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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Biden's Fiery State Of The Union Speech; How Russia Almost Went Nuclear In Ukraine; U.S., Russia And China's Military Rivalry In Space; What Does It Mean To Be Jewish Today? Being Jewish Amid The Israel-Hamas War. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired March 10, 2024 - 10:00   ET



FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: 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 from New York.


ZAKARIA: Today on the program, President Biden, the State of the Union.


ZAKARIA: And America's role in the world. I talked to Susan Glasser and Ian Bremmer about Ukraine, the Middle East, and much more.

Also, CNN's Jim Sciutto on how close Russia may have come to using nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and how a new global nuclear arms race is upon us.

Then, Harvard's Noah Feldman on what it means to be a Jew in this time of ever rising antisemitism.


ZAKARIA: But first, here's "My Take."

As we watch the horrors of another war in the Middle East, it's easy to get gloomy and depressed. It seems that the region continues to be violent and unstable, but that misses an important shift that has taken place in recent time, one that provides some cause for optimism about the future.

The Arab states that are now the Middle East leaders are playing an important and constructive role in stabilizing the situation and working for peace. This is a sea change from decades past. The country that have for decades define the Arab world's agenda was Egypt especially under its charismatic leader Gamal Abdel Nasser. And Nasser's core ideology was Arab nationalism with a strong anti-Israeli component.

The other large Arab states, Syria and Iraq, were equally fiery in their condemnations of Israel. They often embraced a policy of rejectionism, which was opposed to any concessions toward Israel. Saudi Arabia, as the custodian of Islam's two holiest sites, joined in, giving the struggle against Israel a religious tone. 2002, for example, Saudi King Fahd authorized a telethon to aid the relatives of Palestinian so-called martyrs killed by Israel, including those of terrorists. It raised $100 million.

Today, Iraq and Syria are mired in dysfunction and the attitude of the other leading Arab states could not be more different. First, there has been a reshuffling of what countries are seen as the region's leaders while it used to be that the large Arab countries were dominant because of history, size, armies, et cetera.

Today it is the incredibly wealthy Gulf States that set the agenda. Countries like Egypt regularly depend on their rich Gulf neighbors for bailouts and handouts. Second, there has been a broad shift of attitude against Arab terrorism and towards some kind of reconciliation and recognition of Israel. The Gulf States are now so rich that it has redefined their orientation toward the world.

On a recent trip to the UAE, Saudi Arabian and Kuwait, I was struck by how these countries' elites predominantly worry about war and instability, and are constantly looking for economic opportunities and they see Israel as a potential economic partner. Saudi Arabia, in particular, has huge ambitions for modernization. Violence and terror can only upend these plans.

The shift in Egypt is particularly important. President Sisi came to power, jailing thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group with affinities and ties with Hamas. He's deeply hostile to Hamas and all such militant movements and eager to partner with Israel to crush them. The backdrop to Egypt and the Gulf Arabs' positions is their joined opposition to the rise of Iran and its army of proxies from Hezbollah to the Houthis to Hamas.

Of course there are complexities and nuances. Qatar has managed to play a role as an intermediary between Israel and Hamas because it is friendly relations with Hamas and has also had long ties with Israel, which were officially severed in 2009 after Israel attacked Gaza.


Qatar's support of Hamas has often been criticized, but the truth is, without a go-between no ceasefires or peace deals would be possible and the Qatari government has, by all accounts, been extremely constructive and responsible in helping broker negotiations.

Arab governments are not the same as the Arab people, and public opinion in the Arab world has turned sharply against Israel and the United States and gets more critical by the day but even here, there's a silver lining. As the Carnegie Endowment scholar, Amr Hamzawy, noted in November, Arab attitudes since the war began have been far more moderate than in the past, condemning violence against civilians on both sides, rejecting terrorism and urging a two-state solution.

He pointed out that this is part of a broader turn away from political violence with over 90 percent of Arab surveyed in one poll in recent years rejecting extremist organizations and condemning terrorism. That backdrop might explain why, despite their vehement opposition to the scale and scope of Israel's military actions in Gaza. No Arab country has suspended its relations with Israel.

