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Connect the World
Yemen Crowd Surge; Frontline Town Tries to Pull Through as War Grinds on; Family Lost Two Daughters, Mother in West Bank Attack; Sudan's Army Chief: No Prospect of Negotiations with Rival; "It's Uphill Battle for us in America" "Walled Off" Director on being Palestine; Astro Star Moon Bin found Dead at Home at age 25. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired April 20, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: The death toll in Sudan has risen to over 300 more -- with more than 3100 injured according to the
W.H.O. This as fierce fighting between the Sudanese army and its rival the RSF continues despite another attempted ceasefire.
This hour we explore international involvement in the conflict. But first, terrible scenes in Yemen's Capital as a crowd search at a charity event has
left dozens dead, nearly 80 people were killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a school.
NATO's Chief makes a surprise appearance in Kyiv his first since the Russian invasion began. Jens Stoltenberg said Ukraine's membership in the
alliance will be high on the agenda at July's NATO Summit.
No decision has been announced yet as to whether Uganda's anti-LGBTQ Plus bill will be signed into law. The President was expected to by the veto or
signs a widely condemned bill in meetings with lawmakers on Thursday, but it was not discussed. And SpaceX starship the most powerful rocket ever
built, took off from its launch pad, but exploded in a dramatic cloud minutes later.
After two failed ceasefires in as many days the prospects of any quick end to the fighting and Sudan appear slim. Sudan's Army Leader tells Al Jazeera
there is no current path to negotiating with the rival leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
Abdel Fattah Al Burhan says the RSF is intent on destroying the Sudanese army and ruling Sudan. His comments come as fighting rioters for a sixth
day causing more fear, chaos and hardship. Sudan's Doctors Union says 70 percent of Khartoum's hospitals are now out of service. Many countries have
long -- have a long history of supporting various sides in Sudan.
Russia is believed to have provided training and weaponry to both of Sudan's military leaders. The United States suspended critical aid to Sudan
following the military coup that ousted Prime Minister Hamdok in 2021. Egypt has been a key backer of Sudan's armed forces and conducted military
exercises with its army.
Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have provided financial support, and Sudan deployed troops to fight in Yemen. Well, my next guest says while the blame
ultimately rests with the two generals, no autocrat in the region wanted a successful democratic Sudan.
Since the revolution Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE and even Russia have allied themselves with anti-democratic Sudanese factions. Will Brown is a
Senior Reporter at Tortoise Media and he joins me now. Will, great to see you.
I just want to pick up on that last point I just made about the fact that it's not just the two generals here who are to blame for this conflict.
What would a democratic Sudan have spelt for autocrats in neighboring regions? Why is it they want to avoid this possibility so badly?
WILL BROWN, SENIOR REPORTER, TORTOISE MEDIA: Well, thank you for having me on. I think first of all, it's important to tell your -- tell your viewers
that Sudan for decades competed with Saudi Arabia for the crown of the ultra-Islamic ultra-conservative world.
And so what -- so up until very recently, in Sudan, women were flogged in the streets if they dared to wear trousers. Now, what happened in 2018 and
2019 students, young Sudanese students, got up and said enough is enough and they went out on the streets and started demanding liberty and
This is a frontline state. I know in the West, we often don't see it as such. Sudan is often too seems to African too complicated. But this is a
frontline state in the war, in the conflict in the fight between liberal democracy and autocracy.
Obviously, no one, none of the autocrats in the region want to have a country 45 million people, the second most populous in the Arab world, with
those kind of democratic values with a sick, they don't want it to be a success. And so what you've seen since the 2019 revolution, is different
factions from around the region.
So we can point to the principal factions like the UAE, to Saudi Arabia, to Egypt, we can point to them. But we can also point to other smaller actors,
Ethiopia, for example, Eritrea, and they've all kind of allied themselves in certain degrees with different anti-democratic.
MACFARLANE: And I want to look at some of those specifically but just to pick up on that point on why Sudan is strategically so important. Can you
also explain why international players are so keen to be involved in the region geographically as well as in terms of the natural resources that
BROWN: Well, Sudan has enormous natural resources. I mean, for a start, they've got extraordinary gold reserves. We know they also have Uranium
reserves as well. And something you know when you see the images of Sudan on TV you always see desert and all this stuff.
But no, actually Sudan has an extraordinary amount of arable land, the Nile runs right through it. So about 10 percent, I think the estimates are of
untilled arable land in the world are in Sudan. So this is obviously when you're a Gulf state with not much land to grow your own crops on, this is
actually a real benefit. And you've seen enormous investment in those sectors in Sudan.
