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Al-Shifa Doctors Denies Israel's Claims, Says They Were Ordered To Leave; Trump Goes On the Attack In Iowa As Caucuses Grow Closer; House Speaker Mike Johnson Blasts American Culture; Special Counsel Using California Grand Jury In Hunter Biden Probe; Trump's Gag Order Temporarily Lifted In New York Fraud Trial; Most Powerful Rocket Ever Built Destroyed In Test Flight. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired November 18, 2023 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA REID, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Reid in Washington.
More than 200 hostages are believed to still be inside Gaza tonight six weeks after being taken captive from Israel by Hamas. Today, thousands gathered at a massive rally in Tel Aviv, calling for the Israeli government to do more to bring those hostages home.
As negotiations for their release continue, President Biden is doubling down on his support for Israel. In an op-ed for the "Washington Post," the president rejected mounting calls for a ceasefire saying it will only give Hamas more time to, quote, "restart the killing by attacking innocents again."
But the fighting continues in Gaza City. Doctors at Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, say they were ordered to evacuate by the Israeli military. Now the IDF disputes that claim. It comes as Israel Defense Forces are now vowing to advance anywhere Hamas is found. And there are growing signs that a ground offensive into southern Gaza could be imminent.
Let's go straight to CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson live in Sderot, Israel.
Nic, give us the latest from where you are.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Still intense firefights going on here in northern Gaza. The IDF said that they're pushing from the coast in the west towards the east where we are here. And we've been able to see flares, heavy missile strikes from aircraft, heavy tank rounds fired into the area. Sometimes the skylights up bright orange with some of the explosions.
Sometimes you just can't see precisely what's being hit and what's happening but we can hear heavy machine gunfire as well. So it really does feel from here as if the battle in northern Gaza is still raging. The IDF said several days ago that Hamas has now lost sort of operational control over the north of Gaza. But clearly, from what we're seeing, the IDF hasn't gained operational
control over the north of Gaza either. It is still having these intense fights and as you said, Al-Shifa Hospital, the IDF's narrative about what's happened there is at variance with the doctors. The doctors say that they were forced to evacuate everyone that they could. The IDF said that the doctors had requested an evacuation.
Fighting continues close to there and late into today, the U.N.'s principal refugee agency in Gaza indicated that one of their schools where displaced people had been sheltering as they had been for many, many weeks now, in fact, a school that was hit in a missile strike a couple of weeks ago, the U.N. agency said that there was some sort of incident there which had caused dozens of people to either be injured or killed.
And video from that site really showed a very grim situation of bodies scattered in rooms in that U.N. operated school building. So the fight really still ongoing into tonight and every sense from the IDF, from the politicians as well, that the south southern part of the Gaza Strip will be next. But much to be done here as well in the north clearly.
REID: And Nic, of course, there's another controversy with the Al- Shifa Hospital which continues to be the epicenter of fighting in Gaza as Israel claims Hamas is conducting military operations there. But there's been this pressure from the international community to show more proof that that is true. So what can you tell us?
ROBERTSON: Yes, the IDF has been saying for many weeks that they believe that underneath Al-Shifa Hospital, there was a complex bunker system. Not just a few random tunnels, but a bunker system that Hamas was operating from. That this was a place of command and control. From the United States, several officials there have said that they are aware of Hamas having a communications node in that hospital.
But so far, so far, the only evidence after several days inside the Al-Shifa Hospital that the IDF has shown and I say so far because they insist that over the coming days and weeks they will be able to find out the complexity and sophistication of the tunnel network that they believe is under that hospital. That they have not been able to show a bunker network underneath the hospital. That they've only been able to show a number of weapons that have been found there. Some stashed in a backpack behind an MRI machine in the hospital.
They did show the entrance to a tunnel that was in the grounds of the hospital that appeared to have been covered up by a vehicle or by sand. The extent of that tunnel, though, the IDF said, at least within the past 24 hours, they didn't know the extent of that tunnel and where precisely it led to. So I think at the moment, there still is a lot of scrutiny on the IDF to show what, you know, to show that their investigation that's ongoing right now does prove the case that they made for going into the hospital. And at the moment, that seems to be an open question.
REID: Nic Robertson, thank you.
I want to go straight to our next guest. IDF spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Amnon Shefler joins us now live from Tel Aviv.
