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Five Days Left For Congress To Avoid Government Shutdown; Crossfire On Israel-Lebanon Border Intensifies; Humanitarian Group Says Al Quds Hospital Now Out Of Service; Los Angeles Freeway Closes; Unique Transplant; Antisemitism In America. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 12, 2023 - 16:00   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN HOST: Hey, everyone. Thanks for joining me. I'm Omar Jimenez in for Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin this hour with the U.S. barreling toward another potential government shutdown. The clock is ticking. There are now just five days remaining for Congress to avert a devastating shutdown of the federal government. Newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson has now announced a two-step plan to fund the government but the unusual proposal is already running into opposition from Democrats and some Republicans.

CNN's Manu Raju has the details.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Speaker Mike Johnson in his first test as speaker unveiling the plan to keep the government open with just a handful of days before the end of the week deadline, but already facing fire from his right flank who members of the House Freedom Caucus in particular concerned about the lack of spending cuts in this plan.

Democrats didn't want any spending cuts and said they would vote against it. However, Democrats are concerned that it does not have aid to Israel and aid to Ukraine, and they are criticizing the unconventional approach taken by Speaker Johnson. Some federal agencies would be funded up until mid-January, others until early February. This is an unusual type of approach, but one in which Johnson believes can help achieve their legislative objectives.

But nevertheless, the question is how many folks on the right will push back, will try to push him out because of the lack of spending cuts, and whether they will actually try to push him out. Recall that just not too long ago, Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker, lost his job because a major part here because he advanced a bill to keep the government open with Democratic support that did not have spending cuts.

I asked McCarthy himself whether or not he is concerned or whether he believes Johnson's job could be at risk by taking a similar approach.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No. Look, you get a honeymoon and you can't go through it again. I mean, think about how long it took last time. So do you think they would do that again?

RAJU: So even if he goes and relies on Democratic votes the way you had to do it you think that he will be safe and not be pushed out of the speakership?

MCCARTHY: Yes. I don't think anybody can make a motion to vacate for the rest of this term. I think he's safe regardless.


RAJU: Democrat are still weighing exactly how they will proceed. They are still watching how Republicans are dealing with this, and I'm told from House Democratic sources it's still uncertain whether they will carry this across the finish line and how many votes Johnson will ultimately need from Democrats. But there is hardly any time left as Senate Democratic leaders have signaled that they could be open to this, The White House has criticized this approach. House Democrats are remaining mum and a lot of questions as we head into yet another week of shutdown fears on Capitol Hill.

Manu Raju, CNN, Washington.


JIMENEZ: Thank you, Manu.

Now the White House is already rejecting Speaker Johnson's two-step plan, calling it, quote, "a recipe for more Republican chaos and more shutdowns."

CNN's senior White House reporter Kevin Liptack joins us now from Wilmington, Delaware, where the president is spending the weekend.

Now, Kevin, it didn't take long for the White House to push back on this proposal, simply reject it. I mean, what more can you tell us about how the Biden administration is reacting?

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this was not an enthusiastic reception to this proposal, and remember, Omar, these are two sides that are still getting to know each other. The House speaker was something of an unknown to the White House when he was elected. They are still developing that working relationship.

But certainly the White House wasted no time in panning Mike Johnson's proposal to keep the government open saying in a statement, "With just days left before an extreme Republican shutdown and after shutting down Congress for three weeks after they ousted their own leader, House Republicans are wasting precious time with an unserious proposal that has been panned by members of both parties."

And the White House goes on to say, "House Republicans need to stop wasting time on their own political divisions, do their jobs and work in a bipartisan way to prevent a shutdown." So certainly not mincing their words there. What is unclear is whether all Democrats will oppose this proposal because while it is unorthodox in its structure, it does not contain those deep spending cuts and conservative priorities that many Democrats oppose, and so while President Biden says in the statement, the White House says in a statement that is unserious, we don't necessarily know that all Democrats will oppose it, and certainly Mike Johnson will need some Democrats to support it if he can't get enough Republicans on board.

