Return to Transcripts main page
Laura Coates Live
Biden To Give Formal Oval Office Address About Wars In Israel And Ukraine; Government Assessment: Israel Is Not Responsible For Deadly Hospital Blast In Gaza; Law Enforcement Watching For Potential Threats In Wake of Israel-Hamas War; Young Boy Stabbed To Death In An Alleged Anti-Muslim Hate Crime; Laura Coates Speaks With A Rabbi And An Imam. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired October 18, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Holloway's body has never been found and her mother finally feels some sense of justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH HOLLOWAY, NATALEE HOLLOWAY'S MOTHER: Because all he's going to hear is that jail cell doors slam to remind him he's a double murderer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Van der Sloot is serving a long prison sentence in Peru for the murder of a young woman in 2010.
And thank you for watching "NewsNight." "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Hi, Laura.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I had been following that story --
COATES: -- for so long. I cannot imagine what her mom, her family has been thinking now.
COATES: And they suspected for a very long time. It's just -- it's unbelievable, Abby. Great show. Thank you.
PHILLIP: But finally, some closure for them.
COATES: I know.
PHILLIP: Have a good show, Laura.
COATES: What kind of closure? Oh, unbelievable. Thank you. We'll see you back here tomorrow, okay?
COATES: Well, there's new video of the moments before the deadly explosion at a hospital in Gaza, and President Biden is about to make a significant Oval Office address. What's next, world, tonight on "Laura Coates Live."
Well, President Biden spent about seven hours in the Israeli war zone today, and tomorrow, he will formally address the nation from the Oval Office. Now, we have no idea right now what he will say, but it is hallowed ground for what we call the leader of the free world. Presidents give speeches all the time, of course, you see a thousand of them, but they don't often from the Oval Office. In fact, it's increasingly rare.
You know the kind of speeches we actually hear from the Oval Office? Here's the gravitas involved. The decision to send troops to Little Rock to enforce school desegregation, the Cuban missile crisis, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq war, the coronavirus outbreak.
Now, we expect it to be about two simultaneous wars, and the U.S.'s response to Hamas's attack against Israel and Russia's war in Ukraine. And as for the latest devastation on the ground in Gaza, the blast at the hospital, well, President Biden did not wait until he returned to the Oval Office to address that. No, he spoke to the press and on camera, no less, from onboard Air Force One.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't say things like that unless I have faith in the source in which I've gotten the people at the Defense Department of our respect, the Intelligence Community of our respect. It's highly improbable that Israel did that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: And there's new video tonight that shows a rocket fired from Gaza exploding in flight above Gaza City. Now, the Israeli Defense Forces point to the video as evidence that Israel was not responsible for the explosion at the hospital. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert in analyzing rockets and what happens to them, but I've got experts here to unpack all of it in just a moment.
But there are many people that have already drawn their conclusions about this entire war and all that has followed and perhaps will come. And you've got protests that are spreading not only here in this country but around the world.
The Capitol Police today arrested some 300 protesters from Jewish Voice for Peace at the Cannon Rotunda as protesters flooded the streets in American cities and across the Middle East.
Now, the history of America certainly understands the value of peaceful protests and, of course, of speaking truth to power, but I have to emphasize the word "truth," as in facts, not misinformation, not propaganda. And, of course, the fog of war makes that very difficult at times to be discerning. And I can't do it with a soundbite nor will I try to do so. We have to actually have real conversations with depth and with context, and we're going to go there tonight even when, well, especially because it's uncomfortable.
Tonight, I'll be joined by a rabbi and an imam sitting here together for the honest discussion we need. That's coming up later this hour. And here with me tonight, two experts who can help us answer some of these very many questions. CNN's Jerusalem correspondent Hadas Gold and Colonel Cedric Leighton, who spent 26 years as an intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force.
But I want to get right away to what we're learning, still learning about the explosion at the hospital in Gaza. CNN chief national security correspondent Alex Marquardt has been analyzing the video. Alex, tell us all about it.
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Laura, the explosion at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital rocked northern Gaza. It lit up the night sky. You can see it in this video. CNN has geolocated that blast site to the hospital.
