form of it that could be transported without it absolutely blowing up that it would revolutionize civil engineering, that you could build railroads

and, you know, carve out new mines and tunnels and build skyscrapers, even without cigarettes.

ISAACSON: Well, you talk, and whenever you write about technology, and your books are always about inventions and technology and innovation, that

there tends to be a trend, not always, but tends to be a trend where it empowers the individual. In other words, it takes power from centralized


I think you say, "The invention of dynamite follows a pattern that has generally been true of scientific advances over the long-term, science and

technology puts ever-increasing power, power in the sense of energy, not politics, in the hands of smaller and smaller groups."

I mean, that's true with everything from the internet to social media and to dynamite. And so, that causes a political repercussion.

JOHNSON: Yes, it was part of the story of kind of the positive contribution of dynamite, right? You could have a smaller team, you could

have a -- you needed vast amounts of gunpowder to kind of -- and people to move that gunpowder around if you were going to blast your way through a

mountainside, but you could do it with a much smaller team with a cheap portable canister of dynamite.


So, it basically, you know, created a more compact capturing of energy that could be deployed in the service of good things like building railroads.

But it turned out that a number of people in -- initially in Europe and then the United States began to realize that it gave them a different kind

of power, a way to stage these violent acts that one single person or a small group could do that could blow up a cafe or it could blow up a


And we see in the kind of 1870s, 1880s, the emergence of really the first real example of terrorism as we know it today culminating kind of famously

-- and there's a long set piece in the book about this, in the assassination of Alexander II, the Russian czar, who was killed by really

histories for suicide bomber. And that just spreads across the globe.

In fact, the political radicals, particularly the anarchists get so intimately connected with this new innovation from Nobel that they become

known as the Dynamite Club.

ISAACSON: But these are anarchists, and that's a new political movement that comes up at the same time that dynamite comes up. And, you know, the

anarchists are everybody from Emma Goldman to Alexander Berkman and Peter Kropotkin, they're all great characters in your book. Tell me, what was

their political philosophy?

JOHNSON: Yes, it's interesting. It's -- in some ways, it's been lost in our popular perception of what anarchism is. In some ways, it's gotten

saturated with the bombs that they set off. Because their core idea was that industrialization had created this equally violent society and were

just the kind of body count and carnage of the emerging factory system in that period was enormously violent, far more violent than any of the acts

of terrorism that they were perpetuating.

And they believe --

AMANPOUR: I mean, to explain that, it's like you talk about the reaper factory of McCormick, building the reapers, or the U.S. steel -- the steel

factories. People are dying every week, right?

JOHNSON: Yes, yes. I mean, there was there was some kind of survey of one county in industrial -- outside of industrial Pittsburgh, you know, over a

year. There's something like 529 deaths. And just -- that's just deaths, right? But the number of dismemberments from these industrial accidents.

And of course, each one is an accident. No one is trying to kill the workers, but it was predictable that it was going to happen. You could see

this was happening. The railroad industry was incredibly dangerous at that point.

And so, the anarchists believed that there was actually a better way to organize society and that we had actually lived through it -- in during the

Renaissance, basically, in small, you know, communities of artisans and guilds where there wasn't a lot of social hierarchy, there wasn't a giant

government, there weren't giant corporations, there weren't these grotesque factories. And life had been pretty good back then.

And so, people like Kropotkin and Goldman, in particular, were arguing for, in a sense, slowing down the pace of technological innovation, reigning in

these, you know, huge titans of industry and also large government agencies and returning that almost kind of village life.

ISAACSON: Let me read something else from your book, which is measured against the landscape Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman encountered as

young adults, even the much-lamented divisions of the Trump era look far less severe.

Was the polarization 100 years ago worse than it is now?

JOHNSON: I think you have to say that it was. One, you're talking about a world where there's so much more political violence. You know, we've just

come off of January 6th and obviously, that was a shocking event. But the number of assassinations, the number of riots, the number of, you know,

terrorist acts, you know, domestic terrorist acts was just far more extreme, you know, 110 years ago, 120 years ago.

