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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Happiness And Sorrow Both Seen In Israel; IDF Pummel Gaza With Airstrikes; Father Trying All Avenues To Bring Family Back Home; Innocent People Die In War; White House: Working "By The Hour" To Get Americans Out Of Gaza; Angry Mob Storms Airport As Flight From Israel Lands; Israel's War Causes Divisions On U.S. College Campuses. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired October 30, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Also today, Hamas released a short video of three other women who are believed to be hostages. CNN is not going to show the video at the family's request. But these are the three women seen here in family photos that the Israeli prime minister's office says are seen in the video. One of the women is heard pleading with the Israeli government to do more to security their released.
Also today, awful news. A German-Israeli woman kidnapped by Hamas has been found dead. Twenty-three-year-old Shani Louk was at the Nova music festival when Hamas attacked and killed at least 260 others on the seen.
Shani's body was seen on video after the attack, seemingly unconscious in the back of a Hamas truck, being driven into Gaza, paraded around by the terrorists of Hamas. We want to warn you, the video is graphic. We're going to show you some of it with her body blurred out. Shani's mother gave CNN permission to air the video, to show the world the brutality of Hamas that we're -- that we're blurring out her naked body.
A source familiar with the confirmation of her death says that this is the way they did it. They found -- Israelis found a fragment of a bone from the base of a skull. It's technically it's called the petrous, the petrous bone. It was recently located and the bone was a DNA match from Shani's family.
So experts taking that fact combined with the video we just showed and then of course the circumstances of her October 7th kidnapping left a team of five experts at the ministry of health to conclude that Shani was in fact dead.
Today, any notion of a cease-fire has been dispelled. As Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, quote, "this is a time for war," unquote. Our Israeli troops are on the ground in Gaza according to the IDF, pushing at least two miles into the Gaza Strip. Israel is claiming it has killed dozens of Hamas fighters.
As it expands ground operation in Gaza, New Israeli leaflets dropped over Gaza are warning people in the north and center of Gaza, that they are not safe and the area is now quote, "a battlefield." People living in, of course, that battlefield have very few options to seek safety. Thousands of Palestinians have already been killed, as Israel has been bombarding Gaza for weeks.
Whether they're targeting Hamas or not, the IDF is killing innocent civilians, and exacerbating an already fraught humanitarian crisis with shortages of water and food and medical supplies, shortages of simple shelter.
President Joe Biden has been pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House says, to, quote, "immediately and significantly," unquote, scale up the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Gaza has received only a small fraction of the aid trucks the people of Gaza need, 2.3 million residents of Gaza. The largest humanitarian relief operation inside Gaza is reeling. The United Nations says 63 members of its staff members have been killed since October 7th, 10 in just the past three days.
CNN's Nic Robertson is just outside the Gaza border in the town of Sderot, Israel which was hit hard on October 7th by Hamas terrorist.
Nic, Israeli troops have advanced more than two miles into Gaza, the IDF says. How has this new face of war evolved over just the last few hours?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the IDF say that they've been calling in air strikes when the ground troops discover a stronghold of Hamas and targeting that. And we've heard those air strikes throughout the day, planes circling and dropping guided missile on those targets, but over the past couple of hours -- I'm just hearing a jet again right now -- the past couple hours we've heard a continuous and strong barrage of artillery fire being fired into Gaza tonight. And that seems to represent feels like an uptick in the scale of munitions dropping in the -- in the Gaza Strip.
And also, we've seen missiles dropped or fired from helicopters, almost sort of vertically above Gaza -- that's the artillery I'm talking about -- almost directly above Gaza, these are going straight down, these missiles going straight down into Gaza. It's not possible for us to really tell what they are, but it's something new on the battlefield that we haven't seen before, perhaps smaller, more precision located munitions that tied in between the ground force and talking with the helicopters pilots on what to hit, Jake.
TAPPER: Nic, Hamas released a short video today showing three female hostages. We're not going to show the vide. The family request that we don't. The families requested that we don't. And we don't know under what conditions the video was recorded. I mean, obviously under duress, but it does seem to provide some insight into the tactics of this terrorist group.
ROBERTSON: Yes, assuming that Hamas did not let these women or the one woman of the three who spoke -- speak entirely their mind, so we have to take that as insight into what Hamas wants them to say, and the language did get emotional towards the end, begging the prime minister to get their released, to have a ceasefire to help win their release.