MACFARLANE: So there are some I think you've mentioned a few already for whom a protracted war, protracted crisis would actually sit them very much.
I think Russia are one of them the UAE another. Can you explain why that would be?
BROWN: I think, for example, there are lots of different kind of, because you've got to break it down by -- it's not just kind of one country,
there's different actors in that country also benefit in different ways. But if we just kind of focus in I mean, we go back to the first point, we
The idea that, you know, if you go for -- if you go the democratic way, this is what happens, that sends a really, really powerful message to
people across the region across North Africa, across the Middle East, and in the Horn of Africa.
MACFARLANE: How much has this -- the potential for this crisis to worsen with the likes of Libya backing the RSF? And we're hearing obviously, we
know that Egypt has deep ties with the Sudanese army, what does that spell militarily for this crisis?
BROWN: I think, yes. It just adds fuel to the fire. It's extraordinarily worrying. I mean, what's going on in Sudan is an absolute tragedy. And what
you've got, I mean, there's been recent reporting pointing towards the Libya -- CAFTA sending ammunition is probably been pressured by the UAE to
do such a thing to the RSF to Hemetti.
And you've also got reports of Egypt as sending pretty solid reports. And I've heard similar things from sources of my own sources, sending fighter
jets to help the south. So what this means is, we're already seeing just in a few days, how this conflict is becoming international.
And what's so scary about this is OK, we always look at the unknown, those big principal players, you know, the Saudi Arabia's the UAE is Egypt,
because they're big, they're important, we think about them. But there are lots of other players, which we often ignore in the West.
We often don't think about, OK, so, such as Eritrea, the small totalitarian state, right next door, such as South Sudan, such as Central African
Republic, such as Chad, they all have their own interests in Sudan, and all of them have armed factions or kind of armed services, which they could
potentially send in.
And so what you see there is the conflict going from this kind of this one country spreading out across the region? That is what's so absolutely
appalling about what's going on.
MACFARLANE: Yes. And it really explains, doesn't it? Why it is so hard to see an end game to this crisis as it continues to evolve with so many
vested interests in the region? Well, it's really great to have your thoughts and expertise on this. Thank you.
BROWN: Thanks very much for having me on.
MACFARLANE: Thank you. OK, a horrible tragedy has occurred in Yemen, where a charity event for the desperately poor quickly turned into disaster. A
warning the video you're about to see is graphic.
You're looking at a cloud search at a school in Sana where hundreds of people have gathered to receive food and money handouts during the holy
month of Ramadan. At least 78 people were killed and dozens injured as the crowd rushed to get just $9 worth of money, evidence of deep desperation in
a country described by the UN as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.
Let's bring in Salma Abdelaziz who's been following this story closely for us today. Salma this is an absolute tragedy, and we have been hearing
differing accounts of what triggered the crowd search to happen. Tell us what we know about the incident?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Truly heart wrenching images that you played there. What we understand from local officials Houthi officials, on
the ground is that two merchants were holding a charity drive that was uncoordinated with local authorities.
They were calling on people to gather at this school that's been used in the past by the UN by other charity groups to pass out aid. There were
dozens of people gathered outside the school and when they open the doors to start this drive that's when that surge that's when that rushes and
stampede of people happen in those horrifying scenes played out.
Just a tangle of bodies really that you see in those images there people trapped crushed in the middle a total of 78 people killed and several
others wounded. We do know that the two merchants who are holding this charity drive are now under arrest, according to local officials and the
families of victims have been offered aid and support from the local government.
But it's important to point out when and where this is happening in Yemen, which the United Nations calls home to the world's worst humanitarian
crisis? A place where two thirds of people already rely on aids to begin to understand just how desperate families are for just under $10 of aid as you
mentioned that led to 78 people being killed.
And then the one of this, this is the eve of Eid-al-Fitr, one of the most important celebrations on the Muslim calendar. This was taking place at
sunset at the end of fast during Ramadan tragedy on tragedy in a very poignant time in the Muslim holy month.
MACFARLANE: And Salma of this is even more tragic in many ways, because it comes following that successful prisoner swap just last week between the
Houthi and Saudi Arabia, some 900 prisoners exchanged.
I mean, how much has the current situation in Yemen, been giving people new hope that there could be a peaceful settlement that there could be, you
know, aid coming, more aid coming in to this humanitarian crisis for the people on the ground?
