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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is Interviewed about Gaza; Emma and Danielle Are Interviewed about Anti-Semitism on Cornell Campus; Remembering Bobby Knight. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired November 02, 2023 - 08:30   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And joining us now is the Senate's number two Democrat, Dick Durbin. He also chairs the Judiciary Committee.

Senator, thanks very much for being with me.

And I wonder if you agree with Attorney General Ellison that more forceful public language on civilian casualties from President Biden would be helpful.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Well, let me say at the outside that what happened on October 7th, the Hamas terrorism against Israel, was outrageous and barbaric. No question about it. Fourteen hundred people who lost their lives in the process. Israel has the right to defend itself. It has the right to stop this terrorist activity by Hamas.

Now let's get down to the reality of this confrontation. We know that hundreds, thousands, if you will, have been killed, innocent people, in the process. It is time for a humanitarian pause. It is time for us to count the injured and bring them forward, for floating hospitals and other sources that can help them. I think this is the moment we should seize (ph).

HARLOW: I think a lot of people listening to people in power, the president, you, Secretary Blinken, calling for a humanitarian pause, are asking themselves, why is that different from a ceasefire. Two years ago, 2021, during an escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza, you called for a ceasefire and said you, quote, "couldn't disagree more" with Netanyahu's policies, quote, "when it came to the treatment of Palestinians." Is a ceasefire needed now?

DURBIN: I think it is. At least under -- in the context of both sides agreeing. For example, the release of those who have been kidnapped should be a part of this. Immediate release. That should be the beginning of it. An effort should be made to engage in conversation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Let's face it, this has gone on for decades. Whatever the rationale from the beginning has now reached an intolerable level. We need to have a resolution in the Middle East that gives some promise for the future. HARLOW: Have you told the president, the White House, you think it's

time for a ceasefire because that is a word that the president is intentionally not using?

DURBIN: Well, believe me, what I said earlier about ceasefire under circumstances, for example, the release of those who have been kidnapped as part of it, an indication this is a good faith effort on the part of the other side. But, no, I have not communicated with the White House on that.

HARLOW: Well, they - they heard you now.

Senator Lindsey Graham, on CNN this week, he essentially said, Senator, there's no limit to the number of civilian casualties that may have to come from Israel's counterattack on Hamas.

Listen to this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If somebody asked us after World War II, is there a limit what you would do to make sure that Japan and Germany don't conquer the world? Is there any limit what Israel should do to the people who are trying to slaughter the Jews? The answer is no, there is no limit.


HARLOW: Do you agree? Is there no limit? No red line?

DURBIN: If there are to be international standards, humane standards, which we ascribe to over the years, there has to be some proportion to the loss involved. We know that Hamas is using civilians as shields for their military activity. Shamelessly doing that and putting people in danger.

But the fact is for us to argue that we should at least have some limitation, some active effort to stop the killing of innocent children, women, and innocent civilians, I think is consistent with the values of the United States and should be part of our program.

HARLOW: So, there is a line.

What about on fuel? What about something that is not a strike but it's jeopardizing the lives of millions - of thousands of civilians within -- potentially millions of Palestinians? Do you agree with Israel's position not to allow fuel into Gaza because they argue it will all be taken by Hamas?

DURBIN: Well, I don't know the particulars of that. And we've been briefed on it. We understand that the fuel is necessary for Hamas to maintain their tunnel system, which is extensive, some 300 miles of tunnels, which they are using to store their military equipment and to prepare their Hamas followers to attack. So, we have to be careful that any fuel sent in is used strictly for civilian purposes. For example, to be able to fuel the operations of the hospitals. So

critically important now with so many people injured. It's going to take some extra effort. But we've got to be careful that we provide humanitarian aid in a way that does not enlarge this conflict, but rather restricts it.

HARLOW: Here, Senator, to your point, is what Senator Chris Murphy, your fellow Democrat, said about the importance of fuel getting in.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): It is simply not acceptable to cut the entirety of Gaza, including a million plus children, off from fuel that keeps people alive.


HARLOW: Do you - do you think he's right, if Israel were to have safeguards to try to ensure it doesn't get to Hamas, that they've got to let some fuel in for the civilians?

DURBIN: Absolutely. It's a matter of life and death. Let's - let's be very honest about it.


With all of these people who have been injured by the conflict that has gone on, these innocent people whose lives have been wrecked, we've got to provide them basic medical care, and that includes the fuel necessary to run these clinics and hospitals.

