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Biden Calls Families Of Hamas Hostages; DF: There Have Been Local Raids In Gaza Strip In Past 24 Hours; Ex-Hamas Leader Calls For Worldwide Protests; Austin Scott Challenges Jim Jordan For House Speakership. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 13, 2023 - 12:30   ET



LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: One of their main priorities is to keep this as confined as possible, and to make sure that it doesn't expand.

AMY WALTER, PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: It's a great point. You know, and then we move to the next question, which is a president -- I think I agree with both of you -- who -- this is a stage on which he is incredibly comfortable. For many Americans, this is something they will be watching. But ultimately, we judge our presidents at least politically and on election time on domestic agenda, much more than foreign policy agenda.

And so I think that is when we talk about what the sort of split screen right now between a Republican House dysfunction and a president who's, again, on territory where he feels really comfortable, where he's commanding the world stage literally, is politically very appealing to -- for Democrats and for Biden. As we go forward, I think -- and as we get into a political season, the split screen may not be quite as good.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: But, Amy, here, I thought a lot about this.


CORNISH: Because I -- same thing, right? Foreign issues or international issues tend to fade, even when the images are striking. We saw this with Ukraine. I do feel like there's something different about the Middle East and the question of conflict between Israel and Palestinians, or in this case, Hamas, right, a terrorist group.


CORNISH: One is that it doesn't go away quickly, right? It doesn't sort of fade. It can go for a long time. I don't think it's an accident that we heard from the voice of George Bush in just the last day or two and a speech of where he was weighing in on. Well, the hard part comes when people realize how long it goes, when the weariness kicks in, and that will be hard for the president.

And I do think there's always been something very particular about this part of the world, that it just makes it hard to look away. And it makes it hard to say even as an American, well, this somehow doesn't matter to our national politics that's just hasn't really been how it's played out.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And Republicans in the Republican Party have often, especially in recent years, been very proud of their support of Israel. And we saw that they've been really -- they're in turmoil right now, not just with the House speakership, but also with their ability to show any type of support for Israel because the leader of their party, as you pointed out, praised Hezbollah, and also attacked Benjamin Netanyahu in a political speech.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. He said he -- this is Donald Trump we're talking about -- has been very hurt very badly because of what happened here. He was not prepared. He was not prepared. And Israel was not prepared. That's true. But is that really something that Republicans who are --

CORNISH: Yes. I just say this because Israel --

BASH: Israel.

CORNISH: -- is preparing for, obviously --

BASH: Yes.

CORNISH: -- a conflict of a scale of which we have not seen.

BASH: And there was a ton of, ton of backlash.

CORNISH: And that's not something that fade to a month or two.

WALTER: A ton of backlash, even from his opponents who typically do not -- are not willing to push back. Though, as we get to this next phase, we may also like, we're likely to have division within the Democratic side, especially if what we are poised to see is incredible death and destruction and horror in Gaza. And so --

CORNISH: It's just barely under the surface right now.

WALTER: That's right, exactly.

BASH: Guys, thank you. We're going to have to take a quick break. We're going to go back to Israel. Stay with us.



BASH: Breaking news this hour out of Israel. We're learning that the Israeli Defense Forces conducted raids inside Gaza over the past 24 hours and part of their mission mission is to search for hostages. CNN's Matthew Chance is live in Tel Aviv. Matthew, what can you tell us?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, this just coming through to us from the Israeli Defense Forces, as we're all braced for that big possible land invasion of the Gaza Strip. In the meantime, Israeli forces have been not just carrying out airstrikes in very densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip, but also carrying out incursions as well, in a much -- of a much smaller scale of the one of course that we're all braced for.

And as you mentioned, the purpose of those limited incursions are to, first of all, eliminate areas that pose a threat to Israel to eliminate terrorists as the Israeli Defense Forces put it. But also to try and locate the areas where hostages may be held or to find evidence for where the hostages may be held.

Because remember, as we all wait for what could be an absolutely devastating land invasion of the Gaza Strip, we have to bear in mind between 100 and 150 Israeli hostages are being held at unknown locations across the Gaza Strip, separately of course. And that will obviously complicate if not hamper the possibility of a big sort of all-out assault on the territory already.

