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CNN TONIGHT

No Cease-Fire in Israel; Poll: Strong U.S. Support for Israel; Rockets Hidden in U.N. School in Gaza; Are Domestic Violence Related Suspensions Long Enough?

Aired July 29, 2014 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.

Breaking news in the Middle East. Hamas flat-out rejects calls for a cease-fire with Israel, demanding an end to what it calls Israel's aggression. But Israel says the ball is in Hamas' court.

Violence up close. Hamas TV airs video purporting to show militants crawling out of a tunnel inside Israeli territory, attacking an Israeli military post. Israeli soldiers were killed in the attack. More on this video straight ahead.

Also, where is Egypt in this conflict? For many years, it was one of the most powerful players in the region, but has a change in government cost the possibility of peace?

Also, harsh criticism inside Israel for Secretary of State John Kerry over his efforts to broker a cease-fire. Is the criticism warranted or it is out of line?

Plus, suspended from ESPN, but only for one week. Stephen A. Smith's remarks about domestic violence sparking a firestorm of outrage tonight. We are going to look at what he said and ask, is this suspension enough?

And, as always, we want to know what you think about all of this. Make sure you tweet us using #AskDon.

We're going to begin with the breaking news, though, Hamas angrily rejecting a cease-fire advanced by the Palestinian Authority saying there won't be a truce until Israel ends what it calls the siege of Gaza.

But an Israeli official blames the ongoing violence on Hamas for repeatedly rejecting cease-fire proposals.

CNN's Martin Savidge live for us in Jerusalem tonight.

Hello, Martin. You know you saw this video, this video which purports to show a Hamas fighter sneaking out of a tunnel to attack Israeli soldiers. Does this make Israel's point about the danger it faces?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does to a point.

I guess I should start with the obvious caveats, which is that we don't know when this video was shot. We don't know where this video was shot. We don't know how much of this video was edited. We don't even know if it is really legitimate.

But that said, it certainly has the look of legitimacy. Hamas claims that this was shot during an attack on Monday. Israel confirms that there was an attack on its soldiers coming from a tunnel by Hamas on Monday. Hamas says it killed 10 Israelis. Israel says that five of its soldiers died in the attack.

So there is some basic agreement here. The other thing that is interesting by this video, Israel has maintained that these are terror tunnels, in other words, tunnels being used to go after the population of Israel. Yet in this attack, it's against a military target. And we know last week, the IDF reported that its soldiers were struck from a tunnel before and that in Gaza they say they're being struck from tunnels.

In each of those cases what I'm pointing out here is that the attacks were on soldiers, which could be considered legitimate targets. So in some ways, this is very compelling in supporting Hamas' argument that, no, these tunnels are being used to wage a war, not to go after civilians. And the video wouldn't seem to dispute that.

LEMON: All right. Let's talk again about another cease-fire rejected. Hamas rejected a cease-fire proposed by Palestinians on the West Bank, insisting on an end to the blockade. Is there any incentive for Israel to stop bombing now?

SAVIDGE: Well, you know, if you listen to what is being said, and certainly, if you look at the horrific imagery of the number of civilians that have been killed in Gaza, it's now 1,229, I think, around there, and if you look at the number of Israelis that have been killed, certainly very lopsided, you might think, OK, there doesn't appear to be any agreement for a cease-fire.

But behind the scenes, there is a sense that maybe this conflict has reached a point where Hamas can say, look, it's got somewhat of a victory by holding off Israel. And Israel can say look, we have destroyed most of those terror tunnels. And we have at least inflicted great damage on the rockets. It could be a point where both sides might be willing to stop.

Visually, you don't see it. Verbally, you don't hear it. But it could be at that point, because otherwise Israel then would say we got to go all in, which is do they really want to go after and try and topple Hamas, and thereby maybe retake control of Gaza, which would be expensive in lives and in money?

And Hamas, they must know that they're not going to come out of this if they go full-on with the Israeli military intact. So it could be that both sides might be reaching a realization point of let's stop where we are and take it up from there. We don't know. But it's possible that point could be reached. I think a lot of people are hoping certainly a cease-fire could come -- Don.

LEMON: Martin Savidge in Jerusalem for us tonight. Thank you, Martin.

I'm joined now by Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations.

Good evening, sir. Thank you for joining us tonight.

RON PROSOR, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Good evening.

LEMON: Efforts to reach a cease-fire lasting more than a few hours really have come up empty. You heard that Hamas rejected a cease-fire proposal by the Palestinian Authority. What is Israel ready to agree to in terms of an immediate cease-fire?

PROSOR: Well, as you know, Israel said yes to a series of cease- fires, also humanitarian cease-fires.