Lieutenant, thank you so much for joining us. I want to get your reaction to some of what Nic just reported. There are these growing calls for more evidence that Hamas is using the medical complex as a military center. What is your response?
LT. COL. AMNON SHEFLER, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Good evening, Paula. And thanks for having us.
We are working diligently but in the most accurate and careful way in the hospital because we care about those patients and about the medical staff who's there. We sent an elite unit that has been trained specifically for these complicated situations that is going after very accurate intelligence to find and expose where Hamas is hiding and using this facility.
And that is what we have already shown with an extensive amount of ammunition with adhere, a shaft to an underground tunnel, and we're exposing more and more, and we will show it as we've been doing, bringing in reporters and sharing everything that we find with the world.
REID: So you're saying that what you've shown so far should be sufficient to justify this claim.
SHEFLER: We are saying that it already is sufficient but we have more and we will share it. So we are exposing more and more how Hamas has deliberately used like schools, like mosques, also this hospitals, the Rantisi Hospital, the Al Quds Hospital, to carry out its terrorist activity while hiding behind civilians and specifically here in the hospital, the patients, the ill. And that is exactly what using human shields is.
REID: This week, your forces confirmed the bodies of two Israeli hostages were found near the Al-Shifa Hospital. Is there concern that there could be more bodies, additional hostages who have already been killed?
SHEFLER: We have two set goals for this war that Hamas launched. The first is to dismantle Hamas and the second is to bring back the hostages. 237 hostages that have been held for 43 days by Hamas. We're doing everything we can operationally, intel wise, diplomatically, and including in working in the Shifa hospital where in the vicinity of it we've already recovered two bodies of hostages. And we'll continue doing this in order to find any tip that we can on bringing the hostages home.
REID: When will you share more of the evidence that you have uncovered at the hospital?
SHEFLER: We're working in a professional way and we will share it once it can be released. But it will be soon. REID: Now, a Hamas video claimed one of the hostages we were just
talking about, Noah Marciano, found near the hospital was killed during Israeli air strikes. What is the IDF's response to that claim and do you have a concern about hostages being in harm's way?
SHEFLER: We have a concern very much as I mentioned. This is our top priority. In bringing back the hostages, and of course bringing them back home alive. Now, we have taken these bodies and we're examining every intel piece that we can about understanding what happened to them. At the same time, I must remind us all, on October 7th morning, these women were alive and they were taken by Hamas in a brutal way and now they are dead.
REID: As our Nic Robertson just reported, there has been more rocket fire over Gaza tonight. Is this part of a growing offensive? Is your forces prepared to move in to the southern part of Gaza?
SHEFLER: We are prepared to act against Hamas wherever they are. For operational reasons, we target first the northern part of the Gaza Strip. Specifically where the Gaza City is. That is why we've asked civilians to move to the southern part of the Gaza Strip, but we know sadly that Hamas is using the whole Gaza Strip to continue its offensive against Israeli civilians.
Over 10,000 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip to Israel and that includes the southern part of the Gaza Strip. So that is why we will continue going after Hamas wherever they are and yet we have designated a specific area in the part that is safe. It's called Al- Mawasi. We have asked civilians to move there. We have texted millions of texts and calls and leaflets to ask civilians to move there and ourselves have brought a lot of aid, food, and water.
And we've asked any international organization and any country that wishes to send field hospitals to bring it to that area so that these innocent civilians can have what they need and not to continue suffering from Hamas.
REID: We are also hearing reports from the U.N. about two schools hit by a blast in northern Gaza. They were reportedly being used to shelter evacuees. The U.N. can't confirm what happened but is there anything you can tell us about this?
SHEFLER: We're aware of these reports in Jabaliya, and as you mentioned, this is the northern part of the Gaza Strip, north of the city of Gaza, and we're looking into it. But it can remind us all as we have seen already so many times how Hamas has used a civilian infrastructure be it schools, hospitals, mosques, and it's a good question to ask. Why are these innocent people still in that area after we've called them for weeks to evacuate and move to the safer place in the south?
This is a war zone, and it is dangerous to be there and we're asking them again and again to move to safer areas. And it only raises the question, why are they still there. Is this another part of Hamas using them as human shields?
