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CNN Larry King Live
Middle East Crisis; Jett Travolta Death; Incoming Obama Administration
Aired January 04, 2009 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LARRY KING, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Tonight, Israel pushes deeper in Gaza, continuing its punishing assault on Hamas. Both sides remain defiant as the death toll climbs.
Plus John Travolta speaks to his fans about the tragic death of his 16-year-old son. And the family releases pictures of the boy they call the most wonderful son two parents could ever ask for. It's all next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, special Sunday night edition of LARRY KING LIVE. There are developments tonight in the death of Jett Travolta, the 16-year- old son of John and Kelly Preston. We'll have the latest.
But first, let's check out the breaking news out of Gaza. About 4:00 in the morning, Nic Robertson, naturally, is there on duty, on top of a tense situation. He'll join us live from the Israeli/Gaza border.
What's the latest, Nic? What's happening now?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Larry, I can hear gunfire going on behind me, right behind me where those lights are, that's the Gaza Strip, that's where the Israeli ground incursion is going on right now. We've heard helicopters overheard in the last hour or so, surveillance aircraft and quite a lot of loud explosions.
The ground battle is not as intense as it was this time last night, but we are learning from sources that the battle is quite contentious in places overnight. The Israeli defenses won't comment on those reports, but they say that they have had casualties among the troops, 30 Israeli soldiers wounded, one killed so far. But, they have inflicted casualties on Hamas, dozens of Hamas wounded, three Hamas leaders killed, they say. And what the Israeli ground troops have managed to achieve so far is to split this thin Gaza Strip, that's about 25 miles long, six miles across, split it in half, a north section and a south section. This, they say, will make it harder for Hamas to be able to control the area as they go after these rocket launch sites.
However, despite the Hamas have fired 40 rockets into Israel today, wounding two civilians, but the situation for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is poor and dire, some of them say. They're without water. They say they're very afraid because of the bombing and a Norwegian doctor at the main hospital in the Gaza Strip said he's seen a tripling of casualties over 37 Palestinians killed today. And this doctor said 30 percent of them were women and children -- Larry. KING: Thanks, Nic. You stay there, because we're have you on later. Nic Robertson, CNN's senior international correspondent at the Israeli/Gaza border. We'll continue with the crisis in the Middle East, shortly. We want to spend some time on the death of John travolta's son.
We have a statement from the family, which is: We'd like to extend our deepest and most heartfelt thanks to everyone who has sent their love and condolences. Jett was the most wonderful son two parents could ever ask for. He lit up our lives and everyone he encountered. We are heartbroken that our time with him was so brief. We will cherish the time we had for the rest of our lives.
We've received many messages of condolences from around the world and we thank everyone for their prayers and support. It's meant so much to us. A beautiful reminder of the inherent goodness and human spirit that gives us hope for a brighter future. With love," from John, Kelly and their daughter, Ella.
Joining us now, here in Los Angeles, Carlos Diaz, correspondent with "Extra." And in New York, Peter Castro, the deputy managing editor of "People" magazine.
An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. What do we know, Carlos, about how the Travolta are spending their time?
CARLOS DIAZ, EXTRA: Well, I mean, they're devastated. You know, their lawyers are saying that it's the worst day of John travolta's life. I mean, in talking to John Travolta and interviewing him and Kelly, you always saw that they're an amazing family, that he's an amazing father, that she's an amazing mother. This is something where, you know, words cannot describe what they're doing through.
You know, their lawyers said that they had to fight back the tears long enough to release the statement that you just read, so it's a very trying time for the Travolta family.
KING: Peter Castro, I know "People" magazine is always on top of these things. What's the latest from your perspective?
PETER CASTRO, PEOPLE: Well, we're trying to uncover as much as we can, Larry. As you know, John Travolta has always been an extremely private person and what we're learning is that, you know, a lot of questions are being asked about this and the mysterious aspect being was he autistic? You know? Or if John Travolta is to be believed, was it in fact that suffered from this thing called Kawasaki disease and this was a terrible accident?
I don't know if these questions will ever be answered, but certainly there's a controversy surrounding this horrible tragedy and as Carlos said, let's not forget that right now what we're talking about is this 16-year-old boy and two parents who are in pieces over this.
KING: What do we know about the scene at the death - Carlos.
DIAZ: Basically what we know so far is that Jett was seen at around 11:30 on January 1.
DIAZ: At night. At night. And then in the morning was found by one of his two nannies and what John Travolta's people were saying is that the nannies were around constantly. There were some reports that the nannies had left them out of their sight. The Travolta family are saying that the nannies have always been there.
He was found in the morning. We're now learning that John Travolta administered CPR at the scene and when the paramedics arrived, he said please help me, help me, I think I'm losing him. So, I mean, a horrific thing to even imagine, a father trying to save his son right there in the bathroom of their condo in the Bahamas.
KING: Peter, why -- do we know why a 16-year-old had nannies?