And Hamas rejected them. So, in the sense, Hamas has a very interesting notion of cease-fires. We cease, and they fire. Look, I think it's obvious, if you look back, what does Israel have to do in Gaza?

I headed Israel's foreign service. And it's important to put the context. When we left Gaza, never to look back into Gaza, we left Gaza into the '67 lines, the green lines. We brought over greenhouses. The idea was to have Gaza become a place where people could live.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Understood. But what are your terms for a cease-fire now in this ongoing, immediate conflict?

PROSOR: It's very simple. The equation is really simple. If it's going to be quiet in Israel, it's going to be quiet in Gaza. There's not more than we want. That's what we wanted initially.

And if you look back, this could all have been spared. When we asked for a cease-fire and said we wanted a cease-fire, Hamas kept on going. We wouldn't deal with -- would have never known about those terror tunnels, which surprisingly, I will tell your Mr. Savidge there, that the tunnels reached over to at least three kibbutzim in Israel, which are usually not military installations.

The tunnels, those terror tunnels, the firing of rockets on Israeli civilians, 2,600 rockets, this is absolutely amazing.

LEMON: Let's put up that video of those tunnels that purportedly show Israeli soldiers being fired upon and killed. Again, this is from Al Aqsa, saying that al-Qassam Brigades killed 10 Israeli soldiers. Israel is saying five Israeli soldiers were killed. Again, CNN cannot confirm the authenticity of this video, independently confirm it.

But -- and if it's been edited. But what do you make of this? Does this prove your argument here?

PROSOR: Absolutely. It proves exactly what we're saying. There is a maze of terror

tunnels in Gaza all aimed to basically either murder, maim, or kidnap Israelis. We found them with a uniform of the IDF, with syringes. They're out there day in and day out. They're shooting rockets at us. So you have those terror tunnels. You have the rockets.

And, basically, Israel is saying, hey, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand that if rockets fly on your head, you're allowed to defend yourself.

LEMON: No pun intended, I'm sure.

But, listen, it's more than just the tunnels, right, because, overnight, we had some of -- we aired some of it live here on CNN -- the Israeli military targeted Hamas finance ministries, Hamas radio. Again, it's Hamas', as I said. Why those targets? And I have the follow-up questions about whether or not there should be a humanitarian effort, but why those targets?

PROSOR: Well, you know, it's not me, the Israeli ambassador, saying it. But three schools in UNRWA, a U.N. spokesman says, you know, weapons and rockets were firing from schools.

We know that they're shooting rockets from mosques, from civilian installations, from hospitals. They have their headquarters in hospitals. So we have a terrain here. And this is why it's so complicated. In the sense, this is why you see, you know, Israel so sensitive in what goes on.

LEMON: But why did Israel target the radio station, target apparently utility companies, water? There appears to be no running water. The sewage is apparently flowing.

(CROSSTALK)

PROSOR: I don't think the water was targeted. But in the sense, communications of Hamas, the propaganda elements, we're trying to basically say, hey, you know, this cannot continue. We are dealing in essence not with a country.

We're dealing with a terror organization that doesn't recognize Israel's right to exist, and basically has a clear goal and that is the eradication of the state of Israel. That's their goal.

LEMON: Let's talk about their trying to negotiate a cease-fire, trying to negotiate some calm, because the Israeli media has been really savage in its criticism of Secretary of State John Kerry and its diplomatic efforts here.

And these are some quotes. One "Times of Israel" headline read this. It as says, "John Kerry the Betrayal." A reporter for "Haaretz" called Kerry's peace proposal a strategic terrorist attack. Another called the plan a huge mistake by John Kerry.

Is this a reflection of what Israelis think of the secretary of state and the U.S. in its policies now? PROSOR: Well, first of all, the emotions in Israel are high.

But I want to tell you, as someone who has served in Washington, D.C., as someone who headed the Israeli foreign service, and as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, we have no better friend than the United States of America standing with us on the front line of this. And I and I think the state of Israel really salutes John Kerry for what he is trying to do, which is hard.

LEMON: But is this media criticism fair, do you think, these headlines?

PROSOR: I was on record saying that the United States and Secretary Kerry should be applauded on what he is trying to do and trying to reach, some agreement and a cease-fire in this really complicated area.

So, from my point of view, thank you to the United States and the people of the United States, because those are the common values that we cherish of democracies in that region. But, if there is one thing, if there is one thing that, you know, I want you to remember out of this interview, and it's a simple equation, and that is it's going to be quiet in Israel, it's going to be quiet in Gaza. We have nothing that we want more there.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Ambassador Prosor.

PROSOR: Thank you.