Even the denunciations have been somewhat muted and instead the focus has been on practical ways to help the Palestinians such as ceasefires, aid corridors, and post-war reconstruction. All on the path to a Palestinian state. American officials who deal with them have told me that they find the leadership of these Arab countries eager, constructive and helpful in searching for solutions.

The Saudi-led plan for a path to a two-state solution is, according to these officials, practical and workable. This sea change in both the composition of the leading Arab states and the attitudes of the leaders will not solve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. But it does suggest there is some support for peace, stability, and moderation in a region that desperately needs it.

Go to for link to my "Washington Post" column this week. And let's get started.

It has been a big week for American politics. Donald Trump all but clinched the Republican nomination on Super Tuesday and all eyes were on President Joe Biden's State if the Union where he gave a spirited defense of his administration's achievements, both at home and abroad. He faces big challenges on both fronts at home with an intransigent Republican Party and abroad with the war in Ukraine and Israel's continued seizure in Gaza.

Joining me now to talk about all of this is Susan Glasser, a staff writer at the "New Yorker," and Ian Bremmer, the president and founder of the Eurasia Group, a global risk consultancy.

So, Ian, what do you think people will say, you know, weeks from now, months from now about that State of the Union?

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: I doubt they'll be talking about it because we have a very narrow timeframe on our news these days but at least for the next few days, they're going to talk a little bit less about Joe Biden's unfitness in age. And they're going to talk a little bit more about the fact that that was a speech he needed to give. They haven't seen him for an hour plus out there in front of an audience, engaging and then giving a speech.

This could have gone badly for him in lots of ways, and he avoided those pitfalls in that regard. It was a very important speech.

ZAKARIA: What I'm struck by, Susan, is if you look at the polling, it does seem as though people approve of his policies more after the speech. Is that you think because, you know, a lot of the things Joe Biden is pushing are popular, like having corporations and billionaires pay more taxes, like, you know, reducing child poverty with credits and things like that.

What do you think explains that? You know, that's a fairly sharp rise in polling in a country which has often seemed very evenly divided. SUSAN GLASSER, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Well, that's right. Many of the things that Biden is talking about, if people actually listen, it's getting them to listen is the hard part. Reproductive freedom is another big theme of the campaign. This year, you're going to hear it over and over again from Democrats, from Biden on down. And remember something like two-thirds of Americans, even many in very red states, are against the Supreme Court's decision to eliminate Roe versus Wade, and that will be powering a lot of the turnout.

The problem, Fareed, is getting Americans to pay attention to break through the noise and also for Joe Biden, I think he had to reassure his own Democratic Party base and people who might vote for him, that he was really up to waging the fight with Donald Trump.


His bad poll numbers aren't because Republicans are against him. They already weren't going to vote for him. It's because he hasn't yet convinced his own electorate that he's really the guy to keep going for another term.

ZAKARIA: Susan, when you think about that opening, he did something very unusual and dramatic. He began the speech really with a very impassioned plea for aid to Ukraine. Is there any chance that that changes the dynamic because this is a real-world problem. Ukraine has really -- it needs a lifeline and it doesn't have it. Is anything going to change?

GLASSER: Well, Fareed, a couple observations. Number one, you saw Speaker Mike Johnson throughout the evening barely suppressing sort of his uncomfortableness with the speech and he has been very non- committal, including in an interview that he gave to reporters after the speech on Friday morning where he's still refusing to even allow the matter of the $60 billion in additional military assistance and other assistance for Ukraine that Biden has asked for, he's still not agreeing to bring it to a vote, which is really tantamount to killing it in the sense that it would pass if it got to the floor.

But for months now, remember, Biden set up this request back in the fall in October and first was asking for more aid as early as last August. So it's been months and months of delay, which is tantamount to, you know, leading to direct setbacks and deaths on the battlefield in Ukraine.