But the points that they made, that the lady who spoke in the video made, was that Prime Minister Netanyahu, and the government had let them down on overall security, that they hadn't been safe in their Kibbutz near the border, that the army had been very slow to respond by Hamas's attack on October 7th. And so, it does seem as if Hamas is trying to sow seeds of political dissent within Israel as well.
And in the video the narrative essentially says the prime minister had the opportunity to have a ceasefire to get the hostages released, and he didn't take it. So again, this is Hamas' propaganda, if you will, to create the narrative that there was an opportunity for hostage released and it was an opportunity that was squandered by the prime minister.
But as we heard earlier on today, Prime Minister Netanyahu was very clear there won't be a ceasefire, this is a Pearl Harbor moment, a 9/11 moment, and you don't back down and a ceasefire in such circumstances he said.
TAPPER: Nic Robertson in Sderot, thank you so much.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, U.S. forces are under attack 23 times to be exact, in the last two weeks. A senior Pentagon official is telling CNN that 14 of the attacks happened in Iraq, nine of them in Syria.
CNN's Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon for us. Oren, where exactly are these attacks happening, and how is the U.S. responding?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we've seen over the course of the past three weeks a massive effort from the entire U.S. government to try to separate the conflict in Gaza from the rest of the Middle East, trying to point out, for instance, that U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria are there for the defeat of ISIS, and that has nothing to do with Hamas and Gaza.
However, that appears to have fallen on deaf ears because of how connected in the ways in which the Middle East is connected. Take a look at this map here. Twenty-three different attacks since October 7th against in U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria. And these are the different sites, according to that senior defense official, a number of these sites such as the Al-Asad Airbase, there right in the middle, have come under attack numerous times. Al-Asad has come under attack at least seven according to the Pentagon.
And this is what you're seeing. What's also worth noting, is that many of these attacks, about half dozen or so, came after the U.S. carried out two strikes against facilities linked to Iran and Iranian-backed groups in eastern Syria late last week. That was an attempt to send a warning message to those groups, a deterrent message to Iran, but also intended to avoid a further escalation, at least from where we're sitting now with about a half of those more attacks on U.S. forces after the U.S. strikes.
The question to the Pentagon is, do you respond and retaliate again? Or do you try to avoid any sort of escalation against those, and try to keep that separate, managing that with the military and diplomacy? That's the balance the Pentagon has to strike here as it tries to avoid the conflict in Gaza spreading to the rest of the region, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Oren Liebermann, thank you so much.
So, let me share with you an absolute nightmare. Just an absolute nightmare. On October 7th, Avihai Brodutch and his family woke up at their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza. They were preparing to celebrate his daughter's 10th birthday and then Hamas attacked. And Avihai in the course of that attack, was separated from his family. And since then, he has not heard from his wife and from his three young children.
Can you imagine that? Can you imagine that? Can you imagine being separated from your wife and your three young children after terrorists attack your house? Avihai Brodutch is here with me in Tel Aviv. I can't imagine it. I have a wife and I have two children. I cannot imagine the pain you're going through.
AVIHAI BRODUTCH, FAMILY TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: You know, I really don't know what I'm feeling right now as well. It's all big bunch pf mixed of feelings, because you know at the beginning, first day, I thought they were dead, so it's horrible. I just thought my whole life was over. You know, I was thinking all sorts of thoughts. And then the next day I found out that they were seen alive, you know, walking towards Gaza.
TAPPER: How did you find that out? Like someone -- someone told you?
BRODUTCH: Someone in the Kibbutz saw them walking. So, --
TAPPER: With Hamas people with them push, you know --
BRODUTCH: That's correct. That's correct. And you know, that was the happiest day of my life.
TAPPER: They were alive.
BRODUTCH: They were alive. Ando so, you know, at first I was, you know, just devastated, and then the next second, it was the best day of my life.
TAPPER: First of all, tell me who we're looking at here. Who -- what's your wife's name?
BRODUTCH: My wife's name is Hagar.
TAPPER: Hagar, and how old is she?
BRODUTCH: Shi is 40 years old.
TAPPER: Forty years old. And tell me who your three kids are. Let's put up -- let's up pictures. Can we get a solid picture, guys? There they go. So that's Hagar in the left.
