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Eighteen killed in Gaza border protests; British Labour Party struggles with anti-Semitism; Ruby Wax's new manual for mental health. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 2, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST, AMANPOUR: Tonight, the death toll in Gaza rises to 18 in what's become the worst violence between Israelis and
Palestinians in years. What does this mean for any chance of peace? With me to discuss is Professor Laleh Khalili from the University of London.
And as the UK and Europe see a rise in anti-Semitism, the former Middle East special envoy, Lord Michael Levy joins me from Tel Aviv.
Also ahead, "How to be Human", the American author and comedian Ruby Wax on her timely quest to find out.
Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
The plight of the Palestinians in Gaza where almost 2 million people are packed into a strip of territory just 25 miles long has pretty much fallen
off the media map.
But in the run-up to the 70th anniversary of Israel's independence, which Palestinians call the Nakba, their catastrophe, tensions are flaring.
This weekend, a highly publicized protested at the Israel-Gaza border kicked what's advertised as a six-week series of demonstrations,
culminating on the May 14 anniversary.
The Israeli Defense Forces had announced that it also had deployed more than 100 snipers at the border. And sure enough, 18 people were killed and
hundreds wounded in Gaza in Friday's protest.
It fell on Passover and Good Friday. Predictably, both sides are calling each other out, but what does this really mean for the bigger picture for
any hope of peace 70 years on.
Laleh Khalili is a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the University of London and she joins me now here in the studio. Welcome to the program.
LALEH KHALILI, SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Thank you very much for having me.
AMANPOUR: So, I sort of started by saying this issue, particularly the Palestinians, has fallen off the map. Plus, we have this major
anniversary, 70 years, in May, coming up. Why do you think these protests were planned and were highly publicized? It's not as if they sprung up
without the Israelis knowing and everybody knowing?
KHALILI: I mean, I think there is a sense among Palestinians, and especially in Gaza, where the conditions are extraordinarily dire that
nothing has seemed to work so far.
Oslo is dead pretty much as far as Palestinians are concerned. And the Palestinian Authority is doing the biddings of Israel far more than the
biddings of Palestinians themselves, or at least that is what people feel to a large degree.
For example, the Palestinian Authority has collaborated with Israel in cutting off electricity in Gaza and this has been the case since last
summer. And so, the conditions are pretty bad.
And my sense is that, to a large extent, the demonstrations that have been planned have emerged out of grassroots movements that they've had enough
with, both Israeli occupation, but also with the ways in which incompetence among the leadership in Palestinian Authority and the divisions between
Palestinian Authority and the rulers in Gaza, who are primarily Hamas, is actually resulting in a kind of a stalling of any sort of new events.
The demonstrations were planned to start on 30th of March, which is the anniversary of a 1976 demonstration for land by Palestinian citizens of
And in some sense, what I think, my sense is, that Palestinians on the ground in Gaza are thinking is that they want to create a kind of a
movement, a kind of an impetus for other Palestinians also to gather up into a kind of a popular mobilization because the only times they've ever
succeeded has been when there's been nonviolent peaceful mass demonstrations.
This was the case in the First Intifada. And I imagine that these grassroots organizations are thinking that this could be the case now.
AMANPOUR: So, what actually went wrong and did certain bits of the demonstration get peeled off by others who had a different agenda? In
other words, the organizers said, we don't want to throw stones, this is going to be nonviolent, as you've just said.
And yet, we had a situation in which Israel felt compelled to return with live fire.
KHALILI: I think that the fact of stone throwing is probably unrelated to Israeli snipers opening fire. In fact, before the stone throwing started
happening, the IDF posted a tweet in which they talked about how they were in control of the situation and they were going to be there and they had
planned everything out.
[14:05:00] In fact, they had a little statement that said we know where every bullet fell. And they deleted this tweet, of course, because then 18
AMANPOUR: But as I said, the general in charge did say, as a warning, we will have snipers. Hundred, he said.
KHALILI: The interesting thing is that the free fire zone that Israel has created is actually a space of some tens of meters between where the
snipers are and where the Palestinians are.
The chances really of a Palestinian sending a stone that's going to hit anybody is near zero. So, the stone throwing is really symbolic. This is
a form of demonstration that Palestinians have always used.
The Palestinian national poet called Palestinians the children of stone. This is more symbolic than anything else. And I think that the fact that
the Israelis fired has probably as much to do with the modus operandi of the Israeli military at this stage, but also with internal Israeli
AMANPOUR: Well, they have stood by their soldiers and they reject any kind of independent investigation that the UN has called for and others.
But let's just move on to figuring out, is there a strategy on either side? What do you think is - you've just mentioned now, the Palestinians are fed
up with all the avenues they've tried.
You do have an untenable situation in Gaza where you have an internal fight between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. And you do have a situation
where Hamas is viewed by Israel and the rest of the world as a terrorist organization.
So, what do the Palestinians have in terms of any likelihood with their leadership that there will be any kind of negotiation or going to peace or
whatever with the Israelis. Is that even on the table at this moment?
KHALILI: I suspect for the popular groups that were engaged in the demonstrations yesterday, and I have seen that there's lots of references
to how Hamas organizes, and I really don't think this is a primarily Hamas organized demonstration.
This is really a popular mobilization. And my sense is that, again, in response to the ongoing sense of stasis, the kind of divisions that are
happening between the PA and Hamas leadership in Gaza, in the face of ongoing violence by the Israeli state, I think people are actually thinking
that the only way to go is to resort to what they have been the best at, which is popular mobilization.
And they see this actually happening not only in Gaza, but also in West Bank where, for example, Ahed Tamimi, that 16-year-old Palestinian girl who
slapped a soldier has become a kind of an international hero of sorts.