And then we also have this other angle from Al Jazeera appearing to show, according to an analysis by CNN, a rocket fired from inside Gaza.
It then explodes in the air. And seconds later, another blast is seen at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital. Now, we have not determined definitively that the rocket is the cause of that explosion. But in Tel Aviv today, the president, he said that U.S. intelligence matches Israel's version of what happened. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I was outraged and saddened by the enormous loss of life yesterday in the hospital in Gaza. Based on the information we've seen to date, it appears the result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: Now, the U.S. hasn't named the group, but Israel says it is Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which is allied with Hamas and also linked with Iran.
This American assessment, which came less than 24 hours after the deadly strike, was based on what the White House now says is -- quote -- "intelligence, missile activity, and open source video and images of the incident." The statement goes on to say that some Palestinian militants in Gaza themselves believe that this strike was, in fact. carried out by Islamic Jihad. Laura?
COATES: Alex Marquardt, a lot to unpack. Thank you so much.
I want to bring in Israeli government spokesman Eylon Levy. He's here now. Eylon, thank you for being here today. We're going through a lot of this. And the U.S. review is finding that Israel is not responsible for that deadly hospital blast. But that's not calming down the region, is it? You've got neighboring countries who don't believe it. There are large scale protests. So where does that leave Israel now going forward?
EYLON LEVY, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: You're right, many people are not buying the overwhelming evidence that shows this was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket that misfired, unfortunately, because much of the international media was very quick to run headlines saying 500 people killed in hospital in Israeli airstrike, Palestinian officials say, before there was any evidence.
Now, when those reports ran, the only evidence was the claim of Hamas, the brutal, genocidal terror organization that perpetrated the October 7th massacre without a shred of evidence.
Now, it took the Israeli Army a few hours to conduct its original investigation. That is exactly what you would expect of the professional army of a democratic state. And as I hope you're going to discuss with your correspondents now, the overwhelming preponderant evidence now points in that direction.
It's an open-and-shut case now that this was errant rocket fire from inside the Gaza Strip, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the fire we're seeing there from the propellant that was supposed to fuel the rocket all the way into Israel, in fact, exploding in that hospital parking lot.
COATES: In fact, we are going to go there and unpack greater and greater detail. It's really important to do so for many of the reasons that you've just said because people have drawn conclusions and because of the really, the impact of all that has taken place and the weight of it.
In addition to this, President Biden is telling reporters that Israel will allow aid into Gaza, and that he was blunt with Israeli leaders on the need to help refugees. Can you confirm that Israel is on board with what President Biden is saying?
LEVY: Indeed, Israel has no objection to humanitarian aid reaching the people of Gaza through Egypt's Rafah Border Crossing. We have just one condition, that humanitarian aid not reach Hamas, the brutal, bloodthirsty terror organization that perpetrated the atrocities of the October 7th massacre.
That is our right under international law, to insist that humanitarian aid donated by the international community not reach the military machine that is currently conducting a war of aggression against us, just as Hamas a few days ago stole stocks from the United Nations.
The U.N., in fact, admitting in a tweet that Hamas had come and taken medicine and -- medicine and fuel away from onerous stocks, enough fuel to power Gaza's desalination plants for six days. That was stolen by Hamas from United Nations stockpiles.
Now, as for the border crossings with Israel, our position is very clear. We will not allow our border crossings, the same border crossings that have been attacked, where people have been butchered, that are under fire from rockets, to be used to deliver trade and aid into the Gaza Strip as long as our 200 hostages are inside the Gaza Strip.
We have 200 people, from babies to elderly people, who are being held brutally, hostage by Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas without basic conditions, without access to the Red Cross. We demand their immediate and unconditional return.
And we hope that Hamas will do the basic humanitarian thing, although after the atrocities of October 7th, when they burned and beheaded people and tied children up and cremated whole families alive, we have no expectation of basic humanitarian conditions from Hamas.
That is our demand, that they release our hostages, and in the meanwhile, humanitarian aid can enter from Egypt.