The other thing that he did, Fareed, that I thought was very interesting is he's making an explicit connection between Trump's threats to American democracy and Vladimir Putin's threats to democracy in Europe. And I think that that's going to be a campaign theme throughout the year.

ZAKARIA: Yes, I was struck by how, you know, he's looking at the chamber, those half Republicans, and pretty squarely said, you guys tried to undermined democracy at home. Do you think that kind of combative rhetoric works well?

BREMMER: Unfortunately no because the country is too divided. I think anyone that supports Trump believes that this is all part of the problem, and that democracy only works for the people that are empowered, the elites, the establishment including the media, including, you know, sort of all these institutions that they don't believe in anymore. And so that argument doesn't work for them.

But I do believe it was very smart for Biden to start with Ukraine. And a lot of people were surprised by that because the war is not going as well right now but he knows that majority of the men and women in that room support him on Ukraine. And they applauded. And that includes Speaker Johnson. He didn't stand but he did applaud when Biden was saying we can't let these people down.

We have to actually continue to provide support. And privately Johnson has been working with Democrats and Republicans in the Senate saying we want to find a way to bring this to a vote. If you made me bet right now, I think that you are going to see additional U.S. funding for Ukraine in 2024.

ZAKARIA: All right. When we come back, I'll ask our guests to talk about the Middle East, and where that goes, when we come back.



ZAKARIA: And we are back with Ian Bremmer, the president and founder of the Eurasia Group, and Susan Glasser, a staff writer at the "New Yorker."

Susan, tell me what you made of Biden's both speech and policy on Israel-Gaza. He announced something that sounded bold, setting up a port that would allow humanitarian assistance but when you look at the details it's going to take probably two months before this is set up. It didn't seem that much of a deviation from a policy that he's had for months now, which is essentially to support Israel.

GLASSER: Yes, that's right. I mean, what you're seeing is distancing, but it remains a cautious kind of distancing. And I do think the announcement of the sort of temporary port in Gaza it's remarkable symbolic gesture if nothing else in the sense that here you are with the U.S. Military having to circumvent a blockade of people to get humanitarian aid in, a blockade that's being imposed by one of their own allies as opposed to an adversary.

And I think it to me, it's really symbolic of the moment in which the United States has sort of hugged Israel close, but what has it gotten for that? It doesn't have the leverage that I think many people thought it had over Israel's actions.

ZAKARIA: Ian, what do you think is going to happen? The Israeli operation continues, they invade Rafah, where do you think this goes up?

BREMMER: The hope for the administration has been that they're going to get a temporary ceasefire six weeks in return for some of the hostages being released. It is getting closer to not happening, at least before Ramadan. And part of that is as Biden came out publicly and said, very clearly to Netanyahu and the War Cabinet, we really oppose you going on the ground in Rafah with ground troops.

Hamas started engaging with a much tougher policy and saying, we're only going to accept a permanent ceasefire and removal of all troops. So they feel like they were emboldened as Biden is pushing Netanyahu. This is a really impossible position for Biden to be in right now, the war, every day the war goes on, it's worse for him domestically.


ZAKARIA: What should he do?

BREMMER: I think he does need to push Netanyahu much more strongly, but what we've seen is this is too little and too late. He should have been starting to talk seriously about we're going to provide human aid on the ground with the Israelis or without the Israelis should have been months ago, and he should have been pressuring Netanyahu in the early days when he was being lied to, when they said that they were going to actually change how they were attacking in two weeks, that the war was going to be wrapping up in two weeks.

They were getting that information every time they were talking to the Israeli government, and then they kept kicking the can down the road. So the Israelis are acting with impunity here. I liked the fact that Biden and Jake Sullivan and the rest invited Benny Gantz to talk to them directly. Netanyahu told him not to go. The exactly the opposite of what Netanyahu did to Biden and Obama when he came to talk to the Republicans in 2015 because of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Why was -- where was Biden five months ago on this? He looks weak. It looks late. It's the one place where the Democrats, State of the Union, were holding up signs saying ceasefire now, so one place there were demonstrations outside of the Capitol that actually blocked some of the streets beforehand. This is a problem for him at home, not just on the international stage.