BRODUTCH: That's Hagar.
TAPPER: Who is the -- who is the girl on the left.
BRODUTCH: That's Ofri, that's my daughter, she's 10.
TAPPER: She's the one who just turned 10.
BRODUTCH: That's correct.
TAPPER: Who's the little boy in there.
BRODUTCH: This is Yuval, he is eight years old.
TAPPER: Yuval and who is the little one.
BRODUTCH: And the other one is Oria. He is four years old.
TAPPER: He is four years old. Beautiful kids. Beautiful family.
BRODUTCH: Thank you.
TAPPER: My God. OK. We'll see if I can get through this interview. Ok. So, you said that you think the Israeli government should prioritize hostages above all else. So, are you upset that the ground campaign has started, that the incursion has started? Are you worried that that's bad, that that might mean that the hostages -- that might be bad news for the hostages?
BRODUTCH: Well, you know, I worry all day.
BRODUTCH: I wake up worried, and I go to sleep worried, and I wake in the middle of the night worried. So, you know, I don't them to prioritize it. I Want this to the only mission. I think that's the only mission that you be --
BRODUTCH: Israel, you know, I was brought up on Holocaust stories.
BRODUTCH: And Israel was brought up on one thing, you know, never again. That was the thing that Israel --
BRODUTCH: -- that was I brought up. And Israel was, you know, that's the only reason --
TAPPER: So do the swap, whatever swap they want, do it.
BRODUTCH: You know, just do everything.
TAPPER: Right. BRODUTCH: Just do everything. Just for this. You know, my family is there. It's been over three weeks. Just do everything. For my family, they're over there. This only reminds me of one time in history of, you know, recent Jewish history. It should be over.
TAPPER: Yes. Now you went to -- I'm from Washington, D.C. You went to Washington, D.C. and you met with lawmakers. What was your message to U.S. lawmakers?
BRODUTCH: My message was, you know, that they're probably, you know, all of them or most of them are family people. And you know, they felt my hurt.
TAPPER: There you were meeting with, that's a senator --
TAPPER: Senator Coons of Delaware. Yes, he's on the Senate foreign committee.
BRODUTCH: Thats's correct.
BRODUTCH: He was really, just awesome guy. You know, he was really nice.
TAPPER: He's a nice person, yes.
BRODUTCH: And you know, I think they should -- well, I hope, you know -- I plead for them to help me with this mission of mine. You know, it's just a humane thing to do. And help release the hostages that, you know, just -- and they were so nice and understanding. I really think that they will do the most they can for me and for all the hostages. It really felt that way.
TAPPER: Does it give you hope that four hostages have been released and one was rescued? Does that give you any hope, because I guess there are 229 hostages left, but the fact that, you know, that four of them, you know, two Americans, two Israeli women were, you know, alive, and one Israeli soldier was rescued. I mean, that must give you some hope, some positive.
BRODUTCH: Well, it does. It does. And you know, the thing that gives me hope is that they're in good shape.
BRODUTCH: You know, there have been -- you know, treated well. So this gives me hope. Because I got my wife and, you know, my three kids over there. So, all day I think about them how they are being treated. Are they safe, you know, at least health-wise and if they're being fed all right. It looks like the hostages that have been released have been well kept after. So, this does give me hope or at least strength, but you know, there's
just so many over there, so it's just a drop in the ocean right now for me. So, you know, I still keep on fighting this. And I still want to meet people and you know, tell them my story so everybody knows. You know, I really miss my wife. I really miss my kids. It's been over weeks. I'm lost. You know, I'm just lost. I got my friends with me. So, they're keeping me all right.
TAPPER: I don't know how you're doing it, man.
BRODUTCH: Yes, me neither. But I just have to keep on going. That's all I have. All I have is my family.
TAPPER: Yes, you got to keep because they're going to come back.
BRODUTCH: That's correct.
TAPPER: They're going to come back and they need you for when they're back.
BRODUTCH: I have a lot of faith. I have really a lot of faith and a of people pray for me. And you know, it's --
TAPPER: Well, look, you know what, look at that camera right there. There are people around the world watching right now, praying for you right now, and there are also people out there who like, you know, there's a lot of pain in Gaza right now.
BRODUTCH: That's correct.
TAPPER: And you probably don't want that pain.
BRODUTCH: I do not.