ABDELAZIZ: That prisoner's swap rather did give a glimmer of hope. This is a country that's been ravaged by war for nine years that's been described
as on the brink of famine at various points by humanitarian organizations.
But what's important to note is even before the most recent conflict, Yemen has, unfortunately, been home to tragedy after tragedy. It is a place of
consistent conflict of consistent civil conflict between the North and the South. And then on top of that, it is also a place of great deprivation.
Again, two thirds of people there rely on humanitarian aid to make ends meet to be able to feed their families. The United Nations in particular
has been saying they're simply running out of the money running out of the help, they need to feed all the hungry mouths on the ground. Really, this
is emblematic unfortunately, this incident emblematic of just how tragic that crisis is there.
MACFARLANE: Yes, how desperate people still are. Salma Abdelaziz thank you very much for bringing us up to date on that! OK, Ukraine is getting a
whole profile show of support from NATO ahead of what could be a critical moment in this war. Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg made an unannounced
trip to Kyiv.
At a joint press conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country wants to know when it will be invited to join the alliance
saying Ukraine needs more than the relationship it has with NATO right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: This visit by the Secretary General is the first since the start of the full scale war. We treat this
as a sign that the alliance is ready to start a new chapter its relations with Ukraine and new decisions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MACFARLANE: This comes as Western weapons including tanks and missile defense systems pour into Ukraine ahead of its expected spring offensive.
Ukrainian officials say one woman was killed and three people wounded after Russian troops attacked the bordered area of Chernihiv in the northern part
of the country. The fighting is particularly brutal in Eastern Ukraine as our Nick Paton Walsh reports one missile landed dangerously close to him
and his team.
NICK PATON WALSH CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Close to Ukraine's imminent counter offensive in the south east, where
Russia has long been brutalizing pain is commonplace, and the damage often everywhere and indiscriminate. The quiet is a blessing that rarely lasts.
We're warned of a missile strike in coming and leave. We can feel the pressure of the blast just behind our armored car. Natalie (ph) our
producer is in our second vehicle just past the smoke driver -- and isn't answering.
The missile landed right between our cars. In 10 seconds we have no idea if they are alive. We leave together. For so many that choice of leaving is
something imaginary that happens above ground. The only power and water in town are down here.
WALSH (on camera): Our life underground here has been hard for quite some time, but it will get harder when the counter offensive begins pushing
certainly in this direction.
WALSH (voice over): If there is space for laughter it's from this a screechy slapstick Soviet era comedy about a drunken goofball, briefly
bending the fixed set grimaces here.
Guardian angels seem here to flit by, in a town where 50 died in the war, and 200 were injured. Safety is just a word here. And rubble is a place.
Nick Payton Walsh, CNN, Orikhiv Ukraine.
MACFARLANE: All right coming up on "Connect the World", we'll look at the human impact of the Israeli Palestinian conflict. We speak to a man who
lost his wife and two of his children and hear the message he wants to tell the world. And the big SpaceX launch started out well, but disappointment
came just moments later.
MACFARLANE: China says it is ready to facilitate peace talks between Israel and Palestine. China's Foreign Ministry says they're concerned that the
growing conflict in the region may spiral out of control.
China is putting itself at the forefront of Middle East peace efforts recently mediating an historic agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And
a potential peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis couldn't be more crucial as deadly violence escalates.
We're learning more about the people impacted by that violence. One British Israeli family lost two daughters and their mother in a shooting in the
occupied West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced it as a heinous attack by Palestinian terrorists.
The family was on their way to celebrate Passover by the seaside. It was Rabbi Leo Dee, who lost his wife and daughters. And he joins me now from
Efrat in the West Bank. Rabbi thank you so much for your time today!
And first of all, I am so sorry for your loss. This must have been a horrendous few weeks for you. Rabbi, can you talk to me? Can you talk to me
Rabbi about how the events of that day unfolded?
LEO DEE, BRITISH ISRAELI RABBI: Yes. My wife and I both sit out in two separate cars in the morning, the Friday morning at approximately the same
time. I was with my daughter and son and she was with two of my daughters and my fourth daughter. She dropped off in Jerusalem on the way because she
was working in an orphanage over the Sabbath was going to join us on the Sunday. And my parents were in a third car with my sister and nephews they
left an hour later.
When we pretty much reached the destination, my sister called save it, her car has been diverted because there has been an attack on the road up to
Tiberius to the Sea of Galilee. And were we OK, I said we were OK.