CASTRO: Well, I think it's because -- not I think, we're being told it's because he suffered from seizures, has had a long history with seizures, was on medication that was ineffective. And that's a stalian (ph) point, Larry, because a lot of people believe that if you're a Scientologist, you don't administer drugs, not the case in this case. It was just deemed ineffective, so that's where we stand now on that issue.
KING: Did he take anti-seizure medicine, do you know?
DIAZ: We're not aware right now whether there was seizure medication being taken at all, right now.
KING: Because all we know about Scientologists and medicine is they don't like, they don't favor the use of antidepressants.
DIAZ: You know, I can't speak on Scientologist beliefs, but I can tell you that, I mean, the notion that John Travolta wouldn't, you know, care for his son in every single way possible is ludicrous at this point. I mean, anyone who says otherwise is just insane.
KING: We'll be back with more on this tragedy on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE and more coming on the crisis the Middle East after this.
KING: Carlos Diaz and Peter Castro remain. We're joined on the phone from the Bahamas with Obie Wilchcombe. He was with us the other night. He's the former minister of tourism for the Bahamas. He was with the Travolta at the hospital.
Have you seen them since, Obi?
OBIE WILCHCOMBE, FMR MINISTER OF TOURISM: No, we haven't seen them, Larry, we have allowed the Travolta's to spend time in isolation and to spend time with family members to have a sober reflection that we are sure they are engaged in over the course of this weekend.
KING: The autopsy is Monday. Is there any idea when the body will be released?
WILCHCOMBE: It could be released as early as tomorrow afternoon, Larry. The autopsy begins at 8:00 in the morning, there will be two pathologists, a family doctor, the Travolta's will also sit in on the autopsy. According to reports from the hospital, I spoke with some of the officials today, they expect that to last several hours and then of course it goes through the report coming from the pathologist to the police. The police to the coroner and then, of course, the body will be released to the funeral home on and for the Travolta family.
KING: Everyone knows, Carlos, that he flies his own airplane and he lives in Ocala, Florida. Will he fly home?
DIAZ: Nom he won't be flying the plane home. From what I understand, he is so emotionally distraught, John Travolta, that is, he will be not flying the jet home. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine having to get in the cockpit and know that your son is in the back passed away and have to fly home? It's too much for anyone.
KING: The burial will be in Ocala?
DIAZ: Yes, they're going to bury him in Florida. But that's another thing, too. I mean, the Travolta were not your typical Hollywood family. They lived in Florida to get away from things.
KING: Peter, how much time will people devote to this next Friday?
CASTRO: Well, it willing our cover on stands next Friday and we'll devote every waking second to reporting the fullest story that we can.
KING: Is that something you think they would like?
CASTRO: That the Travolta's would like?
KING: Yes. They're so private.
CASTRO: Well, they are private. I don't know if they'll like it or not. I know they'll read it and, I hope, think it was extremely balanced and fair. I mean, this is a tragedy and there is a lot of emotion in this story that we're reporting. We got to a lot of people very close to the family who described, and as Carlos was alluding to before, the great parents they were and how incredibly close Jett was, especially to John. They had this special attachment and language that was almost unspoken between them. And one of the lawyers told "People" magazine that John Travolta will never be the same after this.
KING: Yeah, well said. Obie, do we know how fast the police and hospital folk responded to the call?
WILCHCOMBE: Extremely fast, within an hour or so after the call came. In fact, I spoke with the hotel just about 10:30 in the morning on Friday and around 11:30, quarter of 12:00, the body was at the Grand Memorial Hospital and then about 10 minutes, 1:00 or so, I got there and was able to talk with the Travolta's. So, everything moved very rapidly and the police have been working with the Travolta's, the hospital authorities, they've gotten full support and I think that things are moving along very seamlessly.
KING: Carlos, this autopsy could take quite some time.
KING: Of course, you've toxicology reports; we could wait for a long time.
DIAZ: We've learned that with the Anna Nicole Smith and other people, that these could take awhile, so it could be a while before we know the exact cause. But, we do know that, like he said, it's going to be at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning and could be over quickly, but the results could be awhile.
KING: Could there be a long delay, Peter, in getting the body out of the Bahamas?
CASTRO: You know, Larry, that's out of my bailiwick. I don't know the answer to that question.
KING: Do you know, Obie?
WILCHCOMBE: I don't think it will take that long to get it out of the Bahamas, Larry. Once the autopsy is completed and of course if there's nothing for the police to pursue, and once they give the release and it's obtained by the coroner, and then the funeral home, the body is then able to move.
KING: We'll be back, right back with more and then more of our coverage on what's going on in the Middle East. We'll be back in 60 seconds.
KING: Carlos Diaz, do we know how often Jett had seizures?
DIAZ: They were prevalent in his life.
KING: Common knowledge?
DIAZ: It was common. And the Travolta family took great lengths to make sure that he was well taken care of. There was a baby monitor in his room at all times so they knew how he was sleeping. There was a chime in the bathroom, so they knew if he got up in the middle of the night. He had two nannies, so, I mean, he was well taken care of by the family.
KING: Peter, what do we know about schooling? Did he go to a special school?