TAPPER: What do you want the people watching right now, what do you want them to know?
BRODUTCH: You know, I just want them to look at their families, to think about their families and, you know, think about me and my family there, is over there. I really want my kids to, you know, to be right here. And you know, I want Yuval to play soccer, and Oria to play his Xbox, and you know, Ofri to play her guitar and my wife to be with me. I sleep alone at night. I want to hug my wife, you know, and be with her.
So, I just want everyone to think about their families. And you know, everybody knows what's right. Just do everything they can to help me, you know, to help the hostages, to bring them back home.
TAPPER: Bring them home. Bring them home.
BRODUTCH: Just bring them home.
TAPPER: Avihai, I'm so sorry. BRODUTCH: Thanks very much.
TAPPER: I want you to come back and I want you come back with your wife, and your two sons and your beautiful daughter, and we'll celebrate, we'll celebrate when they're back.
BRODUTCH: Thank you. I really appreciate it.
TAPPER: Have a good, man.
BRODUTCH: Thanks very much.
TAPPER: We'll be right back.
TAPPER: Welcome back to The Lead.
And you're looking live over Gaza where we have seen explosions light up the night sky over the last few minutes tonight. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is rejecting any calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying that would mean Israel would be surrendering to terrorists. And the U.S. appears to be backing that interpretation.
Amos Yadlin is a retired major general of the Israel Defense Force and former head of Israel's Defense Intelligence Agency.
General, thank you so much for joining us. So, last night Netanyahu tweeted, and then deleted, a post that blamed the IDF and the Shin Bet, the intelligence chief for not warning him about the October 7th attack. He then was criticized. He deleted the tweet, and he apologized, which is not a common thing for Netanyahu to do. What was your first thought when you saw that Netanyahu had blamed the IDF and Shin Bet? We should point out for our audience, that Netanyahu has not really accepted any blame for what happened on October 7th, even though most of the major leaders in his cabinet and in the IDF have accepted their share of the blame.
AMOS YADLIN, FORMER HEAD, ISRAEL'S DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE: See, no doubt that the 7th of October 17th was a catastrophic failure, and basically three failures in a row. All the stars were aligned against Israel, which caused the disaster. It's an intelligence failure, its operational failure, and it's a political/leadership failure.
So the head of intelligence and the head of the military said that they take responsibility, but they look forward to win this war. The prime minister hasn't accepted his responsibility, and in a way started some kind of campaign to put all the blame on the other two. This is unacceptable. I'm glad he apologized; he understood the mistake. And the goal is now, Jake, to win the war, to destroy Hamas, and to bring back all the hostages from Gaza. TAPPER: The New York Times is reporting that Shin Bets saw unusual
activity by Hamas in the early hours of October 7th, but did not think that that unusual activity warranted waking up Prime Minister Netanyahu. Take us inside how you think that judgment could have been made that this activity wouldn't have been a big deal?
YADLIN: I don't think that this event was investigated and debriefed already. Our face is forward. We will at the end of the war look at every mistake that was done. First to see who to blame, but more than that to learn and to debrief how it will never happen again.
TAPPER: One of the other obvious mistakes was out in the open, which was Netanyahu was so focused on making sure that the Palestinians were divided, the Palestinian Authority and the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, that because he didn't want there to be a Palestinian state, that he supported Hamas getting money from, I think, Qatar.
And obviously was more focused on Iran and Hezbollah, and took his eye off the ball in Hamas. I wonder if you think that these political calculations were just honest mistakes, or that they were political miscalculations rooted in something else?
YADLIN: The policy against Hamas found to be a huge mistake, but the policy against Hamas, the wars that Hamas is responsible, the regime in Gaza, that in war killed for this two million people. That he accountable for them? He wants the standard of living to go up. He wants to build Gaza. And this was a mistake.
He was a terrorist. He'll stay a terrorist. He doesn't care about the two million people, and he planned this program in Israel instead of taking care of the people of Gaza. This mistake is not only of the prime minister. It went all over. The previous prime ministers, the head of the Shin Bet, the head of the IDF. The mistake of the prime minister was to avoid a peace process with the Palestinian Authority, he not only considers Hamas to be deter. But as you said in your question, he supplies them with Qatari money, and with all materials that helps them to produce a military force on the border of Israel, which is against what Israel called and Prime Minister Rabin a promise that that there will be, if there will be a Palestinians -- a Palestinian authority or state or entity, it will be demilitarize.
