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Fareed Zakaria GPS
Inside Gaza with the Israel Defense Force; War Rages as Outcry Grows Over Gaza Crisis; Will Hezbollah Enter the War to Help Hamas? Iran's Response to the Israel-Hamas War; Interview with Host Bill Maher. Aired 10-11a ET
Aired November 05, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN ANCHOR: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria coming to you live from New York.
ZAKARIA: Today on the program, we'll bring you the latest from the Middle East with CNN's Jeremy Diamond who was in Gaza yesterday.
Then one of the burning questions of the war, who will run Gaza when it's over? I'll talk to the former foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority, Nasser al-Kidwa.
And will Iran get more involved in the conflict than it is? The longtime Middle East reporter and analyst Kim Ghattas will weigh in.
And finally, exactly a year from today, Americans will elect their next president. The 2024 race is top of mind for my guest, the ever so politically incorrect Bill Maher, host of HBO's "Real Time."
ZAKARIA: But first here's "My Take."
Israelis are understandably horrified by the October 7th Hamas attacks on their country. The resulting sense of trauma has fueled the desire for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls mighty vengeance. But intense emotions often make it difficult to think carefully about the implications of one's actions.
Watching Israel's growing military operation in Gaza, I am reminded of another invasion. By another right-wing Israeli government. Also in response to terror attacks. And how it ended which was very different from Israel's hopes.
In 1982, the main Palestinian group, the PLO, as well as some others had set up base in Beirut and controlled parts of Lebanon bordering Israel. They had been fighting continually against the Israeli Defense Forces as well as killing Israeli citizens. The Likud government of the Menachem Begin with Ariel Sherone as defense minister decided to launch an invasion to root out once and for all all of the PLO's infrastructure in Lebanon, and drive it out of the country altogether.
To do this effectively, Israel allied itself with Lebanon's Christian militias, one faction of many in multi-sectarian Lebanon. After wiping out the PLO, Begin hoped to install a Christian dominated government in Beirut. The invasion was big and bloody. Israel attacked with almost 80,000 troops and more than 1,200 tanks. By one estimate, more than 17,000 people in Lebanon were killed and more than 30,000 injured.
In the end Israel did achieve its goal of expelling the PLO from Lebanon. But the cost was a brutal escalation of violence which produced a horrific tragedy. A militia allied with Israel and operating in a zone that Israel controlled, massacred hundreds perhaps thousands of civilians including many women, children and elderly people in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps.
Of greater long-term significance Israel's invasion galvanized non- Christian forces in that country and helped create the Iranian-backed Shiite group Hezbollah. Since then Hezbollah has been one of the most potent threats to Israel's security. On the day of the October attack, Hamas claimed to have fired 5,000 rockets on Israel. Hezbollah has an estimated 150,000.
The lesson is surely that war often has outcomes very different from those imagined at the outset. In many ways, the tensions in the Middle East today are the unintended consequences of another invasion. The Iraq war of 2003. That conflict toppled the Sunni-led government of Sadam Hussein turning Iraq into a Shia-led country whose ruling elite had deep ties to Iran. This then rattled the Gulf Arabs who are Sunnis and Israel, bringing them closer together.
And that burgeoning alliance threatened the survival and strength of Palestinian extremist groups like Hamas which decided to burn the house down. And, of course, the American invasion created al Qaeda in Iraq which was the precursor to ISIS.
So what can Israel do? As the University of Chicago scholar Robert Pate notes, careful studies of terrorism suggests the only way to create lasting damage to terrorists is to combine typically in a long campaign of years sustained selective attacks against identified terrorists, with political operations that drive wedges between the terrorists and the local populations from which they come.
He suggests that alongside a military response, Israel should present some pathway to a Palestinian state. Retired General David Petraeus who masterminded the surge in Iraq that defeated a series of insurgents and terrorist groups emphasized to me that separating the general population from the terror group is key. In addition, he adds, you have to offer the population something, some hope for a better future.
In his and Andrew Roberts' new book "Conflict", they contribute the success of the surge as much to these political factors as to purely military ones. Israel is not following Petraeus' strategy. There are an estimated 30,000 to about 40,000 Hamas fighters in Gaza. In a place with a population of more than two million, about half of which is children. As best we could tell, Gazans have had mixed views toward Hamas.