CASTRO: We're trying to find that out, Larry, and hopefully we'll have the answer in our story. I believe he might have been home schooled. I never knew Jett or frankly, Emma (sic) Bleu to attend any other kind of school.
KING: Obie, how is the 8-year-old taking it? WILCHCOMBE: Well, you know, after the father and mother returned from the hospital on Friday, the mother did say that she had to go and explain to the daughter just what happened to her brother. But, of course, as I said, the family has been together for the most part all weekend. We have not been able to have access to the family. In fact, we've not tried to.
But, obviously it's very difficult and wonderfully, they have friends here who had come in for the weekend and have been able to spend time with the friends and share some of the thoughts of the life of Jett and the life with Jett.
You know, they talk about how close the Travolta's are with their kids and around the hotel, they'll tell you the story of just the day before he passed that he and his father were out swimming. They'll go to the boat and then they'll go swimming. They're very close, very, very tight family, lots of love and you saw it exuding at all times.
KING: Well, when you saw them on the day of the death, there must have been utter despair.
WILCHCOMBE: Absolutely. When I walked into the emergency room, Larry, and I received a hug from John, it was a bear hug and you know, you felt the very strong emotion. You saw this man who, for the most part, you see him bigger than life and you saw him, a father, grieving and deeply. And then in the morgue you saw the mother and father together. And someone said earlier how they had to stop for a moment from the tears. That is true. They cried profusely.
They reflected on the life they had with their son and, of course, John said it was the worst day in his life. He also said very, very strongly how much he loved his children. My very first meeting with John Travolta and his wife, three, four years ago, that's what they talked about, they talked more about their children, they talked about wanting to invest in West End, in Grand Bahamas, they talked about wanted a place where they could come, bring their children, have a good time, be free and Jett was so loved around here. And it's true that he adored the love of people and he exuded love here in West End.
KING: Carlos, does he have a film coming out?
DIAZ: There's a film that he's working on right now "From Paris with Love," where - and you can see some of the shots that you were just showing, John Travolta shaved his head for the film. You have to wonder how it's going to affect the filming of that.
The last film that came out, ironically, was "Bolt." Which was a Disney film.
KING: He's the voice...
DIAZ: He's the voice of the dog in "Bolt," so that's great that Jett's last film that he saw his father in was a family film. And the thing that people don't remember is that, people think that John Travolta's first film that he gained popularity in was "Saturday Night Fever," not so. If you remember the TV movie that he did was "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" was the first film that John Travolta did, so it's ironic...
KING: And of course "Welcome Back Kotter."
DIAZ: Yes, exactly. So, it's one of those things where, the first big film that John Travolta was in was about a boy who had health issues and this and that and it's kind of a, you know, it's sad to say that there's prevalence there.
KING: This Paris movie you don't know how far along it is?
DIAZ: I mean, we had pictures on "Extra" the other day of scenes that they were shooting, so they're in the filming process right now, so we have to wonder how that's going to delay the filming of that film.
KING: Where are they shooting?
DIAZ: They're shooting in -- all over. Shooting in L.A. and in New York, as well.
KING: And Paris?
DIAZ: Yes, it's all over.
KING: Thank you all very much. We'll be calling on you again. I know we'll be doing more on this tomorrow.
Carlos Diaz, Peter Castro, the deputy managing editor of "People" magazine, and Obie Wilchcombe, he is the former minister of tourism for the Bahamas who was with the Travolta's at the hospital.
Back to the breaking news in Gaza after this; stay with us.
KING: Lots to talk about. Joining us in New Orleans, James Carville, Democratic strategist, CNN political contributor and he served as senior political adviser to President Bill Clinton. And in Washington, Cheri Jacobus who's a Republican strategist and political consultant, as well.
All right, James, the -- Obama's are getting a lot of flack for not publicly responding more to what's going on in Gaza. How do you respond to that?
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he's not the president, particularly in areas of foreign policy you can only have one president at the time. And you know, it's the kind of thing if he did publicly respond he would get a lot of flack for publicly responding when there was another president in office. So, you know, it's one of these things where critics and people sit up and have this criticism or that. The truth of the matter is, come January 20, he'll have so much stuff to do in the Middle East, it'll keep him pretty well occupied, I suspect. for some time to come.
KING: Sherri, some are charging that the current administration with regard to the Gaza Strip have checked out. CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I don't think they've checked out. I think if there's anybody in these leadership positions who should be slowly deferring to another group, I think you see the Bush administration is going to have to slowly now defer to Barack Obama who does not want to comment on this. I think that he's going to be forced as early as the next few days to have to take some -- make some comment on this.
He just arrived back in Washington today, Larry, as you know, after a vacation with his family. So, he's here, he's going to be meeting with the president. New Congress is sworn in this week. We have Senate leaders from both sides of the aisle, now, have come out and supported Israel in terms of going on in on the ground. So, I think that the pressure is really going to be on the president-elect and he's really not going to be able to sit back and say there's -- now there's only one president at a time. That was appropriate just after the election, but the time is running out now for him to be able to get away with that any longer.