And what Israel is going to do now is to demilitarize the Gaza Strip. The second mistake of Mr. Netanyahu is the nine months, the nine months that he pushed Israel into a domestic crisis. Everybody was busy with his judicial reform, instead of being ready to he calls in a way the decrease in the deterrence of Israel. Weakening the deterrence of Israel which unfortunately lead to this attack among other reasons.
TAPPER: Retired IDF Major General Amos Yadlin, thank you so much. Really appreciate your insight, sir.
And then there is the desperation in Gaza. Hardly any food, hardly any water. Any semblance of civil order has deteriorated into chaos. A man whose aunts are in Gaza volunteering joins us next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: We're back live in Tel Aviv today, 26 aid trucks passed inspection and were able to make their way from Egypt into Gaza in addition to the 45 trucks that made it through yesterday, that's not going to be enough though. The aid is trickling in. Civilians however, still can't get out. Some 5 to 600 Americans as you know are still stuck in Gaza. One of them is Ramona Okumura. She's from Seattle. She's a prosthetics expert. She's volunteering in Gaza with the Palestinian children's Relief Fund. Her nephew, Nick Pang joins us now. Nick, when's the last time you heard from your aunt? And how was she doing when you talk to her?
NICK PANG, AUNT STUCK IN GAZA: Yes, so thank you very much for having me. So, I mean, we are very grateful that she has been in U.N. compounds where given everything going on, she is relatively safe and does have access to electricity. So we did hear from her earlier today, just saying that, I mean, she's still alive. She loves us, and that she looks forward to being back with us.
TAPPER: Well, that's at least some good news. Your auntie has been recording some voice memos. I want to play one that she recorded yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAMONA OKUMURA, AMERICAN STUCK IN GAZA: I am in Rafah waiting for the border to open. After more than three weeks of thousands of explosions in Rafah, I can't believe the State Department's advice is to wait in Rafah near the border, while all the bombs, missiles and shells from the sea are hitting everywhere in Rafah. And yet they say they're carefully monitoring the situation here. What's with that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Yes, seriously, what is it like to hear that message from your aunt? And how frustrated are you with the U.S. State Department?
PANG: I mean, it just makes my heart pound to hear my aunt. It's so wonderful to, you know, not only see words that she's written on a screen, but actually hear her voice. But and I am glad that she has, you know, the strength to continue on. But we are very frustrated with the State Department.
I mean, we have been speaking with legislators. We've heard from the State Department. But for weeks now, she's just been told to stay near the Rafah crossing, so that when it opens, she can exit into Egypt. But as she said, there are constant missile strikes and fighting nearby. She and her group of other NGO workers are running low on food and water. There is respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases going around.
And so I mean, we are very terrified and frustrated that I mean, she is still there, and healthy and safe for now. But I mean, we can't count on that forever. We can't count on that much longer.
TAPPER: For people who are just tuning in, Nick's aunt is a prosthetics expert. Some of the photographs you're seeing are some of the work that she's doing in Gaza to help kids and other individuals that get prosthetic legs, prosthetic arms. Nick, it sounds as though you don't think the U.S. government is doing enough to help Americans get out. And you're certainly not alone in your frustration.
I've talked to Jake Sullivan, the National Security Adviser on my show, and he says that the Israelis have been cooperative, the Egyptians are willing to open Rafah and that the problem has been Hamas. Hamas is not willing to let Americans out of Gaza. Do you accept that explanation?
PANG: I mean, it's hard to say, I am not there. And given how dangerous it is for my aunt Ramona to be sitting at the Rafah crossing. I mean, I don't know if every single day there are Hamas agents preventing people from leaving. But on the two days that the U.S. State Department going on nearly three weeks ago told Americans that the Rafah crossing would be opening.
She did spend the whole day there. So on two separate occasions going on two and a half weeks ago, and for on those two days at least there were no Hamas fighters or agents preventing people from leaving and so I can't say. I don't know if it's -- I can't say what is Hamas's role in these negotiations. And I realized that it's a very complex situation and negotiation. But I am not certain that it is, and the family and she is not certain if it is entirely Hamas is fault that the Rafah crossing has not opened.