But I immediately obviously wanted to call Lucy to check that she was. We called, there was no answer from her phone, not from my phone, not from
reader's phone, I looked on Google family link, we saw exactly where they were, which was the place of the attack.
Very quickly, my son received a photograph on a website of the car that had been hit. And we could see our beach bag on the back seat covered in blood.
So of course, we were in a panic. We rushed, turned around, drove back, we got there about an hour later, and it was surrounded by police and by the
army, they wouldn't let us approach.
And we wouldn't leave until we had an ID, which came in the form of my daughter Maia's ID card that was handed to me, at which point we realized
what had happened. And then we drove a great speed to Jerusalem, where Lucy and my wife had been airlifted for emergency operation.
MACFARLANE: I mean I can't imagine how it must have felt to be in that moment, chasing, essentially your daughters and your wife to find out if
they were still alive. Can you tell me a bit about your wife, Lucy, her personality, and also your daughters, because I believe they're very
DEE: They were all about giving, my wife was an English teacher, and the amount of love that's come back from her students, telling individual
stories about how she would text her parents and says she's doing a great, she's doing a great job with your child. And he's got these wonderful
characteristics and character that was my wife.
Maia was loved by all her friends, she was always out socializing. And she was always helping people. She was actually volunteering for the year in a
school in the south of Israel, where she was helping 12-year-old girls to learn in the school. And my daughter, Rina was a -- student who was much
love, and was very smart.
MACFARLANE: And it's interesting, you talk about giving, because I know that in death, your wife was actually able to give life to others through
transplants in that moment, tell us about that. DEE: Well, the opportunity came about because she'd been airlifted and she'd be putting a life support machine. And when she was discovered to be
brain stem death, dead, this turned out to be from a Jewish perspective, a clear-cut case where one can give organs. And so therefore, we sat around
and discussed as a family.
It's something which I discussed really with Lucy in the past. And we, we decided that she would have wanted her organs to be donated, she saved five
lives. And in fact, Christina, one of the Israeli politicians pointed out that whilst my wife saved five lives for free, effectively, the terrorists,
those two men in the car are being paid a million dollars each by the Palestinian Authority, which is funded by the Iranian regime.
So, the Iranian regime, I point my finger at and say they are the source of world terror, they fund Hamas, they fund Hezbollah, they fund the personal
authority, and they're paying for these people to take clash, the cost of the pump 20 bullets into innocent women.
And I think Christina, one of the reasons that it has become such a well story is because even my Palestinian friends from the villages over here,
and my Arab Israeli friends who live in Jerusalem, understand that this, these terrorists pointed the gun at these women without really knowing that
there were even Jewish women.
Because Arab Israeli women of which there are 2 million who live in Israel, and drive a similar type of car with the same number plate, could have been
driving on that road with a similar head addresses my wife, and they could have been the victims of this attack. So, it was absolutely indiscriminate.
And of course, we point the finger at Iran. And one of the things I would request from Christina, from world governments and from the media at this
point, is to condemn Iran, and to be absolutely unequivocal in the way that they condemn Iran. And to make sure that these types, these types of
attacks funded by Iran do not happen again. Because today, Christina, it's three beautiful women being shot on the way up to holiday by the beach.
DEE: And tomorrow, it could be a nuclear bomb attacking New York or California or Paris or Milan. So, I think that the time has come to respond
in a major way to this threat. And we just felt this obviously in a very personal way.
MACFARLANE: Yes, and I can completely understand your feeling deep feeling of grief and bitterness really because of your loss. I think what is
undisputable though is that this has certainly been one of the deadliest years on record in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. It sounds, I
know that you want to share a message there with the international community is, am I right in saying that?
DEE: Christina, I think it has not been one of the deadliest years actually, I think statistically, its less people have been killed by terror
attacks in Israel this year than a stabbed on the streets of London in an average year. So, it's not actually being a particularly statistically
unfortunately, statistics that help you when you're one of the statistics.
MACFARLANE: Yes, I understand that.
DEE: However, there is a cycle of violence, which people refer to, and the cycle of violence Christina, I have been explaining to people is caused
because world governments and media are not condemning the violence enough. So therefore, what happens is a terror attack occurs. And when the response
to a media is to condone it or not to condemn it, the next terror attack occurs. And then if that--
MACFARLANE: If there has been no support.
DEE: --the next terror attack occurs.
MACFARLANE: But there have been multiple responses from governments to this very attack condemning the attack themselves. Britain's James cleverly was
one of them, Foreign Minister. I understand the point you're trying to make and, and I, and I appreciate you coming on and talking to us about it. It
is a horrific incident for anyone to go through.