KING: Is that a good point, James? Doesn't he literally have to say something?
CARVILLE: Look, you know, the truth of the matter is, is that given the mess that's been created in the Middle East he's going to have plenty of time to respond and comment on things. And I am certain that the United States is trying to show sort of one voice, here. And don't worry, Sherri, you guys left us enough to clean up and we'll have plenty to comment on.
JACOBUS: Well, I don't think that's quite fair. I think, just realistically looking at the situation, he's here now, he's going to have to be facing this. And as I said, James, we had senators coming out just as of today on the Sunday morning shows supporting Israel, making a statement, you've got a whole new Congress coming in. People are waiting for him to make some statement. All we have to go on, there was the "New York Times" article in July, the interview that he gave, sort in support of Israel's position, but we really don't know. And I think it's important that he do something in the coming days.
KING: We will move to another area.
KING: James you might be personally involved a little because one of the highlight moments of the coverage of the campaign occurred on this program when you came on with Bill Richardson after Richardson, I believe, endorsed Obama and not Clinton and there was -- I remember you taking him on pretty strong. And now Governor Richardson has withdrawn as Obama's nominee to be secretary of commerce. What's your reaction?
CARVILLE: Well, I think that another network has reported that the transition team felt that he was not forthcoming. The truth of the matter is, they could have saved themselves a lot of trouble and picked up the phone and called me and I could have told them. He probably won't forthcoming. It's some kind of investigation, obviously he's got every presumption of innocence, but I never thought that the choice was very inspired in the first place. So, we'll have to see where it goes from here.
KING: Apparently he's being investigated for some dealings with the governor and someone in California. Is that what you hear?
CARVILLE: Yes. That's what's being reported in. You know, for all I know, there might not be anything to it. But, what's also being reported is that the Obama people felt like that he wasn't candid. I guess the word "forthcoming" was the word that was used. And these things happen sometimes. I said on the CNN Web site, two or three days ago, that I felt that we were in a streak of kind of some bad stories of Democrats in terms of some of these (INAUDIBLE) things. I said, I hated to say that, but it looks like I was on the money, here.
KING: But, you said he wasn't forthcoming some months ago on this program. He responded that same night and now thinks apparently he still is...
CARVILLE: No, what I said was is that -- he and I were on your program together and I said that his act of after telling President Clinton that he would not endorse Senator Obama if he came to the Super Bowl party. He did and I said on your show to him, that I don't regret anything I said and I indicated that I was quoted accurately and in context. And I said what I said and I'm glad I said it.
KING: Cheri, is this a political issue for the Republicans, Richardson's withdrawal?
JACOBUS: Well, this is a big problem for Barack Obama and it casts pall (ph) on his incoming administration and might show a bit of poor judgment on his part. So, it's a political problem for him. This is the second pay-to-play scandal surrounding him or people that he's been involved with. You've got Rod Blagojevich in Illinois. Now you've got Richardson that's been forced to step aside from this nomination. And I think that this, you know, gives people pause. You wonder, what's next? How many other people are going to have to go? How many other people is Barack Obama going to have to separate himself from? So, it certainly isn't good news for him. Not something that his people want to have as he goes into Inauguration Day. So, if that's good news to Republicans, you know, I don't know if we want to look at it exactly like that. But, certainly if there's problems on judgment on the part of some of the Democrats and they've got some scandal, we've had our share of scandals, we've been the party of scandal. And I think what we're seeing now is that the Democrats have caught up quite quickly, so...
KING: We'll take a break and we'll be right back with James Carville and Cheri Jacobus on this edition, a special Sunday night special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: James, with all that's on the president- elect's plate, what -- what does deal with first, the economy? JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, sometimes -- unfortunately, that the, that the world doesn't allow you to prioritize things. It has a sense of (INAUDIBLE) prioritizing things for you.
Obviously, they're very, very concerned about the -- economic condition that -- this country's in right now. And, you know, the president has a big job. He's got a big airplane, a big house and a big staff. And he's going to -- he's going to have to deal with a lot of things simultaneously, unfortunately here.
But, if you look across the board at these appointments, some of the most impressive people in the -- in the United States. So he's got first rate -- first-rate bunch around him. And I think he'll be able to handle these things. But...
KING: All right.
CARVILLE: ... there's a lot. If you look at -- the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, North/South Asia, look at India/Pakistan, that's unbelievably frightening what's going on over there.
KING: Cheri, where do you think he goes first?
CHERI JACOBUS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think...
KING: If he had...
JACOBUS: Obviously, I think that -- Hamas, dealing with Hamas and what's going on in Gaza is going to be first on his list whether he wants it to or not. What he wants to do, Larry, is to have this big kind of dog and pony show. They want to have this big stimulus package, this huge spending bill on his desk ready for him to sign the moment he's inaugurated on the 20th.
And -- you know the Republicans don't want that to happen. We want them hearings. We want to look at what's in the bill because this could potentially be the largest spending bill ever in the history of the United States.