ZAKARIA: Susan, you have great sources and great reporting always on this stuff. I sense that in the Biden White House, they probably still believe and maybe they're right that at the end of the day it's a difficult one, but politically net-net, you're better off backing Israel. In other words, yes, you may lose a certain number of people in Michigan and you may lose a certain number of people, but generally speaking, those we will often don't vote on foreign policy, you know -- but if you were to shift support from Israel that would be, you know, Jewish Americans are overwhelmingly Democratic. And if you break that piece of your coalition that would be a big deal.

GLASSER: Yes, I think you're right on the politics and the overall assessment of it, but I will say, Fareed, that I have heard really going back to the early weeks of this again and again from officials inside the White House, in the State Department, even in the Pentagon, a sense that look, this policy is Joe Biden's policy personally, that he has sort of set up the constraints under which we're operating.

You get the sense that if it wasn't Biden in the chair, but it was someone else, they would have been more critical and more public with their criticism. Israel, earlier on that it was the president and himself who has determined this and that in a way Netanyahu, being aware of that has played Biden, has played the American government. Remember the political dynamic on Israels end as well, which is Netanyahu is incredibly unpopular. Right now.

There's a sense that many Israelis want to hold him to account for this, but that as long as the war goes on, they're not going to do that. Netanyahu has a built-in incentive to continue this conflict. This is in direct opposition in many ways to the political imperative of his supporter, Joe Biden here in the United States, who needs it to be over as soon as possible and on your point on Michigan, yes, it's true that over all this might not be a voting issue for Americans, but if the election once against comes down to Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, remember Hillary Clinton only lost that state by 10,000 votes in 2016.

ZAKARIA: When you look at the landscape going forward, do you think Biden -- you know, one of the puzzles of this period has been the economy is getting better, but people don't seem to be noticing it, or it doesn't translate into support for the president? Do you think that's changing?

BREMMER: I think it's not as much about vibes as people say. I do think that inflation is something I think that doesn't suddenly go away. The numbers are going down, but it's on top of a higher baseline. People are paying that interest rates are high. Rent is a much bigger piece of their income. I do think that this is a real challenge being actually felt by working and middle-class Americans in the country.

They don't feel great. Some of that is tribal messaging, but some of that is a reality. And let's hope that turns around. I think it is important to note that the United States economy is rebounding much more strongly than any other advanced industrial economy. So if you compare us to other countries that have gone through the same thing, the U.S. feels a lot better. And there are red state and blue-state jobs.

I think one of the most powerful parts of Biden's economic argument last -- during the State of the Union was when he said, you know, look at all these jobs, look at all this money, hey, if any of you in this house want to give that money back, talk to me about it. There are more red states that have gotten jobs right from the Inflation Reduction Act than blue states.


Those numbers have been important, and that is a benefit that the members of Congress would be hard pressed to turn around.

ZAKARIA: Ian Bremmer, Susan Glasser, thank you so much. Both of you.

Next on GPS, I will talk to CNN's Jim Sciutto about a fascinating near-miss, a nuclear near-miss on the battlefield in Ukraine. It's a stunning story when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) ZAKARIA: Last week at his State of the Nation address, Russia's President Putin threatened that any NATO country considering direct involvement in the war in Ukraine risks -- quote -- "a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons, and therefore the destruction of civilization." Meanwhile, America's other major rival, China, is on track to double its nuclear arsenal by 2030, according to reports from the Pentagon.


Is a new nuclear arms race afoot, and how dangerous would it be? Joining me now is CNN's chief national security analyst, Jim Sciutto, who has a new book out Tuesday. It's called "The Return of Great Powers: Russia, China, and the Next World War."

Jim, this couldn't be more timely. And as if to underscore that you point out an incident in which the Russians almost used nuclear weapons. Describe what happened.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: In researching this book I spoke to senior U.S. officials involved in this moment and we came much closer to the first use of nuclear weapons since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then I think we realized extreme concern to the point where I'm told, and this is a direct quote, that the U.S. was preparing rigorously for that very possibility.