LEMON: Appreciate you joining us here on CNN.

Still ahead tonight, Israel gets strong support on Capitol Hill, but particularly among evangelical Republicans in America. And there is a theological reason for that.

Also ahead, experts weigh in on the heavy criticism of John Kerry that we just spoke about in Israel. Is it justified?

And ESPN suspends Stephen A. Smith for one week over comments about domestic violence. We're going to look at exactly what he said coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back.

The focus of the conflict in the Middle East is on Israel, Hamas and the Palestinians living in Gaza. But if you look at map of Gaza, you will see it's not just Israel that borders that territory. Egypt sits to the south. And that border remains closed to Gazans as well.

Paula Hancocks has more now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Bloody fighting enters its third week in Gaza. One key player has lost its negotiating power, Egypt.

The West looks for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for a breakthrough, but things have changed. Just two years ago, deadly violence engulfed the small Palestinian territory. Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi brokers the cease-fire, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group Hamas emerged from.

But Morsi and his party were ousted last year in a popular military coup, Hamas losing a crucial ally as a former military man took charge.

ERIC TRAGER, EGYPT EXPERT: This government in Cairo is just very unlikely to do anything that will strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian cousin Hamas. It views Hamas as it views the Muslim Brotherhood, as a threat to Egypt's strategic interest, and therefore Egypt isn't unhappy to see it weakened in the current fight.

HANCOCKS: Israel controls three of Gaza's borders, including one at sea. Egypt controls one, the Rafah border rarely opened, only to allow aid in or injured Gazans out. Hamas wants that border open permanently.

OSAMA HAMDAN, HAMAS SPOKESMAN: There is no commitment from the Egyptian government and the leadership. And what we have heard from them all the time that the Israelis are responsible and in charge. If they ask to close off a crossing point, they will do that.

HANCOCKS: The blockade of Gaza has been in place since 2007, when Hamas forcibly ejected its rivals and took control of the territory, one year after winning Democratic elections. Egypt, as well as Israel, has been destroying tunnels dug under its border over recent months, determined to stop smuggling of weapons to Hamas. It also stopped the import of basics like food, gas, and livestock, which made money for Hamas.

TRAGER: As a result, the Hamas authorities in Gaza struggle to pay the wages in Gaza. And this created a lot of pressure on their rule. And it's one of the reasons we believe that Hamas initiated a conflict with Israel, firing rockets, and then inviting the current conflict.

HANCOCKS: But, as Egypt loses influence in Gaza, it also loses some of its power as peacemaker.

Paula Hancocks, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: All right, Paula, thank you very much.

Secretary of State John Kerry is being harshly criticized, especially by Israel, for his attempt at brokering a cease-fire.

So joining me now to talk than and other aspects of this conflict is Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center. He is a former adviser to six secretaries of state on the Arab-Israeli peace process. He is also the author of "The End of Greatness: Why America Can't and Doesn't Want Another Great President." Quite a name for a book.

So, first question to you. You heard the Israeli ambassador just to the U.N., Ron Prosor, who was just on. He told me -- quote -- "We cease, and they fire."

Is he right?

AARON DAVID MILLER, PUBLIC POLICY SCHOLAR, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: Look, the reality is that you have a conflict driven by two parties, both of which have needs and requirements that essentially are going to have to be met in some regard.

And there is a narrative on each side. The Israelis are trying to degrade and ultimately destroy Hamas' tunnelling capacity, its repository of high-trajectory weapons. And Hamas' goal is to survive, keep its military and political cadre alive, kill as many Israelis as possible.

They have already quadrupled the number of IDF casualties than in the two previous confrontations, and then ultimately negotiate for what it is I think they want, at least for now, which is to open Gaza and deliver -- deliver benefits for 1.8 million people, for whom they're not right now the most popular of leaders.

So, cease or fire, you know, you decide which narrative you want to take. The reality is, at some point, and I'm not sure we're there yet, there will be enough urgency and imperative on each side to begin to de-escalate. And at that point, a mediator, Egypt, Israel, a combination of Egypt, the U.S. -- the Israelis are clearly going to have to be involved -- a combination of some sort, we will find the right terms to create hopefully something more durable.

LEMON: But do you think that's possible? Because the secretary of state has been trying to negotiate with Egypt, trying to help broker a cease-fire, and so far nothing and now he is getting highly criticized for it.

MILLER: Well, yes, look, Don, it goes with the real estate. You don't work on the Arab-Israeli negotiations without getting hammered, frankly, and sometimes mercilessly by both sides.