So I think the Obama folks are going to have to ratchet back sort of what they want to do with the -- with the big sort of dog and pony show, the big circus, and get real and -- take these priorities the way they need to be taken, rather than...
KING: Cheri, don't -- don't many Republicans support that stimulus package?
JACOBUS: Well, we don't know what's in it. And what we want are hearings. We want to take a look at this because this has such a huge potential for pork, quite frankly. And that's not something we want to happen. Republicans let that happen before. We're not going to let it happen again. So we want some time to take a look at it, to make sure that the money...
JACOBUS: ... is going to the right places.
CARVILLE: I'm just -- I'm flabbergasted by this thought of Republican concern with the fiscal things. There was an article by (INAUDIBLE) who won the Nobel Prize that the Republican administration left a deficit by $10 trillion.
But, having said that, look, you've got a Republican governor in South Carolina who -- just a few days ago -- was denying that there was a recession, that it was -- that the numbers were being made up.
The Republicans have offered no plan whatsoever to deal with what's out there by and large was created by the absence of regulation and the lackadaisical attitude they took. I also think the Republicans will do well to -- it's been handed a crushing defeat. It'll do well to sit around and -- elect the RNC chair to deal with things like that.
KING: All right.
CARVILLE: And that's a real...
JACOBUS: No, you know what, James, now we're relevant and Republicans want to get back to our -- the basics of fiscal conservatism. That's what we're going to do because that's where we went wrong. And we're not going to let it happen again.
KING: OK. We'll have you...
JACOBUS: We have strong voices in Washington that are going to fight for that.
KING: We're going to have you both back. But we got to get to a big story.
Is there any hope for peace in the Middle East at this point? We'll ask representatives from both sides, next.
KING: Joining us now, in Jerusalem, Mark Regev, the Israeli government spokesman. In New York, Dr. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations.
Mark, do we have any, do we have any hope here? Is this going to end?
MARK REGEV, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: It will end. And it will end, I hope, with a reality that will be better both for the civilians of southern Israel and for the Palestinian population of Gaza.
Ultimately, both sides have an interest in peace and quiet. Both sides deserve peace and quiet.
From an Israeli perspective, you know, our civilians in the south of my country have been on the receiving end of these Hamas rockets, not just for a day or a week but for months and even years. They deserve better. And the people of Gaza also deserve a bit of peace and quiet.
KING: Dr. Mansour, aren't, aren't the Palestinians kind of caught in the switch here?
RIYAD MANSOUR, PALESTINIAN ENVOY, UNITED NATIONS: Well, the Palestinian people are interested in putting an end to Israeli occupation and to have their own independent Palestinian state to live next to Israel in peace and security.
And I think this action by the Israeli government of having this massive military attack against our people in Gaza does not serve that objective. We want to live in peace but we cannot live in peace when we have a very oppressive occupation in the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank and this Jerusalem, and we have this carnage in Gaza.
It has to be stopped immediately and we need to adopt a resolution in the Security Council to stop the aggression against our people and to address all the other issues where we can have protection...
KING: Mark, what...
MANSOUR: ... for our people and sustainable cease-fire.
KING: Mark, is this ground action an overreaction?
REGEV: I don't think so. It was necessary. It's not something we were eager. It's not something we wanted to do. It was necessary because we had to deal with this Hamas threat.
You know it was Hamas that unilaterally tore up the cease-fire understandings. It was Hamas that escalated the violence that reached a crescendo on Christmas Day when we had in a one 24-hour period some 80 rockets, mortar shells, and missiles coming into Israel attacking our civilians.
Now we want to work with the Palestinian government, Dr. Mansour represents. We want to move forward in peace. We've had countless meetings with the Palestinian leadership to move forward, but Hamas is an opponent of peace. Hamas is an opponent of reconciliation.
Hamas says no to live and let live and I think it's very important to try to neutralize the threat that Hamas poses both to the civilians on both sides of the frontier and to the peace process.
KING: Can president -- Dr. Mansour, can president Abbas, your president, can he play a significant role in ending this?
MANSOUR: Yes, he can. In fact, he is coming to New York on Tuesday and our foreign minister arrived today and many other Arab foreign ministers will be in town in the next few days. They are here in order to -- to see that the Security Council, to have a resolution binding to Israel to stop this aggression and to open the crossings from the Israeli side to Gaza, and to lift the siege and to allow us to have our people in Gaza, to have all humanitarian and economic needs and we need to have an international force there in order to provide protection for our people in Gaza in one hand and in order to create the appropriate atmosphere where the cease-fire will be durable and lasting.
Let me also just say, there is no justification for killing and injuring more than 3,000 Palestinians. Many of them are children and women in the span of seven days. And to have this ground action in which many more are in the process of being killed and injured.
There is an international law, the concept of proportionality. Israel cannot unleash this massive power against 1.5 million in which schools being destroyed, hospitals being destroyed, mosques being destroyed and many things related to the life of the Palestinians and yet in the same time say that they care about the Palestinian people, about -- and about a peace process.
