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Aleppo Doctor Remembers Colleague Killed in Strike; Row Comes as U.K. Voters Prepare to Go to Polls; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired May 3, 2016 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight on the program, a cease- fire can't come soon enough for the battered Syrian city of Aleppo. One doctor whose colleague was killed in a hospital bombing tells me what's
happening is a catastrophe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OSAMA ABU EL EZZ, ALEPPO PHYSICIAN (through translator): Aleppo is burning. Aleppo is burning. Aleppo is dying. Aleppo is being wiped out.
What's taking place now is no less than a holocaust.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLMES: Also ahead, Britain's main opposition party faces growing criticism over alleged anti-Semitism. How damaging it could be for Labour
ahead of important elections.
Also, a sporting fairy tale, Cinderella style. Leicester City, clinching the English Premier League title, some surprising facts about football's
most unlikely champions.
HOLMES: Good evening, everyone, welcome to the program. I'm Michael Holmes, sitting in for Christiane tonight.
No bombs, no rockets, no shelling: that's what the U.N. special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura hopes will come to the city of Aleppo anytime now.
Is it a realistic hope, though?
We're waiting to see if the guns will fall silent in the country's largest city after Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said a cessation of
hostilities could come, in his words, "within hours."
Let's not forget, it is not the first time there has been such a declaration but certainly it can't come enough for the people of Aleppo.
New shelling hit another hospital, killing around 20 people and turning more buildings to rubble. Hundreds have been killed in Aleppo since just
Earlier I spoke to Osama Abu El Ezz, a surgeon from Aleppo. At the moment, he is in Rahania (ph) in Turkey but was in Aleppo about a week ago. He
knew several people killed in Wednesday's airstrike, including the pediatrician, Muhammad Maaz. Osama told me that despite the unspeakable
dangers, he will return to Aleppo. Take a listen.
HOLMES: Dr. Osama Abu El Ezz, thanks for your time and welcome to the program.
Firstly, you knew some of those killed in the bombing at Al Quds Hospital, including the pediatrician there, Muhammad Maaz. I want you to tell us
about them, their dedication to what they did.
EZZ (through translator): Muhammad Waseem Maaz was seen as -- was one of the most pleasant people that I have ever seen in my life. He is one of
those who work in the liberated areas of Syria from the beginning of the revolution and particularly in Aleppo area.
He was one of those who refused to leave the city of Aleppo, despite all the obstacles and despite all the tragedies that Aleppo has been going
through, despite also the presence of many opportunities that he was -- many offers that he was given to leave Aleppo and live in a better place.
But he decided to stay and not abandon the children and do his humanitarian duty, despite all those difficulties.
HOLMES: Apart from the personal sense of loss that obviously you feel, what for the people of Aleppo does the loss of that knowledge, that medical
EZZ (through translator): The truth of the matter is that the biggest problem that faces the medical sector in Aleppo is the lack of doctors, the
lack of experienced medical staff in the area -- in the liberated areas in Syria. Dr. Muhammad Waseem Maaz was a big experience, he was a big
scientific value who wanted to offer all his expertise for the sake of treating sick children.
HOLMES: And I know that your hospital actually took in some of the injured from the attack on the Al Quds Hospital. You talk about the number of
doctors. I heard Save the Children in the Middle East says 25 doctors now for half a million people.
Could that possibly be right?
Is it that bad?
EZZ (through translator): Yes, the situation is extremely dire. The number of doctors in Aleppo is no more than 30 doctors --
EZZ (through translator): -- at most. And they serve about a quarter of a million or 300,000 total population, which means that for every 10,000
people there is one doctor.
You can add to that the circumstances in which those doctors live in Aleppo are extremely difficult; they work very long hours, double shifts under
huge pressure, under bombardment and under the threat of losing their very own lives.
HOLMES: And you do that as well. You're under that kind of pressure. I can't imagine but try to tell us what it is like knowing that you could be
killed as you work at any time. I can't imagine what that's like.
EZZ (through translator): Truly -- I truly believe that the worst kind of job that one could have was to be a doctor in Aleppo, because a doctor has
to have clear mind to dedicate his expertise and his time for the doctors.
How could he perform under unsafe circumstances as you have been watching?
HOLMES: You're not there now but despite everything you just told me, you are going back.
Do you ever sometimes think, I can't go back, I'm just going to stay here?