COATES: Certainly, your concerns are clear and evident as the justification for what you have just stated. But how do you intend to enforce and to ensure that what you're saying in terms of humanitarian aid will be heeded?
Will you not allow people to go forward until you have certain conditions that are tangibly relayed to you or is there something short of that?
LEVY: You ask excellent questions about how the international community is supposed to ensure that its taxpayer dollars not reach the bloodthirsty terrorists who perpetrated the October 7th massacre.
You know, I remember after the 2014 war, Operation Protective Edge, there was a mechanism set up by the United Nations called the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism. I was involved in working on it as a young soldier myself, and that was supposed to make sure that aid reach the people of Gaza to rebuild and not reach Hamas.
And what we are seeing now is the result of many years in which concrete that was supposed to reach people's homes got diverted away to building Hamas bunkers and shelters, and pipes that were supposed to be laid down for water ended up being taken and converted into rockets.
And what comes next, we're going to expect the International Community to insist on very strict safeguards to make sure that the aid that is being donated by people around the world through humanitarian agencies, through foreign governments, not reach the military terror machine that on the 7th of October murdered 1,400 of our people, injured 4,000 of them, and took 200 of them hostage without basic humanitarian conditions into the Gaza Strip.
COATES: Eylon Levy, thank you so much for joining us. We're going to unpack this further. Thank you.
Here with me now, CNN's Hadas Gold and Colonel Cedric Leighton. Just in hearing what he had to say about the conditions, really, of being in compliant or going along with what President Biden has said, the conditions about hostages being released, the ideas of how to ensure that the aid is not going to be essentially taken and siphoned off by Hamas, is it realistic to think that could actually be a condition that could be met before aid gets there?
CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, RETIRED AIR FORCE COLONEL: Well, I think it's possible, but there's no peacekeeping mechanism, there are no troops on the ground to keep anybody away from these stores, you know, any mechanism to prevent Hamas from going after these things. So, it's a bit touchy. And I think there are -- because there are no mechanisms of enforcement, I think it's going to be a bit of a problem, Laura.
COATES: But he mentioned the international community. Obviously, he seemed to be imploring vigilance from just outside of Israel as well. Is there a collective way to get this done?
HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND GLOBAL BUSINESS REPORTER: I mean, I think the only mechanism right now would be the United Nations, who does have a presence there. But it'll be really difficult to do that in a time of war. I don't know how you can actually do these checks in the correct way. Now, Egypt could do it on their end, but then there's the concern of where this aid will go to.
Now, in Israel's mind, they're doing this operation to completely eliminate Hamas. So, in a way, you know, if they can go in and eliminate Hamas the way they think they need to do so, then that aid would essentially have nowhere to go to be administered by Hamas if they no longer exist, if Israel is successful.
COATES: I want to talk about this new video. There has been a lot of criticism for the media, about the headlines that initially came out, about whether and who was responsible for the attack on the hospital, whether it was errant rocket or whether it was an Israeli airstrike.
You saw the video tonight, Colonel Leighton, and CNN also analyzed, showing that the rocket was fired from Gaza, appearing to explode in the air moments before the hospital explosion. Now, obviously, CNN has not made its own independent assessment of this intelligence. But what is next in terms of how to look at this and how you see it?
LEIGHTON: Yeah, Laura, the key thing is, you know, what kind of explosion happened and where did it occur? So, in the video, we do see an explosion occurring over the hospital, over the general area of the hospital. That explosion is consistent with a rocket exploding in flight, in mid-flight. That very fact lends a lot of credence to the Israeli position on this.
COATES: Because there wasn't enough destruction to qualify for an above-Air Force, do you think?
LEIGHTON: That's part of it. COATES: Okay.
LEIGHTON: Exactly. And the other thing -- another question that really hasn't been answered yet is, where were Israeli aircraft at that particular moment in time? So, if you know the flight path of Israeli aircraft at that particular moment in time, was it possible for an Israeli aircraft to have fired a missile at the hospital from the position that that aircraft was in at that specific moment in time? Nobody has answered that specific question yet to my knowledge.