And our thoughts are very much with you and your family as you continues to make it through this time. And thank you Rabbi, for sharing your thoughts
with us. And, as I say, all the very best to you and your family as you move through these days.
DEE: Thank you, Christina.
MACFARLANE: Thank you. Well, as with most conflicts, those impacted most are the ones who have the least to do with the fighting. And just as we
heard there from Rabbi Leo's story coming up, we'll hear similar stories from Palestinians.
MACFARLANE: Welcome back to "Connect the World" with me Christina Macfarlane. Your headlines this hour a diplomatic breakthrough between
Pakistan and India; Pakistan's Foreign Minister will attend the Shanghai Cooperation organizations meeting in India in early May.
It will mark the first time that a Pakistani foreign minister has visited India since 2016 when relations became contentious over Kashmir. Apple has
opened a second store in India, it welcome customers in New Delhi two days after opening the store in Mumbai. The U.S. tech giant is planning to
expand the number of products it assembles in India, as it looks to cut reliance on China.
Now calling it a new chapter in relations, the Ukrainian president is welcoming today's surprise visit by NATO's chief to Kyiv. It's Jens
Stoltenberg's first trip to Ukraine since Russia's invasion more than a year ago and a high-profile show of support.
As Sudan's military leader is dismissing prospects of negotiating with a parliamentary rapid support force, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan tells Al Jazeera,
the RSF is intent on destroying the Sudanese army. He spoke as fighting rages for a sixth day following the collapse of yet another ceasefire on
RSF leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo is also talking to Al Jazeera calling Al- Burhan a "Criminal and blaming him for the current fighting". He also says the RSF has no objections to a truce during Eid festivities starting
Larry Madowo has been covering the story for us from the start and joins me now from Nairobi. And, Larry, with these last two ceasefires failing, what
hope is there of there now being a truce perhaps on religious grounds?
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is one avenue that million Sudan hope can be achieved because the ceasefire and humanitarian grants that was
pushed by the United States by the African Union by the Internet, governmental authority and development just did not work.
So, one Sudanese political analyst and researcher Kholood Khair says that she hopes that it can be impressed upon religious leaders from key Islamic
sites in Khartoum, in the United Arab Emirates in Saudi Arabia, to imprison these two generals to agree to a ceasefire on religious grounds.
Tomorrow is Eid that is the end of the holy month of Ramadan. And that's supposed to be a time when families get together and celebrate the end of
this holy month. And yet, still, there could be violence unless these two men can agree to a ceasefire.
And in that Al Jazeera interview, al-Burhan one thing he was open to choose, he also said there'll be no truth, unless as long as rapid support
forces are still deployed in residential areas. And we're hearing even more escalation the two men's words, calling each other criminals, and al-Burhan
saying that Hemeti tried to destroy the Sudanese army.
So, they're still further apart, there's some distance between their positions and the likelihood of them coming together and agreeing to truth
even on those religious grounds as so many people badly need when they're running out of food and water and medicines. 70 percent of hospitals in
Khartoum are not operating a third of the entire medical system in Sudan on the verge of completely taken out already for the World Health
And people who can are fleeing from Khartoum to safer parts of the country. I want to play for you this audio note that CNN received from a professor
at the University of Toronto who was back in Sudan visiting family with her three-year-old daughter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NISRIN ELAMIN, SUDAN RESIDENT: It's been really heart-breaking and intense and terrifying. And yes, I think I'm particularly overwhelmed by the fact
that I am parenting a three-year-old to this. And I have to explain to her what is unfolding around us. I'm grateful that we're relatively safe at the
moment, but also thinking about all of our relatives who are not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADOWO: And she's wondering how she can support those relatives who are not safe. Right now, the meeting that started in the last hour has gone into
the second hour. It's been called by the African Union. And it includes the Secretary General of the United Nations as well as the Secretary General of
the Arab League.
And we understand that that meeting has also been joined by a U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly,
as well as the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell.
They're all trying to come together and find a way out of this crisis that knows it needs representatives in this meeting, but maybe they will come
out with a strong enough statement a way out of this crisis, which is now day six. And so many people are at their wit's end in terms of just how to
stay safe in a world that has turned into work, Christina.
