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Inside Politics

Israel and Hamas Agree to Hostage Deal, Four-Day Fighting Pause; Biden's Foreign Policy Failing to Garner Support Among Americans; Democrats Remain Divided on Continued Aid for Israel. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 22, 2023 - 12:30   ET



AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: They count just over 200 Israelis who are believed to be alive and still in Gaza. Here's some numbers for you. 39 of them are children, including a 10-month-old. 29 are senior citizens, including three people who are 85 years old. And 44 of the Israeli hostages are women. I'm joined now by the brother of one of the hostages, Gal Gilboa-Dalal, and his younger brother Guy, they were at the Nova Music Festival on October 7th. They were separated during the attack. He only learned his brother Guy had been kidnapped by Hamas when their parents said they saw a hostage video online.

First, I just want to welcome you to the program. I know that this is a difficult day.


CORNISH: We understand, right now, it's supposed to be women and children who are included in this initial hostage agreement. U.S. officials say this could pave the way for additional hostages to be released. Does that give you hope that your brother could be among them?

GILBOA-DALAL: I still haven't received any official note about the deal. So even though -- even if it's real, everything they are saying about this deal, I don't really think my brother will be included in this deal. So it's kind of really hard for me to hope he will be released in this kind of a deal. He is 22 years old.

CORNISH: What is it like been trying to navigate this, right? It's not clear sort of who to negotiate with, which countries are involved. For the families, what has this process been like?

GILBOA-DALAL: To my family, it's been I think one of the hardest weeks we had to go through because we keep hearing about deals that can be made. We hear a lot about it, but every time it changed. Every day, we hear something different. Every time we hear about it, they are speaking about a small amount of hostages, if you look about all the hostages, they are more than 200. And we know it could make the deal where my brother should be back to us, like there could be a lot of time until we can get another deal. That makes us very worried.

Even though it's hard to be disappointed about any life that's being returned to us, and we have a big priority to get out, to bring back the kids and the women and the people who need medical attention most.

CORNISH: In the meantime, have you encountered any additional information about your brother specifically? I know you learned about his capture more or less on social media. Do you know about his health or his location?

GILBOA-DALAL: No, actually we haven't heard anything. That's one thing that I really hope that if he won't be included in this deal, that at least they will give the Red Cross to get in and get us a message from him or any sign of life, any information about his condition. We are just -- we are desperate to know anything about him.

CORNISH: You've been outspoken about the importance of just remembering the hostages. And I know when you traveled to the U.S. earlier this month, you took part in a march for Israel. Does this kind of alleviate your fears that the hostages were somehow being forgotten?

GILBOA-DALAL: Yeah. Of course, because when there are children and women involved, it makes people more I think -- it makes them be more involved in the situation. But even though, I always say it and I said it last time that I spoke with you guys. My brother is only 22 years old. He hasn't started his life yet. He had so much plans. He is a guy that believes in peace and love. That's the way he live his life. He shouldn't also be used as a currency in this war. So, yeah, it's very hard for me to think about the ceasefire without getting my brother back. But I also believe that to stop everything and to get real ceasefire and to really live in peace, we need to get them all back. So that's the situation. It's so hard for us right now.

CORNISH: I want to thank you and let you know that our thoughts are with you and your family.

GILBOA-DALAL: Thank you so much.

CORNISH: Next, we're going to talk about how much credit the Biden Administration might deserve for the break through with this deal. And will American voters reward him for it? We are going to dig into the politics of that ahead.



CORNISH: Welcome back to "Inside Politics." While President Biden has had trouble getting the American people on board with his handling of the Israel-Hamas war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took a different stance today.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): In the last few days, I talked with our friend, President of the United States Joe Biden. I asked for his intervention in order to improve the outline that he has presented to you.


NETANYAHU (through translator): And it was indeed improved, so that it would include more hostages and less prices. These talks bore fruit. President Biden got involved, and I thank him for that.

CORNISH: Correction there, that is actually audio from yesterday. Now, I want to bring in our political panel -- Jonah Goldberg of the Dispatch, Bloomberg's Nancy Cook, and USA Today's Francesca Chambers. Welcome all of you.

All right. I want to start with you, Francesca, because the public policy you have seen with Joe Biden has been to hold Netanyahu kind of close, but then behind the scenes, we know he was probably talking a little more specifically about how to get this truce deal to fruition and what would be required. So, what do we know about how the White House is feeling about how this is playing out and what their strategy is going forward?