EZZ (through translator): By the will of Allah, I will head toward the border and eventually to Aleppo. My humanitarian and moral duties places a
burden on me to abide by my obligation to treat people. I will go back to my city and continue doing my job even if I have to pay my life and my
blood as a price.
HOLMES: Extraordinarily brave, I have to say.
But I'm thinking, as you look at Aleppo, do you feel that the world has abandoned that city, that there's not enough anger, not enough widespread
pressure from the world?
EZZ (through translator): The truth of the matter is that what's taking place in Aleppo is no less than a catastrophe and people -- the whole world
just watch. All countries watch what's going on in Aleppo. Everyone knows and they see by their own eyes the bloodshed and the children's bodies tore
People see the depth of the humanitarian suffering. But no one is extending a hand to help those civilians, the oppressed civilians in that
city. Everybody who lives in Aleppo, especially -- Aleppo specially and Syria, in general, everyone feels abandoned. Everyone is disappointed and
The war has been helping the criminal regime by remaining silent towards the crimes and the suffering inflicted on harmless people.
HOLMES: It's not hard to go online or watch the news and look at parts of Aleppo and see that, in many places, the destruction is almost total. I'm
wondering if you have any optimism left inside you.
Do you see any light at the end of the tunnel?
EZZ (through translator): We really have lost hope. But nevertheless, we are forced to continue doing our job. If you visit the city of Aleppo, you
will see a mixture of destroyed buildings, blood and body parts. That's what Aleppo is like now.
Aleppo has turned, thanks to the -- thanks to the regime's aerial bombardment and the Russian aerial bombardment, that city has turned to
ruins. Everyone who visits Aleppo now will cry at what he or she sees and will feel deeply disappointed for the thousands of lost innocent lives in
Aleppo is burning. Aleppo is burning. Aleppo is dying. Aleppo is being wiped out. What's taking place now is no less than a holocaust. I don't
have enough words in my vocabulary repertoire to express the bitterness that I feel about Aleppo.
However, we have to stay because, somewhere inside of us, we believe that justice will prevail eventually and the oppressed will receive justice.
What's happening now is killing life, is erosion of life, deletion of life.
HOLMES: You paint a very powerful message, Doctor. Our thanks for being with us, Dr. Osama Abu El Ezz. Thank you.
EZZ (through translator): Thank you for your taking interest in the Syrian people. And from here, from CNN, I'd like to send a message to the people,
try to do what you can so that Aleppo does not remain a shame on humanity conscience. Thank you.
HOLMES: Powerful interview there with a very brave gentlemen.
Coming up on the program, the chaos destroying Britain's main opposition party from within, accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Why
the force that once dominated British politics is fighting for its life and its reputation. That's next.
HOLMES: Welcome back to the program.
"A week is a long time in politics," a maxim that could not be more true for Britain's opposition Labour Party. The past seven days have seen
Labour face its biggest crisis since being thumped at the polls in last year's general election.
But all of the issues dominating British politics right now, such as Brexit, immigration, the economy, the crisis forcing Labour to answer tough
questions: is alleged anti-Semitism within its own ranks? Here's CNN's Phil Black.
PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This isn't how politics in Britain is usually conducted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's being racist.
BLACK (voice-over): These men are supposed to be on the same team.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you're a lying racist.
BLACK (voice-over): They're both party of Labour, Britain's main opposition party, a party now in crisis of allegations of deep-rooted anti-
Semitism among some of its members.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it is very simple. Anti-Semitism is effectively racism.
BLACK (voice-over): First it was revealed, Labour's Naz Shah had an image on social media before she was elected suggesting Israel should be
relocated within the United States.
DAVID CAMERON, PRIME MINISTER, GREAT BRITAIN: Made remarks about the transportation of people from Israel to America and talk about a solution
and is still in receipt of the Labour whip is quite extraordinary.
BLACK (voice-over): Naz Shah apologized.
NAZ SHAH, BRITISH LABOUR MP: I accept and understand that the words I used caused upset and hurt to the Jewish community.
BLACK (voice-over): She was still suspended by the party but defended publicly by one of its prominent members.
Remember the man being shouted at on the street?
That's Labour's Ken Livingstone, who said this in a radio interview.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
KEN LIVINGSTONE, LABOUR PARTY: Let's remember, when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.
He was supporting Zionism. This was before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.
BLACK (voice-over): His suggestion Adolf Hitler supported the creation of the Jewish state inspired outrage within Labour. He refused to apologize.
The party suspended him, too.