HARLOW: Senator Dick Durbin, appreciate your time, very much, this morning.

DURBIN: Thank you.

HARLOW: Thanks.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, we're now learning six Americans have arrived on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing after being trapped in Gaza for weeks. We're going to continue our coverage of the humanitarian crisis at the border ahead.

HARLOW: And classes canceled at Cornell University tomorrow as they are addressing the, quote, extraordinary stress on the campus that they have been under after a student there was arrested for anti- Semitic threats against their Jewish classmates. We'll talk to two students from Cornell Law School ahead.


MATTINGLY: Classes at Cornell University will be canceled tomorrow. The administration is call for a, quote, "community day" after the arrest of the student accused of making anti-Semitic threats against his fellow classmates. Twenty-one-year-old Patrick Dai appeared in court yesterday, charged in connection with threatening to kill and injure Jewish students in social media posts. He did not enter a plea.


Joining us now, Emma and Danielle. Both are students at Cornell Law School.

We appreciate your time. I know this has been a lot this week to put it plainly.

Emma, I want to start with you.

The -- when you heard that there was an arrest, how did you feel about that?

EMMA, CORNELL LAW SCHOOL STUDENT WHO'S CONCERNED ABOUT ANTI-SEMITISM ON CAMPUS: We certainly felt relieved. We certainly felt relieved and we are so grateful for law enforcement and the school for making this happen. So we were relieved. But I'll tell you this, we're still scared. We're glad he's in custody, but there's still certainly a fearful environment.

MATTINGLY: You know, to that point, Danielle, the mood on campus and campuses, plural, I know you can't speak for every campus, nor can you speak for the entire student body, but the level of tension right now and -- seeming kind of path to conflict to some degree on campuses across the country is really jarring. How are you guys feeling your campus is?

DANIELLE, CORNELL LAW SCHOOL STUDENT WHO'S CONCERNED ABOUT ANTI- SEMITISM ON CAMPUS: Yes, I mean, I think that characterization is exactly right. Obviously, again, as Emma said, it's relieving to know that the suspect is in custody. But I think there's also -- it is also incredibly disheartening that threat came from within the student body and it's also disheartening that within the past three weeks we've really seen the normalization and acceptance almost of anti-Semitism, whether it be professors who are (INAUDIBLE) violence or student organizations chanting openly anti-Semitic slogans. It's certainly disheartening and it's definitely -- it's definitely been a hostile environment.

MATTINGLY: You make an important point, though, this hasn't just been the awful threats that were made. There have been several issues here that have drawn a lot of attention, created a lot of concern.

In a statement Cornell's president outlined a plan to fight anti- Semitism on campus going forward. It includes a promise to respond rapidly and forcefully to threats, focus on anti-Semitism and diversity, and equity in programs, more anti-Semitism experts, historians, as campus speakers, new policies to prevent doxxing.

The way this has been approached by your university's administration, do you believe it's been effective?

DANIELLE: These are certainly welcoming developments and, you know, it's definitely been a long time coming. It's unfortunate that it took as severe a threat as we saw for the university to put out a statement like that. But there should definitely be a greater push to educate campus about anti-Semitism and all of its manifestations, as well as accountability for faculty and student and student organizations that perpetuate anti-Semitism on campus to the level of intensity and scope that we've been seeing.

MATTINGLY: Emma, I know October 7th changed everything for a lot of people, really the entire world to some degree, but do you feel like this is a direct offshoot of October 7th, or has this always been there, it just hasn't necessarily risen to kind of the public consciousness on your campus?

EMMA: I think anti-Semitism is something as old as time itself.


EMMA: But certainly events, attacks on Israel are usually followed by an attack on Jewish people around the world. And that's something we're seeing today.

I -- it certainly seems that the recent threat is an offshoot of October 7th, but it is just something that the anti-Semitism on campus is something that has been around long before October 7th.

MATTINGLY: You know, Danielle, to that point, I have friends that are parents of children that are looking at college and are worried, concerned, nervous for understandable reasons. What do you tell prospective Jewish students who are looking at campuses around the country? What should they be looking for? Should they be concerned?

DANIELLE: I would say they should be vigilant, but I would also say that -- and I can really only speak for Cornell, but there is a large and really strong Jewish community here. And I think we've all taken solace in that. You know, again, be vigilant. Educate yourself about what, you know, exactly certainly people on campus stand for. But again, there's such a strong community here that, you know, shouldn't be overlooked.

MATTINGLY: Yes, that's an important point.