However, everything that we see in the video, all the other evidence, including the fact that there is no huge crater anywhere near the hospital, that indicates that it was not a munition that was fired from an aircraft.
COATES: That's important. I wonder if President Biden is going to address that in his address tomorrow. Obviously, the nuance you're talking about, details that you don't often hear from a president of the United States, about issues such as this, but what do you expect to hear?
GOLD: I think he will have to address it just because of what you said, of what so much of the world saw in those first few hours, those headlines.
And if you're just an average person who's scrolling through the headlines, you see that and you say, okay, well, they're to blame. And then you're hearing the president say that America needs to support Israel in this war against Hamas. So, he needs to kind of bridge that gap, explaining again, once again, why Americans should care about something that's happening thousands of miles away.
And also, we do expect him to make the case for a huge aid package. Now this aid package will not just be for Israel, it'll be for Ukraine, it'll be for the border, it'll be for other elements that -- you know, other issues that America cares about.
But he's going to be making a big ask from the American people, and I think there's a lot of concern also from Americans that there will be Americans involved. They know that there's carrier ships off the coast. They know that there's Marines potentially in route. So, we'll potentially hear from him about whether Americans should be concerned that once again, they will be getting entangled into a foreign war that's not necessarily on their soil.
But we also think we're going to hear from him about the aid and about the humanitarian crisis that people are seeing on their screens more and more and trying to explain what America is doing in its support of Israel and why it's so important in this moment.
Also keep in mind, for Israel, they need this aid because not only are they fighting Hamas, they have issues on the northern border with Hezbollah. They need to get ready for that. Also, those iron domes, those are very expensive. Every single time they are launched, that's tens of thousands of dollars for a single intercept. Think about how many of those intercepts have now been launched.
COATES: That's an incredible thing to think about.
LEIGHTON: And just one quick thing about that is, that is why Hamas was trying to overwhelm the system when they attacked on Saturday, because they know --
COATES: The seventh.
LEIGHTON: -- the seventh -- when they did that, they made it very clear that what their intent was, was to overwhelm the defenses and do it in a way that would, in essence, potentially bankrupt Israel, and that if they kept up with this activity. And they have a lot of rockets, probably a lot more than intelligence has assessed in their possessions.
So, that is one of the things that these countries or these entities do, is they try to overwhelm defenses that have been established over a long period of time. And that's going to be a key factor when you look at it from a fiscal standpoint as well as from a military standpoint.
GOLD: Ten -- tens times more than what Hamas has. So, there is a preparation element in this as well.
COATES: Thinking about how to overwhelm the system. Obviously, this takes a great deal of thought, strategy, and planning. And, of course, President Biden will likely talk about that, but also another war in Ukraine as well and the aid. Hadas Gold, Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you both so much.
There's federal and local law enforcement on the alert tonight, watching for potential threats right here in the United States in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war. The former deputy FBI director, Andrew McCabe, is here to tell us what we all should be looking out for. So, think about that.
COATES: Now, tonight, the FBI, Homeland Security, and law enforcement agencies all across the country are now on heightened alert. Why? Well, there are increasing reports of threats against Jewish and Muslim communities in the wake of the Israel-Hamas War.
I want to get some perspective now from CNN senior law enforcement analyst Andrew McCabe. He is a former FBI deputy director. So, if anyone thought this was only going to happen abroad and they would stay abroad, they are surely mistaken, because we've seen a lot of things already happening in terms of the concern for what might be.
In fact, Hamas, they have not called for attacks on U.S. soil specifically, but other foreign terrorist organizations have actually called for attacks that are -- quote -- "may prompt homegrown extremists," according to a law enforcement bulletin.
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: That's right.
COATES: When you hear that, what goes through your mind?
MCCABE: Well, for me, it's like a flashback to those many, many sleepless nights in the aftermath of terrorist attacks overseas.
Back in the days when I was running the FBI's counterterrorism division, the first thing you worry about here are sympathetic attacks in the homeland, either by trained operatives who have been sent here by the terrorist group, in this case it would be Hamas, or simply by people who are drawn to the ideology put out by that group, they're supporters of the group, and they see this activity overseas and they feel like this is it, this is my call to action, I need to do something here.