But the clock is ticking, Omar. The government would shut down on Saturday morning if nothing is passed.

JIMENEZ: And that of course will be the major question for Speaker Johnson, where he finds some of that support that gets this over the edge.

Kevin Liptack, thank you so much.


Now joining me to talk more about this is Andrew Desiderio, who's a senior congressional reporter for "Punchbowl News," and Mychael Schnell, a congressional reporter for "The Hill."

Good to see both of you. Andrew, I want to go to you first. This is Mike Johnson's first big test as new speaker. The unusual plan I guess you could say is already being met with pushback from conservatives, being called unserious by the White House, and being met with skepticism from Democrats. Does it appear it has any chance of passing?

ANDREW DESIDERIO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, I think as Kevin just said it will depend on how many if any Democrats support this proposal. I think the real action this week is going to be in the Senate where you have senators negotiating around a foreign aid supplemental package for Israel and Ukraine that they could potentially attach to any continuing resolution to fund the government.

The critical element of that obviously is going to be something on border security. The White House has asked for border security funding, but Republicans want something more concrete than that. They want policy changes, reform to the asylum process, the parole process for migrants who crossed the border illegally. And it's going to take obviously 60 votes in the Senate for that to get through, and Republicans have said that they will not provide the necessary votes on a foreign aid package for Ukraine and Israel without something more stringent on the border.

And the goal of Democrats in the Senate at least is to try to attach that to any continuing resolution to fund the government past November 17th. The big question, I think, is going to be whether Speaker Johnson in the House can sell that to conservatives particularly the border part which is what they care about the most.

JIMENEZ: Yes. Now, Mychael, in order to pass any bill, Johnson will need to either cater to hard right conservatives in the House who want spending cuts or appeal to Democrats. I mean, a little bit of a deja vu at the dynamics that Kevin McCarthy faced at the end of September. Now McCarthy opted for a temporary spending bill that got Democratic support and lost his speakership right after that. How do you see Speaker Johnson handling this dilemma?

MYCHAEL SCHNELL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, look, Omar, there may be a new speaker in place but it's the same problems that Speaker Johnson is facing now that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy faced when he had to gavel, and it's walking that really fine tightrope of appeasing both the right flank but also enough moderates and some Democrats to be able to get something across the finish line.

I think what Johnson saw in this two-step CR plan that he unveiled over the weekend was he was appeasing the right flank by using this unconventional format of having the first CR going until January, the second CR going into February, but then again, trying to appease the moderates and even some Democrats by not including those deep spending cuts that a number of hard-line conservatives had been looking for in any legislations to keep the government funded.

So as Andrew said, I think that the real wild card here is going to be how do Democrats react to this. You know, last week we saw House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries called the idea of a laddered CR a, quote, "right-wing joyride." He essentially, to paraphrase, said that it would crash and burn the economy. But again, it's significant that it does not include any of those deep spending cuts.

That could be enough to get some moderate Democrats on board but again, it all comes back to the idea that this is a really fine tightrope that Speaker Johnson is walking and there are not a lot of days left to do it to avert a shutdown.

JIMENEZ: Now spending cuts of course is on one side of things but also the bill doesn't include any funding for Israel or Ukraine, Andrew, and one Democratic congressman I spoke to earlier this afternoon was incredibly concerned about that. And so I would say at this point is that a deal breaker for Democrats and most Republicans in the Senate? If so, I mean, what are the speaker's options here?

DESIDERIO: Right. It's a great point, and, you know, I think if they cannot get a deal on a border security provision that will satisfy enough Republicans, the question for someone like Mitch McConnell who really does support aid for Ukraine and for Israel is, will he provide Democrats enough votes in the Senate to get this over the 60-vote threshold to pass any sort of supplemental without a border security element to it?

Because people around McConnell, people in Republican leadership really do see this week as maybe the last opportunity to pass a major Ukraine funding package in particular. The administration has asked for $60 billion which would take Ukraine through just about the next U.S. presidential election and that is something that McConnell cares about a lot. He's thinking about his legacy in terms of this as well, and he wants to shape the Republican Party on foreign policy going forward and push back against these more isolationist you can call them voices within the party.