It'd won one election in 2006, mounted a coup in 2007 and has ruled since then with an iron Islamic fist. But now as Gazan suffers a cruel siege that has blocked most food, water and fuel to all two million residents, experiencing hourly bombardment, watching thousands of civilian deaths, they could well rally around Hamas. It is the opposite of what a well-designed counter-terrorism strategy aims for.
I realize it's easy to critique from afar. And Israel is feeling deeply vulnerable. A vulnerability made worse by the appalling rise of antisemitism in so many parts of the world including the United States. But it is worth reflecting on whether policies forged in anger and retribution yield lasting gains.
Israel invaded Lebanon and got Hezbollah. It wore down the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank which strengthened Hamas. I do not know what this current campaign will in the long run produce. But I fear it will not be good for Israel or the Palestinians.
Go to CNN.com/Fareed for a link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.
This weekend marks four weeks since Hamas's stunning surprise attack on Israel and one week since Israeli officials announced a second stage of war had begun with an extensive ground operation in Gaza.
Yesterday CNN's Jeremy Diamond went into Gaza on an IDF imbed. I should note that journalists imbedded with the IDF in Gaza operate under the observation of Israeli commanders in the field and are not permitted to move unaccompanied within the Gaza Strip. As a condition to enter Gaza under IDF escort, outlets have to submit all materials and footage to the Israeli military for review prior to publication.
CNN has agreed to these terms in order to provide a limited window into Israel's operations in Gaza. Jeremy joins me now.
Welcome, Jeremy. Let me ask you, you know, most of what we've seen about what's going on has been aerial footage, a few, you know, iPhone footage. You actually went in there. Describe to us what it looks like because, you know, again just the reports are that the bombing has been more intense than anything the United States did in Iraq or Afghanistan. What did you see when you went in?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fareed, as you just mentioned, I mean, this was certainly a limited view into what is happening in Gaza and what Israeli forces are doing in Gaza. But it was still an opportunity for us to get a better sense of where the Israeli military is positioning itself, how they are positioning themselves, and to see some of the destruction around us inside the Gaza Strip. We went in in armored personnel carriers with Israeli troops into the
Gaza Strip. We were overlooking Gaza City from this position where we were, about a kilometer into the Gaza Strip, and all around in this area -- the area was effectively rubble. Demolished by Israeli air strikes. But there was one building where Israeli troops had positioned themselves. They said that it was the home of a former Hamas sympathizers and they said that they found multiple Hamas tunnels all around this position.
But certainly all of the area around it was effectively reduced to rubble. And these Israeli forces, what they were trying to show us was both the extent of their positioning inside the Gaza Strip, I mean, we could see Gaza City from this position. They said that the closest contact line with Hamas fighters was about 100 meters away. And during our visit there we could very much get a sense of both the firmness of the Israeli position, the fact that they have control of certain areas above ground, but also the very tenuous nature of those positions.
As we were at this base for about an hour's time, we could hear ongoing fighting between Hamas fighters and Israeli soldiers all around us. We heard bullets, you know, the kind of crackle of bullet whizzing by us several times over our heads as we were standing on the rooftop of this command post effectively, and you could hear rocket propelled grenades going off. You could hear short range missiles being fired by Israeli forces in the area.
And as we were driving into the Gaza Strip, the armored personnel carrier we were in would make multiple stops effectively to look around for potential Hamas fighters. And that is ultimately one of the biggest challenges that these forces are going to face going forward. They have just tried to destroy, you know, all of the Hamas tunnels that they find. But they know that so many more remain.
Already, Fareed, Israeli forces have been ambushed multiple times by Hamas fighters using these tunnels. And they know that in particular, if they decide to go deep into Gaza City, Hamas's stronghold in northern Gaza, that they will face a very acute and a very real danger of ambush from Hamas fighters in very bloody, dense urban combat.
ZAKARIA: Jeremy, thanks for that terrific reporting. Stay safe.
Next on GPS, as Israel mounts its assault on Gaza, what is the post- war plan for the territory? I'll ask former Palestinian Authority foreign minister Nasser al-Kidwa about his vision for what could come next.