REID: Well, Hamas is demanding Israel stop flying surveillance drones over Gaza as part of course the hostage negotiations. Is that something you are open to? I mean, how would that impact your operations there?
SHEFLER: We're doing everything we can to bring the hostages home. Of course I cannot elaborate on what operationally we can or cannot do in that regard, but we are doing everything we can to bring them home safely.
REID: Lieutenant Colonel Amnon Shefler, thank you for joining us.
SHEFLER: Thank you.
REID: It was the most powerful rocket ever built but didn't make it to space. The latest on SpaceX's launch. Also, Colorado judge says Donald Trump engaged in insurrection but rules he can still appear on the state's primary ballot. And Taylor Swift postponed her concert in Rio de Janeiro due to extreme temperatures.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
REID: Today, Donald Trump is back in the all-important state of Iowa, and he's going on the attack. With just eight weeks left until the state's first-in-the-nation contest for Republicans, the former president is mounting an aggressive campaign as he attempts to stop his GOP rivals from catching up to him, including former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Nikki bird brain, sir, I will never, ever vote against you. You're the greatest president in my lifetime. She's not that wrong. I mean, she's not that all bad. I would have preferred if she said in generations but I know her well. She's not up to the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Trump's swing through Iowa comes as he faces intensifying heat from Haley in another critical state for Republicans. A new CNN poll shows Trump maintaining a significant lead among 42 percent of likely voters in New Hampshire's GOP primary. But Haley has leapfrogged Trump's other rivals, moving into second place at 20 percent.
Now let's discuss more now with CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor at "The Atlantic," Ron Brownstein.
All right, Ron, I want to get your reaction to Nikki Haley's rise in the polls. Is this a flash in the pan or can she mount a serious challenge to Trump? RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the answer to the
first question is no and the answer to the second question is TBD. Nikki Haley has two goals that she has to reach and one of them I think she's clearly on track to do and the other one we'll have to see.
The first one is to supplant Ron DeSantis as Trump's chief rival in the race, and I think she is on a pathway to do that. I mean, DeSantis' strategy as we've talked about before has been to run at Trump almost entirely from the right and in the process he struggled to peel away many of those Trump hardcore, Trump supporters but alienated a lot of the voters in kind of the center right of the party who are the most resistant to Trump. He's left a vacuum that Haley is clearly filling in New Hampshire, even in Iowa to some extent, and certainly in South Carolina.
So you can imagine the scenario, Paula, where Haley even if she finishes third in Iowa, can finish a much stronger second and possibly even challenge Trump in New Hampshire, and then get a real shot at him in South Carolina. Now to ultimately dislodge him, she's going to have to cut deeper into the voters who are now supporting him.
But I think there's no question that she has consolidated the voters -- she's in the process of consolidating the voters who are most resistant to Trump where DeSantis kind of had an opportunity at but so far has failed to convert by the way he has chosen to run in this race.
REID: And as we've seen Trump is devoting a lot of energy to Iowa but it appears that it's really New Hampshire where he could face this threat. He lost the state twice in the general election. It also doesn't have a large base of evangelical voters he can count on.
So if he loses in New Hampshire's primary or barely scrapes by, how detrimental would that be for his campaign?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think it does create the opportunity at that point for someone else to have a shot at him in South Carolina, which would be about four weeks later. You know, the history of the Republican primary in the modern era has been remarkably consistent. In every contested race since 1980 except for one, one candidate won Iowa, a second candidate on New Hampshire, one of the two won South Carolina, and eventually became the nominee.
The only exception was 2012 when Newt Gingrich won South Carolina and didn't win the nomination. I think if Haley, you know, who clearly seems to be on a trajectory now where she is likely to be the closest finisher to Trump in New Hampshire, particularly if Governor Sununu there endorses her, which certainly seems possible, and if Chris Christie, who is drawing largely from the same pool of voters, you know, withdraws from the race closer to the New Hampshire date and potentially endorses her.
If Haley did that, she would kind of be in the same position that John McCain was in 2000 when he beat George W. Bush in New Hampshire. That gave him a chance. It put him in the ring. They had this epic battle in South Carolina. Ultimately Bush won and then he won the nomination. I think if Haley runs well in New Hampshire, she would give herself a shot in South Carolina at really emerging as a true challenger to Trump.