This action is in complete contradiction with what is required for peace.
KING: Mark, how do you respond?
REGEV: I'd say to Dr. Mansour, since Hamas took over Gaza they have brutally established a Taliban-type regime. Your own people have been brutally slaughtered by -- Hamas.
Hamas is the misfortune of not only of us Israelis but I think of the Palestinians themselves. We're trying to be as proportional as we can. In other words we're trying to hit back only at Hamas military targets.
We don't want to see innocent civilians caught up in the crossfire. I can tell you as a fact that every day since this crisis has been -- has started, the crossings have been open, convoys have been going in. Truck loads of medical support, food stuff.
We don't want to see the innocent civilian population of Gaza suffering. In many ways they're like us, the civilians of Gaza are like the civilians of southern Israel, victims to this terrible Hamas regime.
KING: I've got a time situation. We'll be calling on both of you again, probably as early as tomorrow.
Mark Regev and Dr. Riyad Mansour, we'll be right back with more. We're going to meet -- we're going to have a debate on this topic between Alan Dershowitz and James Zogby and that will not be dull.
Don't go away.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: Joining us now in Miami, Alan Dershowitz, professor of Harvard Law School, best-selling author and his latest book is "The Case Against Israel's Enemies." In Washington, James Zogby, president of the Arab American institute.
Now we all know what's been going on. We've heard the previous segment.
Alan, why is Israel right?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR, THE CASE AGAINST ISRAEL'S ENEMIES: Well, Israel is right because no democracy is required to play Russian roulette with the lives of its children. 6,000 missiles have hit in Israel. They've hit kindergartens, they've hit schools.
Fortunately, Israel has built shelters and they've had only a few dozen casualties. But it's only a matter of time until a rocket hits a kindergarten within 40 or 50 kids in it.
Proportionality doesn't require a nation to sit back and accept these kinds of missiles. The fact that civilians are being killed is completely the fault of Hamas for hiding behind civilians.
They are committing a triple war crime by targeting Israeli civilians, by using their own civilians as human shields, and by...
DERSHOWITZ: ... pulling for the destruction of a member state of the United Nations.
KING: James, there's no question there, is there, that Hamas started this?
JAMES ZOGBY, PRESIDENT, ARAB AMERICAN INSTITUTE: Well, listen, the fact is that there has been an ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis over that border in Gaza since the beginning of the occupation in 1967.
DERSHOWITZ: Over the border in Gaza?
ZOGBY: And even --- would you...
KING: Hold it, Alan. Hold it.
ZOGBY: Be cool, Alan. Alan, I gave you plenty of time.
DERSHOWITZ: But there's no dispute about the border.
KING: Alan, let him finish.
ZOGBY: Israel withdrew, as they said, in 2005 but continued to maintain almost complete closure over Gaza, making it impossible for decent human life to take place. Unemployment among youth, 80 percent, unemployment in the entire country, 70 percent. 40 -- 50 percent among the adult population. But the poverty level is crushing and the fact here is that even when the cease-fire was winding down, Israel chose that moment to make a provocation by crossing into the border on an assault against Hamas fighters.
Now there is no side here that's right. I am not going to be a defender of Hamas' provocative behavior. But neither should Alan be defending what Israel has done or is doing now.
The fact is, both sides are playing out pathologies and there's no adult supervision. I fault the United States...
ZOGBY: ... for not helping to unwind the situation years ago and certainly for not providing restraint.
Now Alan is making the same...
ZOGBY: ... arguments that he made today that he made in 2006 when the Lebanon travesty was taking place. The outcome would be the same.
KING: Now that does...
ZOGBY: Nothing good will come of this.
KING: Alan, does James -- Alan, does James have a point?
DERSHOWITZ: No, he doesn't a point, unfortunately.
KING: No point?
DERSHOWITZ: The international border has been recognized. Israel pulled back completely and there's no dispute about the border at all. And in fact, the reason why Hamas is suffering of poverty is because all the money they've gotten has been spent on buying missiles, on digging tunnels, the corruption that has denied the people of Palestine hospital care and medical care.
They've made a decision to destroy their own people. And don't come crying to the international community that these humanitarian crisis, when the Hamas government has caused the humanitarian crisis.
Remember, Hamas has declared war in Israel.
DERSHOWITZ: Under Article 51 Israel is entitled to respond by saying we are going to win this war. We're going to demand an unconditional surrender the way Great Britain did when Germany fired missiles at it and the way the United States did when Pearl Harbor was attacked.
ZOGBY: Way, the way to unwind extremism and the way, ultimately, to isolate and defeat Hamas is to provide an opportunity for the Palestinians to feel hope. They feel no hope and Israel has given them no opportunity to feel no hope.
DERSHOWITZ: On the West Bank...
KING: Let me go to break, guys.
KING: I have to get a break in. We'll come right back.
DERSHOWITZ: Even on the West Bank, there's a wall being built.
KING: We'll be right back with Alan Dershowitz -- hold it, guys. We'll be right back with Alan Dershowitz and James Zogby. Don't go away.
