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The Situation Room
Huge Blast Rocks Gaza Refugee Camp For Second Straight Day; Jordan Recalls Its Ambassador To Israel; Donald Trump Jr. Testifies In Civil Fraud Trial; Judge Signals She May Postpone Trump's Mar-a-Lago Classified Documents Trial; IDF: Newest Blast At Refugee Camp Due To An Israel Airstrike; Senate And House GOP At Odds Over Israel Aid Package; One-On-One With Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 01, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well if you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show wherever you get your podcasts. Our coverage picks up now with Wolf Blitzer in the "Situation Room" live from Tel Aviv.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the first civilian evacuations from Gaza into Egypt since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, Americans among those leaving through the critical Rafah border crossing, as part of the deal that could allow 1000s of other people to escape the fighting. In Gaza, new scenes of destruction after an Israeli airstrike rocks the same refugee camp that was hit a day earlier. Israel standing firmly in defending the attacks as vital to destroy Hamas amid mounting concerns in the Middle East and in the United States about the civilian death toll.
Also tonight, Donald Trump Jr. takes the stand in the $250 million civil fraud trial against the Trump family business. We're going to tell you what he said under oath in New York.
And in Florida, the judge and former President Trump's classified documents case is suggesting that the trial could be postponed.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv, Israel, and you're in the Situation Room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news on the first evacuation of foreign nationals and other civilians from Gaza into Egypt. Officials say hundreds of people have gotten out including Americans and hundreds more are expected to follow in the immediate hours ahead. Our correspondents are covering all the developments in the Israel- Hamas war from multiple angles and locations. First, let's get to CNN's Becky Anderson. She's joining us right now from Doha, Qatar.
Becky, Qatar was instrumental in securing the deal that made these evacuations possible. That's what we're told. Update our viewers. BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Yes, some hard earned success for the Qatar led mediation between Israel, Hamas, Egypt in coordination with the United States today to describe these talks as complicated. These talks have been going on now for some three weeks would be an understatement, Wolf, but today, relief at least for some.
Escape from a living nightmare. For the first time since the war between Israel and Hamas began, foreign passport holders are able to leave Gaza through the Rafah border, the sole crossing with Egypt. Equally important dozens of critically injured Palestinians allowed to leave, some to be treated in a field hospital opened in Sinai about 15 kilometers away, others being sent directly to hospitals across Egypt. With continued intense bombardment to more than 20,000 injured, much more is needed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HISHAM ADWAN, PALESTINIAN BORDER OFFICIAL (through translator): We want hundreds of those injured to receive treatment abroad as all hospitals have exhausted their capacities in every respect. medical supplies, medicines for wars, and burns have run out as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: At least two Americans have already made their way out of Gaza and are now in Egypt. Other officials in Washington hope up to 5,000 foreign nationals, including American citizens will pass through the Hamas control border station and make their way into Egypt over the coming days. It's all part of a deal mediated by Qatar between Israel, Hamas and Egypt in coordination with the United States. The small Gulf country is uniquely placed to play a big diplomatic role. It's a strong U.S. ally and home to a major U.S. military base while also hosting Hamas' political leadership.
Just this week, it welcome the head of Israel's intelligence agency, David Barnea, and the Iranian foreign minister. Against the backdrop of ongoing talks to release some more than 200 Israeli hostages being held by Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza, officials in Qatar say those hostage talks were made more difficult when Israel launched its ground incursion last week. Sources close to the talks tell me there is nothing yet to report on a deal but the negotiations they say are ongoing. With the first foreign passport holders arriving in Egypt and hundreds more expected to join them in the coming days, there's hope yet the diplomatic efforts can save some lives even as the deadly war shows no sign of stopping.
And Wolf, this has been described as a comprehensive plan. As I reported, the hope is that all foreign national dual citizens who want to leave will be able to leave. And as far as U.S. officials are concerned, that includes some 400 Americans, 400 U.S. citizens and their family members, that would add up to about 1000 people leaving Gaza, getting into Egypt, and then being able to move on many of those, of course, wanting to get home to the states. That is the hope at this point. Wolf. BLITZER: Let's certainly hope that happens. Becky Anderson, reporting for us. Becky, thank you very, very much.