This was late summer, early fall 2022. At the time, you'll remember, Russian forces were getting pushed back from Kherson, which was their biggest prize from the invasion. And there were thousands of Russian troops that were in danger of being surrounded by Ukrainian forces. That was one input to a broader calculus, which led the U.S. to an assessment that Russia was very much considering a tactical nuclear weapon strike in Ukraine. There were other pieces to it.

Beyond that threat, the U.S. assessment of the Russian military doctrine as it relates to nuclear weapons use, which is -- which is somewhat foggy. It's not quite clear was that that was the kind of threat where Putin might calculate it was necessary to use nuclear weapon. At the same time, Russian officials began to speak openly about what they claimed was a Ukrainian dirty bomb plan, a plan to have a radioactive weapons strike which the read from the U.S. was was that this was a cover.

ZAKARIA: Right. This would have been the misinformation that they -- the Russians could then claim, we had to counter with nuclear weapons because the Ukrainians were using a dirty bomb.

SCIUTTO: Absolutely. You'll remember in the early stages of the war, there were a whole host of other false flag operations by Russia to putatively justify the invasion which the U.S. exposed. There was one more piece to this, and this made it even far more serious, is that the U.S. received intelligence, communications among Russian military officers discussing that very possibility of a use of nuclear weapons. And this then led U.S. officials to go on really an international full-court press to prevent this from happening. Direct contact with Russian officials, getting allies on board as well. But interestingly, enlisting the help of India and China. Unusual allies in this but they calculated they didn't want this to happen either and pull them back from the brink.

ZAKARIA: The FT recently reported on -- they came across -- it was leaked to them Russian war plans with a potential war with China. And again, there the Russian -- the plan was that the Russians would use nuclear weapons, tactical nukes much earlier in the process than anyone had ever imagined. So, clearly something is going on where Russian nuclear doctrine has changed.

SCIUTTO: No question. And they -- it has always been the case that the use of -- particularly a tactical nuclear weapon, battlefield nuclear weapon, of course, it's not going to destroy a city, but still devastating on the battlefield, is that its lower on their escalation ladder than it is on the U.S. escalation ladder and could be in response to a conventional threat, including the loss of Russian territory. And of course, this is Ukrainian territory, but Russia had claimed it was their own.

And the other piece that was concerning was this because tactical weapon -- nuclear weapons are small enough, the U.S. was concerned because they weren't certain they would know if Russia had moved those weapons into place. They're small enough to move around and they could be fired from conventional systems that were already on the battlefield. That was the other concerning piece that they might have made the decision and the U.S. would know it.

ZAKARIA: The other piece that's really interesting in the book is how this new arms race or this new great power competition has moved into new realms. So, for example, both the Russians and the Chinese are getting very active in space.


ZAKARIA: Explain why.

SCIUTTO: So, it's a multi-front war and some of this has been going on for some time, but it has gotten worse. Russia and China have both tested weapons in space of a whole host of kinds. Directed energy weapons, yes, lasers in space, ramming vehicle that could take out satellites in space.


And of course, you had this recent concern about the possibility of deploying a nuclear warhead to space that would then destroy satellites as well. So that is only getting hotter, that front of the war.

ZAKARIA: And I think -- correct me if I'm wrong, I think this is all happening because the U.S., A, has dominance in space. And, B, the U.S. space dominance is what allows the U.S. to have these huge advantages on the ground because all our systems, our communication systems are based in space. SCIUTTO: Dominance and dependence, right? Our smart bombs aren't smart without GPS. Our secure communications, our sensors that sense things like the movements of Russian nuclear weapons, surveillance satellites on the military side, and intelligence side. But also, what you and I depend on both Russia and China calculated they could inflict pain on the U.S. population by taking away things that we depend on via satellite assets, even financial markets, et cetera.

And then you add to that a cyber element, cyber-attacks. And I talk about this a great deal in the book because those things are linked, satellites and cyber, that both Russia and China have planted cyber weapons and critical infrastructure in the U.S. that in effect could be turned on in the event of a conflict. To be fair, the U.S. has likely done the same in China and Russia. But their calculation, Russia and China's calculation is they can cause greater pain to us.