I used to be a lot taller before I started working on Arab-Israeli negotiations. I worked on them for 20 years. It goes with the territory. Look, if Kerry can be criticized for anything, in my judgment, it's caring too much. It's thinking that somehow, with a degree of urgency that the parties didn't share when he went into this initial mediation effort, that somehow he could just put himself in the middle of the mix and that the mix would cooperate.

Well, the reality is, the mix does not always cooperate.

LEMON: So you're saying he does not -- the criticism is not warranted that he is getting? You heard the ambassador saying, listen, we applaud him and we stand by him. We have no greater ally than the United States, no greater friend. MILLER: I think Ron Prosor is a diplomat's diplomat. I think he

probably means it. I think Prime Minister Netanyahu has worked with Kerry for nine months. We know that President Obama and the prime minister don't have the best of relationships, to say the least.

I think the Israelis were perturbed, there is no question, that Kerry seemed to treat Hamas and Israel with a sort amount of equivalency, that they elevated Hamas' requirements without fundamentally sharpening and detailing what Israel's requirements were.

I think all of that is in play here. But, again, I heard George Mitchell tonight on CNN. You do not play the role of mediator without getting beaten down. In fact, the reality is, when both sides don't like you, but need you, you know in fact that you're actually beginning to accomplish something.

LEMON: Right, and you're probably doing the right thing, at least in the moment. So, I have to ask you. You have advised six secretaries of state on this conflict. Who had the most successful approach?

(LAUGHTER)

MILLER: You want me to make the others unhappy?

Look, I work for R's and D's, Republicans and Democrats. All of them had very special qualities. If you ask me flat out -- and I worked for Shultz to Colin Powell. If you ask me who had the best negotiating skills, who had the support of the president, frankly, who was the best negotiator that we have had since Henry Kissinger, it would be one guy. It would be James Baker.

And Baker worked on this problem. He was a great actor. The president had his back. He knew how to be tough. He knew how to be fair. He knew how to be very reassuring, developing a relationship with Yitzhak Shamir, who was an even tougher Israeli prime minister than the current one.

No, Baker was good. But, remember, circumstances cooperated. And the United States, during those years, was admired, feared, and respected. The reality is, we're not any of those things right now.

LEMON: Thus...

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: And that is in fact -- it lowers our street cred and our influence.

We can still be effective, but we have got to be very smart, and we have to decide when in fact we can use our influence.

LEMON: Yes. I can see why you wrote the book. America doesn't want another great president.

Thank you. I appreciate it. You're welcome back any time. We appreciate you joining us. MILLER: Always a pleasure, Don. Thanks.

LEMON: Why are so many Americans, especially evangelical Republicans, rock-solid in their support for Israel? We will examine that question next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Welcome back. Aside from Israel's role as a strategic ally in the Middle East, what is it about the United States that so many Americans and so many Republicans are firmly in Israel's corner?

Here is senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It isn't often you see conservative Republican Senators Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Jim Inhofe on the same page as liberal Democrats like Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

But that's how it works when it comes to Israel. In part, the pro- Israel fervor is due to support by evangelical Christians, who make up half of Republican primary voters. A Pew poll from 2013 said almost twice as many white evangelicals, 82 percent, believe God gave the land of Israel to Jewish people, compared with only 40 percent of American Jews, who believe the same thing.

The evangelical support can be traced back to the Book of Genesis, which says of the people of Israel, "I will bless those who bless you and I curse him who curses you, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

Pastor and televangelist John Hagee from a megachurch in Texas has made a name for himself in this movement. In this video released two weeks ago on YouTube, recorded on the Israeli border with Israeli troops standing behind him, Hagee makes his case.

PASTOR JOHN HAGEE, CORNERSTONE CHURCH: I'm saying this as an American citizen to all American citizens. If there was ever a time to stand up and speak up for Israel, it's right now.

JOHNS: The Christian Zionist movement has been controversial, not because of the politics, but because of its forward-looking theology. Many evangelicals believe that the land of Israel will play a key role in the future, the final battleground between good and evil until the end of the world, at which time the believers will be raptured or taken away to heaven.

Back in 2006, when I interviewed Pastor Hagee, here is what he said about rapture and the Jews.

(on camera): The Jews, who you support, are raptured up too?

HAGEE: No. The rapture is exclusively for the church. JOHNS (voice-over): But, over the years, the theology has changed.

What once sounded like the church encouraging conversion of Jews to Christianity has been revamped and revised.

In an op-ed in the Jewish daily Forward.com in 2010, Hagee writes: "Some worry that our efforts are motivated by a desire to convert Jews. Others posit that our Zionism is tied to the speed of the second coming of Jesus. Both of these allegations are flat wrong."