ZAKARIA: Israeli officials have made clear their goal in Gaza is to wipe out Hamas. Even if they achieved this goal, what is less clear is what comes next. Who will lead the Gaza Strip in its aftermath? For a Palestinian perspective on this, I'm joined by Nasser al-Kidwa.
He served as the Palestinian Authority's foreign minister and represented the Palestinian Liberation Organization at the U.N. In addition, he is the nephew of the late Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian Authority's first president.
Welcome on the show, Mr. Kidwa. Tell me first, you wrote an essay in "The Economist" saying this explosion in Gaza was inevitable. Briefly explain. What do you mean?
NASSER AL-KIDWA, FORMER PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, absolutely. Because what we see now is not frankly a war by Israel against Hamas. What we see is a war by Israel against the Palestinian people. Again, it's Gaza. Gaza is destroyed totally, and the Palestinian people there are suffering beyond any belief. It's a very inhumane situation and all of us know that.
Now to answer your question, yes, indeed, all the ingredients for the big explosions were there as a result of the policies of Mr. Netanyahu and his successive governments, especially the most recent one, the current one, the most fascist and the most extreme government in the history -- in the short history of the state of Israel.
I mean, what we have seen was very clear. To maintain the split between Gaza and Ramallah, to keep the hellbent siege on Gaza, to go to war every few years to destroy Gaza and Gazans, and to minimize any hope for them, that they might carry. And this way the Israelis, Mr. Netanyahu especially, thought that they can keep Hamas under control and they can lower its expectations.
Of course all that was wrong and that led to the current explosion of things and the tragic situation that we are all suffering.
ZAKARIA: So let us go to what comes next. Of course, there is a possibility this turns into very brutal urban warfare and the insurgency lasts. But I want to get at what happens, let us assume that this insurgency, you know, that Hamas is rooted out in some way, presumably there will be even more devastation. But who will come in and rule?
People have floated the idea of an Arab legion. And I am skeptical that, you know, that any such foreign force would have legitimacy to rule coming -- particularly coming on the back of Israeli tanks as it were. Am I wrong? Do you think that you could imagine a, you know, Saudi-Moroccan-Egypt force ruling Gaza for a while?
AL-KIDWA: Before that, let me tell you this. I think Israel needs to change its strategy. I doubt very much that the Israeli army will be able to obliterate Hamas as they say. Hamas will remain there. They might be able to weaken Hamas dramatically, militarily and politically. That's possible.
And that's why I think we have to probably structure a new Hamas as part of the national Palestinian movement, as part of the PLO, as part of the political program, a new political program of coexistence in the region and of national independence. So that is a necessary thing. Now with regard to the Arab force, if we are going to have something like this, I think we need to have it only for a short time.
We need to have a force that's not combative, that's not combative. This is very -- this is very important for a specific period of time. Only to do certain tasks, take over from the Israelis to verify for instance the full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and then to hand over to the Palestinian -- to a Palestinian body because it is essential to have Gaza governed by Palestinians. It is a Palestinian to be governed by Palestinian, and as part of the overall government body for the West Bank and Gaza.
ZAKARIA: Now you were the foreign minister of the Palestinian Authority. But you've really broken with them because of the -- what you've called, you know, the lack of democracy and the corruption of the Palestinian Authority. So who -- what is left? Hamas is being destroyed, the Palestinian Authority you believe has been delegitimatized by its own actions, partly presumably. What Palestinian Authority will have both the legitimacy and the power to rule?
AL-KIDWA: I think we need a new beginning, Fareed. We are going to have a new Israeli government, I'm sure of that. Mr. Netanyahu is finished. But it's not for me to get into that. It's for the Israeli people to decide. And we also have to have a new Palestinian leadership. Maybe with some kind of compromise, maybe something like, you know, a new government that has full power without any interference by the current click that is governing now, the authority, with full power in Gaza as well as in the West Bank.
And that government should include all political groups, including the new Hamas and including new Fatah maybe, and others as well. Government that is accepted by the Palestinian street, that is capable of upholding the task whether in Gaza or in the West Bank. It's very important also to have and that I think will help greatly if we are going to have an Arab presence. It is very important to have a political framework that define the end result from the beginning.