And this is one way for him to do that, and if it doesn't have a border security provision, not enough Republicans are going to be able to rally around, that's the question for Mitch McConnell. Does he try to get this through regardless and attach it to the continuing resolution which Chuck Schumer, the majority leader by the way, also supports?

JIMENEZ: So, look, just five days to go before this deadline, Mychael. I'm not going to try and predict what is going to happen but I feel like I can predict that we will likely be going down to the wire as we typically do in situations like these.


As far as what you have seen and what your all reporting has seen, do you see a path to a deal at this point or has that not presented itself and are we potentially headed for a government shutdown?

SCHNELL: Well, look, I think you're right, Omar, that Washington is a city that really runs on deadlines. Oftentimes you don't see too much progress until you're right up on that deadline. I think there are two factors right now that are playing in the direction of hopefully averting a shutdown. One of that is the Thanksgiving holiday next week. I think that there are a lot of lawmakers who want to get home to their families, be able to sit around the table and eat turkey dinner with their families. So that could be an incentive to get things wrap up this week.

But we also heard from a number of hard lined conservatives over the past few weeks who were saying that they were going to give Speaker Johnson some sort of honeymoon period, recognizing that, look, the lost three weeks, there was three weeks of paralysis in the House when lawmakers were trying to elect a new speaker after Kevin McCarthy's ouster. That took away precious time.

Three weeks is really important to try to get some sort funding bill over the finish line. A lot of lawmakers are recognizing the situation at hand that they watched that time and they are now trying a gargantuan undertaking of funding the government in such a short period of time. So, you know, some are saying that that honeymoon period may be over, but if enough lawmakers, hard liners particularly are willing to give Speaker Johnson a little more grace period, a little bit more time of that grace to be able to get things over the finish line and really, you know, find his sea legs in this new position, that could be really significant.

So, you know, as you mentioned, it's tough to predict things in this -- in this town. There are still five days left which in Washington is plenty of time to get things done so we'll just have to see, but there are a lot of incentives pushing lawmakers in the direction of getting this wrapped up.

JIMENEZ: If you're planning on getting full night of sleep, you might want to front load your week there.

Andrew Desiderio, Mychael Schnell, thank you so much.

DESIDERIO: Thank you.

SCHNELL: Thanks.

JIMENEZ: Meanwhile, medical centers in Gaza are on the brink of collapse as air strikes and intense fighting intensifying on the ground. Our team is live in the region, next.



JIMENEZ: The situation on the ground in Gaza is quickly deteriorating. Israel Defense Forces say they are enabling safe passage from Gaza's hospitals. But medics say it's too dangerous to leave because of intense fighting around some of the complexes.

Today 826 foreign nationals were able to evacuate Gaza at the Rafah Border Crossing in Egypt. That was the first evacuation of foreign nationals since Thursday and the largest group to pass through in a single day.

And in northern Israel the military says several civilians were injured after anti-tank missiles were launched from across the border with Lebanon. Militant group Hezbollah has taken responsibility for the attack.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is monitoring all the developments from Tel Aviv.

So, Oren, what is the latest on the fighting in Gaza?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, before we get into that just in a second, really quickly, Omar, I'll talk about a call President Biden held today with the Emir of Qatar. In it he discussed the hostage negotiations and the effort and the pressure they're putting in discussions with Qatar on Hamas to try to release those hostages. Crucially, Biden revealed for the first time that a 3-year-old American citizen toddler is being held by Hamas in Gaza.

According to a readout of the call, that 3-year-old's parents were killed by Hamas during this October 7th attacks in Israel. I'll just read you a short part of this readout. It says, "The two leaders," that would be Biden and the Emir of Qatar, "agreed that all hostages must be released without further delay," the White House said in the readout of that call -- of that discussion so crucial efforts ongoing there as the U.S., Qatar, Israel try to release about 240 hostages held inside Gaza.