LIVINGSTONE: You need to check whether what I've said is historically true.
BLACK (voice-over): Labour's Sadiq Khan is fighting to be the first Muslim mayor of London and believes these recent events are part of a wider
SADIQ KHAN, LABOUR PARTY: I think it's quite clear that there are too many examples in our party of people with anti-Semitic views where action isn't
taken quickly enough.
BLACK (voice-over): Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn --
BLACK (voice-over): -- initially insisted the party doesn't have a problem with anti-Semitism. Days later, he announced an internal inquiry along
with a new code of conduct.
JEREMY CORBYN, LABOUR LEADER: We stand absolutely against anti-Semitism in any form.
BLACK (voice-over): But Corbyn's critics have long been worried about his leadership on this issue. He once referred to members of terror groups
Hamas and Hezbollah as "friends."
CORBYN: I use it in a collective way, saying, our friends were prepared to talk.
Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does?
Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do?
BLACK (voice-over): For Britain's Labour Party, this is a crisis at the heart of its values. A party with a long, proud record of fighting
discrimination is now accused of being deaf and blind to widespread anti- Semitism within its own ranks -- Phil Black, CNN, London.
HOLMES: This crisis could not be happening at a worse time for Labour, coming just ahead of three crucial votes, a lot of local elections, London
mayoral elections and the all-important E.U. referendum in June.
So does one of Britain's most powerful political parties have a serious problem with anti-Semitism?
Joining me now is Michael Levy, who is a former Labour Party donor and current Labour Peer in the House of Lords.
Thanks so much for your time. We heard in Phil Black's report there, that line quoting the allegations of deep-rooted anti-Semitism among some Labour
Is that true, deep-rooted anti-Semitism in the party?
MICHAEL LEVY, FORMER LABOUR PARTY DONOR: Well, Michael, you have said, is it true there is deep-rooted -- is there deep rooted anti-Semitism within
the Labour Party?
I do not think the Labour Party is an anti-Semitic party. You must understand that many millions of people vote for the Labour Party. They
vote for the Labour Party because they believe in much of its policies, its thinking and what it can do for our country.
Is there some anti-Semitic feeling amongst some members of the Labour Party?
Regrettably and sadly, I have to say that there probably is. But that probably applies to members of other political parties as well. But what
has happened recently --
HOLMES: There are reports, though, of --
LEVY: But what is happening recently in Labour and the remarks of someone like Ken Livingstone are totally unacceptable, they are, frankly,
despicable. He has been suspended from the party. And as far as I'm concerned, he should be thrown out of the party and his membership card
just torn into shreds.
HOLMES: And you touch on this but there have been reports of a number of Labour Party members, dozens, according to one report, being suspended for
anti-Semitic or racist comments.
The shadow education secretary said this, said there is clearly an issue with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Now that would suggest quite a
crisis within, wouldn't it?
What do you think are the reasons for that?
LEVY: As far as I'm concerned, anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and any other political party needs to be absolutely eradicated. Anti-Semitism
anywhere in life, anywhere in society, absolutely cannot be tolerated in any way at all.
And within the Labour Party, anyone who has been seen in any form to be anti-Semitic, Michael, needs to be thrown out of the party. And as far as
I'm concerned, the party rules must include that.
And for me, it has been a very, very difficult period. I'm a proud Jew, someone that cares about my community. But I've also been for many years a
proud member of the Labour Party.
You've already said that I was -- I'm in the House of Lords as a Labour peer and I have been there for 20 years. These are very distressing times
for many of us, who are proud Jews and proud members of the Labour Party. And the leadership must eradicate any form of anti-Semitism with immediacy
HOLMES: Given your strong views, and they've always been consistently strong on this, do you feel comfortable being a member of the Labour Party?
Would you ever consider leaving Labour over an issue like this?
LEVY: Well, you know, I believe that, one, my voice can be heard within the Labour Party and I can make a difference, to making absolutely sure
that no form of anti-Semitism or, for that matter, any form of racism exists within the Labour Party.
I have to say and shout and shout from the rooftops that this cannot be tolerated. If I believe that this is falling on deaf ears and if I believe
the Labour Party is just not listening and the leadership are not taking the appropriate action, then, of course, I have to consider my position
under those circumstances.
But at the moment, I want my voice to be heard from within -- Michael.
HOLMES: Chris Bryant, who is Labour's shadow leader of the House of Commons, said something else I want to read you.