(on camera): The change in doctrine may help some Jews overcome their historic suspicion of evangelicals. But, in D.C., where politics makes strange bedfellows, supporters of Israel aren't taking anything for granted.

Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Appreciate that, Joe Johns.

I'm joined now by Peter Beinart, CNN political commentator and a columnist for "Haaretz," Marc Lamont Hill, CNN political commentator, Alan Dershowitz, longtime supporter of Israel and the author of "Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law."

You guys are back. And so I know it will be an interesting conversation again.

Welcome back. Thank you for joining us.

Peter, to you first. I want you to take a look at a recent CNN/ORC poll. Sixty percent of Americans have a favorable view of Israel. But if we break that down along party lines, Republicans sympathize with Israel more than Democrats. A difference of 18 points. Why is that, Peter?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's because most Democrats support Israel's right to exist, Democrats are more willing to acknowledge that there are real human rights concerns about Israel's control of the West Bank, where Jews have citizenship, the right to vote, live under civil law, while Palestinians lack citizenship, lack the right to vote, and live under military law.

I think, because of their generally progressive points of view and sympathy for the underdog, I think Democrats, while still supporting Israel's right to exist, don't support -- are less likely to support Israel's undemocratic control of the West Bank.

LEMON: Yes. It's not -- it's not necessarily the same for elected officials. Because elected officials overwhelmingly, I think, support Israel, don't you think?

BEINART: Is that for me? Yes. I think -- yes. You don't find that same division, public division reflected amongst politicians. And I think that's largely because, for a very long time now, the safe political move has been basically to define being pro-Israel as supporting the positions of the Israeli government.

What I wish Democrats and Republicans would do is define being pro- Israel as supportive of the principles of Israel's declaration of independence, which call for complete equality of social and political rights, irrespective of race, religion and sex. That's the Zionism that I believe in.

LEMON: OK. I want to put up one other poll. Alan, I want to direct this to you.

This is according to Gallup poll, right? Younger Americans are far less likely to say Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip are justified. The younger they are, the less support that they have for Israel's actions. Why would that be?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, AUTHOR, "TAKING THE STAND": Well, I think the hard left has taken on Israel as a project. And to be invited into the hard, hard left, mostly it's the anti-American, anti-western left, you have to hate Israel.

LEMON: But for younger voters?

DERSHOWITZ: You have to support Hamas.

This is true of people of the left. Now people who are younger want to be associated with the left. And so I think that the figures are very skewed.

I think average Democrats who are not part of the hard left support Israel overwhelmingly. But the Democratic Party is also home to the very hard anti-American left, anti-western left. And so when you include them in the Democratic Party, you see that skewed vote.

Almost every Democrat I know supports Israel as enthusiastically as Republicans do because Israel does in fact have Democratic values. Now if Peter was right, there would be a comparative analysis. Who is more Democratic, Israel or Gaza or Hamas? Who is more supportive of women's rights, Israel or Hamas? Who is more supportive of gay rights, Israel or Hamas.

BEINART: But Alan, none of those people support Hamas.

DERSHOWITZ: You would see people making -- you would see -- well, no -- you'd be surprised how many support Hamas. And let's talk about the Palestinian Authority.

LEMON: I was just going to...

DERSHOWITZ: The Palestinian Authority is not known for its support of these liberal democratic -- I think it's a hard left opposition.

LEMON: OK. All right. I got your point. You guys are -- you guys are sitting there, and you're being very well behaved there. Peter, you're trying to jump in, but Marc, go ahead, jump in there. What is your reaction to what he said? Younger people tend to want to be -- are more liberal and want to be Democrats? So therefore... MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He's saying -- he's

going a step beyond that. He's saying that they're hard left, that they're anti-west, anti-America, as if to say that to have a critical stance on Israel is to be anti-American.

DERSHOWITZ: It's true.

HILL: That's bizarre. It's a bizarre leap of logic.

LEMON: and is it to be anti-Israel, as well?

HILL: That's the other piece of this that's confusing to me. The truth is, is that you can have a support of Israel's right to exist, as I do. At the same time having a stern critique of Israel for human rights violation against the Palestinian people.

DERSHOWITZ: No, you don't have -- you don't believe in Israel's...

HILL: Alan, Alan.

DERSHOWITZ: You don't believe in Israel's right to defend itself.

LEMON: Let him finish.

HILL: Alan, please. I didn't cut you off once. Let's model democratic values right now and let each other talk.

I actually do agree with Israel's right to exist and to defend itself. But I don't -- I don't frame the argument purely as Israel defending itself. We have to think about Israel as launching an offensive attack.

Israel is launching a siege in Gaza. Israel continues to occupy Gaza by land, air, and sea. That's the issue here.