In terms of what's happening on the ground, the IDF says much of the effort is focused today on the Al Shati refugee camp which is just north of Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza. The IDF says they conducted raids on dozens of buildings accusing Hamas of using those buildings in civilian areas as its stronghold or as its defenses. The IDF says they also raided the marina as part of today. From what we have seen of the IDF's efforts in northern Gaza, they

have Gaza City surrounded and are moving in the surrounding Shifa Hospital and moving towards it, the IDF has accused Hamas of using Shifa Hospital as essentially a hub, a base in building what they called terror infrastructure below it.

The IDF also says to this point they've arrested 20 Hamas militants. Those have been brought to Israel and interrogated including some, Omar, who they say took part in the October 7th terror attack.

JIMENEZ: Yes, Oren, and you know, part of that call as well and that readout Biden affirmed his vision for a future Palestinian state where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side with equal measures of stability and dignity which doesn't appear to line up exactly with what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today earlier on CNN.

So while that goes on, and of course that is the discussion and policy discussion that will happen in the long term, we are still also monitoring what the IDF says are attacks from several Hezbollah targets in Lebanon today or on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon. What's going on there?

LIEBERMANN: So there remains contact, there remains fighting along Israel's northern border between Israel and Hezbollah. At least Israel holds Hezbollah responsible for any fighting and any fire that comes across the border. According to the IDF, an anti-tank missile was fired at a village or a town in northern Israel injuring a number of civilians and soldiers in that attack. The IDF has responded not only to those attacks hitting targets in Lebanon but there was also fire from Syria that came into the occupied Golan Heights, and there Israel struck targets in Syria as well, so Israel's military frankly busy on multiple fronts today.

JIMENEZ: Oren Liebermann staying on top of it all, thank you so much.

There's also growing frustration over the Israeli hostages still held captive by Hamas more than a month after they were abducted. More than 200 hostages remained captive at this moment.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the situation earlier today on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION."


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Thousands of Israelis including families of hostages rallied this weekend right across the street from where you are right now. They're very frustrated that they're not getting more information from you and where their loved ones are. Believe that the government, your government, is not doing enough to get them back. What do you say to them?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: It's understandable. They're under tremendous distress, they're under this torture. You can imagine to have your father, your husband, your son, and your daughter taken by these savages and held at --

BASH: Are you doing enough?

NETANYAHU: We're doing everything we can around the clock, and I can't, you know, talk about it. I personally met with the hostage families -- families of hostages several times and it just tears your heart out, but yes, we're doing everything and many things that I can't say here, obviously, but this is one of our two war goals. I mean, one is to destroy Hamas and the second is to bring back our hostages, and we'll do everything we can.

And we think the entire world should join us, demand from the Red Cross, that it demands visits to the hostages, demand the unconditional release of the hostages, say that this is barbarism that is unacceptable. I'd like to see the U.N. secretary-general who basically lay the blame on Israel lay the blame on these savages, to demand that they obey international law because Israel is fighting according to international law.

BASH: Sir, I --


JIMENEZ: Meanwhile, Gaza's health care system continues its rapid decline. The Palestine Red Crescent society said Gaza's second largest hospital Al Quds is now out of service due to the depletion of fuel and power outages.

CNN's Nada Bashir is tracking the latest from Jerusalem.

And, Nada, how much longer can Gaza's hospitals hang on at this point?

NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Omar, we've been hearing the warnings for weeks now. We know of course the vast majority of Gaza's hospitals are completely out of service. They are no longer operational. As you mentioned there, the Al Quds Hospital, the second largest in Gaza, now not operational. And as know, there are serious concerns around the Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest hospital, but it's not just because of those fuel shortages. It's not just because of the ongoing siege and the difficulty to operate within the hospital. What we're beginning to see now is continuous bombardment around these hospitals. Take a look.


BASHIR: These are the sounds of the final gasp from Gaza's collapsing healthcare system. Medical staff in Gaza City working under near relentless Israeli bombardment for over a month.