And if you think about the values, like the range of political positions, right, you know, one of the major events that happen, in the book, is the

Ludlow Massacre in -- where Rockefeller employed militia burned down an encampment of striking workers in Colorado and end up killing a number of

them, including some children.

And you basically have a situation where, like, one side of the debate is saying, listen, if people go on strike to, like, reduce their -- you know,

their, you know, 60-hour workweek down to 40-hour workweek, then it's an appropriate response to set a militia on them. That's one side of the

spectrum. And the other side thinks, we should eliminate both capitalism and big government and return to medieval, you know, guild driven society.

You know, those were -- those poles do not exist anymore, right? We're in a much more narrow part of the political spectrum now.

And so, I think it does give us some context about the society we live in now, looking back at a period really not that far in the past.


ISAACSON: The third theme in your book that gets woven into it is that the bombings and the anarchism lead to the rise of a surveillance policing

tactics. And that includes some new inventions, like the fingerprint being a new idea, but also, to the rise of what we see in policing now of keeping

track of people. Tell me how that fits in.

JOHNSON: In a way, that's actually where I began in this project. That I was interested. As you said, I'm interested in new ideas, new scientific

ideas, new technological ideas. And the first thought I had was maybe there was a book about the history of forensic sciences and modern kind of

policing and techniques of identification and things like that.

I mean, one of the crazy things, when we think about it, you know, 120 or 130 years ago, before this stuff was developed, if you -- there was no

standardized form of identification. So, if you were arrested, you could just make up a name and they really had no way to figure out who you were.

And so, there's a flurry of activity, in large part, as I document in the book, kind of triggered by anarchist activity, in -- particularly in Europe

led by people like Alphonse Bertillon where they start developing these techniques of basically what we would now call biometrics. So, using

photography, measuring body parts. And then the science of fingerprint technology starts to emerge right as the anarchist threat is starting to

emerge as well. And they kind of co-develop alongside each other.

And it's a fascinating history. And there's some really interesting characters in the -- in New York in that period on the either running the

NYPD or part of the NYPD, particularly these two guys, Arthur Woods and Joseph Faurot, who really are largely forgotten, I think.

Faurot kind of brings fingerprint technology over from Europe and he gets derided. They're like, that's just a fad and a London fad, even worse. But

he kind of fights for this case and he builds a little rogue identification bureau inside of the NYPD and he wins a couple of cases and slowly starts

to prove out this new science.

And so, it's the -- in a sense, the battle between kind of two ideas, the idea of anarchism and the idea of terrorism and on the other side, the idea

of using this new kind of state supported systems of surveillance and analysis and identification to keep that threat in check.

ISAACSON: Well, another important character near the end of the book is one most people have heard of, of course, J. Edgar Hoover. And there's a

passage about him that, you know, we think of Hoover as investigating Martin Luther King or Bobby Kennedy. But there's a passage about him, about

how he helps create scientific policing. It says, "When historians catalog the momentous inventions of history, the printing press, the telescope, the

steam engine, they rarely include indexing logarithms in their canon of breakthrough ideas. But tools that help us explore the ever-larger pools of

information and widen the net we can cast in those pools often turn out to trigger inflection points in history."

Tell me about J. Edgar Hoover's editorial file system.

JOHNSON: Yes, Hoover, crucially -- and you know, this has been well documented, but it's central to this story. Was really trained as a

librarian. I mean, he worked at the Library of Congress as a teenager, and there was a new file system that had been developed for the Library of

Congress around that point. It just made it easy to, like, manage all the information so you could find what you were looking for.

And when he began working for the -- what was then called the Bureau of Investigation, became the FBI he, was set in charge of what was called the

radical division, which was to deal with the anarchist threat and other, you know, kind of political radicals in a period around 1917. And he set up

this system modeled after the Library of Congress called the editorial file system. And it was basically what we would now call a kind of relational

database where you had index cards that were connected to both -- between people, places, events, publications, alleged crimes, and they're all kind

of cross referenced.

And so, if you were trying to pull, you know, all the potential, you know, subversives who were at a particular rally at a given moment in time, you

could gather that information because of this technique that Hoover had designed, you know, 10 times faster than you used to be able to do before.