MACFARLANE: Yes. And Larry, just briefly one of the major issues as well is the lack of evacuation routes. We've been hearing the U.S. State Department
saying they are struggling to evacuate their personnel, their own personnel. So, what hope does the average Sudanese have of getting out
MADOWO: Only the Egyptian armed forces have been able to evacuate this, the soldiers who were in Sudan, 177 of them that went back to Cairo. Right now,
in fact, the U.S. has just renewed its guidance to citizens in Khartoum and across Sudan to shelter in place.
Yesterday, a briefing for the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee told congressional leaders that the situation is so
volatile that it's not possible to evacuate Americans out of the country right now. It's not possible evacuate even American staff who work at the
And that's a position that's held by so many other people, especially because even in these Al Jazeera interviews, General al-Burhan says that
they're still fighting for the airport that Khartoum airport is still being contested. It's not safe to fly into it. We don't know how much if the
tower is even working.
One condition being one option being considered by the U.S. here is through Djibouti, which neighbors Sudan, but that will be a risky route. So, it's
not been given any serious part at this time. And so that's just for the foreigners that live in the country for the rest of Sudanese the only way
out you can get 45 million people out of the country. There's going to be a ceasefire, Christina.
MACFARLANE: Yes, yes, no good options right now. Larry Madowo there live for us on the story. Thank you very much, Larry. OK, coming up how
celebrities Anwar Hadid and Vin Arfuso want to change the discourse around the Palestinian struggle. My colleague Becky Anderson's exclusive interview
with the minds behind the film Walled Off, after this short break.
MACFARLANE: Welcome back. This make de-stigmatizing the word Palestinian that is what a group of celebrity activists are trying to achieve and a new
documentary film called Walled Off. It was directed by Vin Arfuso and produced by model Anwar Hadid, Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, and Kweku
Mandela, the grandson of the late South African President Nelson Mandela.
The film takes its title from a hotel in the biblical city of Bethlehem owned by anonymous British street artist Banksy located a few steps from
Israel separation barrier that runs through the occupied West Bank, Walled Off bills itself as the hotel, the worst view in the world.
Banksy is known to use his art to send political messages. And it is that use of art tells the story of the people struggling for freedom that
inspired the star-studded team to make the documentary, in an exclusive interview with our Becky Anderson.
Vin Arfuso and Anwar Hadid discuss their Palestinian roots and why they believe the Israeli Palestinian conflict has been misrepresented for years.
They started by commenting on the increased violence we've seen recently taking place between both sides.
VIN ARFUSO, DIRECTOR, "WALLED OFF": What we're seeing at the present moment isn't anything different from what we know to be the reality for
Palestinians since 1948 and even before that.
You know, while we do appreciate the shift in narrative a little bit in terms of the coverage, you know, the accuracy of what's been happening
there since 1948 is still something that's really yet to be made public, especially where we live, you know, and that's the reason we created the
film was not that Anwar and I are like the arbiter of truth when it comes to Palestine.
But we did grow up in the United States of America, where all the information concerning Palestine concerning Israel is distorted to, to fit
a certain type of narrative makes the victim the terrorist and, and everything else like that.
ANWAR HADID, MODEL AND MUSICIAN: I really agree with them. And I think just what's happening right now is a great example. People's religion, people's
love, people's connection to God just kind of gets thrown out the window. When governments get out of control to the point where you can't see people
for who they are and allow them to pray in peace. You know, I think it's a big problem.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Banksy has collaborated on and reportedly financed a West Bank hotel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inside this hotel, we have the largest collection of Banksy artwork in the whole world in one place.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem is located near the Israel separation more than Banksy has said
it has the worst view of any hotel in the world. You guys spent a lot of time there in the film, exploring the hotel site. Why did you choose win to
make that such a significant part of the film.
ARFUSO: Unfortunately, I felt that I had to, because that would be the only way to get Americans to watch something with regard to Palestine. But on
top of it at the end of the day, there is something a little bit easier for us to communicate the struggles of living under occupation through the
concept of art. I mean filmmaking, in and of itself as a medium is art.
The hotel itself is a piece of art, there's a museum in there with artwork everywhere. And I thought that instead of kind of just showing traumatizing
footage throughout the entire movie, to show this piece of art, and then kind of juxtaposition cut to what's actually happening on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, this is Banksy and the -- sculptors --. And as you see Palestinian Israeli are fighting with pillows. And I think Banksy is
trying to be sarcastic about media, how they present the Palestinian Israeli conflict, because most of the times when they talk about the
conflict in the media, they make you feel that we are equal in power, that we are two countries fighting with each other. So, while we are not.
ANDERSON (on camera): How is your Palestinian heritage defined and shaped you both personally, and professionally?