I want to get an update now on efforts to get more of those Americans out of Gaza right now. CNN's MJ Lee is joining us from the White House.
MJ, President Biden just spoke out about this a short while ago. Update our viewers.
MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, certainly a little bit of good news to celebrate after what has been a very dark few weeks, the President himself confirming that the first group of U.S. nationals had left Gaza, and are now in Egypt. And he confirmed that the process of getting these Americans and wounded Palestinians and other foreign nationals out of Gaza will take place in a matter of stages. And over the course of multiple days, Becky mentioned this, but the State Department has been clear that there are some 400 American citizens in Gaza who have expressed interest in leaving and their family members total some 1,000 people. And that is an addition to some 5,000 other foreign nationals that are expected to try to leave. The President just saying in remarks that his administration has been working around the clock to lead to this arrangement, this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a result of intense and urgent American diplomacy with our partners in the region. I personally spent a lot of time speaking with the Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel and the President Sisi of Egypt, and others, to make sure that we could open this access for people to get out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEE: And just to give you a better sense of those weeks of diplomatic efforts to get to this deal, what we have learned is that one thing that Hamas had very much been pushing for was for wounded Palestinians to be able to leave Gaza, but that notably, they had wanted some of their own fighters to be in that mix and that that was a specific demand that was denied. And that as far as the Egyptians were concerned, they had a lot of worries about the idea of Palestinians entering Egypt and then permanently staying. And so that was a conversation that U.S. officials had a lot with their Egyptian counterparts. And they also wanted to make sure that as these people were starting to come into their country that they could really vet every single person that was coming in.
Wolf, I also just wanted to note something noteworthy that the President just said in Minnesota. He said that Israel continues to have a right to defend itself, but that it needs to continue adhering to the international laws. And he said, quote, "Every innocent life is a tragedy." This, of course, is incredibly noteworthy given the growing outcry that we have seen in light of these Israeli airstrikes that hit this refugee camp in northern Gaza. Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, MJ, thank you very much. MJ Lee at the White House for us.
There's more breaking news we're following in the war zone, a second blast at Gaza's largest refugee camp in as many days both due to Israeli airstrikes. The IDF insisting the attacks were targeting Hamas amid growing evidence of civilian casualties in the process. CNN's Nic Robertson is on the ground for us near the Gaza border. He's joining us live right now from Sderot in Israel.
Nic, give us the latest that the new strike at this refugee camp as it developed. And give us more on Israel's escalating ground war that's unfolding now.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLAMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the second strike, Wolf, the IDF say that they had precise intelligence data pointing to Hamas command and control facility at that -- in the Jabalya refugee camp and that's why they targeted it. They've reminded us again that Hamas stays and hides behind civilians. They've reminded us again that they've told and warn the civilians in the north and central of Gaza to move to the south where they'd be safer. Of course, many of those civilians are confused and worried and unsure about which routes to take and how they should get there. They're worried that they could end up falling in front of, you know, an Israeli military unit on the move.
And until that point we've heard from the commander of the Steel Division which is the commander of the forces that are right there inside Gaza. He said we are at the gates of Gaza City right now. The minister of defense has described it in an even more blunt details saying that it is fierce urban combat inside Gaza City that the troops are facing right now. Describing it as involving a lot of Hamas says, use of anti-tank weapons and this does seem to be leading and part to the death and injury of troops. We know of 16 IDF soldiers that have died over the past 24 hours, 15 of those in Gaza.
And I think perhaps an indication of what the troops are being prepared for came from their commander, General Halevi, the commander of the IDF in a letter to all those troops saying, we are in the middle of a war. It's going to be a long war, we're going to fight to the end. We're fighting for our country, for our values. But he made the very clear point that you are in the enemy's territory, you are on the enemy's grounds now, we'll be using intense fire to support you. But it's a very clear indication for these troops going in, that their commanders from the battlefield commanders right away to the minister of defense really understand that the fight is going to get tough and intense as they get into the streets in and around Gaza City, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, by all accounts, it looks like it's going to heat up dramatically in the coming days and weeks. Nic Robertson reporting for us, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Barak Ravid, the political and foreign policy reporter for Axios.