Emma, Danielle, we appreciate your time. Thanks so much.

DANIELLE: Thank you.

EMMA: Thank you.

HARLOW: We do have this new video just into CNN. Before we play it, we want to warn you, it is tough to watch.

What you are looking at is from the Qassam brigades, the military wing of Hamas, releasing a video of a drone, look at that, dropping munitions on IDF soldiers.


The attack took place in Gaza according to Hamas and has been geolocated by CNN. Hamas claims it happened yesterday. The IDF has not yet responded.

MATTINGLY: Well, Bobby Knight was synonymous with college basketball and was best known for his 902 wins and also his short fuse. We're going to look at his legacy.

HARLOW: And an inspiring moment in Maine as a Lewiston football team takes to the field for the first time since a pair of mass shootings. A message of hope from so many celebrities as well.



BOBBY KNIGHT, HALL OF FAME COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACH: When my time on earth is gone, and my activities here are passed, I want they bury me upside down, and my critics can kiss my ass.


HARLOW: And that was just quintessential Bobby Knight. The unapologetic and unforgettable Hall of Fame college basketball coach passed away yesterday at the age of 83. He is known as one of the greatest coaches of all time, if not one of its most unpredictable who once threw a chair across the court in the middle of a game.

MATTINGLY: Everybody's got their own strategy.

He coached the 1984 Olympics team to a gold medal, including Michael Jordan. He's the sixth winningest coach in D1 history, three national titles with the Indiana Hoosiers, four time national coach of the year. He coached Mike Krzyzewski at West Point and (INAUDIBLE) coaching staff at Indiana.

In a statement to CNN, Coach K wrote, in part, "we lost one of the greatest coaches in the history of basketball today. Clearly, he was one of a kind. Coach Knight recruited me, mentored me and had a profound impact on my career and in my life."

Joining us now, someone who covered Coach Bobby Knight over many years, knew him quite well, CNN contributor Bob Costas.

Besides the fact that the most important element of his bio is that he's an Ohio State grad, which I think we can all acknowledge.

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Right. Played on the national championship team there with John Havlicek and Jerry Lucas who are in the hall of fame.

MATTINGLY: Yes. (INAUDIBLE). Yes. Yes. We were talking about that during the break.

COSTAS: There you go.

MATTINGLY: We were talking, the idea of how he treated people, kind of his temper, the short fuse, all of that.



MATTINGLY: And yet you talk to players who were on the '84 team, the Olympic team, or some of its national championship teams, and their dedication to him, or their appreciation for him is without limit.

COSTAS: There are some, not a majority or even close to it, there are some who eventually had had enough.


COSTAS: Including some of his past assistant coaches, like Dan Dakich, who were estranged from him and they reconciled. But the vast majority of those associated with him eventually were able to put all the seemingly unnecessary flaws and excesses in context, not just with his brilliance as a coach, but with the fact that he drove most of them to be better players. He did insist that they go to class. There was never a hint of a recruiting violation. There was a certain internal, gruff integrity to what he did. And he also did many, many charitable things for which he never sought any public attention.

The one that did come to public attention was that Landon Turner, who was part of his 1981 championship team, shortly after that - ought (ph) have played in the NBA - paralyzed in an automobile accident, and Bob Knight called Red Auerbach, who ran the Boston Celtics, and said, toward the end of the draft, draft him, which he did, which was touching.

You know, I - I think - this comes to mind. I interviewed Bob Knight in 19 - I did many times, but the - the clip of him at Assembly Hall, my critics can kiss my hindquarters, right, that came from - that came from that piece. And in that piece, and I don't even know if it made the cut, Hank Iba (ph) was a legendary coach in the '40s and '50s. The game had passed him by. And he was the coach of the '72 Olympic team that was robbed of the gold medal in some kind of crazy series of events against the Soviet Union in '72 and had Iba coached a different strategy they would have won the game.

He brought Hank Iba to be an assistant in 1984 on the Olympic team in Los Angeles. Mo Iba, Hank's son, told me that it extended his dad's life by five or six years because it gave him a purpose.

OK, so I bring this up to Bob Knight. He almost wept. He -- I could see the tears in his eyes and he was choking back the emotion. That mattered to him. You know, he lived in his own - in his own world. It was kind of a 1950s world. He didn't understand political correctness. And he thought that his coarseness and his hard driving approach would made better men out of those in his charge. It wouldn't fly today. He was a very complicated person and you could not - you could not excuse or even rationalize his excesses, but he had many, many admiral traits.