But to do that, she's going to have to -- you know, as I said, she's in the process of consolidating that 30 percent, 35 percent of the party that is most resistant to Trump. Ultimately, she's going to have to win more of what Republican pollster Whit Ayres calls those maybe Trump voters who voted for him in the past but are open to an alternative now. And we'll see if she can find a way to do that. Because so far she really hasn't directly confronted him to the degree that she'll have to if she's really going to make this list.
REID: Let's talk a little bit about those voters in the middle, on the fence. Looking ahead to next year, what kind of impact do you think a No Labels candidate could have on the presidential election?
BROWNSTEIN: You know, Donald Trump ran twice. He did not come close to 50 percent. I know there are polls now showing him at times drawing 50 percent, but given the agenda that he's running on, calling his political enemies vermin, talking about detention camp, mass deportation, deploying the National Guard into blue cities, et cetera, it's very hard to imagine him getting to 50 percent of the vote.
And therefore, you know, there's arguments and polls about whether various third party candidates take more or less from one side or the other. In general, I think all of the third party candidates help Trump because Biden has shown that he can get to 50 percent. Democrats have gotten to 50 percent several times over the last generation. Republicans have only done it once since 1988, in 2004.
So if you lower the number you need to win on balance, I think that helps Trump. You know, it is possible that a third party candidate or candidate could draw a significant share of the total vote. You have a lot of Americans who are dissatisfied with both Trump and Biden. They really don't want this choice. The problem for a third party candidate is not winning a lot of votes. It's winning any states. I mean, you have the risk, no matter how plausible a third party campaign you have, you might come in second in the blue states for the Democrats and second in the red states for the Republicans.
Ross Perot won 90 percent of the vote in 1992 and didn't win a state. So No Labels has to understand that it will be a spoiler, it will be a spoiler that would make it more likely that Trump would be president again and we'll see whether they choose to go forward with that clear knowledge that that would be their likely effect.
REID: Ron, I want to turn right now to the new speaker of the House and some comments that Mike Johnson made. "Rolling Stone" uncovered a prayer call that Congressman Johnson had with a right-wing pastor, with the pastor, where they discussed American culture. Let's take a listen to what Johnson had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): It's an inflection point or a civilizational moment. The only question is, is God going to allow our nation to enter a time of judgment for our collective sins which his mercy and grace have held back for some time? The faith in our institutions is as low as it's ever been in the history of our nation. The culture is so dark and depraved that it almost seems irredeemable at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: What do you make of him calling American culture dark and depraved, perhaps irredeemable?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes. I mean, his evidence that it was dark and depraved was the large number of young people who identify somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. You know, his remarks were not as severe but seemingly in the same vein of Pat Robertson and Jerry Fallwell after 9/11 saying it was God's punishment for America's kind of, you know, departure from traditional morality.
I wrote in 2012 and I believe since that the fundamental dividing line in American politics are between those Americans who are comfortable with the way the country is changing demographically, culturally, and economically, and those who are not, I called it the coalition of transformation and the coalition of restoration.
And what you hear there from the speaker is really a core belief I think is what unifies and knits together the modern Republican coalition more than anything else. The belief that the country is evolving in a way that is, you know, kind of defacing and uprooting our traditions and values. And so many of the policies that, you know, that you see, whether it's abortion or same-sex marriage, all flow out of this belief that what America is becoming is untrue to what it has been.
And I think he is a strong reflection of that and you will see that manifest in all sorts of policies. Whether his support for a national ban on, you know, the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity, or presumably a national abortion ban at some point. That is the underlying belief that motors, that powers that broad policy in general.
REID: Ron, thank you.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.
REID: And sources tell CNN the special counsel investigating Hunter Biden has subpoenaed his uncle James Biden to come before a California grand jury. That's next.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[19:30:28] REID: Let's go to new developments in the federal investigation into Hunter Biden. CNN is learning a grand jury has been convened in Los Angeles, indicating that the special counsel could be preparing new charges against the president's son.
People close to the probe tell my colleagues and I that James Biden, Hunter Biden's uncle and one-time business associate has received a subpoena in recent weeks.
Joining us now Renato Mariotti and Shan Wu, both former federal prosecutors. It looks like we may not have Renato right now. So I'm going to come to you, Shan with my first question.