Barak, thanks so much for joining us. As you know, the IDF bombed the Jabalya refugee camp for the second straight day. Israel says it was targeting Hamas terrorists who are in that camp. Eyewitnesses report that the first blast also killed many Palestinian civilians. Can Israel credibly say it's minimizing civilian deaths when it's striking a refugee camp, a very crowded refugee camp?
BARAK RAVID, POLITICAL & FOREIGN POLICY REPORTER, AXIOS: Hi, Wolf. Well, I think that that definitely raises a lot of questions. And, at least today, the IDF spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, when he briefed our foreign correspondents, he claimed that the reason that Israel is attacking in this area was because there's some sort of a regional headquarters for Hamas in the Jabalya refugee camp. But that's -- at the end of the day, even if that's the case, you know, he's still admitted that civilians were hit in this airstrike. He didn't notice -- he didn't know to confirm how many civilians, but even he admitted that civilians were hurt.
BLITZER: Are there concerns in Israel, and you do a lot of reporting obviously, about the mounting civilian deaths and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza?
RAVID: Yes, I think that what the Israeli government understood maybe a bit late, but it did -- and it does understand it right now is that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is directly connected to its ability to continue to have support from its allies around the world, especially from the United States. This is why, for example, the evacuation today of wounded Palestinians to Egypt was something that was very important to Israel, to the point that the Israeli government agreed to commit to Egypt to the U.S. and to other allies around the world that any Palestinian and any wounded Palestinian that would leave the Gaza Strip would be allowed to go back after the war.
BLITZER: Jordan announced today that it's immediately recalling its ambassador to Israel in the wake of the strike in Jabalya, the refugee camp. How is all of this impacting Israel's diplomatic situation, not only in the region, but around the world?
RAVID: Well, I think that what we see in the last few days is growing international pressure. You saw three countries in Latin America announcing that they're cutting ties with Israel or recalling their ambassadors. We saw the Jordanian statement today about recalling its ambassador. Although Wolf, I got to tell you that me -- I personally thought that the Jordanians would recall their ambassador long before. And the fact that it took them more than three weeks also tells you something.
But I think it's clear that as this ground operation continues, and as you will have more civilian casualties and the humanitarian situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate, Israel's diplomatic situation will get much, much more difficult.
BLITZER: Yes, I suspect you're right. Barak Ravid, thank you very much for that update.
RAVID: Thank you, Wolf. BLITZER: Coming up there's a lot more we're following. We'll have more live reports from here in Israel, more on the devastation after the IDF confirms it struck a refugee camp for the second time since yesterday saying it was targeting major Hamas fighters. And a son of former President Trump is on the witness stand testifying in his own defense. Lots going on, stay with us. You're in the Situation Room.
BLITZER: We'll have much more on all the breaking news here in Israel, that's coming up. But there's other breaking news we're following back in the United States including the eldest son of former President Donald Trump testifying under oath today in the civil fraud trial against the family and their businesses. Donald Trump Jr. was pressed by prosecutors on his involvement in financial documents right at the center of this lawsuit.
Joining us now CNN Legal Analyst Norm Eisen and Elliot Williams. Guys, thanks very much for joining us.
Norm, let me start with you. Donald Trump, Jr. is trying to distance himself from the organization's financial statements, saying he leaves these matters to his accountants. What do you make of that?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the center of the New York State case, Wolf, is that in his roles in the business and as a trustee of these enterprises he can't pass the buck completely. He has some legal responsibility to make sure they're accurate. And of course, we've seen a ton of evidence that they were not accurate.
So I think today, New York State set him up. And he was already visibly uncomfortable with some of the questions. We're going to see the payoff tomorrow, probably not so good for Trump Jr. or for the Trump family standing in this case.