ARFUSO: It's a very unique place to come from. I mean, I'm born in the United States, but being Palestinian here is a very, very unique thing.
It's like, as soon as you meet another Palestinian automatically, there's this connection, because, you know, they know and they know that, you know.
It's an uphill battle for us in America, socially, career wise, even to just, you know, define what our existence is, or to talk about our
existence. Just being Palestinian, that baseline is already there's an edge like, as soon as you say that, in almost any conversation, like the edge is
Especially as a filmmaker, I think my main goal is to create something that helps take that edge away and just gives people a greater understanding of
what it means to be Palestinian, on the ground in the diaspora, you know, what have you.
HADID: Lot of Palestinian people kind of come up to me and tell me that at one point in their life, that they were almost like afraid to say that
they're Palestinian. So, when I got to meet them, another great friend that I was able to connect with that. We kind of had the same want in our hearts
to do whatever we could to get the people around us to understand what's happening with our people and just share the stories.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're breaking out of the -- we're trying to.
ANDERSON (on camera): And there's a part of the film where you talk to Palestinian youngsters, who get together to discuss various topics, and
there's a scene where they debate what defines freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is freedom?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is freedom?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to define something that you don't have.
ANDERSON (on camera): What was it like meeting those kids? And what did you get out of it? Was it emotional for you guys?
ARFUSO: First of all, he spoke better English than us. So, with that being said, we were very impressed. We learned a lot from them, because we went
in thinking, oh, you know, tell us about what it's like living under occupation. And they just spoke to us as if they were lecturing us about
something totally different aside from Palestine.
We were just so impressive and to know that when I came home, and when we come home, I come back to New York, he goes back to LA and we're just
hanging out, traveling freely. Those kids are still living under occupation at the end of the day, even if they don't make it their identity that is
the reality for them. And it disgusts me that I have to pay taxes to support that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a question for everyone. What makes you happy? Go like one by one. Tell us what makes you happy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, maybe my family, OK. I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you start bouncing money certain things like soccer playing soccer, I am a soccer player, a photographer.
One of things, my mom's mom, there's a lot of people like that. I feel like don't understand a lot of things like about this part of the world to
understand that you guys have community here, you guys have amazing things.
And you guys all have big hearts, you know, I'm saying and you want for yourself and you want for your people and you want, like, freedom and want
you don't say you want all these things? Like, if people can see the truth of that and see, like, the beauty behind that and how amazing it is and how
pure it is, which is I think important.
ANDERSON (on camera): What do you make of the response to the film, Anwar?
HADID: You got a lot of support from, from people, and also a lot of like - -. So even the people that did support, you know, we've got messages, you know, explaining that people's accounts and stories have been receiving,
like thousands of kind of cuts to their, like views from posting the film. And you know I've seen it throughout the years of posting -- by Palestine.
ARFUSO: I think that the most important thing for myself and Anwar was to humanize the Palestinians, because in America like, and really in a lot of
places around the world, like the Palestinians are seen in two lights, in two ways, as either the victim or the terrorists, but there's no in
There's no you know, filmmakers, doctors, architects, people who just want to hang out. And I think that that was the most important thing that we
tried to achieve and get across and we've had some really good feedback with regard to that sentiment.
ANDERSON (on camera): Anwar, you come from a really high-profile family, the family happens to be very vocal about the Palestinian issue. Your
sister, model Bella said that while it doesn't deter her, you know, her outspoken advocacy, has really cost her career opportunities and, and even
relationships. Did you worry when you set out to make this film that you would face the same, let's call them challenges?
HADID: Definitely, I think that we all know the risks, you know, speaking about this type of stuff, but it's, you know, it's, it's, it's worth it,
it's worth the risk. You choose what's important to you over things that are less important to you, you know.
And if people can't respect the thoughts and voices of people then there's no reason to work with them, you know, so I think something that a lot of
us and people kind of have to go through and I think it's an easy choice.
MACFARLANE: Fascinating insights there with our Becky Anderson. All right, NASA hoped it would get people back to the moon or even to Mars one day.
But that one day might come later than expected after the most powerful rocket ever built, exploded.
MACFARLANE: The SpaceX launch itself was a success, but the maiden test flight of the most powerful rocket ever built ended with a mid-air
explosion or as one official called it a rapid unplanned disassembly.