ZAKARIA: Well, it's really fascinating and so well timed. Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Thank you.

ZAKARIA; Next on GPS, Jews around the world had been struggling with how to respond to the Israel-Hamas war. My next guest will explain why that is a quintessentially Jewish response. Noah Feldman after the break.



ZAKARIA: Since October 7th, Jews around the world have been struggling with what is happening in Israel. The word Israel actually translates to something like struggles with God and comes from a story in the Bible. Well, my next guest says this kind of struggling is fundamental to what it means to be a Jew today as his new book is called.

Noah Feldman is a professor at the Harvard Law School. Noah, pleasure to have you on. Now, you are one of the most important scholars of constitutional law in the country. You've written incredible books about all kinds of other things. You have read the constitution of Iraq. Did you -- did you ever think you would write a book about being Jewish and why are you doing it?

NOAH FELDMAN, AUTHOR, "TO BE A JEW TODAY": I actively thought I would never write a book about being Jewish, even though being Jewish is hugely important to me and I was raised in a traditionally observant home and have studied Judaism most of my life, because I thought of it as a personal thing that no one would really want to hear what I thought about.

And as my kids got ready to go off to college, I started thinking about how different their experience was going to be with respect to being Jewish than mine was back when I did. And that got me thinking, this is long before October 7, about three years ago, about how things have changed in the Jewish world, how beliefs have changed, how politics has changed, and really how the experience of being Jewish has changed. ZAKARIA: And what do you think is the central message or the difference you want to talk about, about being a Jew today?

FELDMAN: The central message of the book is that being Jewish is sort of like belonging to a large, loving, and somewhat dysfunctional family in which everybody's way of doing it is legit. At the same time, not everybody agrees, even who is in the family. You know, it's a modern family with divorce and adoption and marriage and all sorts of people showing up.

For a lot of Jews Israel has become very central to defining what their Jewish experience is, whether they like it or not. And that's driving in turn real conflict within the Jewish community, especially generational conflict between Jews who are still closely identified with Israel and see that is central to being Jewish, but who are themselves relatively liberal or progressive people in many cases and believed that Judaism is social justice.

And then a younger generation of folks, many of them on college campuses, who are also like their parents, committed to the idea that being Jewish means being committed to social justice but who don't necessarily see Israel as fitting that paradigm. They're being critical of Israel in a way that their parents or their grandparents just consider to be shocking and mistaken and in some way a betrayal of their Jewishness.

And so, what I'm trying to do in the book is account for all of these different ways that people are experiencing being Jewish and to try to remind everybody that it's OK -- that it's OK to have disagreement because as you mentioned, being Jewish is fundamentally about combining the love and the struggle. And that's because it's like being in a family and families are where we get our first experience of love and belonging, but they're also where we get our first experiences of struggle often.

ZAKARIA: But now against this backdrop, you do have rising anti- Semitism. And what I want to ask you is do you think that most of what you're seeing is rising anti-Semitism or is it anti-Israel -- is it again directed against things Israel is doing or is it anti-Zionist?


You know, if you think of it as a three-tier --


ZAKARIA: -- one Bibi Netanyahu and his war and the right-wing governments for last 15 years, and lots of people criticize that. There are people who think Israel as a state founded on religious nationalism is problematic. And then there's anti-Semitism. And the three seemed to bleed together.

FELDMAN: Yes. I think it mostly starts with objections to Israel's policies and to Benjamin Netanyahu, and those are reasonable. And you can have those views and not being any way, even anti-Israel much less anti-Semitic. But from there, there then emerges a harsher, typically left-wing critique that says, you know, Israel is an illegitimate state. And unlike other nation-states, all of which have their challenges as we know, it alone is the kind of state that shouldn't be allowed to exist. And once you start going down that road, even unconsciously, it opens the door to a view that can become anti- Semitic, whether intentionally or otherwise.