But to your question, Don, about why young people tend to do this, it's for a few reasons. One, because they have access to social media. If you look at all this data and this aggregated, you see the young people are accessing images of the gross human rights violation, the awful abuses, the awful atrocities that are happening in Gaza. And it's hard to see that and not have a more critical posture against the state of Israel.

It doesn't mean you don't want Israel to exist.

DERSHOWITZ: That's just wrong.

HILL: It doesn't mean you don't want Israel to thrive. It just means that you have a critical stance and you want Palestinians to also live and thrive.

LEMON: OK. All right, all right. Stand by.

DERSHOWITZ: If you want to see...

LEMON: Listen, guys. Alan, I have to get to a break. We're going to continue on with this after the break. Don't worry about it. And up next, we're going to talk about this, as well. The Israelis and Palestinians have been engaged in a conflict since, really, the day Israel became a nation back in 1948. And as we look at these live pictures now of the sun coming up in Gaza, we're going to say -- try to figure out why the tensions are higher than ever now. Why is that? We'll get to that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The breaking news tonight. Rockets found inside a U.N. school in Gaza. The U.N. has condemned the people who would endanger civilians.

So back with me now is Peter Beinart, Marc Lamont Hill and Alan Dershowitz.

So Alan, I wanted you to finish your thought. But listen, these new cache of rockets being found in a U.N. school, does this bolster the Israeli argument here?

DERSHOWITZ: Well, Israel doesn't need to have its argument bolstered. The facts speak for themselves.

I think almost all the commentators agree that Hamas wanted this war. It initiated this war for its own purposes. Israel didn't want this war. This is a purely defensive war.

If Hamas were to give up its arms, there would be peace. If Israel were to disarm, there would be genocide. That's the reality.

And Hamas hides in the U.N. It hides in schools. It uses its civilians as shields. It wants to maximize civilian casualties among the Palestinians so that Israel's enemies can paint those pictures on television and create the animosity that we talked about in the earlier segment.

The world has to come to realize that Israel is fighting this fight not only for its own survival, but for the survival of western values. This is a new tactic. Using civilian shields, using terrorism against civilians. We have to fight that in a united way. The United States must stand behind Israel and fight this terrorism.

LEMON: Alan -- go ahead, Pete.

HILL: I was going to say, Alan makes a really impassioned and compelling argument. Very little of it is true, though, and that's what I find problematic.

No. 1, this -- this current moment hasn't been initiated by Hamas at all. The pretext for this was -- for this attack was the killing of these teenagers, these three Israeli teenagers.

DERSHOWITZ: That's a pretext. That was a pretext.

HILL: Let me finish.

DERSHOWITZ: They weren't killed, right?

HILL: No, they were killed. But the day before, a Palestinian man and his child were killed. We could use that as a starting point. It's an arbitrary starting point to say that.

DERSHOWITZ: Who. There's a difference between whether Hamas and whether an individual is killed.

HILL: OK. OK. Let's deal with the by whom. According to Israeli intelligence, according to media, according to all credible sources, Hamas didn't kill the three Israeli teenagers. It was done by a lone actor. So if we're saying...

DERSHOWITZ: Hamas members did. They were acting as a local cell on behalf of Hamas, yes.

HILL: Is there a mute button or something here? I mean, Alan! So again, if we're talking about known actors, that's the thing. We can pick arbitrary starting points. None of this is about the killing of teenagers or about a man and his child. All that of is a pretext. At the core of this, again...

DERSHOWITZ: It's about tunnels.

HILL: No, it's about occupation, Alan.

DERSHOWITZ: No, it's about tunnels.

BEINART: Alan -- Alan...

HILL: There wouldn't be -- no, it's not about tunnels.

LEMON: OK, Peter, Peter, go ahead. Peter, go ahead. Go ahead, Peter.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Alan, let him talk.

BEINART: Alan said something particularly disturbing. Human rights, human rights, dignity of the individual, is not a western value. It's a universal value. When people struggle for that...

DERSHOWITZ: I wish it were so.

BEINART: That is -- Gandhi was not from the west. People -- Nelson Mandela was not from the west. I think it's very disturbing to describe these things in civilizational terms.

Secondly, although I would love to see Israel get rid of all of Gaza's tunnels and weapons, it's simply not the case that you can credibly argue that, if Gaza were to be demilitarized, as I would like it to be, that in fact, Israel would be moving toward the two-state solution. Because we've seen -- we've played this out in the West Bank. We've had for several years now a Palestinian leadership in the West

Bank, Mahmoud Abbas and before him also Salam Fayyad, who did security cooperation with Israel, who recognized Israel's right to exist again and again and again. And, instead of getting serious negotiations towards a two-state solution, they have gotten the greatest settlement growth in Israeli history.