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: So, their strategy going forward is they hope that this can serve as a pilot program to get the rest of the hostages out, and you have heard many lawmakers today saying that while this is a good first step and they welcome the release of these three Americans who we still don't entirely know their identities, they would like to see the rest of them out. They think this is also a good step towards getting more aid into Gaza.

Now, how quickly under their deal could come together, we do not know. But, it's certainly something that the Biden Administration says that they will be focused on moving forward.

CORNISH: When Biden first made his speech, right, when war broke out, I think there was a lot of commentary that he looked sort of strong and strident, and taking a very traditional position for a U.S. president, but it doesn't mean that people still approve of his foreign policy. That's what we're seeing so far. Over time, we have seen a real decline over the last couple months. You can see there, way back in March, you had 55 percent of people approving his foreign policy. That's down now in March -- past March 2022, 40 percent. And now, the number who approve is down to 33 percent.

Jonah, I want to start with you. How significant is this? I feel like Americans have kind of a shaky commitment to foreign policy issues.

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & CO- FOUNDER, THE DISPATCH: Yeah. Frankly, I think American voters right now have a shaky commitment to issues. And if you look the at his approval rating on all sorts of issues, they kind of track his approval rating generally. Basically, I'm skeptical about some of this and so far, as I think he's just drag -- he's unpopular for all sorts of reasons, I mean with the economy, his age, all that -- been there, done that. And so, you plug a topic next to his name, you say how do you think he's handling that, and that goes down too. CORNISH: At the same time, Nancy, I feel like with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, it already was a kind of mark against him. Certainly, among Republicans, but across the board, I mean, is this -- is Jonah right? Is it just about any issue or is this significant?

NANCY COOK, SENIOR NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: Well, I think there's two reasons that the foreign policy stuff is really significant and the decline in that approval rating. One is that foreign policy is supposed to be one of his key areas of expertise. It was something he was very focused on as a Senator. And it's something that he will try to draw a contrast with against Former President Donald Trump when the campaign really heats up in 2024. And so, I think that's the first problem for him.

But the second part is these foreign policy issues, both the Ukraine war and the Israel-Hamas war are very time consuming for any president. And it just takes time away from what they need to also be thinking about, which is his re-election campaign.

CORNISH: Yeah. And it's probably complicated by how the Democrats are talking about this. I just want to open this to the table. What are you guys seeing beyond what people talk about campuses and things like that, how are Democrats struggling with their sort of anti-war undercurrent and the reality of this moment?

GOLDBERG: Look, I think it's fundamentally a problem with the younger voters, because younger voters, they need them to turn out. They need them to be enthusiastic. They need them to sort of knock on doors and younger voters are split, minimum, on the issue of -- younger Democrats are particularly split on these issues. And it just -- it saps the enthusiasm and also gives some oxygen to some of these independent or third-party people like Cornel West, which has got to scare them given how narrow the margins are going to be in battleground states for the electoral ballot.

CORNISH: Is the White House worried about this split? I mean, it is talked about at these kind of tables, but what are you hearing?

CHAMBERS: I think so. Even though they are saying publicly that they are not concerned about the polling, they certainly know that this is an issue for them. The White House said this week that it's not their job to change Americans' minds about this, but the campaign has said that it is their job at least to fill the gap and bring people along. And that is what you'll end up seeing the campaign do. But, as far as it being time consuming, as Nancy mentioned, we know the while the president was at APEC, just after his meeting with Xi Jinping, hosting these 21-member economies, he was also on the phone cutting a deal to try and get these hostages home. So just another example, as you recall, that that was near the spending deadline as well --


CHAMBERS: -- of how his attention is being pulled in different directions.

[12:45:00] CORNISH: He's trying to show strength and vigor at the same, obviously, there are people in the party who see him as vulnerable because we have had an entrance into the race with the Super PAC that is supporting Dean Phillips. And he's a candidate who says that his latest ad hits Biden on his age. I know that feels like everybody is hitting Biden on his age.


CORNISH: I don't know if that's news. But, what's significant about this moment?

COOK: Well, I think that what's significant is just that Biden is sort of taking it from all sides. He has Dean Phillips, who is starting to buy some ad time in the Boston area market we learned today. We also have these third-party -- threats from third-party candidates potentially, RFK, Jr., Cornel West, and --

CORNISH: Never mind the no labels.

COOK: Right, never mind the threat of a potential no labels candidacy. And so, one by one, I don't think that any of those people are going to be the Democratic nominee, but what they could do is eat into his support among Democratic voters and just take people off bit by bit.