COATES: Is that akin to the so-called lone wolf or is that a different category?
MCCABE: It's very -- so, those folks, those people who are not members of the group, not directed by the group, they're simply motivated by the group. That's what we're -- that's what we're referring to when we talk about lone wolves.
People who've gone through this radicalization period by themselves, they've been ingesting internet propaganda, they're drawn to the ideology, they become progressively more violent and less stable, those are the folks you're worried that a moment like this will cause them to actually take the step into committing a violent act.
COATES: So how do you track or trace that in a way that you can prevent and anticipate well enough in advance to not have an attack occur?
MCCABE: It's incredibly hard, right?
MCCABE: Because you're not investigating and keeping track of everybody in this country who believes a certain thing. You don't investigate people over their beliefs.
But what you rely upon is your established network of people and organizations who bring information into law enforcement or into the FBI. Oftentimes, we build bridges into the community, into the faith- based community, into folks who are coming across people and might come across someone who raises some suspicions. And oftentimes, it's those connections that these people -- that cause these folks to come to our attention.
COATES: When you say build a bridge, do you mean getting an informant?
MCCABE: You know, sometimes, it's getting an informant. Sometimes, it's people who, you know, get themselves in trouble and then develop relationships with law enforcement to get out of that trouble. But oftentimes, it's much simpler than that.
It's having the heads of our 56 field offices around the country spend a lot of their time knocking on doors, going to the mosque, going to the synagogue, going to the community centers, introducing themselves, building that sort of personal relationship that enables people to think, you know what, when things get tough like we're in right now and things come across the radar that concern them, they have someone in the field office to reach out to who will respond appropriately.
COATES: In terms of social media or different platforms, I'm hearing a lot about Telegram.
COATES: A lot about -- maybe people aren't using it and thinking about it as much as, say, a Truth Social or Twitter, of course, or, formerly Twitter, now X, but Telegram seems to be a place that people are looking at with skepticism over propaganda. What do you know about it?
MCCABE: So, Telegram has really emerged as kind of the current platform du jour for criminal activity and nefarious activity. It's not to say that everyone on Telegram is a criminal.
MCCABE: But we've seen in the past that some platforms that have looser rules about content regulation and things like that tend to become magnets for underground activity and things like that. Telegram is one of those places right now. There's a bustling economy of buying and selling stolen identities and information that has been taken in cybersecurity attacks and things -- cyberattacks and things like that.
So, it shouldn't be surprising to us that extremists and people who are trying to stay off the radar but need to communicate with each other, they gravitate to platforms like Telegram.
COATES: Gosh, my spidey-senses and First Amendment laws coming up to think about lack of content regulation, more skepticism about propaganda and what could happen next. And then there's that Catch-22 --
MCCABE: That's right.
COATES: -- and what do you do about it, right?
MCCABE: That's exactly right.
COATES: Andy McCabe, so important to hear you. Thank you so much.
And next, I'm going to talk with the family of a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy who was stabbed to death allegedly in an anti-Muslim attack at his own home in Chicago.
COATES: Tonight, a grieving Palestinian-American mother is recovering in a hospital outside of Chicago, and her six-year-old son has been laid to rest. Both were attacked in a brutal stabbing at their home, allegedly targeted for being Muslim. Authorities have arrested their 71-year-old landlord, Joseph Czuba, you see him on the screen, and the DOJ has opened a federal hate crime investigation.
Wadia's great uncle, Mahmood Yousif, joins me along with the executive director of Chicago's Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ahmed Rehab. Thank you so much for joining us, both of you today.
Mahmood, I want to begin with you, and I honestly cannot express how sorry I am to be meeting you this way. I want to begin by asking you about Wadea. Tell me about this little boy. Just six years old, a kindergartner.