BLITZER: Well, let me follow on that point with Elliot. What risks, Elliot, is Donald Trump Jr. taking by testifying today under oath?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, anytime a witness testifies under oath, Wolf, they run the risk of saying something that can trip them up. Also note that Donald Trump Jr. has given a prior deposition in this case. So he has provided testimony already if he contradicts himself or says something that doesn't quite gel with what he said in his deposition. That's certainly something that the judge could find, speaks to his credibility and so on. So it's always risky.
The other thing is that it's one thing to answer questions from your own attorney statements or testimony that you prepared questioning that you'd rehearsed. It's another thing when a prosecutor that you haven't met before takes a crack at you and can really pin you down on your prior statements or, you know, sort of other questions they may have about you or your history. And so, it remains to be seen how tomorrow's testimony will go but that's when the unpredictable questioning might come up. BLITZER: Good point. Norm, Ivanka Trump is appealing a judge's ruling, ordering her to testify in this civil fraud trial next week. How do you see this playing out?
EISEN: I think she's unlikely to be successful in that appeal, Wolf. It is true that she was dismissed from the case because her management responsibilities in these businesses came outside of the statute of limitations. But she still has firsthand evidence about these gaps in the valuation where they shift sometimes there, many times the actual value of the properties. The judge and the state are entitled to that testimony. She also could be potentially a very damaging witness against her father and her brothers and the Trump Organization. And I think she is going to be forced to testify.
BLITZER: We shall see. Down in Florida, Elliot, Judge Aileen Cannon is signaling she may postpone Trump's trial in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case after Trump's attorneys raised concerns about the amount of time they would have to prepare given Trump's other trials. Is that a valid concern? What's your assessment?
WILLIAMS: Absolutely, it's valid, Wolf. You know, I think we got to get over the charade. And I think norm actually disagrees with me on this point, we've talked about it before, but that they can credibly get that case to trial in a matter of months. When a matter -- a criminal matter deals with sensitive information, classified documents, defense related information. There's got to be a lot of litigation back and forth over how to put that information in front of a jury.
And I have long said it was very ambitious to think that case can be brought to trial by May. I don't think it's unreasonable. Certainly, it's not a slam dunk. It could go either way. But I do think it's an entirely a fair question to ask whether you could bring a complicated national security case up to trial in just a matter of months.
BLITZER: Yes, clearly, Trump wants to delay it as much as possible, including after the presidential election.
Norm, if Judge Cannon does delay the case, do you think there's any chance that could still happen before next year's presidential election?
EISEN: I do, Wolf. The case is currently set for May. The Mar-a-Lago documents case is not an unusually complex one. And we've seen national security cases like the Paul Manafort case move on as faster, even faster timetables. The judge, if she relaxes that May deadline, she could move it to the summer.
It is important to get that trial in before the presidential season starts in earnest. She'll know more about whether Donald Trump is or is not the candidate of the Republican Party by then. So I do think it is possible to get it in. If you compare Judge Chutkan, Wolf, she's brooking no delay. She's not accepting these excuses.
She's pushing that case forward, the Federal January 6 case for March. And that is the way to manage a trial docket in my view.
BLITZER: Interesting. Norm Eisen and Elliot Williams, guys, thank you very, very much.
Lots more news coming up here in the Situation Room. Up next, we're learning more about the impact of a second Israeli airstrike in Gaza's largest refugee camp. Residents and doctors are speaking out. And as some U.S. citizens and other civilians have been evacuated from Gaza today, I'll speak to a Palestinian American woman who's still stuck there inside Gaza, trying desperately to get up.
BLITZER: We're back with more breaking news here in the Middle East. Palestinians speaking out about the Israeli airstrikes that have left large parts of the Gaza refugee camp in ruins. Israel confirming the second attack and two days defending it as necessary to take out leaders of Hamas.
CNN's Nada Bashir is following it all for us. She's joining us live from Jerusalem right now. Nada, a lot of very disturbing images from that refugee camp are coming in.
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely, we've been seeing this horrifying videos both from this latest airstrike on the Jabalia refugee camp. And of course, the aftermath of yesterday's air strike, two air strikes taking place in less than 24 hours.