"Overzealous attacks on the state of Israel can amount to anti-Semitism by proxy."
And by that he's talking about criticism. These recent specific comments within the party aside, do you think that the claim of anti-Semitism can be
a political weapon, that criticism of, say, the Israeli government policy can be seen as anti-Semitic or claim to be thus and critics then silenced?
LEVY: Michael, what you didn't say in the introduction is I was also the personal envoy of Prime Minister Blair for 10 years and his adviser on the
Middle East. I have had many meetings with leading Palestinians, from Arafat to Abu Mazen, to Saeb Erekat to all of the Palestinian leadership,
And as far as I'm concerned, I have always believed in peace. I have always believed in a two-state solution. And when I just saw your piece
before this interview, what was going on in Syria and Aleppo, I just wanted to cry. As far as I'm concerned, peace in the region is crucial today.
But, you know, to attack the largest Jewish community in the world, which is in Israel, there are more Jews in Israel than in any other country in
the world, is just not on.
To want to believe in peace for the Palestinians, to believe in a better life for the Palestinians and for their future generations, of course, I
subscribe to that. But in order to achieve that and in order to believe in that and in order to support that, that doesn't mean that one can just
continually be almost openly anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist.
One can believe in the State of Israel, believe in its security and absolutely be critical of some of the actions of the Israeli government.
Read the Israeli press. Every day, there is criticism of the Israeli government. But that does not mean that one cannot believe in the security
of Israel nor does it mean that one cannot believe in there being a Palestinian state and security for the Palestinian people and, certainly, a
better life for them.
HOLMES: The mayoral is among the elections Thursday, as we said. The Labour candidate, Sadiq Khan, a Muslim, leading the polls.
How might all of this affect his chances and, in fact, Labour's chances in other seats?
LEVY: Well, as far as the mayoral election is concerned and Sadiq Khan, Sadiq could not be more openly critical, certainly about Livingstone,
wanting him removed from the party, and critical about Corbyn and for him to take the appropriate leadership with regard to anti-Semitism. As far as
I'm concerned, if Sadiq Khan becomes the mayor of London, I think that is a wonderful opportunity for the Jewish population of London, for the Muslim
population of London, to work together, let there be unity in London between all of the factions, all different religions because that's what
our society is about.
We're made up of many different faiths, many different religions and we need to respect each other's differences.
In terms of other Labour candidates and other elections taking place around the country, I think that this may affect the Labour vote. But I don't
think it's just this issue. I think it's a number of issues and the way this leadership has addressed them, that they need to really pick up their
socks and take a much more positive attitude to what is going on in the country because, frankly, look at what's happened in the Tory Party.
They're ripping themselves apart.
You referred, Michael, to the E.U. referendum. The party is absolutely torn apart. And the Labour Party, if it can just get its act together,
should be scoring goal after goal against what is happening in the Tory Party at the moment.
HOLMES: Difficult times, however, for the Labour Party. Got to leave it there, Lord Levy. Thanks so much. Appreciate your time.
LEVY: Michael, thank you.
HOLMES: Bit of an own goal really for Britain's Labour Party at the moment and ammunition for their opposition. But when we come back, a football
phenomenon, Leicester City becomes a legend with a victory 132 years in the making and they didn't even kick a ball. That's coming up next.
HOLMES: And finally tonight, imagine a world where the stars align to create one of the great sports stories of all time.
Fans of Leicester City Football Club across the planet went berserk last night and Leicester wasn't even playing. It was a draw between Tottenham
and Chelsea that secured the Foxes their win in England's Premier League.
And very much deserved it was. At the beginning of the year, though, the odds of that happening, a staggering 5,000:1, the same odds given on
finding Elvis Presley alive or Barack Obama playing cricket for England. But it all only added to the fairy tale, didn't it?
And as supporters painted the world blue, manager Claudio Ranieri celebrated the 5,000:1 win 30,000 feet up in the air, flying back from
Italy after taking his 96-year-old mother for lunch.
For him, the premiership cup runneth over because he was smart enough to include a $7 million bonus in his contract on the off, off, off chance that
his lads clinched the title.
Leicester's budget about to move upmarket as well, considering they have spent less on players in 132 years than Manchester United has in the last
two years. The club's Thai owners vow to keep their squad together. But already the bookmaker's odds aren't in Leicester's favor to retain the
title next year.
Still you wouldn't bet against them, would you?
That's it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching. I'm Michael Holmes.