KING: James Zogby, getting down to the crux of it, how does this end? Logically, how does this end?
ZOGBY: Well, when Israel has entered now into Gaza with a massive ground force, one sees actually a difficulty in how it ends. The fact is that it will be much more difficult to leave than it was to go in. The casualty rate is simply increasing among civilians.
Alan says because Hamas hides behind civilians, but this is one of the most densely populated places on earth. And unlike any other place on earth, refugees have nowhere to go. They cannot cross a border. There is no border to cross.
Israel controls access...
KING: All right.
ZOGBY: ... and egress from everywhere. And, therefore, what is happening here is that the 500, 600, 700, lord knows how many, will die before it's over. Families will hate and fear and be angry for the rest of their lives and then some.
And so there is no good that comes of this.
KING: All right. Alan...
ZOGBY: And there probably will be a cease-fire but with enormous pain, and frankly, the majority of that on the Palestinian side. This is not a good thing.
KING: Alan. Alan, how does it end, Alan?
DERSHOWITZ: It ends with Hamas being weakened and hopefully destroyed so that Israel can then sit down with the Palestinians and offer them again what Bill Clinton and what Ehud Barak offered them in 2000 and 2001 -- a state, the end of the occupation, a divided Jerusalem, a refugee reparations program. Remember, the Palestinians could have had a state in 1938, 1948, 1967, 2001, but they have always wanted to destroy the Jewish state more than they have ever wanted their own state.
Now the Palestinians...
ZOGBY: That's not true, Alan.
DERSHOWITZ: ... people through the PLO claim that they want a two- state solution. And Hamas is standing in the way of it. And the people who are rooting most loudly for the destruction of Hamas in Gaza are the Palestinian authority.
You know, if any member of the Palestinian authority walks into Gaza today, they'll get murdered. Gaza today is a terrorist state.
ZOGBY: There is no...
DERSHOWITZ: And the best thing that could happen would be the weakening or destruction of Hamas in Gaza.
KING: All right. James, why is that wrong?
DERSHOWITZ: And sitting down and creating a two-state...
ZOGBY: Israel was going to destroy the PLO in '82, it didn't. They were going to destroy Hezbollah in -- 2006, they didn't. They were going to destroy Hamas in 2006, and they didn't. This is not the way you defeat extremism. What it does is it makes the extremist current more -- in fact, more virulent than before and creates more supporters.
The weak -- the party that will be weakened in all of this, tragically, are the moderates like President Abbas and moderate Arab leaders who are looking weak in the eyes of their own people.
DERSHOWITZ: But, Jim, you were a reasonable guy.
ZOGBY: Listen, Alan...
DERSHOWITZ: What would you do if you were an Israeli? Would you not -- would you not defend your people against rocket attacks? What would you do?
ZOGBY: If I were an Israeli, I wouldn't be building settlements. I wouldn't have...
DERSHOWITZ: Forget about that. We're talking about...
ZOGBY: And I wouldn't have walls, and I wouldn't, in Gaza, strangle the people of Gaza so that impact Hamas had the support that it did, the fact is that the fact strangulation and deprivation of the people of Gaza has been going for years now.
DERSHOWITZ: But they would still be firing rockets.
ZOGBY: And therefore, I ask the question.
DERSHOWITZ: Read their charter. Read their charter.
ZOGBY: I ask the question, Alan.
ZOGBY: You say to me what would I do if bombed...
DERSHOWITZ: Yes, what would you do now?
ZOGBY: I ask you what you would do if you could not feed your family? If you could not find a job? If you were denied the opportunity to live.
DERSHOWITZ: I would overthrow -- I would overthrow the government of Hamas and make them feed my people instead of buying rockets and sending them into Israel and throw out the people who were destroying Hamas.
ZOGBY: And what Israel is doing is not going to help that, and that is the tragedy is that neither side will benefit from this.
DERSHOWITZ: You know what...
ZOGBY: And that's the tragedy.
DERSHOWITZ: What Barack Obama...
ZOGBY: We're playing off the same song we have played off in 2006.
DERSHOWITZ: No, that's not true. What Barack Obama said...
ZOGBY: You did not accomplish anything then and it's not accomplishing anything now.
DERSHOWITZ: Don't save me, it's the Israeli government.
ZOGBY: You defend it had, Alan.
DERSHOWITZ: What Barack -- what Barack Obama...
ZOGBY: You were the counsel.
DERSHOWITZ: What Barack Obama said when he went to (INAUDIBLE)...
KING: All right. Guys, I need to get a break.
DERSHOWITZ: ... is true. He should do -- he would do anything.
KING: (INAUDIBLE) get a break and we'll be back, we'll be back with more.
ZOGBY: What Barack Obama said... (CROSSTALK)
KING: OK. We'll be back with more. Both these guys like the Beatles, by the way.
KING: Thought I'd throw that in. We'll be right back.
KING: Alan Dershowitz, James Zogby.
Alan, can the Bush administration, in its waning days, get involved and help solve this?