And as we know, this is one of the largest, most densely populated refugee camps. It is now really an urban community, it has been for many years now. And it is a home to more than 100,000 people, according to the U.N. so you can imagine the sheer devastation that has been wrought by this latest round of airstrikes.
We've been seeing the videos. We've been hearing from medics on the ground they have described this as a nightmare. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR (voice-over): Chaos and horror at Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp. Wounded children rushed to nearby ambulances, the latest casualties of Israel's relentless aerial bombardment. This densely populated neighborhood gripped by panic and sheer disbelief. A second Israeli airstrike in less than 24 hours.
I lost my whole family, Adi Karin (ph) says, holding a list of those killed just today. My sister's house was struck with her children inside, my brother's house too with all of his children. There is no one left except for me and my younger brother. They were innocent. What did they do to deserve this?
Israel's defense says it was targeting a Hamas command and control complex in Jabalia. Hamas fighters said to be among those killed. But Jabalia is home to more than 100,000 civilians according to the U.N. And while the full extent of the civilian death toll remains unclear at this stage, Gaza Civil Defense Authority has described this latest disaster as a massacre, with more casualties and more fatalities added to the list of hundreds said to have been killed or wounded in Tuesday's airstrike.
This situation is beyond belief, many have been killed. Bodies have been burned and charred by the airstrike, this doctor says. There isn't a hospital in the world that could cope with this kind of situation. We're having to treat patients on the floor and in corridors.
The scale of the destruction at Jabalia is difficult to grasp. Many residents are still buried beneath the black and rubble. Rescue workers and civilians dig side by side, desperate to find survivors.
This house had 15 people in it. But we still haven't been able to find any of them, Assin Akhmad (ph) says. We have no equipment, we are digging alone.
Northern Gaza continues to come under heavy bombardment. Its residents warned by Israel to evacuate southwards. But airstrikes continue to rain down across both central and southern Gaza too. And for the more than 2 million Palestinians living under an Israeli blockade, the fear is that there is nowhere safe to turn.
BASHIR: And look, Wolf, we have heard widespread condemnation from rights groups over the continued bombardment of the Gaza Strip the mounting civilian death toll just in the last few hours we have heard reiterated condemnation from the U.N.'s Human Rights Office. Let me just quickly read you what they've said, given the high number of civilian casualties and the scale of destruction following Israeli airstrikes on the Jabalia refugee camp. We have serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes. That is the message from the U.N.'s Human Rights Office. It is a message that has been echoed by rights groups across the board. Wolf?
BLITZER: Nada Bashir, reporting from Jerusalem. Thank you very much.
As this war rages in Gaza, some Americans just got out in this first wave of civilian evacuations that took place today. But others are still anxiously trying to evacuate. Joining us now on the phone from Gaza, Palestinian-American Lena Beseiso. Lena, thank you so much for joining us. I understand you've just heard from the U.S. State Department. What are they saying about when you and your family will be able to pass through that Rafah border crossing gate into Egypt?
LENA BESEISO, PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN TRAPPED IN GAZA: Well it's really unclear, Wolf. We get our hopes up, because we receive e-mails from State Department saying that we can departure and leave, and then going four times to the border and finding that the borders closed, I get my hopes up, I'm looking forward to tomorrow, we have the opportunity to be going back up there to the border and trying our attempt to leave.
So we're just worried and concerned. I felt that my country had abandoned me and my family. It's been a horrifying nightmare. We get our hopes up, we go to the border, sometimes it's getting bombed out we're there, warning bombs for people to just leave and go back to navigate back home. And it's just been a living nightmare.
And everybody's in fear. We see all the destruction, the killings, the innocent lives that have been taken. It's just horrifying. And after tomorrow, evidently, we can leave crossing, but I'm waiting for a list of names. And it's not updated yet. So there's a list of names that people who are to be able to pass through the crossing have to wait and see if their name is on that list, to make it through the border.
BLITZER: So Lena, let me ask you, if I can, what exactly does this latest e-mail that you just received from the State Department say, can you share that with us?