Earlier, a guest said that he didn't even think that there would be an indictment in Los Angeles because of the demographic of the grand jury. But you and I both know, it's not that hard to get an indictment. I mean, do you think that this makes it likely that Hunter Biden will face new charges?
SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Oh, I think so. I think I'm not exactly sure of what value these particular witnesses will add. It's hard to know. But it's obvious that since the plea deal collapsed, that the prosecutor is going to essentially punish Hunter Biden by saying since we can't work out a plea deal, we will indict you.
REID: Now, his defense team has pointed to two things. In particular one, they've said, look, the taxes were paid. They also point to the fact that this was a chaotic time in his life. He had substance abuse issues.
As a defense attorney, how would you incorporate either one of those arguments into a possible defense?
WU: I'd say that, like they're beginning to argue, it is a selective prosecution that someone other than him without his name and pedigree would not be charged here. And what else does the government want? I mean, he's already paid back the taxes. No harm, no foul.
REID: So you looking at the case, you had the gun case in Delaware, which we've covered extensively, then the possibility of another case out in California. Do you agree? Does this look to you like selective prosecution? Or would Joe or Jane Smith face the same kind of charges based on the conduct?
WU: I think the general feeling of people who have been on the defense bar and the prosecution is it looks a little like selective prosecution in the sense of this, most people in this circumstance, these charges have been paid back the taxes probably would not be looking at the prospect of a further indictment, especially after the case has staggered on for five years.
REID: All right, we have Renato now. Renato, I want to let you weigh in on the grand jury in Los Angeles hearing evidence, it appears to be related to Hunter Biden's -- I think we lost him again, no worries.
All right, Shan, let's move on to this week, because we're looking at an appeals court here in Washington that's going to hear arguments about one of the gag orders for former President Trump.
This one, of course has to do with the federal case here in Washington, Judge Tanya Chutkan has implemented this barring him from attacking people she says who are just trying to do their jobs or their civic duty. So that's witnesses, court staff, prosecutors, do you expect that this will ultimately be upheld?
WU: I'm not sure. I think it should be upheld. I think it's an example of the court's despite their best intentions really bending over backwards on these cases trying not to infringe on Trump's First Amendment rights.
I think they're narrowly tailored, it's perfectly reasonable. He shouldn't be attacking these people because one, it endangers them. And two, it obviously endangers the integrity of the case itself.
And I think the courts are have a misplaced focus here. The First Amendment restriction can be remedied later. He can talk as much as he wants. That's how you remedy the First Amendment is more speech. Threats, harassment, violence can't be remedied.
And if I could shift slightly to the New York gag order, you see as soon as they lifted that state, what did Trump and his folks do? He went right back to attacking people and that kind of danger, you can't fix it later.
REID: Yes, I think we have his Truth Social post today. As soon as the New York Civil Case gag order was lifted, he once again went after the judge's clerk.
Now politically, we know why he does this, right? He wants to undermine trust in the process, in this case, which speaks to the heart of his business, really his personal identity.
But as a very experienced defense attorney, have you ever had a client post on social media attacking a judge's clerk?
WU: No, I mean, it's first of all, it makes no sense to attack the clerk that's just nothing viable. I mean, maybe you think the judge is biased for making bad rulings, but particularly as a defense strategy, when it's a bench trial, the last thing you want to do is get on the wrong side of the judge and that's exactly what they're doing.
I mean maybe they're still hoping to goad the judge into some outbursts where they'll say mistrial, it looks bad on appeal that you're biased. But other than that, it's not a very good strategy at all.
REID: Yes. And as we know, that judge has already found him liable for fraud up there. They're just focused on penalties and the judge has, at times so engaged and done things that are unusual. And we expect that they will appeal.
Would the argument that the special counsel has made with a gag order, as they said, look, he has displayed former President Trump has displayed a pattern, right, where he targets people and then opens them up to threats and harassment, and that's what they're trying to protect here.
Do you think that argument will be enough to protect particularly people who are witnesses in the case? You can't attack witnesses. You know that.
WU: I think it should be. I mean, his team is going to argue, he is not saying that people go attack so and so and tell so and so to be quiet, and the special counsel's point is, he doesn't have to do it that explicitly.
And I think if you pull back a second from a big picture point of view, it's a reasonable curtailing of his speech when he has this platform and there has been this demonstrated propensity for violence by his followers. That's reasonable.