The Hamas militant group says more than a dozen. I think 13 is the number they've given of hostages, they say have been killed as a result of Israeli airstrikes. There's no confirmation of that from the United States or from the Israelis either. But again, it underlines the challenge facing Israel right now as it prepares to go into the Gaza Strip in a very large military way.

BASH: Matthew, thank you so much.

And I just want to tell our viewers the video that they were looking at while you were speaking was video given to the media by the IDF of strikes in Gaza. Again, thank you so much, Matthew for that important reporting.


And today coast to coast security and a big challenge. Police and law enforcement across the country are bracing for protests that they may worry crossed the line from peaceful to violent. The nationwide display of anger follows an urgent plea from a former Hamas leader calling for a Day of Rage.

Shimon Prokupecz joins me now live from New York. What are we seeing not just in New York, but what are you hearing from your law enforcement sources, Shimon, across the country?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the thing that is concerning most of the law enforcement officials who are, you know, looking at chat are most of it coming from online folks, people discussing what's going on in Israel and perhaps wanting to take advantage of that situation.

And the concern, obviously, is what they don't know. It's that lone wolf person sitting at home who's viewing video, who's taking in all this information, and perhaps we'll react. And so, what law enforcement is doing all across the country is a lot of what we're not seeing. You know, there are reinforcement officers here in New York City, who are mobilizing at police headquarters, just waiting just in case if something happens.

Here later in Times Square, there is going to be a much larger presence of officers here as they get ready for a rally that's supposed to take place. A pro-Palestinian rally at 3:00 just here in Times Square. And so we will see more law enforcement here. And really across the country, in LA and other parts of the country, there are law enforcement officers all just on standby just in case something happens.

And one of the things that the mayor and the governor here in New York City are talking about is they want people to feel safe. And so that's why they're taking this these extra precautions. But as you can see behind me here in Times Square, people are route. I mean, there is a lot of concern. There is -- this is something that's on everyone's mind. But people are out living their lives. They're out shopping, there are a lot of tourists in this city.

The other thing that's going on all across here and in also other parts of the country is that at every synagogue that you go to, you will see law enforcement. You know, I drove by a couple this morning, here in Manhattan and there are cops outside these areas. And it's not a large presence. But again, it's to make people feel safe.

So later today, certainly, we'll see an increase. And the big worry for law enforcement and intelligence officials, it is what they don't know. Could there be some kind of surprise attack, some lone wolf person who tries to take out, some kind of attack, and that's certainly something that they're keeping an eye on.

But there are no credible threats. And as the city and cities all across the country are urging people to go out, live your lives, do what you would do normally on a day like today.

BASH: Yes. Shimon, as you will know, the fact that there are security officials at Jewish either synagogues or other buildings across the country, that's not new. What seems to be new, according to reporting is that it's very much stepped up right now.

Thank you so much.


BASH: Appreciate it.

Any conversation about Israel and Palestinian territories is not easy. And it is a near guarantee that it will produce tension and even anger. But there is a line, a line between anti-Semitic hate and anti- Zionist rhetoric. We are watching that line get crossed again and again.

On Tuesday at my alma mater, George Washington University, a school with a large Jewish population, students held a vigil to celebrate, quote, "The martyrs of Palestine". Not to protest what many call the occupation, not to object to the Israeli government's promise to bomb cities in Gaza, but to applaud the murderers who carried out the single biggest slaughter of Jews since the Holocaust. Now, I should say on Wednesday, the President of G.W. condemned what she called the celebration of terrorism.

This picture comes from -- that we're going to show you -- comes from Theo Baker, an award winning reporter at Stanford. Hours after Jewish students held a vigil to mourn, these messages were scratched on the concrete, "long live the Intifada", and "from the river to the sea". Their calls for the destruction of Israel.

I'm joined now by Adam Lehman, the President and CEO of Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. And Jillian Lederman, a senior at Brown University and the chair of Hillel's Israel Leadership Network. Thank you so much to both of you for being here for this important conversation.

I'm going to start with you because you have the national global look at what we're seeing here. You believe that university leaders have failed students of all shapes and sizes and stripes.


ADAM LEHMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, HILLEL INTERNATIONAL: Absolutely. And it's been so disappointing to us. Too many university leaders have failed to do what is simple right now, which is to call out the horrible acts of violence and terrorism perpetrated by Hamas terrorists, to recognize the trauma that that is inflicted on their Jewish student communities, on Israelis on campus and otherwise. And this failure is sadly continuing.