But now this chorus of frantic voices seen here working under torch light tells its own gut-wrenching story. The Al Quds Hospital, the second largest in Gaza, has now collapsed. The hospital no longer operational according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

But these scenes are all too familiar across the besieged Gaza Strip. The vast majority of hospitals here are already completely out of service, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah says, and those remaining now on a cliff edge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was a direct injury in the head. Internal bleeding. And we can't do surgeries, no surgeries, no oxygen, no electricity. We work manually. We are using a manual resuscitator. It is a clear surgery. It needs an urgent surgery, a life-saving one. He's less than a year old.

BASHIR: Remarkably, this baby survived, but his father who was in the very same building when an Israeli air strike hit did not.

At Gaza's largest hospital Al Shifa officials say newborn babies had to be moved and that at least three babies in the neonatal unit died after a generator incubators was damaged in an Israeli strike.

CNN has reached out to the Israeli military for comment. The IDF regularly says it is targeting Hamas, but doctors here say the hospital is now completely surrounded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation overall is difficult according to our colleague there. There is no water, no electricity, they cannot communicate between each other. There is a lot of targeting around the hospital.

BASHIR: Under a constant barrage of air strikes it is impossible for both patients and staff to safely evacuate. Doctors are overwhelmed, morgues now long beyond capacity. And with communications frequently cut off, contact between medical teams on the ground and with the outside world is growing increasingly difficult.

Hospital officials say thousands of displaced civilians are still thought to be in the compound, taking shelter in what once was thought to be a sanctuary in the midst of this seemingly unending nightmare.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We thought the hospital was a safe place, but it wasn't. If we had stayed another five minutes we would have been killed. They started to bomb us and we ran away from Al Shifa.

BASHIR: The Israeli military says it is now enabling passage from three hospitals in northern Gaza with an additional route said to have been open to allow civilians to evacuate southward.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is another form of torture. We have about six kilometers to go. No less. She got a stroke that caused her brain damage. She can't speak and is paralyzed.

BASHIR: But the United Nations itself has moved out over the so-called safe zones outlined by Israel, warning that nowhere inside Gaza is safe for civilians anymore. And for those too injured, too sick, evacuation is impossible. Many doctors on the ground vowing to stay beside their patients no matter what.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BASHIR (on-camera): And, Omar, we've had strong words of condemnation from the U.N. Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths who's described this as incomprehensible and reprehensible, and he has condemned any attacks on hospitals. But as we have seen over the last couple of weeks these strikes on Gaza's hospitals are inching closer and closer, and the humanitarian toll is growing worse by the day -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: Nada Bashir, thank you so much, as always.

Today Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie was in Israel where he met with injured Israelis and the families of hostages taken by Hamas on October 7th. I spoke with Christie last hour about whether he still believes humanitarian aid to Gaza is a low priority in comparison to what the Israeli military needs.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I still believe that, yes, I think if you're prioritizing these things, Omar, the most important thing is for us to provide financial assistance and military hardware to the Israelis so they can do what they need to do in Gaza regarding the terrorists who attacked them and killed over 1200 of their civilians.

Now no one likes civilian death of anyone whether it's Israeli or Palestinian, but let's remember this, two things, first, there was a cease-fire on October 6th, Omar, and it was Hamas that broke that cease-fire with their attacks on October 7th. And secondly, Israel has done much to try to get Palestinians moved from the area where the battling is going to be to the southern part of Gaza.

It is Hamas that is refusing to let many of those people go to the southern part of Gaza because they want to use them as human shields. I believe that Hamas cares less about Palestinian civilian life than Israel does.


JIMENEZ: Now also in our conversation, we talked about the House speaker's plan to avoid a U.S. government shutdown because the bill that's always been put forth so far doesn't include aid to Ukraine and Israel. Here's what Christie had to say.


CHRISTIE: Let me tell you, when I went to a military installation here today, I saw weapons that were from North Korea, weapons that were from Iran, and weapons that were from Russia. If leaders in Congress don't understand that all of these things are connected and that American dismissal of our role in any of these instances encourages more of them, not fewer of them, we need to send a very clear message by supporting Israel and supporting Ukraine.