It's not as though the court is singling him out to do something different. If anything, they're being extra careful to give him as much room as possible.
REID: It's a fascinating issue. I mean, it'll be really interesting to hear the arguments on Monday. And then when the three judge panel makes their decision, we'll see -- we'll see what they do.
Shan Wu, thank you so much for joining us.
And Space X attempts its second mega rocket launch, but didn't quite make it to space. What this means for future manned missions to Mars.
You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
REID: The most powerful rocket ever built exploded this morning shortly after takeoff. The SpaceX Starship blasted off from its launch pad in South Texas, the rocket and booster separated all as planned, and then things went wrong prompting a self-destruct.
Our resident space expert, Kristin Fisher has more -- Kristin.
KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula SpaceX engineers are going to spend the next several days and weeks pouring through this data trying to figure out what exactly went wrong, but it is important to note that this is what SpaceX does. They like to push their rockets and spacecrafts all the way to the point of failure because that's how they learn.
They did this with all of their previous and now successful rockets and spacecrafts and now, they're trying to do it with Starship. And this rocket is the biggest, most powerful rocket that's ever been built that's ever flown. It is designed to ultimately make humanity multiplanetary. That's the ultimate goal, to carry up to a hundred humans up to the surface of Mars and actually colonize the Red Planet.
But first, SpaceX needs to get this rocket into orbit, and so today, this second test flight was a success in that it did much better than that first failed test flight back in April.
The 33 raptor engines all ignited. The launch pad was not destroyed. There was a successful stage separation between the booster and the spacecraft, and the spacecraft made it all the way past the Karman Line, all the way to the edge of space, almost into orbit.
But then something happened and that's why what happened today was also a failure. There were two explosions, both the booster and the spacecraft ended in an explosion. And that's not what was supposed to happen.
Ultimately, if everything had gone according to plan, it was supposed to complete almost a full lap of the earth and then splashdown in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Hawaii.
So this is what the FAA calls a mishap and that has now triggered a mishap investigation. It's going to be led by SpaceX, but now they have to get another launch license from the FAA before they can attempt to fly Starship one more time -- Paula.
REID: Kristin Fisher, thank you.
And we're following a tragic story in Brazil. Taylor Swift posting on Instagram that a fan died last night before an Eras Tour performance in Rio de Janeiro. The singer-songwriter says she does not have additional information at this time, other than the fact that the fan was "so incredibly beautiful and far too young."
And just hours ago, Swift postponed tonight's show in Rio due to the extreme heat saying that the safety and well-being of her fans, fellow performers, and crew comes first.
And next, how a nearly 100-year-old Jewish World War Two veteran is using his voice to fight against the disturbing rise of antisemitism.
REID: As events in the Middle East continue to make headlines, they also stir up horrific memories for people who recall what happened about 80 years ago when antisemitism swept Europe.
CNN's Gary Tuchman talked with a veteran US soldier, a Jewish man who fought in World War Two and was there to help liberate the Dachau death camp. Now, he is coping with fierce emotions as the past threatens to become the present.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hilbert Margol who lives in Atlanta is three months away from his 100th birthday. Just before his 21st birthday, Army Private First Class Hilbert Margol, a Jewish soldier was deployed to fight the Nazis in World War Two.
HILBERT MARGOL, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: And when the Battle of the Bulge broke out, they rushed our three infantry regiments as fast as they could get them over there.
TUCHMAN (voice over): The Battle of the Bulge was ending as Hilbert on the right and his late identical twin brother, Howard, on the left arrived in occupied France.
The two gunners and their 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division ended up in combat and headed across the border to Germany.
MARGOL: We couldn't be more than three yards away from our howitzer, because we could get fire missions morning, noon, or night.
TUCHMAN: On April 29th, 1945, the brothers Margol investigated a horrible odor they smelled. After about 15 minutes walking through the woods, they saw an opened train boxcar in the German city of Dachau.
What did you see in the boxcar?
MARGOL: Nothing but deceased bodies. We had a little Brownie box camera we had delivered right a couple weeks earlier. So we decided, well, let's go ahead and take a picture of that boxcar, which we did.