We have situations like at Stanford where an instructor asked a group of Jewish and Israeli students in class to go huddled themselves in a corner to understand what it feels like to be a Palestinian. This in a moment where they're already reeling from trauma, looking at these terrorist attacks. So it's enormously problematic. There are bright spots with some leaders who have fortunately stepped up --

BASH: Yes.

LEHMAN: -- and spoken out, but far too few.

BASH: And we should say that this is happening right now in this current very tense, very wrenching environment against a backdrop of this growing tension that has been happening for years on college campuses. And it is very nuanced, it is very difficult because there is obviously room to protest.

I mean, I've heard Deborah Lipstadt, who's a very well-known scholar on these issues say, you want to hear the biggest criticism of the Israeli government, go sit in a cafe in Jerusalem. So there's that, but it's the slippery slope from that to outright anti-Semitism. What are you seeing at Brown and other schools?

JILLIAN LEDERMAN, CHAIR, HILLEL'S ISRAEL LEADERSHIP NETWORK: Absolutely. So it's been very difficult at Brown. You know, as the president of Brown students for Israel, I've talked to so many Jewish students on Brown's campus, every single one of them personally know someone, whether it's a family member, or a friend who's in Israel right now, who was fighting, who's missing, who has been killed or who has relatives who have been killed.

So on an emotional level, it's incredibly difficult on a campus level, as we've talked about, you know, there are issues with the administration's responses. At Brown specifically, we have had an administration that has been supportive. They have condemned the terrorism.

Our college President Christina Paxson spoke at a vigil that was held by Jewish students and by the Hillel. But the response by individuals and Brown's campus, by students on Brown's campus, particularly Students for Justice in Palestine has been horrendous. They have as many other student groups have done, compared the terrorism that is going on to a justified active resistance.

They have attributed it entirely to the Israeli government. And it's made students on campus feel unsafe in a way that I've never experienced before that --

BASH: Unsafe.

LEDERMAN: Unsafe, threatened. You know, it's a strong movement, we have a strong movement, we have a strong community, but this is unprecedented. We've never been -- we've never felt this way before ever on campus,

LEHMAN: And Dana, just to build on that, this is what we need from our university leaders, not only to call out what had happened to recognize these ongoing real threats. Yesterday is you showed in the lead in, we had a group of student organizations under the banner of Students for Justice in Palestine, carry out a day of so-called resistance, in many cases, celebrating the atrocities committed by Hamas.

That is unacceptable and university leaders need to speak out. We also need university leaders to show up. We've had hundreds of vigils, they've been beautiful, filled with prayers, with song, with solidarity. They need to be there standing with us.

And finally, we need university leaders to protect their Jewish student and other communities. This Day of Rage, and it's a Fatah called for by a former Hamas leader is real. And how can Jewish students not be fearful in this moment? So we're really looking forward to more partnership and collaboration to take on this challenge.

BASH: Again, this is happening on the backdrop of what was already a growing movement. As I mentioned, Deborah Lipstadt, she said to me, it's in vogue, and it had been way before this on college campuses, for progressives to take on the plight of Palestinians.

And so the question of Palestinian rights is a valid one. I think a lot of college Jewish students on college campuses would agree. The issue now is conflating the rights of civilians with the terrorist acts, brutal terrorist acts on other civilians, the Israelis. LEDERMAN: Right. And all of us, every single one of us, is grieving for innocent lives lost in Gaza, for innocent lives last minute Israel. There is no debate about that. There are no politics about that.


There are so many legitimate criticisms and so many legitimate takes on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is not about that. This is terrorism. This is people being killed. This is people being massacred. There's no debate about the morality of what is going on. There should not be a debate about the morality of what's going on.

This is completely different from any legitimate discourse that goes on on campus. And it should be universally condemned. The fact that it's not, is why we have so many Jewish students feeling threatened, feeling like they are experiencing a moment that they've never experienced before on college campuses.

BASH: I'm so grateful that both of you came on to talk about this. It's such an important topic.

Jillian Lederman and Adam Lehman, thank you.

LEDERMAN: Thank you.

LEHMAN: Thank you so much.

BASH: Appreciate it.

And up next, I'm going to talk to my friend and colleague Wolf Blitzer about this horrific, horrific week and get some perspective.