JIMENEZ: That was our conversation with Chris Christie. Now coming up for us, a first of its kind surgery a success. We're

going to meet the man who is the first to receive a complete eye and partial face transplant thanks to this medical breakthrough. Stay tuned.



JIMENEZ: A portion of Interstate 10 in downtown Los Angeles remains closed in both directions at this hour, after a large fire of wooden pallets nearby damaged part of the structure of the freeway. You see what some of the fire looked like.

The Los Angeles Fire Department said two separate pallet yards were involved, covering a total of about 80,000 square feet. Several vehicles were also destroyed in the fire, but LAFD said they were able to save three nearby commercial buildings.

At this time, there is no estimate for when the freeway could be re- opened. While Mayor Karen Bass said, in a briefing moments ago, that crews are working as fast as possible to get this major artery re- opened. Governor Gavin Newsom has also declared a state of emergency for Los Angeles County in response to the fire.

Now, a tremendous breakthrough in medicine. Doctors successfully completed the world's first-ever whole eye and partial face transplant surgery.

The patient, Aaron James, whose injuries stemmed from touching a high- voltage wire two years ago, the Arkansas lineman lost his left eye, most of his face and went into a coma. James was set to receive a partial face transplant, but his doctor had a bigger plan in mind.


(voice-over): Aaron James was working as a high-voltage lineman in 2021, when his face accidentally touched a live wire. He lost an arm and parts of his face.

James' new reality left him nearly unrecognizable with no memory of what happened. He was sent to a hospital in Texas not long after.

AARON JAMES, FIRST EYE TRANSPLANT PATIENT: Basically, I got up and went to work, and woke up six weeks later in Dallas, Texas.

JIMENEZ: Doctors at New York University soon got wind of his case and saw a possibility.


JIMENEZ: Less than two years after the accident, they performed a successful, partial face and whole-eye transplant. The first time that's ever been done in history.

And this is what James looks like now. The new eye still not open, but receiving blood flow, his doctors say.

(on camera): When you walk by the mirror, do you ever stop yourself and go, --

A. JAMES: Oh, yes.

JIMENEZ: -- wow.

A. JAMES: Every time I see a mirror, I'll stop. It's unbelievable.

MEAGAN JAMES, WIFE OF AARON JAMES: In the very beginning, it was a poor outlook. They were, basically, preparing me for his death.

JIMENEZ: Did you ever lose hope?


JIMENEZ: Why is that?

M. JAMES: Because he was fighting.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Their daughter, Allie, wasn't sure what he would look like. But that's not what she cared about.

ALLIE JAMES, DAUGHTER OF AARON JAMES: Most of my worries was just how he was going to be when he was awake and aware.

JIMENEZ (on camera): Did you ever think you were going to lose him?

A. JAMES: Yes.

A. JAMES: I think I'm still a little in shock. I'm just like (ph), how in the world? That (ph) just happened to us. You know (ph).

JIMENEZ (voice-over): The 21-hour procedure was intricate at every level.

(on camera): Why is adding an eye to a face transplant much more complicated than the already-complicated face transplant?


JIMENEZ (voice-over): Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez helped lead the historic surgery. In one of two operating rooms, he dissected the face that James would soon receive, including an eye.

RODRIGUEZ: We disconnect it from the donor and the race begins. At this point, the face and the eye are not receiving any blood supply. So, the amount of time that it's not receiving blood is critical. The eye could die. So, I take the face from the donor room to Aaron's room, and I begin all those connections.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Having to use a microscope to connect nerves no more than a millimeter wide to connect the eye. (on camera): Is there a possibility that he will see in the future?

RODRIGUEZ: At this point, he does not see. But the fact that the eye is there, we've already made one huge step forward.

A. JAMES: Wow.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): This was James seeing himself for the first-time post-surgery.

(on camera): You don't look at this as a finish line. This is more of a starting point.

RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely.

JIMENEZ (voice-over): Through it all, James sees a purpose greater than his own.