I mean, we should learn from the lessons, from the failure of Oslo. We should learn and conclude the lessons. And one of them is to define the end result. I mean, we need to know where are we heading. Maybe not immediately to do that. For instance, if we are going to say that we need to have a Palestinian state and mutual recognition between Israel and Palestine, maybe that does not happen now but it is very important to have a very clear commitment from the beginning. Now, and then when it is going to happen, that is a different matter.
ZAKARIA: Nasser al-Kidwa, pleasure to hear your perspective. Thank you, sir.
Next on GPS, fighting Hamas isn't Israel's only problem. It faces threats from Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed groups. Could the region erupt into a wider war? I will speak to an expert in Lebanon.
ZAKARIA: Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah broke his silence in a speech this week praising Hamas's attack on Israel and warning the possibility of the Lebanese front escalating into broad battle is a realistic option. The Lebanese militant group has already been exchanging fire with Israel in recent weeks and both sides have inflicted casualties on each other.
Could an all-out war erupt between Lebanon and Israel? Could Iran get directly involved?
Kim Ghattas joins me from Beirut. She is a veteran journalist and the author of "Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the 40-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion and Collective Memory in the Middle East."
Kim, pleasure to have you on again. Tell me first how did you read that speech that Nasrallah gave? Because there were parts of it where he seemed to be saying that the Hezbollah does not intend to get involved and there were other parts in which he seemed to suggest -- he said at one point Hezbollah would not allow Hamas to be defeated in the Gaza. Those two things seem somewhat contradictory. Can you square them?
KIM GHATTAS, DISTINGUISHED FELLOW, COLUMBIA'S INSTITUTE OF GLOBAL POLITICS: It's great to be on the show, Fareed. I think there was a general but cautious sigh of relief in Lebanon after Nasrallah's speech on Friday because there were some who expected he would declare all-out war. That's not quite how Hezbollah or Iran operate.
My assessment from about a week after the October 7th attack by Hamas on Israel was that neither Hezbollah nor Iran wanted an all-out war. They were keen to avoid an escalation. That's the assessment that I had from speaking to Arab officials, Western diplomats in the region, including in Tehran. And that's why Hassan Nasrallah waited for four weeks to speak because he had to calibrate the speech very carefully.
He had to sound like a warrior without declaring war. He had to reassure his base and explain to them why although it's not all out war and it's quite low intensity fighting on the border between Lebanon and Israel, there are already 50 Hezbollah fighters who have been killed. And he needed to show that they were doing just enough for Hamas by keeping the Israeli army busy on its northern -- on Israel's northern front.
Crucially, he distanced himself, Hezbollah and Iran, from the attack on October the 7th saying this was 100 percent Palestinian operation. And I thought that was really interesting.
We know Iran is complicit. But to hear it from Hezbollah say, we had nothing to do with this is going to feed further dismay within Hamas because they've already said, we expected more from Hezbollah.
What struck me most about his speech, Fareed, is that to me it was mostly directed at the U.S. and it was a message from Iran to the U.S. addressing the United States, the Biden administration, and beginning a kind of negotiation about the phase after the war in Gaza. ZAKARIA: And what do you think they want that phase after to look like?
GHATTAS: Well, obviously, the urgent need now is to spare civilians in Gaza and release the Israeli hostages. That is what everybody busy in diplomacy is focused on. But I see that there are two wars. There is the war in Gaza, but there is a war that is on the periphery, whether it is low intensity on the border between Israel and Lebanon, whether it's on the border between Syria and Israel, or the Houthis who are also getting busy in Yemen. That is a war that Iran is waging.
Because for the longest time, for decades, in fact, the Iranians have used the Palestinian cause as a card to advance their own interests in the region. And I think that that strategy has run its course. They need to look at other angles now.
And for them, the key point is the survival of the regime. For them Lebanon is in a way a forward defense base and Hezbollah is a key line of defense. And they want to ensure the survival of the regime.
So, they're going to be very calibrated in how they signal to the U.S. the kind of leverage that they have in the region and how they're going to make themselves heard. But the risk of miscalculation remains there, absolutely.