BESEISO: Yes. It says -- let me see. Let me open up on it. It says you and your immediate family members are expected to be on a list to be allowed to enter Egypt in coming days, the Palestinian customs authority published a list of those permitted to cross into Egypt on November 2nd, and we believe they will do so again daily. We urge you to consult that list. And if you find your name and the names of your immediate family members on that list, please go to the Rafah crossing, on the appropriate day with your U.S. passports and other valid travel documents. We expect there to be many people at the crossing and there is likely to be some confusion at the entry point. Please be prepared to wait in line.
BLITZER: I know you've described, Lena, these last three and a half weeks or so, so scary and frightening. And that's totally understandable. How were you and your family holding up?
BESEISO: We are holding up with hope and faith that we will be able to leave. That's one thing. And another thing is an end to this massacre, to this war, to the war against innocence. Because these are innocent lives that are -- and the destruction of homes, the whole city, buildings, hospitals, the third most oldest church, everything's getting demolished, it's leveled down. It's evil and so sad because so many lives are being taken. So we're just holding up with --
BLITZER: Well, good luck to you, Lena.
BESEISO: And taking deep breath.
BLITZER: I'm just saying Lena, good luck to you. Good luck to your family. Please stay in touch with us. Let us know if there's anything you think we can help you do. We want to see you get out of there with your family as soon as possible. Lena Beseiso, appreciate it very much.
BESEISO: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And just ahead, funding for Israel appears to be a popular measure among both parties in the U.S. Congress. So why is it now in danger of becoming a major showdown? That's just ahead, here in The Situation Room.
BLITZER: A potential showdown over aid for Israel is brewing between Senate and House Republicans. The Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell today not backing down from his insistence that the national security supplemental bill must include funding to address all global threats, not just Israel. That's in direct opposition to the newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson. CNN's Manu Raju was up on Capitol Hill for us. Manu, what specifically are we hearing from McConnell and other Senate leaders?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they met behind closed doors the full Senate Republican Conference with Speaker Mike Johnson today. The first time they have met since Johnson was elevated to become speaker. And Johnson made clear his position that he does not believe a bill that would include aid to Israel and aid Ukraine could pass his chamber.
He says that those two things must be separated as the House plans to move on its own plan, $14.3 billion in aid to Ukraine -- to Israel punt on the issue of Ukraine. Johnson told colleagues that he would be open to moving on issues of Ukraine, but tying that to stricter border security measures born new immigration policies. That's something that Democrats are almost certainly will not accept.
Democrats also are not going to accept the Israel plan because Johnson is advancing spending cuts to the IRS something that Democrats in the Senate say is an absolute non-starter raising questions about how any of this can be addressed. Now in talking to number of senators on both sides of the aisle, many of them aren't aligning with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and saying it is time to address Ukraine now otherwise they fear there will never be an opportunity to pass more aid to Ukraine and it could slip away to Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We're going to put together a package that addresses the national security concerns of our nation. Border security, continue the fight against Russia by helping Ukraine and help Israel and help Israel now, because we're running out of time.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): This will be the end of the Ukrainian effort to stop Putin's aggression. It is not just another political decision. It is a life or death decision. I hope that Speaker Johnson will reflect on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: But even Republicans in the Senate are divided about the question of how to deal with Ukraine. A number of conservative members believe that Senator McConnell is making the wrong decision in breaking with a new House speaker instead calling on him to align himself with the speaker and deal with Ukraine at a later date. McConnell so far is rejecting those calls and aligning himself with the Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer as they tried to cobble together a much bigger package, a broader package, something similar to $105 billion emergency national security package that the White House has proposed.
The Senate could move as soon as next week. But Wolf, the question is if the House passes its plan tomorrow, just dealing with Israel, that was no chance of passing the Senate. What will happen then? Because of the Senate moves on its own proposal that has no chance of passing the House. The two chambers could be at a stalemate, leaving Israel and Ukraine waiting for money at this critical moment in just with major uncertainty here, Wolf, how any of this can be resolved. Wolf?
BLITZER: Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill in Washington, thank you very much.