A. JAMES: That's really my biggest hope out of this deal. I mean, if I can see out of it, that's great. But if it'll kick start the next path in the medical field, and I'm all for it.


JIMENEZ (live): I mean, look, they are just incredible people. Aaron James' spirit alone, something to be admired.

There's still more work to be done, though. Doctors are going to keep testing to see if there is a connection between the brain and the eye that would indicate sight of any kind, including getting teeth. So, he's still got a long way to go.

He also told me he really wanted to thank the donors for this transplant. That on the other side of his happiness, there are people who lost someone and chose to give up some of their loved one for him. And it's something he says he doesn't take for granted and something he thinks about every day.

We'll be right back.



JIMENEZ: As the Israel war -- as the Israel-Hamas war rages on, antisemitism is rising sharply in America and around the world. Tomorrow on -- or tonight, I should say, on CNN's "THE WHOLE STORY" with Anderson Cooper, our Dana Bash takes an in-depth look at the disturbing trend. Here's part of her report where she spoke with a special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism.


BASH (on camera): Since the attack on October seventh, how did your role be vital? DEBORAH LIPSTADT, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR MONITORING AND COMBATING

ANTISEMITISM: In the wake of the attack, we began to see, first, a surge, and then a spike, then an explosion, and now a tsunami of the antisemitism worldwide.

In Paris, in London, in Germany. In Australia, it was gas the jews. Get rid of the jews. Let's have a jew-free zone.

It's not about being pro-Hamas or anti -- or anti-Israel. It's about antisemitism.

BASH (voice-over): Lipstadt was appointed ambassador, because she is one of the world's foremost academic experts on antisemitism.

LIPSTADT: Do you know when the yellow light is flashing? Antisemitism is like that amber light. And what it's signaling is that antisemitism is coming and it's a threat to democracy.


JIMENEZ: And Dana Bash joins me now. Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, I mean, she's really raising the alarm bells. What more can you tell us about what she said? I mean, what did you learn over the course of making this?

BASH (live): You know, I wish this was a good news time. But it is not a good news time across the board, particularly, Omar, on this issue.

You know, we did an hour about the rise of antisemitism in 2022, and I spoke with Deborah Lipstadt then. And she'd really just been confirmed in this role. And then, we were talking about it. Kind of explaining how it is bubbling up. Why it is bubbling up.

And now, it's not a bubble. As she said, it's a tsunami. And it is definitely triggered by -- the tsunami is triggered by what happened on October seventh.

And I think it's important to underscore that it's not so much about the Israeli response.


BASH: Certainly, we've seen antisemitism go even higher since the Israel-Hamas war. But even before that, there was latent antisemitism, late jew hate across not just in the U.S., but around the world.

And they saw what happened. The barbaric attacks that Hamas terrorists committed against innocent civilians, Jewish civilians. And many saw it as a license and it, kind of, blew the lid off.

And one of the things that I did learn from Deborah Lipstadt, to answer your question, Omar, is that what antisemitism, which has been around for millennia. It's the oldest hate. What it tends to signal when it gets higher is the threat to the democracy that -- where this is happening. And we certainly, of course, saw that in Germany in the 1930s, and we are seeing it a threat to democracy in the United States. And this is a telltale sign. And, I think, even for people who aren't focused on hate against jews or people who care about democracy, they need to know that history.

JIMENEZ: Yes. Yes, and, look, I think a lot of people will be interested in -- people are always interested in what you do, Dana Bash. But this one, in particular, I think is going to be really, really impactful for a lot of people. So, can't wait to watch. Thanks for -- thanks for sticking around for us.

BASH: Thank you.

JIMENEZ: An all-new episode of the whole story with Anderson Cooper, one whole hour, one whole story airs tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.

As the T.V. and film industry finally gets back to work after a months-long strike, a new study reveals what viewers want to see on screen. That's next.



JIMENEZ: SAG-AFTRA has finally reached a deal with major studios, clearing the way for actors and those across the industry to get back to work. But are all those on screen being given a fair shot?