ZAKARIA: When you look at being Jewish going forward, there are a lot of people who worried that we are seeing two trends. One is younger Jews who come out of -- I would guess, kind of families like yours are becoming more and more liberal, more and more secular, more -- less and less religious and observant. So, they're essentially merging into the more general secularized American population or European population.

And then a strain of very Orthodox, you know, kind of Hasidic, Haredi, you know, where the pop -- both groups are rising. So, that's what you'll be left with is, you know, that world of secularized European Ashkenazi Jews I think you come out of disappearing.

FELDMAN: Yes. Despite their prediction that they're going to all disappear, which has been made by Orthodox critics of progressive Judaism for now, almost 200 years it hasn't happened. You know, people maintain really strong Jewish identities even if they're not going to synagogue very much or ever, even if they don't have a bar mitzvah.

And then the other thing is there's also a community of people in the middle. Sometimes they would be called modern Orthodox. The idea is that these are folks who both adhere to the tradition and also move freely in the modern world and their numbers are interestingly also growing. And they tend to be very Zionist and very committed to the project of Israel as central to their religious experience.

So, you actually have this big diversity and the ultra-Orthodox, the Haredi whom you mentioned, they're rising in numbers too, because they have a much higher birth rate. But it's a challenge for the Jewish community to remember what they have in common even as they have different approaches to how they want to live their lives.

ZAKARIA: In a way don't their enemies help them in that regard? I mean, you know, the anti-Semites to make sure everyone remembers they're Jewish.

FELDMAN: You know, that's the old fashion view of -- you know, Jean- Paul Sartre said, you know, the anti-Semite makes the Jew. This old idea that you can't just escape being Jewish, but that's actually not true anymore. You can walk away from being Jewish and no one will -- be any the wiser, most of the time.

So, what Jews need is an internal reason to stick with what they're doing. Within this familial conception, there's a common commitment to trying to make sense of the world. So, to make sense for the world, take some work.

You know, it's not an easy way of being alive. It doesn't give you simple answers, but collectively, even with disagreement, Jews can work on trying to figure out how they think about God, how they think about faith, if they believe and how they think about their own experience as Jews.

ZAKARIA: Well, you write intelligently about everything. But this is a book that I think lots of people should read and in particular every Jewish Parent who worries about their children should give their -- should give their children this as a gift. Noah Feldman, pleasure to have you on.

FELDMAN: Thank you so much for having me. And thank you for saying that, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Next on GPS, is China on the path to bring Taiwan under its full control by brute force? It's something I try to answer in my latest special, which airs tonight on CNN at 08:00 p.m. it's called "TAIWAN UNFINISHED BUSINESS." I'll give you a sneak preview when we come back.



ZAKARIA: In his New Year's address, just a couple of months ago, Chinese president Xi Jinping said that reunifying China and Taiwan is -- quote -- "a historical inevitability." And Xi could use brute force to bring Taiwan under his control.

Tonight, we look at why "The Economist" calls Taiwan the most dangerous place on Earth in "TAIWAN UNFINISHED BUSINESS," my documentary that is airing at 08:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN. Here's a preview that imagines what a Chinese military invasion could look like.


ZAKARIA (voice-over): Picture this, Chinese missile strikes wreaking havoc, pounding Taiwan's military. Amid the chaos a decapitation strike. Chinese special forces try to kill or capture Taiwan's leaders. Meanwhile, a full-on amphibious assault with hundreds of thousands of troops crossing the Taiwan Strait.


This is one of the most dire scenarios experts predict for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan and it may happen sooner than you think.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beijing may be moving much faster than expected with its plans for a so-called reunification.

ZAKARIA (voice-over): Chinese leader Xi Jinping has said that he seeks a peaceful reunification. But he has also said that China will never commit to abandoning the use of force to reunify with Taiwan, and that he wants his military to be ready in three years, according to U.S. intelligence.


ZAKARIA: Don't miss my special "TAIWAN UNFINISHED BUSINESS" tonight at 08:00 p.m. eastern. Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. And I will see you tonight and next week.