ZAKARIA: What I'm struck by is that the Iranians seem to be trying to continue the kind of rapprochement they have had with the Arabs, that there continue to be meetings between top Iranian officials and Saudi officials, Emiratis. So, talk about that. What is going on there?
GHATTAS: Well, my assessment from speaking to Arab officials and Gulf officials is that the Iranians may have been complicit over the years in supporting Hamas and giving weapons and financing and therefore are complicit in the October 7th attack. But there is a sense that they didn't expect this kind of large operation. And we can debate whether they're bluffing or lying. That is -- that is a separate discussion. But they seem not to have had a plan for what comes after. And they seem not to have anticipated the world's reaction or even Israel's reaction.
Perhaps they thought that if Hamas had a few hostages in Gaza, it could lead to some negotiations, more leverage, et cetera but not an all-out war and U.S. warships in the Mediterranean. And so, their channel to the Saudis has become quite important in a way to signal that they are open to dialogue. We heard from the Emirati official -- we heard from Emirati officials yesterday saying they see that there is a need to keep Iran at the table as well in the future.
So, these channels are there to in a way maintain the escalation, keep it contained. But as I said, there are so many flash points at the moment, so many things that could go wrong, whether it is West Bank, which is a tinderbox, whether it's -- the pressure on Jordan and Egypt which are worried about Palestinians being forced out of the West Bank or Gaza.
So, the key now is to, I think, bridge the gap between the Israeli position which is no cease-fire unless all of the hostages are released and Hamas is defeated. And the Arab position which is we need a cease-fire to be able to bring in humanitarian aid in and discuss --
ZAKARIA: We need -- we need to -- we need to -- I need -- I need -- I need to cut you off. I'm so sorry, we are out of time. We will, of course, be back with you. This is really fascinating and it will get more complicated. Thank you, Kim Ghattas.
When we come back, Bill Maher on the presidency.
ZAKARIA: I was on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday night. And after we finished that taping, as has become our tradition, we turned the cameras around and I interviewed Maher for GPS. I wanted to get his stake on how the 2024 presidential race is shaping up and much more. I should also note, HBO and CNN are both owned by Warner Brothers Discovery.
ZAKARIA: Bill Maher, a pleasure to have you on again.
BILL MAHER, HOST, "REAL TIME" ON HBO: I love our little annual chat after you're on my show.
ZAKARIA: It is a tradition.
MAHER: It is. And I love it.
ZAKARIA: So, the thing I want to ask you is something that I get asked a lot and I don't have a good answer for. What do you think explains after January 6, after all the craziness, after 91 indictments, you look at the polls and Trump seems as strong, as competitive as he ever was.
MAHER: I think the people who like him resent that question. Just like, why don't you look at your own side? The comment I hear many times from conservatives is, what you don't get about Trump is we don't like him either. Now, many Republicans do. Obviously, there is a fan base there and a cult even.
But there is a lot of -- I mean, you don't get to be president with just that. It is they think that there is even greater craziness on the left.
MAHER: And it is closer to home. You know, it is in the schools, it is that kind of stuff. Like Trump, yes, he was bad and he probably shouldn't have done what he did when he got impeached for Ukraine and, you know, this other stuff with democracy. That's not -- but that is -- you know, those are kind of ethereal.
The stuff that they don't like about the Democrats are a lot closer to home. And I think that is a lot of what it is. And they see Trump as standing between craziness and -- you know, that is who -- he's the bulwark for them.
ZAKARIA: You know, when you look at who they -- what they run against, I mean, to confirm your point, like Ron DeSantis is not running against inflation. He's running against cancel culture, woke, school. You know, it is all of these cultural issues.
MAHER: He's just doing it badly.
ZAKARIA: But obviously, that polling which says those are the buttons to press.
MAHER: I mean, this college issue that we've seen with the attack on Israel and the Jews it's -- I see that Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted and I'm reading about his parents who are two Stanford professors. Ten, 15 years ago, I would have said, boy, the kid from two Stanford professors, how could this have happened? And now I see that and I go, oh, two Stanford professors. I see how this happened. Yes, it is that kind of stuff.
ZAKARIA: You were saying on your show, actually on overtime when we were doing it, I was making the point that Biden will win the popular vote, he might lose the Electoral College. You think that Biden could actually lose badly to Trump.