This was the rocket NASA hoped would return humans to the moon and beyond one day. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in South Texas where the rocket has where
the rocket launched. And Ed, I guess, you know, this was disappointing that the rocket didn't reach its ambitions, but not unexpected really.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so I think the expectations of that this was going to go off completely flawless was a bit
of a stretch. And clearly, we saw that today. But for several minutes, the crowd here and SpaceX officials experienced the exhilaration of the most
powerful rocket ship ever built, launching from the spaceport facility in South Texas, taking flight for several minutes before it came apart over
the Gulf of Mexico.
And it was a spectacular sight here on the ground in South Padre Island, where thousands of people gathered to watch this historic moment. Elon Musk
says that they learned a lot from this launch today, and that they will regroup and start planning the next test launch in the next few months so
quickly trying to get back on the board here.
And this mission, extremely critical even though things didn't go right, you know, the rocket ship did not make it into orbit, it was supposed to
travel almost all the way around the Earth, crashing into the Pacific Ocean around the state of Hawaii. So, it didn't really accomplish all of that.
And the booster did not separate from the rocket. And we believe that that's the point where this explosion, this disassembly happened. So, we're
hoping to learn more in the coming days as to exactly what happened. But SpaceX officials traditionally very tight lipped about the specific details
about what they've learned or what might have gone wrong in this mission.
But this is critically important. And a lot of people paying close attention because this is the rocket system that will be partnering with
the U.S. NASA Space Agency in the years ahead to move cargo and NASA astronauts to the moon and ultimately traveling to Mars. The NASA
Administrator Bill Nelson says that today was a good first step in this process, but still a lot of work left to be done.
MACFARLANE: Yes, and Ed, one of the goals of this mission was to gather data. And do we know how much there might have been generated even in this
very short time that the rocket was in the air.
LAVANDERA: Right, you know, so it's difficult to tell, but we do know, from watching the video, you know, there are 33 engines on that rocket booster
and not all of them were working properly. So, if that ultimately is what led to the explosion in the disassembly of this rocket system, you know, we
have not been told by SpaceX officials.
So, it's hard to say at this point, but there were clearly some issues with some of the engines onboard as it was taking flight. And I can tell you is
this, the rocket ship had launched, we could see this long smoke trail, and then about three minutes in about the moment we thought the booster was
supposed to be separating from the rocket ship.
We heard another loud rumbling thunderous explosion in the sky in bright orange lighting up. At first, I thought that might be what the separation
would look like. But clearly, that was not the case because that rocket ship came apart and you know, and fell into the Gulf of Mexico.
MACFARLANE: Yes, well, it certainly was spectacular while it lasted, wasn't it? Ed Lavandera three live for us in Texas. Thank you. Many K-pop fans are
in mourning today on hearing the news that Moon Bin from the boy band Astro has died at the age of 25. He was found at his home in Seoul. CNN Paula
Hancocks has more on the cause, and his brief but meteoric career.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This was Moon Bin's first haul since the COVID pandemic, the K-pop Star singing to delighted fans
here in Seoul just last month. But his fans were struck by shock and grief when they learned Moon Bin had been found dead in his home in Seoul by his
manager Wednesday night.
Police believe he took his own life, no signs of foul play were found. The sudden news of a 25-year-old star's death was met with disbelief tributes
and flowers. A singer, dancer, actor and model after more than 14 years in entertainment he had become well known.
CEDARBOUGH SAEJI, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF KOREA STUDIES, PUSAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY: As somebody who considers myself fan, what always stuck out to
me about Moon Bin was his phenomenal ice smile and the way that he connected in a very authentic and beautiful way with his fans.
HANCOCKS (voice over): When Bin's death is the latest in a series of high- profile deaths in Korean entertainment, it once again raises questions about mental health and pressures in the industry. Only 11 days earlier, he
told his fans he had been struggling.
MOON BIN, K-POP STAR: I have something to confess to fans. It's been quite hard. It's been hard and I try not to show it. But I think I showed it
since the tour and I'm sorry about that. It's a job I chose, so I need to bear with it.
HANCOCKS (voice over): He came from a family steeped in K-pop his sister also well known. Moon Sua is a member of girl group Billie. She appeared
last year with her brother in this video to promote his new song.
SAEJI: We lost a bright light, you know, who was really contributing to the lives of his family and his friends and his fans and what would he have
been able to accomplish if he was if, he had had more time.
HANCOCKS (voice over): Millions of tributes are being paid on social media to another K-pop life cut short. Paula Hancocks, CNN Seoul.
MACFARLANE: Sad day for his family, no doubt. Thank you so much for joining us. This has been "Connect the world". CNN continues after this short