DERSHOWITZ: Yes, I think they can. What I think they have to do is make it very clear that what Israel is doing is in defense of all democracies that are fighting terrorism. Terrorists have figured out a way of making it difficult for democracies.
That is, by attacking their civilians, hiding behind civilians and then showing the media the dead, quote, "children and women." It makes it very difficult to protect and defend their own citizens. If this works in Gaza, it is coming to a theater near you. It will become the paradigm for attacking democracies all over the world.
And that's why Israel has to be encouraged to put an end to the rocket attacks. And I have asked Jim Zogby a dozen times what would you do now if your people were being attacked? If rockets were hitting your schools? If rockets were hitting your kindergartens?
If Russian roulette was being played with your children? Would you simply sit back and let it happen or would you stop the rockets? And how do you stop the rockets?
KING: All right. That is -- that's a fair question, Jim. How would you respond?
ZOGBY: The answer here is that, of course, one has the right to self- defense and the issue, though, is one has to look at how you effectively do that, and you quoted Barack Obama a while ago.
ZOGBY: But Barack Obama also said something else quite interesting when he spoke to Jewish leadership in Cleveland in 2008. He said, if the only way we can find a way to make peace for Israel, if you think the only way, he said to the Jewish leadership, is that we have to help Israel destroy all of its enemies and never talk to them, we're not going to move -- get progress going forward on that.
DERSHOWITZ: I agree on that.
ZOGBY: The fact here is that all Israel has been done has been to strangle Gaza and to retaliate and constantly strike against the Palestinian people. It has not offered them any opening toward peace.
You say they want to make peace. Wait, Alan. You say they want to make peace in the West Bank with the Palestinian leadership there.
DERSHOWITZ: Right. Right.
ZOGBY: But what they have done is humiliate them with settlements and with roadblocks and with the wall that continues to snake into the territories, taking more land all the time.
DERSHOWITZ: That will not stop terrorism.
ZOGBY: The fact is, is that if you want to make peace and you want to stop the rockets, you then find a way to give people hope, to isolate extremists and give Palestinians a sense that the future can be brighter than today.
DERSHOWITZ: I agree with that.
ZOGBY: I want that. I want it for the Israelis and the Palestinian people.
ZOGBY: But what Israel is doing is not helping to move the ball forward now, before and I fear into the future, because no one is helping them do the right thing.
ZOGBY: Neither Bush nor you, in defending their action, is helping them make the right choices for peace.
DERSHOWITZ: When Prince Bandar, who was the representative of Saudi Arabia, went to the Camp David meetings in (INAUDIBLE) meeting and said to Arafat, you are committing a crime against the Palestinian people by rejecting the offer of statehood, 98 percent of the West Bank, full, complete statehood in Gaza, capital in Jerusalem and reparations, $35 billion.
And Arafat walked away from statehood, that was the tragedy that led to this all. And I'm hoping that Barack Obama -- well, I'm -- don't quote me. I'm quoting Prince Bandar.
ZOGBY: I know, but that's not what happened at Camp David.
DERSHOWITZ: I'm quoting Dennis Ross.
DERSHOWITZ: That's what your opinion is but let me tell you, the people who were there know what happened.
ZOGBY: I have spoken to the people who were including American negotiators.
DERSHOWITZ: The Palestinians turning down statehood, turned down statehood.
ZOGBY: Read Rob Mally and you'll -- get a very different narrative of what happened at Camp David.
DERSHOWITZ: Well, that's why Rob Mally is not currently advising the government. When Barack Obama becomes the president, he will understand how to do what Bill Clinton tried to do and Ehud Barak have tried to do and the Palestinian people will have a chance to get statehood again but only if Hamas...
KING: All right.
ZOGBY: You're a great lawyer for guilty clients, Alan. It doesn't work, though, in this case.
DERSHOWITZ: That's a cheap shot.
ZOGBY: Well, I'm sorry, but you've made cheap shots all night.
DERSHOWITZ: That's a cheap shot.
ZOGBY: Sorry about that.
KING: Jim, the one point he asked, you didn't answer.
KING: If you were being attacked, would you attack back?
ZOGBY: Retaliate, you have the right to defend your own citizens.
KING: Would you retaliate?
ZOGBY: But you also cannot take continued, provocative actions that put your citizens at risk and expect anything other than this. Israel has set itself up. Hamas has set itself up.
That's why I said, Larry, we have two pathologies playing out with no adult supervision.
DERSHOWITZ: Now you're blaming...
ZOGBY: I'm blaming both sides because have become victims of each other. And both...
KING: Thank you both very much.
ZOGBY: ... are making more victims every single day.
KING: We'll have you on again.
KING: Great having you both with us.
Alan Dershowitz and James Zogby. Stay with us. By the way, tomorrow night, we'll have more on the Travolta family tragedy, the autopsy scheduled for tomorrow morning.
And John, we wish you, Kelly and Ella the very best during this really rough, tough time. We're thinking of you.
We have more news coming now with Don Lemon from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. See you tomorrow.