MAHER: Absolutely -- well, I don't know badly. But he could definitely lose. You know, when people say, well, he beat Trump before. Yes, things change. This is a very dynamic country. This is not 2020. And he's not the same guy.
Now, I've made this point as many times as I've talked about this issue with Biden and calling him Ruth Bader Biden. Do I think he can still do the job? Absolutely. I think he can still do the job because the job of being president is done in quiet rooms. It is done in the Oval Office making decisions. Other people carry them out.
You don't have to be energetic. You just have to be wise. This is something every culture has seemed to understand who revere their elders unlike the way we do. I mean, I've been a big railer against ageism.
But can he win the job? First of all, I don't think he can -- running is very -- takes a lot of energy. It is not 2020 when there was a pandemic and he could run from Zoom in his basement. You have got to be out there. And you got to go to the debates. I don't think he's going to look good in the debates.
You know, Trump, for whatever reason, he's almost the same age but he just appears much more robust. You know, he's like Kiss. He puts on the wig and the makeup and it is 1978 again. He doesn't seem to have ever aged. He's just always that same iconic figure. Love him or hate him.
Biden, I don't know. I just don't think he can win. And some of these polling results, I think people need to look at them. Trump is winning under 30. I mean, that one --
ZAKARIA: He's winning all of those swing states right now. You know, Arizona, Wisconsin, Georgia.
MAHER: And when you're the incumbent, you wear it whatever bad thing happens. If there is a bad recession, which is possible. I mean, our economy, as we were talking about, is good right now, especially compared to the rest of the world. But it is also precarious.
I mean, we did spend $6 trillion so we could all stay at home and get free money from the government. We seem to be able to have weathered that, but maybe it doesn't last. I don't know.
ZAKARIA: Do you have a candidate instead of Biden that you would like?
MAHER: Well, you know, I keep saying our governor, Gavin Newsom. Again, I have some issues with him and I think he is too far to the left. But I would -- I think if he ran, he would be tacked to the center as good politicians do and I think he's a strong forceful kind of a -- I mean, he's good at his job. He's just a good politician. And you have to be a politician.
And like I said, I know this is a little indelicate, but for whatever reason, the Kamala Harris situation has not worked out. I mean, people just don't think she did the job well and they are very afraid that part of the Biden age issue is that she is next in line and he could easily go.
ZAKARIA: But Gavin Newsom solves that.
MAHER: Gavin Newsom solves that. Because the Constitution says the president and vice president can't be from the same state. It is a very delicate way of getting out of that situation.
ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, what is going in the world is going on on American college campuses? Bill Maher has some very strong feelings about it when we get back.
ZAKARIA: The Israel-Gaza conflict has ignited a firestorm on American college campuses but Bill Maher has been railing against what's going on on those campuses for a long time. I wanted to talk to him about it.
ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about what is going on on college campuses, in general. Not just the Israel issue but -- do you think that there is something different about today's college student?
Because the one area where I listen to you and I always listen very carefully, I feel like college kids have always had extreme whacko puritanical views. And remember when I was in college, there was still Maoist (ph) who wanted to revolutionary overthrow -- of the government. A friend of mine was telling me the Harvard Crimson used to write editorials in favor of Pol Pot when he took over Cambodia. So, is this that different?
MAHER: Very different. Yes, there was always that element. First of all, it wasn't coming from the professors. Yes, the kids were a little crazy, because kids are always a little crazy and the professors were not.
They kept the kids in line and said, Pol Pot, could I educate you on this? These kids aren't -- I don't think even interested in learning. I saw that they walked out on Hillary Clinton. She spoke at Columbia. I guess it was getting dangerously close to learning something, maybe if they sat and kept listening to her.
I think they just -- it is just they like the identity of being warriors. They think they are social justice warriors so they want a cause. So, they don't bother learning, is Israel an apartheid state? Well, no, it's not. I mean, we know what an apartheid state looks like, South Africa.
I mean, there was no blacks in the parliament of South Africa. There were no blacks in the judiciary. The Arabs in Israel have more rights than they do in most --
ZAKARIA: Right. But they are referring to the Palestinians who are part of -- who are not citizens of Israel.