MAHMOOD YOUSIF, GREAT UNCLE OF WADEA AL-FAYOUME: Yes, he is. He's a kindergartner. Six-year-old just like any other six-year-old. He was a lot of fun, exciting. He likes to laugh. He has a lot of friends. And yesterday, we were talking about with the family and they do miss him already. He had -- we were looking just like for his future. And unfortunately, it was taken very early.
COATES: How is your family coping, his mother, in particular? Any idea of how she is doing right now?
YOUSIF: Uh, until now, we have no idea what was -- how is she right now. They're not letting us talk to her or see her or even visit her. Up to this point, we're trying, but they told us we have to wait.
I'm here today because his father, he couldn't make it, because until now, he's still in disbelief of what just happened. So, it's not easy.
COATES: It's not easy. I mean, Ahmed, why would it be that they could not speak to his mother? Do you have any idea?
AHMED REHAB, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CHICAGO CHAPTER, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN- ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Well, she was stabbed 12 times. This was a brutal and heinous attack. She was stabbed 12 times. The little boy was stabbed 26 times. The 12-inch knife was still in his abdomen when he was taken for an autopsy.
She was stabbed in the face, in the cheek, she can't talk. She is in severe distress emotionally, of course, with the trauma that she experienced. So, it's perhaps the hospital wants her to be protected from the interest of the public. We're still trying to get in contact.
COATES: It's what you describe as truly heinous and unbelievable, to think that has happened to anyone, let alone a child or his mother. Let me ask you, I mean, the war is now in the Middle East, and yet there is a victim, at least two, this little boy, his mother, of course, here in America. We are seeing repercussions here. What does that feel like?
REHAB: Absolutely. You know, it feels really frustrating and painful. And this is a conversation we're just going to have to have. I mean, there is a cognitive dissonance that we're experiencing here. Ironically, just before this segment discussing the brutalizing of this family, there was a segment discussing the potential imminent threat from the Muslim community.
And it's reports like that that this evil man was watching, and he got radicalized by the coverage of the media, has been consistently lopsided and one-sided, not unlike, frankly, what I'm seeing on CNN and other networks, statements from politicians, and this caused this man, who otherwise had been normal, he had built a treehouse for the boy, he had brought him toys, to flip, become radical, become a monster, and stabbed them to death that many times because he thought they were a threat.
So, I think we need to not disassociate how we talk about the issues, how we dehumanize Palestinians, how we erase their suffering from how certain people flip and radicalize and commit these crimes.
COATES: I think your point is certainly not lost on me, in particularly the way that we speak about in a detached way it might appear. I assure you that that's not how I view it. I wonder, Mahmood, and for you in particular as well, hearing about this as it's described, thinking about how people are becoming responsive to and reactive to things they may be hearing in different outlets, what is the way to stop it? What is the way that you want to see things done? This should not have happened to this little boy.
YOUSIF: For the last couple of days, we've been going around. I was in Plainfield yesterday. We were talking about this issue. Unfortunately, a lot of people, they have like a phobia or they have some certain type of phobia from Muslims. And they look at them -- they look at them as monsters or as described overseas, as animals.
I think it starts with the leaders of our country. When they hear something like, let's say, some type of news, don't just come say it before you make sure where this news is coming from and if it's even true or not.
This type of information, when you give to somebody, like this gentleman here, like we said just a while ago, just like I said, he was a normal person, there was no problem with him, he loved the kid, and suddenly, he just switched because of what he hears from the news, and most of those, the things that he hears, unfortunately, is not even true. That's where we have to start. And we have to start with the community. The community, unfortunately, they are very judgmental sometimes. Why don't you just ask if you fear something? Why don't you ask? I know a lot of people out there, their neighbors are Muslims, and they're very good friends. I mean, I have a lot of neighbors. We are in very perfect terms. And the reason is we ask, we communicate.
REHAB: You know, we haven't had as many cases at CAIR Chicago the way we're having now as we have since 9/11. I mean, these are the most number of cases we've had in terms of hate incidents, women being attacked at Burger King's and at McDonald's and at grocery shops and, you know, at gas stations.
This incident was obviously unique in how brutal it was, but there are many incidents that we're not talking about that are happening as a result of the atmosphere that we are in.