LEMON: OK.

BEINART: And that's what strengthened Hamas so dramatically. But you discredit people who practice nonviolence and you lead people into Hamas' hands.

LEMON: Let's look at these tunnels, though.

DERSHOWITZ: Let me respond to this. Let me respond.

LEMON: Hang on, Alan, you can respond. But let me get my question in here.

You mentioned these tunnels, right? Peter mentioned these tunnels there, as well. And this is from al Aqsa, saying that brigades there killed ten Israeli soldiers in this operations. These are the tunnels. Right? I'm trying to get these tunnels.

The Israeli -- the Israel newspaper, "Haaretz," is saying five Israeli soldiers were killed. And again, I have to give a caveat here, because it appears that this video has been edited. So we cannot independently confirm its authenticity.

So Alan, you said this was about -- you said this was about tunnels. But it certainly looks very threatening.

DERSHOWITZ: And rockets.

LEMON: And rockets. Go ahead.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, this is about tunnels and rockets. And when, you know, Israel abandoned and gave up the occupation of Gaza in 2005, there was no occupation. That was the response.

And then in 2007, Olmert offered a two-state solution, and Abbas did not respond. 2001, again a two-state solution was offered, and Arafat -- Arafat refused it. So Israel has repeatedly offered a two-state solution.

The process of negotiation toward a two-state solution is ongoing. But Hamas is sending rockets and sending tunnels. And this is a response to this form of terrorism.

Hamas is hiding its terrorists among civilians. The entrance to the tunnels has been hidden by -- among civilians. And I haven't heard either of these two advocates against Israel's position denying the fact that Israel must close the tunnels, must stop the rockets.

And Israel has offered over and over again, unequivocally, if the rockets stop and if the tunnels are closed, there will be peace.

LEMON: Can you guys agree with that? Can you guys agree with that?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: First Marc. First Marc.

BEINART: ... rockets are being fired is ridiculous. If Israel destroys the rockets and destroys the tunnels and yet maintains a blockade that produces more rage and despair amongst young Palestinians in Gaza, many of whose family members have now been killed, people will rebuild those rockets and rebuild those tunnels and visit more attacks on the Israel that you and I love.

LEMON: I do have to say -- I do have to say that you guys are the embodiment of what is happening and why it's so tough for -- to broker any sort of agreement there. It's even tough to just control the conversation. Imagine trying to broker a peace agreement. Thank you, I appreciate you gentlemen again this evening. I hope you'll join us again.

An NFL star suspended for two games for assaulting his fiancee. Today a popular ESPN commentator be off the air for one week for his controversial theory as to why the assault may have happened. Are either punishments severe enough? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Boy, this story has been playing out in the media. NFL star Ray Rice was suspended for a mere two games for assaulting his then- fiancee, now his wife. While discussing that suspension, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith made these controversial comments about domestic violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN A. SMITH, ESPN COMMENTATOR: We've got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make -- to try to make sure it doesn't happen. We know that wrong. We know they're criminal. We know they probably deserve to be in jail. In Ray Rice's case, he probably deserves more than the two-game suspension which we both acknowledged.

But at the same time, we also have to make sure that we learn as much as we can about elements of provocation. Not that there's real provocation, but the elements of provocation. You've got to make sure that you address it. Because what we've got to do is do what we can to try to prevent the situation from happening in any way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: OK. So ESPN has announced that Smith will not appear on air for one week. Question is, is that enough?

Joining me now civil rights attorney Gloria Allred; Mark O'Mara, CNN legal analyst and a criminal defense attorney; Mr. Brian Stelter, senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," that I watch every Sunday morning.

BRIAN STELTER, SENIOR CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT/HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": Thank you, Don.

LEMON: Brian, listen. After a few days of this swirling controversy, ESPN acted today. Stephen A. Smith is off the air for a week. Why did ESPN take this action?

STELTER: I'm a little confused by the timing. Because he came onto the air on Monday morning, read his apology, and then went on back to work like nothing had happened. He came on again today. But this this afternoon ESPN that they decided to take him off the air for a week. They don't use the word "suspension," but this is clearly a suspension. He is away for a week. He's on the bench, and he's back this...

LEMON: Was it because of the fallout, you think, that they had a change of mind?

STELTER: We don't -- one of the things that the ESPN president said in his internal memo was that he talked to a lot of people with law enforcement people at ESPN, including a lot of women at the network. He talked to the employee resource group there, got their feedback.