HARLOW: And that's why you say, Bob, he stood for a lot of good things, too.

COSTAS: He did. He did stand for a lot of good things.

As John Feinstein, who wrote the book, "A Season on the Brink," spent that entire season with Knight, described it today in "The Washington Post," he was almost a Shakespearean character with enormous virtues and strengths and enormous, conspicuous, self-sabotaging at times flaws.

MATTINGLY: Top five best sports books of all time.


MATTINGLY: You had a good relationship with him.

COSTAS: I did.

MATTINGLY: You were a reporter.

COSTAS: Uh-huh.

MATTINGLY: How did that happen?

COSTAS: I think some people initially vouched for me. Some people close to him. But I was able to ask him every tough question. It's knocking around on YouTube, the piece I did 30 years ago on NBC with him, and people can see. I asked him every pertinent and tough question, and he pushed back on a lot of it. But I think he felt if you were prepared, that he would respect that. If you were honest and straightforward, he would respect that.

At one point, this was on HBO about 20 years ago, he had left Indiana under controversial circumstances and he held a grudge for a very, very long time. Wouldn't come back for reunions of his championship teams. And finally did come back a few years ago when he was already in the throes of dementia and it was kind of a poignant scene at Assembly Hall as he waved and you weren't quite sure how much of it he was really absorbing.

But when he left Indiana, one of his assistants, Mike Davis, succeeded him and got a team to the final four. So, on HBO I asked him - and I think we've got the clip of this -- I asked him, can you reconcile with him? Can you shake his hand? And here's how it went.


COSTAS: I think a lot of people would - would feel good if you and Mike Davis shook hands some place and wished each other well.

BOBBY KNIGHT: Maybe sometime that will happen.

COSTAS: You don't rule it out?

KNIGHT: No, I don't. I don't rule anything out. I mean I don't - I don't even rule out coming back on your show.


COSTAS: So, he could -- he could be really funny. He could be really endearing.


And now I just realized something, this is a different gray suit and a different black shirt. I haven't had the same ones in the closet for 20 years.

HARLOW: But otherwise, you look the same, Bob.

MATTINGLY: You look identical, and you definitely planned wearing the same - the same clothes.

COSTAS: Yes, I thought continuity was important.

HARLOW: How do you think he'll be - you remember "The New York Daily News" says "hard to love but impossible to forget." What's the legacy of Bob?

COSTAS: I think that part is probably true in large part. Certainly impossible to forget. And certainly is one of the greatest basketball minds and most successfully coaches of all time.

I don't think that everyone would have found him hard to love.


COSTAS: I think many people loved him almost unconditionally, or at least to the point where they were willing to overlook the conspicuous flaws. But, you know, all of us are complicated. He was complicated on steroids.


MATTINGLY: That's a good assessment of things.

We love having you on. We love having you in.

COSTAS: Thank you, Phil.

MATTINGLY: It was really great to see you. Thank you.

COSTAS: Thanks.

Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Bob, thank you.

MATTINGLY: Well, to the best story of the day.

HARLOW: Totally.

MATTINGLY: High school football returning to Lewiston, Maine, last night for the first time since the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 18 people. It is traditionally the biggest game of the year, known as the battle of the bridge between Lewiston High School and Edward Little High School. The town came together to honor their lost loved ones, as well as the first responders who risked their lives to find the gunman.


JAMES TAYLOR, MUSICIAN (singing): Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light.


HARLOW: That is legendary singer James Taylor kicking off the game with his rendition of the national anthem and the team got some extra encouragement from the likes of Will Ferrell, Robert Kraft, and Rob Gronkowski.


WILL FERRELL, ACTOR: Today is the day. Showdown. Lewiston versus Edward Little. Everyone's going to be watching. Everyone's going to be talking about it. So, let's bring it on.

ROB GRONKOWSKI, FOUR-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: I've been thinking about everyone in Lewiston, Maine. And I'm sending my love. And I just want to say, you guys are amazing. Sticking together to stay strong through the tough times.

ROBERT KRAFT, OWNER, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: For all who are attending the game tonight, we applaud you for supporting one another. And for all those playing in the game tonight, you already are champions.


HARLOW: They are indeed.

Lewiston went on to beat Edward Little 34-18. President Biden and the first lady will travel to Lewiston on Friday to pay their respects to all of those who tragically lost their lives. Sports unites.

MATTINGLY: Best story of the day.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after this break.