I think we can all agree that we stand against any atrocious acts against civilians, Israeli or Palestinian. That's something that we can agree on. But as much as we can collectively condemn terrorism, we must collectively condemn war crimes, shutting off of water, electricity, food, bombing of hospitals. I know there's all this back and forth about who did it, but we've seen many hospitals bombed before in Gaza and other places.
We need to be brave enough and courageous enough to have these real conversations and humanize both sides. We don't need to demonize one side or another. Humans are humans. They have their good, their bad, they have their shortcomings. We need to have an adult conversation. We have a cartoonish atmosphere right now in which we demonize an entire population and make them ripe for the killing.
COATES: You know what, both of you --
YOUSIF: Unfortunately, right now, there are a lot of families that are not taking this.
COATES: Oh no, I didn't want to tell you that. Go ahead. Your point is taken. I just wanted to reiterate that I really do hear you. And I think tonight is an opportunity for us to expand beyond the conversations that have been having, and we are going to have that conversation tonight in particular.
REHAB: Thank you, Laura.
COATES: And I'm glad we're actually having a great time.
REHAB: You've given us a platform to be able to share our feelings --
REHAB: -- and we appreciate you.
COATES: Oh, I'm glad that you came. Your insight and story are important. And I'm glad that you told us about sadly the other incidents that have been going on. Thank you to you both, and I'm looking forward to hearing about the recovery of this young woman who has lost her son. Thank you.
YOUSIF: Thank you.
REHAB: Thank you very much. Thank you.
COATES: You know, he hit the nail on the head in terms of how a lot of us are struggling to find ways to talk about what's happening in the Middle East and how it's being said and what the focus is. And whether it's demonization or information, how does it all come out?
I'm going to speak with a rabbi and an imam right here in the studio who tell me what they are saying to their faith communities, next.
COATES: Well, there are protests around the country today in the streets of New York and Chicago, St. Paul, Minnesota where I'm from, and Washington, D.C. as well. More than 300 protesters were arrested on Capitol Hill, including some from a Jewish organization that wore shirts reading, "not in our name" on the front and "Jews say ceasefire now" on the back. That's just one example of what we've seen today.
And tensions are high. People are voicing their opinions.
And the truth is, in the face of all of the unknowns of what's happening in Israel and in Gaza, it's hard to talk about with perhaps your friends or colleagues or our parents and our children. Most of us know how we might feel, but struggle to understand what's in the minds and the hearts of those we need to have these conversations with. So, as I told you with our last conversation and our guests, we need to have these conversations.
I'm going to turn to two faith leaders, one Jewish, one Muslim, who are facing down these tough and necessary talks within their own communities today. Joining me now is senior rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation, Susan Shankman, and Executive Imam Albert Sabir of Masjid Muhammad, the nation's mosque.
I'm glad that the two of you are here today. It has felt like a minefield for so many people who are leaning in to engage, trying to climb that very steep learning curve about every nuance and having the visceral human reactions we're all having right now.
COATES: What are you telling your members of your congregation about how to process?
SUSAN SHANKMAN, SENIOR RABBI, WASHINGTON HEBREW CONGREGATION: I think people are really struggling with what they're seeing in the images and understanding and trying to understand what's happening in real time, and at the same time, coping with all of the feelings that go along with that, a sense of fear, a sense of powerlessness, and a sense of just a real deep sadness, sorrow over the loss of life, over violence, and over any hopes for peace seeming farther away at this time.
And I think people are really having a challenging time processing all of that, and also a sense of, you know, what do we do in our daily lives? How do we continue to live our lives when all these terrible things are happening far away, but also so close to our communities? I mean, they really impact us all.
COATES: I mean, I -- honestly, I fear that people will start to hate and will look at one another in ways that brings the conflict home and creates hostility in places we would not want it to be. Do you have that concern?
ALBERT SABIR, EXECUTIVE IMAM, MASJID MUHAMMAD, THE NATION'S MOSQUE: Well, thank you for inviting us here and for being here. And Rabbi Shankman and I have some relationships -- building relationships over the years. Just recently, we did a unity walk.