GOLDBERG: Actually, as a matter of political history, the Dean Phillips challenge is kind of fascinatingly novel in so far as, normally, primary challengers within your own party are about an issue or a set of issues, or an ideological perspective. Papi Canon (ph), Ross Perot, Ralph Nader, all those kinds of people, right? This is just a guy saying I agree with him on everything. I just think he's too old.

CORNISH: Yeah. But --

GOLDBERG: Which is a weird --

CORNISH: Follows your thesis about it, not being about issues any more though?



CORNISH: Coming up. We're going to talk a lot about the split on the left over -- we have been talking about the split over the left -- in the left over the Israel-Hamas war. We're now going to talk a little bit more about conservatives and the right. Please stay with us.



CORNISH: You've heard a lot about anti-Semitism on the far left from targeted attacks on college campuses to hateful comments circulating among some progressives. There is also anti-Semitism that is simmering on the far right, and we are bringing our panel in here to talk more. This has come up because of a kind of very online internet kerfuffle between personalities Candace Owens and Ben Shapiro, who are at odds about conversations around Israel. Can you talk about why you think this is surfacing the way it is, specifically among what I would call kind of the MAGA right?

GOLDBERG: Yeah. So I mean, part of it -- there -- obviously, there's some faction of the far right, new right, MAGA right, whatever you want to call it, that is legitimately anti-Semitic. There's a much greater population of people who love to just boost engagement by fomenting outrage, right?


GOLDBERG: And that --

CORNISH: But they've had a substantive discussion about what does it mean to be America First.


CORNISH: How far does that go? And I thought that was intriguing because was America First really a doctrine? Like, how does it play out over time?

GOLDBERG: Yeah. So, America First in 1940s was --


GOLDBERG: -- thought up (ph) with World War II stuff, then Donald Trump thought it sounded cool when an interviewer mentioned it to him and he adopted it, and he had no idea about its anti-Semitic roots. Anyway, my point is that people like Candace Owens are basically outrage merchants. The supply of plausible hot takes that stoke outrage has been -- cannot meet the demand for them.

And going after the Jews or Jewish financiers, which Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens have done, boosts outrage. It attracts the kind of anger from all the right people that boosts engagement as well. And then you add in the fact that Elon Musk has gotten himself into this mess and it gives them an excuse to come to the defense of Elon Musk, it's basically -- a big part of it is incredibly cynical monetization of outrage.

CORNISH: I want to bring you guys in for a second. But let's see that tweet from Elon Musk because, especially, he co-signed, plus-signed (ph), liked a theory from somebody that looks very, very close to what has been called Replacement Theory which is a sort of general idea that there are mysterious powers usually rooted in the Democratic Party, et cetera, that are trying to replace white voters with minority voters who will vote in their direction.

Of course, Jews as a community are often lumped into this conspiracy theory as well, which is extremely old. What do you see in it coming out now? COOK: Well, I think that what we saw dating back to, you know, Trump's presidency and what happened in Charlottesville and his inability as a president to condemn white supremacists walking through that town, really gave rise to a lot of people feeling much more comfortable to express all sorts of --

CORNISH: Who were chanting almost this exact thing.

COOK: Right, exactly. So, I think that that's -- since then and since -- you know, he really broke the mold of Republican and presidential politics has given rise to not just online fights but very real, you know, ability for people to feel comfortable publicly expressing anti- Semitic views, racist views, and I think we've seen that play out again and again.

And I think it's important not just to talk about it in the context of an online fight between two online personalities, that's how they make their money. I feel like we're just seeing it throughout American politics and throughout the country. People feeling much more comfortable expressing discriminatory or anti-Semitic views.

CORNISH: (Inaudible) Francesca, is this getting the attention of the White House at all? How are you seeing this?

CHAMBERS: Absolutely.


CHAMBERS: And Doug Emhoff, the Second Gentleman, has been focusing on this issue, of course, as well as the president and other people in the White House. But just building on the point that you were making, Jonah, taking it to the next level, then you have lawmakers who are not disassociating themselves from this kind of rhetoric. You had Erick Erickson, the conservative commentator, saying that until people stop giving to these groups, they disassociate from the money of these things, these will continue to happen and him calling it -- saying that that's basically complicity with evil was what he said.

CORNISH: Well, we're going to leave it there for just a moment. I want to thank you all for tackling this, not an easy topic. I appreciate you being here.

And we want to thank you for joining "Inside Politics." "CNN News Central" starts right after this break.