BASH: Welcome back. The House Republican conferences vote on a new speaker just got even more complicated if that is possible. A new candidate just threw his name in the ring. Congressman Austin Scott of Georgia will challenge Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio for the speaker's gavel. House Republicans are going to meet in the 1:00 p.m. hour, so they'll start meeting in about five minutes.

CNN's Manu Raju joins me now. Any sense that this is going to have a different outcome, Manu? Oh, is he talking to members? There he is.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Dana, I lost my audio for a little bit.


RAJU: I think you asked me about Austin Scott running in this race here that we -- Jim Jordan is expected to have a candidate against Austin Scott, a candidate who was been very -- a Republican who's been from Georgia, who has been extremely critical of the Republicans who voted to oust Kevin McCarthy from the speakership.

In fact, he told me last night the Republicans who battled then- Speaker McCarthy and also took down Steve Scalise and made them look like a bunch of idiots. He is frustrated by this entire process.

Congressman, re-voting for Jordan or Scott?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to hear the speeches.

RAJU: There you go.

Have you decided Jordan or Scott?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jim Jordan. He deserves this right now. This is his moment. We'll see where we go from here.

RAJU: So as you can see, a lot of members are still not saying some decided, some voting for Jim Jordan. The question here is who will get a majority of the 221 Republican members. Also, there'll be three members who are from delegates who are not in the House. We don't vote on the House floor.

There are some vacancies too. So we'll see what the ultimate threshold is that they have to clear here. But Dana, they will -- whoever wins here will be the nominee here for the Republicans. Again, the question is, can that person get the 217 votes needed on the House floor to be elected speaker of the House? That is a major question.

Even if Jim Jordan wins, no guarantee he becomes the next speaker, Dana.

BASH: Yes. See Steve Scalise to underscore that point that you just made.

Manu, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

And turning back to the story that has dominated this week, and that is what happened in Israel -- scarred and scared. Tomorrow marks one week since Hamas took guns and shovels and knives and paragliders and rape and kidnapping into the heart of Israel. The murdered are still being counted. The wound for Israeli families is still bleeding and the fear for Jews across the country and the world is very real.

Kibbutz Re'im, Kfar Aza, Nova names Jews have now committed to memory alongside Babi Yar (ph).

CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer joins me now. Wolf, I'm so grateful that you're here because it's really still hard for us, who are in the words business to find words about what happened. You've covered the Middle East for decades and decades. So I've wondered you to put what we have seen in some perspective for us.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: I've covered -- you know, my first job in journalism was working for the Reuters news agency in their Tel Aviv bureau. And I remember the terrorism that was going on, and I've covered all the wars that have been going on. So I've got a lot of history in that part of the world.

But I've never seen anything along these lines, the brutality, the terrorism, the murder, along the -- just little kids or grandparents and the kidnapping going on, taking people to Gaza as hostages. It's been awful. It's painful, not just for the Jewish people, it's painful for everyone to see it, to see those images, to hear those stories. It's just an awful story. And I wish it would get better. But I fear it's about to get worse.

BASH: And I'm seeing all across social media, I'm sure you are too, never again is now.

BLITZER: Yes. This is -- on that first day a week ago, that first day of this Hamas invasion and attack against Israel, more Jews were killed on that day than on any day since the Holocaust. And it's a very, very painful situation to see all of that exploded and it's painful to see what's going on in Gaza right now with all the civilians and the people there.

And it's just awful, that Hamas is telling these Palestinians in Gaza, don't leave stay put. What do they want? A human shields or something like that? I mean, it's a dangerous situation, especially as the Israeli military is being activated, mobilized 300,000 troops are ready to move in and deal with Hamas and it's a real problem.

BASH: You know, it's -- you question humanity and what human beings are capable of. You and I went in the spring to the concentration camps and we question that, and now we see these images and you question it again.

BLITZER: Yes. It's just so painful to see what's going on. And it's -- and we're journalists, we cover it and so we see a lot of atrocities. We see a lot of bad things happening. We try to report as fairly and as honestly as we possibly can. But it's just, you know, just an awful, and none of us have ever been in a position of reporting some of the things we're seeing right now. And it's just a hard assignment.

BASH: Colleagues are bearing witness for sure.

Wolf, thank you so much. We'll see you on The Situation Room later today. Thank you for joining INSIDE POLITICS. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.