TAPPER: You say that she and the group of humanitarian aid workers, she's with, have food and have water rations for at least the next few days. But it's going to be difficult for them to re-up on supplies based on what we're hearing from other Americans. You must be very worried.
PANG: Yes, I mean, we're just terrified about that. I mean, again, she recognizes that she's, I mean, she loves children that's why she's there. She's a pediatric prosthetics expert. And so she realizes that she's incredibly, incredibly privileged to have access to food and water, unlike many of the people live outside of the U.N. compound.
But I mean, there's a number of things, there is not much aid coming into Gaza, there is no fuel coming into Gaza. And even though this NGO group is able to pay for food at rates that most Palestinians are not able to pay, at some point, their trucks are going to run out of gasoline and they won't be able to go to stores. At some point, and they're getting to this point where they're not able to find bottled water anywhere.
And, you know, they've been subsisting on canned foods for the last few weeks. I mean, at some point, they will run out and I mean, that's terrifying.
PANG: And so she is very grateful, but we're still terrified.
TAPPER: Nick Pang, thank you so much. I'll be praying for Auntie Ramona, thank you so much for telling your story.
PANG: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up next, the frightening moment when an anti-Semitic mob rushed to the tarmac and rushed a plane that had just landed from Israel. Exactly what happened here and what it could mean for tensions around the world. Stay with us.
TAPPER: And we're back at Tel Aviv live where moments ago Israel issued its highest level travel warning for Russia's Dagestan region. That's a section of Russia with a large Muslim population. And last night an anti-Semitic mob stormed through the airport there after a flight from Israel landed. CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports on the harrowing scene in and around the airport.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The moment an angry mob charged onto the tarmac towards the plane from Tel Aviv looking for Israelis. Some of the passengers surrounded forced to prove they aren't Jews. I'm Uzbek but I don't know Uzbek language, this man assures. Do you want to fool us? Take his passport, a man answers.
Rumors had swirled in the Muslim majority Dagestan region of Russia that this jet was carrying refugees from Israel setting off the rampage. There are no more passengers here honestly, a ground staff member says as the crowd surrounds the aircraft. Every one immediately go back onto the plane the crew of a different aircraft orders its passengers as the protesters charged those disembarking.
Hundreds also broke into the terminal building some carrying Palestinian flags leading to a total shutdown of the airport. The melee continued outside as well. Rioters searching vehicles also looking for Jews. I have a sick kid here. We only have sick kids. Let us go, the man in this bus says. And this woman screams, we were traveling to bring our kids to get medical treatment. Let us go. What do you want from us?
Russian security forces used choppers to bring in reinforcements firing into the air to try and push the protesters back. Authorities say more than 20 were injured and more than 60 detained. The crowd throwing rocks at riot police even after they were driven out of the airport.
Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with his security staff but the Kremlin blames quote, external interference for inciting the crowd. While it's not clear whether any Israelis were harmed condemnation from Israel's president in an interview with German publication built.
ISAAC HERZOG, ISRAELI PRESIDENT: It was like a pogrom. Thank God it was prevented at the end by the authorities but it looked like pogrom and it was live and everybody was worried about it.
PLEITGEN: So Jake, there's some pretty clear words that are coming from the Israeli president, obviously some extremely troubling scenes that we saw there from Dagestan. The Israeli government as a whole also condemned what happened there in Dagestan and also demanded that Russia do everything to keep both Israeli citizens but Jews in general in Russia as well, safe. The United States State Department of course tonight doing exactly the same thing, Jake.
TAPPER: Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much.
It's happening in more places than Dagestan, recent actions of hate in the United States, notably on college campuses. Stay with us.
TAPPER: We're back live from Tel Aviv. The conflict here between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is creating tensions around the world, including on college campuses in the United States. Cornell University's Police Department just announced it is increasing patrols and providing extra security for Jewish students and organizations at Cornell after threatening graphic and hate filled messages were aimed at Cornell's Jewish community over the weekend.
According to the Cornell Daily Sun, the school student newspaper, online messages surfaced with threats of shooting, raping and killing Jewish students from the left reportedly or at least from supporters of the Palestinian cause. The incident came after one Cornell history professor described himself as quote, exhilarated after the October 7th attack on Israelis, most of them, civilians, 1,400 of them. The professor later apologized for his choice of words.