MAHER: OK. But it is not the same thing. They throw around terms like that, colonizers. I mean --
ZAKARIA: But do you think this is -- is this the flip side of the warriors on the right who just want to own the libs? Is that -- I mean, that our culture now where that is what it is all about?
MAHER: Well -- I mean, certainly those people on the right who just want to own the libs are intolerable also. But, I think, it is coming from a different place. I mean, this is -- to me it comes from bad parenting. That is the root of all of our evil.
I just keep thinking that -- I do. Because parents just don't tell kids ever that they're not perfect and they give them trophies for just showing up and they -- they treat little kids just like they're shorter adults and their ideas are just as valid. And they remind me of like, you know, medieval Europe where a five-year-old would ascend to the throne and that all of the courtiers would have to pretend that whatever brain fart came out of his mouth was valid and worthy of debate. That to me is what our children and parents are like today.
And so, these kids go off to school and nobody tells them anything. And again, their professors sometimes are leading the way in the insanity.
ZAKARIA: But then the kids get out of college. What I'm struck by is they all go and work for Goldman Sachs and Google and McKinsey. I mean, they seem very bourgeois in that sense.
MAHER: Yes. I think, like I said in the show the phone -- we were talking about talking about the phone and the social media and was talking about how that affects this because of the misinformation. But I said, it is a little more basic than that. I think the phone has made kids into different kinds of people.
This phone makes you shady, needy, mean, fake and passive aggressive and lazy. And in -- I mean, if it is doing that all to them, and I think it is, this is going to be the chickens are coming home to roost.
ZAKARIA: So, you've said this often, do you have a way of not engaging with technology and with the phone? Does that preserve your sanity?
MAHER: It is not a problem for me because it is not native to me. You know, I mean, I remember when phone machines came in. You know, I remember that was a new thing. I remember holding up a beeper to the phone to get your outgoing messages. I remember all of the technological changes. And I just don't abide the ones that I --
ZAKARIA: But you don't find yourself addicted to your phone?
MAHER: Oh, God no. I mean, no. I tweet once every blue moon. I mean, if something is worthy, I will -- but, you know, as I always said about Twitter, and I refuse to call it X, you know, anything I really want to say on Twitter, I can't say on Twitter. Because it would just be attacked.
I mean, it started out as a fun place where you could just, oh, this is a fun thought. And now it is just like, why would I open myself up and just walk through this minefield?
So, you would have to say something banal or you could say anything horrible about anybody on the right because the people on Twitter probably won't attack that. But you just can't be honest. And then when you are you're -- so, I don't really bother with that too much.
Instagram, that is pictures, forget that. I'm too old for pictures. You know, I mean, occasionally I engage to -- you know, we all do it to promote things and let people know what is going on. But I don't -- I don't really find great value there.
I don't watch much cable news any more. You know, I watch your show. I read people I like, like you and George Will and Andrew Sullivan and Bari Weiss, and her group over there, Ian Bremmer. I mean, there is just -- there is a group of centrist thinking smart, not politicized people. That is who I want to listen to.
Everybody else is just annoying and you're just -- it's just talking points and it's just -- it's just -- I never get the full story which is what I find the most annoying. It's like, I know what you're saying isn't exactly wrong, it is just you're not giving me the whole picture and that is really bugs me. Because I'm going to have to like do extra work now to find out -- oh, OK, I see the other half of this and that is what I'm trying to avoid.
ZAKARIA: Are we at peak woke? Do you think that people like you and others -- because it does feel like that you've gotten much more traction?
MAHER: Everybody keeps saying that month after month, year after year. I think we've hit the worst of it and now it is backlash, backlash. It is never going to go away. Because again that we're raised differently.
I was hoping that after the first week of the demonstrations on campus in praise of Hamas, that people would -- this would be the turning point. But of course, it just got worse. So, you know, that is my view on pretty much everything. If you're going to bet on it, it's going to get worse. But who knows.
ZAKARIA: Bill Maher, always a pleasure to have you.
MAHER: Pleasure to see you. Thanks, man.
ZAKARIA: My thanks to Bill Maher and all of today's other guests. And thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.