TUCHMAN: The brothers knew nothing about Nazi death or concentration camps, but Hilbert and Howard were among the first American soldiers on the scene. They were the liberators of the Dachau concentration camp, where more than 40,000 people were murdered by the Nazis.
BETTY ANN MARGOL, HILBERT MARGOL'S WIFE: Are we going walking before we eat dinner?
MARGOL: No, I don't feel up to it.
BETTY ANN MARGOL: You don't feel up to it. Okay.
TUCHMAN (voice over): Hilbert and his 94-year-old wife, Betty Ann, had been married for 75 years. For most of those years, he didn't talk about the war, didn't reveal his emotions. But several years ago, he was an honored guest at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and walked through a train boxcar exhibit.
MARGOL: This was a very nice looking boxcar. But when I got in that boxcar to walk through it, that's when I broke down.
TUCHMAN (voice over): Hilbert Margol has since been on a mission to teach and inspire. He speaks to schools and organizations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, let's give a warm welcome for Mr. Hilbert Margol.
TUCHMAN (voice over): Late last week, it was to hundreds of students at Atlanta's St. Pius X Catholic School.
MARGOL: Found out later it was close to 32,000 prisoners in those barracks when we were there that Sunday morning.
TUCHMAN (voice over): But he's never considered his speeches more important than he does today because of what happened in Israel on October 7th.
TUCHMAN (on camera): In all the years you've been back from war and it's been almost 80 years, have you ever seen antisemitism in this country as bad as it is today?
MARGOL: No. I've had some incidents growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, then in business. But nothing, nothing like it's happening now.
TUCHMAN (voice over): Hilbert's son, Jerry, says he's never seen his 99-year-old father struggling with his emotions like he is now.
JERRY MARGOL, SON OF HILBERT MARGOL: He wants to talk about it and go a little deeper, but he can't. It's too painful to think that all this could happen over again.
MARGOL: If it doesn't slow down, if it doesn't change --
TUCHMAN (on camera): The antisemitism.
MARGOL: Right. Then who's next?
TUCHMAN (voice over): Before we left Hilbert Margol, we thanked him for his heroism.
MARGOL: Never considered myself a hero, because to me, the hero, the true heroes of those that didn't make it back. Those are the true heroes.
TUCHMAN (voice over): Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.
REID: Inflation may be finally slowing down in the US but it's still being felt at the supermarket.
As we approach, Thanksgiving, food banks are feeling the pinch.
CNN's Rafael Romo is in Atlanta, where a charity that has been feeding Metro residents for decades is holding a drive-thru Turkey giveaway. RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Paula, the goal was to help about 800 families today with boxes of food, turkeys, and other items that were donated by local donors, and the reality was that once they reached that goal of 800, there were still families lined up trying to still get help, so they had to bring some more.
And organizers told us that the idea here was to give each family enough food so that they could have what they described as a modest Thanksgiving feast.
These families are here from the community. This was open to everybody, but the families had to pre-register so that they would have access to this. And the president of Hosea Helps told us that this is not about Thanksgiving only, this is, she told us a way to reach those families in need, many families who have lost their jobs that are still trying to recover after the pandemic, this is what they have to say about this effort.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The food is just the portal into the family. That's just the way we get them in the building. Then they meet with our case managers and we find out, oh, domestic violence is in this family. There's death, there's medical needs, there's children that are absent from school, et cetera.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is making a big difference. We will have a Happy Thanksgiving. And don't have to worry about where we're going to get the meal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know I was thinking about not even cooking on Thanksgiving, but now I have opportunity to do so. And I'm so grateful. I'm so, so grateful to God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMO: And Paula, the good news for these families and many families across America is that food prices have indeed gone down this year, a little bit, about five percent on average.
Just to give you an idea, a 16-pound turkey is a little less than $30.00. A Thanksgiving dinner is going to cost a little over $60.00 this year. Gas prices are down across the nation.
But the reality is that there's still a great need among many families and this is what Hosea Helps is trying to do. And if the name of the organization sounds familiar it is because it was founded originally by Hosea Williams, the late civil rights leader.
Paula, back to you.
REID; Rafael Romo, thank you for that heartwarming report.
And thank you for joining me this evening I'm Paula Reid Washington and I'll see you again tomorrow night starting at 5:00 Eastern.
"The Whole Story" with Anderson Cooper, "Antisemitism in America" is up next.