SABIR: So yes, there has been an upsurge in wanting to know what to do. There has been an upsurge in the need to pray. So, we say to our congregation that remember God, that he's the one that created you, and he's the one that nourished and evolved you. Remember Him. Keep focus on that.
And read the scripture. Look and be attentive to what communication is coming. Be obedient in that communication. And also, read it again to see what is that communication saying to you.
So, this is difficult times, challenging times. Our nervous systems, it's being impacted. So, we must rise above. And we seek to do guidance from the scripture to give us that guidance so that we'll know how to behave.
And, of course, we have our prophet Muhammad and we tell our congregation, remind our congregation, if Hamas had asked themselves the question, would prophet Muhammad do that to innocent people? An answer would come back, no, he wouldn't. People look upon him. The model for us. So, we are constantly telling our congregation, read the guidance, see what the guidance is communicating to you.
SABIR: Be attentive to it, be obedient to it, and then read it again and see what it's saying to you.
COATES: And Rabbi Shankman, go ahead.
SHANKMAN: It doesn't surprise me at all that we're talking about the same things with our congregations. The scriptures might be slightly different. But even last week, when everything started, we had just started reading the Torah portion and the beginning. We'd started the whole Torah over. And at the very beginning, we read the story of creation. And we're told that in the beginning, it was -- everything was chaos. It was void. It was just -- it was dark.
SHANKMAN: And God created the world with light, with the word and with light. And that the reminder to each of us is that we have to bring that light, that we have that ability to bring light into the world. And we need to remember that even when things -- when there's darkness, that there is still light, and we have that power to bring that in what we do and how we react.
And even when I think about the times that we've spent together as a community, to hold on to that, to hold on to the humanity --
SHANKMAN: -- and to be the light for one another, for our fellow human beings. Even if the words that we're using are different, I think that sentiment is so important.
SABIR: Yes. And yes, we have to face those difficult talks, those challenging talks. We know Al-Quran speaks about oppression being worse than slaughter. I mean, worse than slaughter. So, we have to understand that, we have to see what it's telling us, and then we have to move in the correct way to address it.
And we address it with our father, Abraham. The hope, the miller (ph), the hope of Abraham, that the universality will come to light. Now, Abraham had to do something to (INAUDIBLE). He got rid of some idols, didn't he?
SHANKMAN: He did, too.
SABIR: Yeah. See, both of us know that Christian, Muslim, Jews, are Father Abraham, right? So, he removed those idols. And then when we think about Adam, we know Adam, when he was born, he didn't have nationality and ethnic.
So, for one moment, what would happen if the Israelis stripped that nationality really out of the way? What would happen if the Palestinians stripped the Palestinians out of the way? Be one human being.
SABIR: So, strip those -- forgive me if I'm going to say this, but strip those idols out of the way and you'll see that the light will come in. And it is so heart-wrenching to see the six-year-old young man, Fayoumi.
SABIR: Yeah, his light put out. We didn't even get a chance on this earth to see what his intellect, what his mental light would have brought to us. What sun would have gone off in his being? The sun. And we know the sun provides service to the earth.
COATES: You know what strikes me --
SABIR: And what service would he have done for humanity?
COATES: We don't have the answer, sadly. But what strikes me in this conversation, just hearing the two of you speak in the warmth between, there's a level of optimism that one could glean, but also the connective tissue. I think we should feed more on that in our next conversations. Thank you so much, both of you.
SABIR: You're welcome.
SHANKMAN: Thank you.
SABIR: Thank you.
SHANKMAN: Thank you, Laura.
COATES: Rabbi Susie -- Susan, I gave you a nickname, Rabbi Susan Shankman, Imam Albert Sabir. We'll be right back.
COATES: The news coming out of the Middle East can leave a lot of us, well, feeling helpless. But there are things you can do. For more information about how you can help humanitarian efforts in Israel and Gaza, go to cnn.com/impact or text RELIEF to 707070. That's 707070 to donate.
Well, thank you all for watching. Our live coverage continues after this short break.