And one person could do it instead of 10 people. It's the same kind of principle behind dynamite in a way. You get more efficient gathering of


And that was the technique that -- it was the first deployment of the editorial file system and really the first attempt to kind of weaponize

library science, which is effectively what Hoover is doing, was used to deport Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman to revolutionary Russia in 1919.


ISAACSON: In reading your book, I couldn't help thinking often about what you're actually doing now, because you work part-time at Google now, or

quite a bit of your time at Google now, creating something called NotebookLM, which is a large language model type chatbot like ChatGPT, or

for that matter, Google Gemini, but it trains on your own data, you get to put in the data set you want.

It's absolutely fascinating and it sort of feeds into this notion of data science that you talk about in the book. Explain what you're doing there.

JOHNSON: Yes. I mean, one of the things that I've always been interested in, you know, it's a shared interest of you and I both have, Walter, which

is, the history of tools for thought and using software to help us write and think and create.

And what became clear about two years ago is that these new language models could be harnessed in a way to make that process way more effective. And

what we started to develop -- so basically, Google kind of reached out to me and said, hey, would you like to help us develop a tool that you've been

kind of dreaming of your whole life? Like, why don't you come and help build it? Because we now have this technology that could be really

extraordinary in doing this.

And so, what NotebookLM does is basically, as you suggested this, instead of just chatting with an open-ended model based on the kind of general

knowledge of the model, you give NotebookLM a set of documents that are important to you. So. in my case, it might be documents for a book that I'm

working on or it could be your work documents or personal documents, whatever it is. And at that point, once you've uploaded them, it's almost

as if the model becomes an expert in the work that you've given it to see, and it reduces hallucinations dramatically, it -- and it makes it much more

personalized, right? It's able to talk about the information that you care about, not just kind of general information of the world.

And so, for instance, I have -- in NotebookLM, I have one notebook where I have loaded up 7,000 quotations from books that I've read over the last 20

years, like my research notes, just that I've been collecting all these quotes from books. And I can go in there and say, OK, you know, what are

some of the most interesting things about ant colonies or dolphins or the history of forensic science, you know, create a little overview with

citations, with references and original quotes so that I can get a sense of the landscape in my research notes. And it'll generate that document in 30


And so, my ability to explore these vast troves of information and to basically -- the complex, laborious work of assembling the information can

be done in an automatic way. And then I can -- I'm freed up to actually have the important thoughts and to figure out how to creatively put it on

the page. So, I'm very excited about it.

ISAACSON: The theme of your book is partly about how data science can help us in really great ways, good ways, crime solving, and also perhaps give

more power to the government to keep an eye on us. In general, as we look at the data science that's happening now, the ability to process just, huge

amounts of data and find patterns, how do you think that's going to affect society?

JOHNSON: I think in -- you know, with any technological revolution that's significant, they're going to be unanticipated negative downstream

consequences, that just happens when you have complex technologies. But I think, particularly with the A.I. technology we have today, that the

opportunities for it to be used for good and for -- you know, it's an extraordinary technology for just enhancing your ability to understand


And since anybody now has access to a tutor that can explain things to them and help them dive deeper into material. And so, in the end, I think

technologies that enhance human understanding and allow us to be more creative or to come up with more original ideas that while that technology

will inevitably be deployed for nefarious ends, in some cases, we still, in the end, are going to be excited that we have this technology because it is

fundamentally an enhancer of our understanding of the world.

ISAACSON: Steven Johnson, thank you so much for joining us.

JOHNSON: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: A fascinating look back. And finally, it may only be May, but some people think they've already found the song of the summer.





AMANPOUR: This hard rap track is called "The Spark," performed by a group of nine- to 12-year-olds from Cork in Ireland, and including refugees. It's

been released to promote a national day of creativity for young people.

Well, mission accomplished. Since its debut last week, it's had more than 8 million views across social media.

And that's it for now. If you ever miss our show, you can find the latest episode shortly after it airs on our podcast. Remember, you can always

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

Thanks for watching, and goodbye from London.