Coming up, there's more news we're following. That student arrested for allegedly making anti-Semitic threats against Cornell University's Jewish community makes his first court appearance. I'll discuss that story and the growing number of anti-Semitic threats in the United States with the head of the Anti-Defamation League. Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.
BLITZER: A 21-year-old student has been arrested for making anti- Semitic online threats against the Jewish community at Cornell University. He did not enter a plea during his first appearance in federal court today. This is happening as the number of anti-Semitic threats is clearly on the rise across the United States since the Hamas attacks against Israel.
For more on this story, I'm joined now by Jonathan Greenblatt. He's the CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Jonathan, thanks so much for joining us. As you heard, and as you well know, this Cornell University student is now in custody in connection with a series of threats against Jewish students at Cornell. This comes as the FBI Director Christopher Wray is warning of attacks from individuals inspired by Hamas. Before this he appeared to be, this college student, he appeared to be a normal college student at Cornell, does that make this incident even more disturbing?
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO & NATIONAL DIRECTOR, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Yes. Look, this incident is terrifying. The idea that someone would post to a message board at an Ivy League university that he wants to quote, slit the throats of Jews, that he wants to rape Jewish women for what's happening in Gaza. I mean, look, Jews are no more collectively responsible for what's happening in Israel than Asian Americans would be for what's happening in China or any ethnicity would be for what's happening in another part of the world.
Anti-Zionism which regards all Jewish people and Israel is illegitimate, anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, Wolf, and it creates the conditions in which these kinds of things happen with Jewish people and the Israelis are dehumanized and demonized. So people think they can say these kinds of things with impunity.
BLITZER: The FBI director Christopher Wray, is also warning that anti- Semitism in the United States is reaching what he calls and I'm quoting him now, historic levels since the October 7th Hamas attack against Israel, what worries you most about this alarming increase?
GREENBLATT: Look, I talked to you almost five years to the day, Wolf, about the shooting in Pittsburgh, which at the time was the bloodiest attack on Jewish people in the history United States, it still is, and that happened by far right ring, you know, white supremacist. And now we have these hard left radical anti-Zionists threatening to kill and attack Jews celebrating the worst massacre against the Jewish people since the Holocaust. It is outrageous.
And I think Chris Wray is right. The conditions are here, which something explosive could happen. But the way that we can stop it, is if we move from a cancel culture to a consequence culture, you post death threats against Jewish students, you should have a knock on the door from the FBI and you should get arrested. By the way, as we saw at Harvard yesterday, where Jewish students weren't allowed to walk across the quad, they were stopped and harassed by militant pro-Hamas demonstrators.
I'm sorry, if you harass Jewish students, if you incite violence against them, you should be expelled from the university. No questions asked. And if you make it difficult, if you bully students because they're Jewish, if you threaten them, because they're from Israel, there should be a zero tolerance policy on such intolerance in our universities, period, full stop.
BLITZER: As you know, the United States has been viewed as a refuge for so many Jews in the wake of the Holocaust, that was certainly the case by the way for my family. Has the recent rise in anti-Semitism in the U.S. shaken that sense for American Jews?
GREENBLATT: Well, I will tell you this. Jews are certainly concerned but they are also more united than I've ever seen. I came -- my family came here my grandfather was a Holocaust survivor from Germany. My wife and her family were political refugees from Iran. My family escaped persecution to come here to this country. And now to see the rise of anti-Semitism, we've seen a nearly 400 percent increase in incidence in just the past two and a half weeks, Wolf, it's shocking.
And yet, I will tell you, this Wolf, we aren't going anywhere. If these anti-Zionist and these anti-Semites think they're going to intimidate us, they've got another thing coming. Because we are going to push back, reclaim our universities, push back, reclaim the public space, and we will win to make sure America is as good to us as it's always been in the years ahead.
BLITZER: Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL, thanks so much for joining us.
GREENBLATT: Thank you.
BLITZER: All right, coming up, Israeli forces are advancing toward Gaza City right now as the country comes under a lot of criticism for a blast that hit Gaza's largest refugee camp for a second straight day. We're live in the region with all the late breaking developments.