And I do think maybe after getting a lot of people's feedback -- you can see it here in the statement, they say it will return next Wednesday. I think after getting all that feedback, maybe that's why they decided to do this. But I think if they were going to do that, they should have announced it on Monday when he apologized, rather than having him go back to work for two week.

LEMON: Yes, and they never said "suspension." Did you see "suspension" anywhere?

STELTER: No. They're very careful not to use that word. But by the way, they admit it's a suspension if you really ask.

LEMON: OK. Gloria, many people, and Brian just talked about it, many people, including some of Stephen A.'s female colleagues, were taken aback by what he said. What does it imply when you say a woman provoked a man?

GLORIA BORGER, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY: Well, I think that that's something he should have explained, by the way, in his what I'll call another non-apology apology. Which I don't think really addressed the issue of what he meant by "We've got to learn more about the elements of provocation," suggesting that that's the way to prevent battering.

Guess what? Here's my message to him, Don. The message is that women are not to be blamed for domestic violence. They don't provoke it. And this is always what batterers say. Batterers say, "She provoked it. Why didn't she iron my shirt the right way? Why didn't she have my dinner on time? Why didn't she answer the phone when I called her? This is the reason that I'm hitting her. She deserves it."

LEMON: OK. BORGER: This is what he has to explain and didn't explain in his so- called apology.

LEMON: Let me ask you. What if -- what if the woman hit first? Is that a provocation?

MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It doesn't matter. Not enough.

LEMON: No. OK. So let's talk about that. You kind of -- you kind of mumbled it. But I'm going to get your response to that. Because first I want to play this, right?

He twice tried to unsuccessfully apologize on Twitter before issuing an apology on air. But he is not the only one stepping into this controversy. Listen to Whoopi Goldberg, what she said on "The View," and then we'll talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": You have to teach women do not live with this idea that men have this chivalry thing still with them. Don't assume that that's still in place. So don't be surprised if you hit a man, and he hits you back. You don't -- listen, you hit somebody, they hit you back. Don't be surprised.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Listen, so Whoopi said, "I'm not advocating that anyone hit anyone. No one should be hitting anyone." But to my point, where I said what if the woman hit the guy first? We don't know exactly what happened in that elevator. But does it matter in any way legally in a domestic violence case, Mark, if one side provoked another side?

O'MARA: Well, we as a society have to say it doesn't matter. Just like in domestic violence and in rape. If we don't have a very clear line, if we say, "Well, maybe she deserved it. Maybe she provoked. Maybe she screamed too loud. Maybe she slapped me first." And all we're really doing is allowing domestic violence to continue, just like we talk about with a rape case. If no means no, domestic violence means even if you have a right to, even if she hits you first, it is still a crime. You still don't do it. You still be above it. That's the clear line we just simply have to have.

LEMON: Yes. And let's answer the question that we stated here in the beginning, Gloria, was it enough? Many fans thought that this was way too light a punishment for an assault. Michael Vick did almost two years in Leavenworth in prison for dogfighting. Smoking marijuana in the NFL will get you a four-game suspension. But assaulting your fiancee only gets you a two-game suspension?

GLORIA ALLRED, ATTORNEY: Well, excellent point. There is no proportionality. Just another sign of how little we value women and violence against women, that it's only a two-game suspension.

You know, violence against women really matters. Women across the country are having bones broken. They're having their noses punched in. They're often having their lives taken by men who are beating them.

And often in these situations the men are much taller; they're much heavier; they're much physically stronger. And they're beating on women who have done nothing to deserve it, just the fact that they're alive and breathing, and the man can beat them is what causes the man to beat them. He has to know nothing they say or do can provoke him. He is responsible for his own reaction.

STELTER: You're describing horrible situations. You know what surprises me, Don?

LEMON: Quickly, Brian. Go ahead.

STELTER: On Facebook, so much of the feedback I'm seeing from people is from women, some of whom say he was making an important point. And yet I think one of the mistakes, one of the many mistakes he made was he was a man speaking about this to another man on TV. There were no women who were discussing it with him.

LEMON: And -- and...

STELTER: That's the much more...

LEMON: He was doing it under a time limit.

STELTER: ... that is now happening online, but not on TV.

LEMON: He was doing it under a time limit like this segment. Thank you, guys. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Time now for "CNN TONIGHT Tomorrow," the stories that you will be talking about tomorrow.

The outbreak of Ebola in Africa is growing worse. An American named Patrick Sawyer who was working in Liberia contracted the disease and has died. Sawyer's wife will be on CNN's "NEW DAY" tomorrow morning. Make sure you tune in.

I'm Don Lemon. Thanks for watching. That's it for us tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.