Joining us now is Frederick Lawrence. He is a distinguished lecturer at the Georgetown Law Center, and is the former president of Brandeis University in Massachusetts. Thanks for joining us again Frederick. Aside of having been a university president, you also have some experience when it comes to bias crimes. What do you make of these threats? And do you believe that American colleges and universities are well equipped to handle a conflict like this spilling out onto the campuses?
FREDERICK LAWRENCE, LECTURER, GEORGETOWN LAW SCHOOL: These threats are very real and they should be taken very seriously, the ones at Cornell you just talked about. There have been instances recently a two-lane at Berkeley at many other schools, campus security is stretched to the breaking point. This is not the sort of thing they're used to dealing with. So I think campuses right now are well advised to be working with local law enforcement.
I know when I was at Brandeis, we worked very closely with the local Waltham police in matters like this. I think the kind of thing that we used to deal with being a school that had a particular Jewish identity, most schools in the country are now experiencing in some form or another.
TAPPER: About 130 faculty members from Columbia University and Barnard College, signed an open letter, they were expressing concerns about the way they felt some students were being targeted, and labeled anti- Semitic after they signed a statement that shared pro-Palestinian views. And on the surface, that sounds reasonable. But the letter when you read it, it describes the October 7th terrorist attacks against Israelis that described it as a military response by an oppressed people. And I know that that really upset a lot of people. What are your thoughts on that?
LAWRENCE: I think we have to distinguish, Jake, among three different kinds of speech, there's actual threatening behavior, like the kind you were just talking about at Cornell. There's no place for that that can be prohibited on campus. That can be prohibited by law in our communities. Then there's the second category that you're talking about now of words that are offensive, perhaps one would even say hateful. But they're not threatening individual people. They're not even threatening a group of students on campus. I think those do not call for prohibition. What they do call for is for a forceful response by the central administration to say, students who can say that faculty can say that, but that's not the values of this institution.
I think that's the piece that many university presidents are finding challenging right now, it's not about repressing speech like that, but it is about answering it back. Then there's the third category, which is tough discussion of tough issues, and a wise president's not going to weigh in on every single discussion, you let those discussions play out. But that second category I talked about is where the real complicated choices have to be made. And I think Presidents are finding that very challenging today.
TAPPER: Well, if you were a college president and a professor or 130 professors were describing the terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians, as a military response. And there were Jewish students it felt like, how can you justify that that might not be a threat but it is a justification of the slaughter of Jewish civilians? How do you handle that, as a university president?
LAWRENCE: I think you have to do two sets of things. One is that you have to make strong comments that say the university by its president has a view on this. And it's a different view, and that it does not see this as a military action, but saw it as a terrorist action. So it is murder of innocent people.
At the same time, you have to be involved in what universities actually do best and are at the -- and their strongest point, which is education. And this is a time for looking to your faculty members who are knowledgeable in these areas to play roles in their classes, in campus wide activities, in town hall meetings. I know this is hard. And I know it sounds like that's a pale response.
But the whole idea of education, of higher education is making nuanced distinctions. And we have to regain that. If we lose that on our campuses, we've lost something very precious.
TAPPER: And also very important to this to not paying people who support Palestinian rights and support Palestinian statehood as supporting terrorism, completely different things.
LAWRENCE: I think that's an incredibly important point that you just made. And it's very easy for people on multiple sides to oversimplify what's on the other side. Support for terrorism has to be called out and has to be labeled as it is. This is an opinion that has to be supported.
TAPPER: Frederick Lawrence, thank you so much for your insights. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: We're going to leave you tonight with what passes for good news in this corner of the world these days. Ten-month-old twins reuniting with the heroes who saved their lives. The twins parents, Itai and Hadar Berdichevsky were murdered by Hamas on October 7th at kibbutz Kfar Aza about three miles from Gaza. But before they were killed, they hid their babies, their baby twins, in a bomb shelter. And rescuers with the Israeli volunteer group, United Hatzalah, which we profiled last week, found them that day. They were screaming and dehydrated. The boys are now safe with family members. And the rescuers for whom there has been so little light in all this darkness while they reunited with the twins a few days ago.
I'll be back from Tel Aviv tomorrow here on The Lead. Our coverage continues with Wolf Blitzer. He's right over there in The Situation Room also live here from Tel Aviv.