UCLA recently released their report on diversity in Hollywood. So, I want to bring in Professor Darnell Hunt, Executive Vice Chancellor and pro-votes (ph) at UCLA, and co-author of the 2023 Hollywood Diversity Report. Good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

Lyle (ph), look, --

DARNELL HUNT, PROFESSOR, UCLA (via Webex): Good to see you.

JIMENEZ: -- your report looks at several factors, including race, gender and disability. So, as far as our favorite shows go, how are they stacking up?

HUNT: Well, you know, the good news is that there's been steady growth on screen, representation of people of color and women for over the years. We've been doing this study for 10 years now. We've seen a pretty steady trend, whereby the images we see are beginning to look more and more like America. In fact, we've reached proportionate representation on streaming platforms, broadcast and cable in recent years from some of the top actors.

Where we haven't seen as much progress, unfortunately, is kind of behind the scenes. You know, the people who are actually telling the stories. And that's really, I think, a challenge for the industry, particularly coming out of the recent strikes. JIMENEZ: Well, and, you know, you talked about just being able to --

the progress that's been made, at least on the acting side it sounds like or in front of the screen. Do you worry that the -- that the SAG- AFTRA and the writer strikes set back any strides that maybe were being made prior to this long period?

HUNT: You know, that's one of the troubling possibilities. We've seen a decline, in recent years, in production within broadcast and cable. In fact, streaming exceeded both of those platforms. In our study, 310 of the 521 we looked at were streaming shows, which, you know, is more than cable and broadcast combined.

Unfortunately, they're signs that the work stoppages, the writer strike, the actor strike, may actually lead to a decline in production. There are some people wondering whether, you know, the industry is going to have to cut back. You know, to kind of cover the cost, the increased cost that they're accruing.

And, of course, the fear is the last hired, first fired. That the progress that's been made in recent years may slow down. We're hopeful that that won't be the case. Because, as we've argued in our report series for the last 10 years, it's pretty clear that programming that looks more like America, in terms of inclusivity, actually tends to do the -- do the best, in terms of ratings.

And we look at, you know, ratings data by household type. And it's pretty much clear across the board that increasing the diverse audiences -- and 43.1 percent of the population right now is people of color and slightly more than half is women. Increasing diverse audiences gravitate towards diverse content.

JIMENEZ: Yes. And, you know, you mentioned this a little bit earlier. But, according to your report, is, for the first time, T.V. casts reflect the -- reflect the diversity of the population. Are you seeing the same trend in films?

HUNT: You know, yes, we see the same trend, but it's not as pronounced. In other words, the gap is still a little bigger in film than in television.

We actually release two separate reports each year. We release a film report right before Oscars, and the T.V. report tends to come out in the fall. And, yes, we are seeing progress in film in front of the camera. Not as much behind the camera, again. But the gap is bigger in film than it is in television.

JIMENEZ: Yes. And, you know, your study covered the 2021-2022 season. Obviously, we had this strike in between.


JIMENEZ: Do you foresee the trend continuing? Do you foresee things getting better? And, if so, what needs to happen to make that the case?

HUNT: Yes. Again, we're hopeful. I mean, there were some troubling signs.

You may recall a few months back, there were reports of a number of diversity, you know, executives being let go by the studios and networks. You know, many of them were people of color who had been around for a few years and had helped the networks move forward and the studios move forward.

And so, one of the concerns was, is this a sign that the -- that the industry is stepping back, you know, from its commitment to increasingly diversify? So, that's something I think we're going to have to look at closely.

But, again, if the industry is going to remain viable, particularly given the increased costs that it's incurring because of the recent work stoppages, it's going to have to produce programming that diverse audiences want to see. So, I think one of the things it's going to have to do is increasingly diversify the executive suites of the people who make decisions. About what gets made. With what type of budget. Who directs. That type of thing.

JIMENEZ: Yes, we'll see.

HUNT: Essentially, worries are told (ph).

JIMENEZ: Yes. Yes. Darnell Hunt, thank you so much.

And thank you all at home for watching. I'm Omar Jimenez. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Jim Acosta, in just a moment.