And I think that that sense that perhaps if they just leave their leaders behind and organize in the way that they did, again, during the First
Intifada where the mass mobilization was, extensive, disconnected really, truly from the PLO, which was in exile at the time and peaceful.
And it succeeded in some senses in getting Palestinians into the world view, into the international community's sense of consciousness of what was
And, again, my sense is that, historically, whenever Palestinians have mobilized in these forms of peaceful mass demonstrations, they have managed
to extract some forms of concession from the Israeli state.
AMANPOUR: What do you make of the American role right now? It's always being the honest broker. It has attempted to be able to bring all sides
And people are looking at the Trump administration first for the much- vaunted peace plan that he's promised, but also to wonder what the effect of moving the embassy - formally moving the embassy to Jerusalem. And they
say they're going to do it on the anniversary, so May 14.
KHALILI: I mean, the US being an honest broker is considered to be a bit of a joke attack by everybody because, from the very beginning, US
administration after US administration has been pretty much quite happy to stand behind the demands of the Israeli state in the negotiations, and this
has been the case.
I was an intern 20-something years ago at the Council on Foreign Relations and I worked under Israel-Palestinians track two diplomacy as an unpaid
intern. And, frankly, actually nothing has moved in the 20-something years since I was that intern.
AMANPOUR: But there was a period during the 90s of peace, prosperity and coming together. But let's not get hung up on that.
KHALILI: The fact is that the Trump administration perhaps what it has done is set aside the usual diplomatic niceties of about how they're the
And the fact of the matter is that moving the embassy to Jerusalem essentially goes to the heart of one of the most contentious issues on the
table that was supposed to be negotiated under final status agreements, the status of Jerusalem.
And I think that, in some sense, actually, if anything, it persuades Palestinians that the US is not going to be doing anything that is going to
benefit them. And that might also account for the forms of popular mobilization that we're seeing emerging at this point.
[14:10:05] What this might mean again also depends on what's going on in Israeli politics itself. Netanyahu is having lots of legal trouble. Wag
the dog situation is unfortunately in all politics. Often, a very good way to distract from that sort of problem.
AMANPOUR: And even the Palestinian Authority president is less and less liked and respected by his people.
KHALILI: I think that he has lost the respect of the people for quite a long while everywhere in Palestine, but especially in Gaza, again, because
of the ways in which it has collaborated with Israel and actually tightening the noose around the necks of ordinary Palestinians in the
AMANPOUR: Laleh Khalili, thank you so much indeed.
KHALILI: My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: And we're going to turn now to Tel Aviv where Lord Michael Levy is joining me. For almost a decade, he was British Prime Minister Tony
Blair's special envoy to the Middle East. He is a leading player and a main Jewish voice in Britain's opposition Labour Party, which, as we said,
is convulsed right now in this row about anti-Semitism.
Welcome to the program, Lord Levy. Can I start by asking you just a question in your role, if you could put it back on as Middle East envoy, do
you see a fundamental difference of this era in terms of any opportunity to come together, Israelis and Palestinians, for a peace process again?
LORD MICHAEL LEVY, FORMER UK SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE MIDDLE EAST: Christiane, first of all, thank you for having me on.
Let me perhaps just echo the sentiments of the former heads of Mossad, those who are, of course, still alive today. And they jointly did a whole
And the real crux of what they said was the biggest problem facing Israel today is a lack of a peace deal with the Palestinians and also the lack of
a two-state solution.
Now, if that is being said by the former heads of Mossad, some of the most sophisticated players that Israel has ever had, that to me, Christiane, is
more meaningful than anything.
AMANPOUR: And we wait to see whether that will ever sort of produce some kind of peace process. I do remember. We just heard - Laleh Khalili said
the First Intifada did actually lead to one of the more meaningful moments in bringing the two sides together and we wonder what these current
protests, and particularly the anniversary, the 70th year anniversary might bring.
But let me turn now to all this talk of anti-Semitism that is engulfing your party, the Labour Party right here in Great Britain. First and
foremost, as a leading Jewish light in the United Kingdom, how seriously do you take this? As a member of the Labour Party, is it as bad as people are
LEVY: Well, Christiane, it's been a very, very difficult period because there is great angst amongst the Jewish population in the UK. They feel
very confused as to what has been happening.
And from my perspective, on anti-Semitism, there must be a zero-tolerance policy both within the Labour Party, within every political party and in
And we have just seen incident after incident. And one must realize that Jeremy Corbyn's provenance has been from the left. And somehow, many have
now joined the party and they feel that they can get away with saying whatever they want.
That has to stop, Christiane, because it is really sad for the Labour Party and, frankly, for British politics. We're talking about the main
opposition party, Her Majesty's opposition party and this cannot continue in any form whatsoever.
AMANPOUR: I mean, I wonder why you - when you think about this, you think it's on the rise because the Labour Party has been traditionally the home
for British Jews. They are - as you mentioned, the community, it's about 300,000 strong across the United Kingdom.
And how now does Jeremy Corbyn who has now finally after days of protests and after a lot of criticism admitted that the party has an anti-Semitism
problem. How does he rebuild bridges with the Jewish community?
LEVY: Christiane, with great difficulty, one cannot say that the Labour Party has always been the home of the Jewish community.
[14:15:01] The Jewish community, like any other community, are divided in their politics, and rightly so. They can decide which political party they
wish to support and be part of.
And certainly, under the Thatcher era, a great number of the Jewish population in the UK were very much supporters of Thatcher.
I was delighted to say that, during the Blair era, I worked very hard on moving many of those who had really joined the Tory Party back to Labour.
My own family, my grandparents, my parents have always been Labour. And I've always found it a comfortable home. And certainly, under the Blair
era, there were never any issues and the Jewish community embraced him and he embraced the Jewish community.
That is changing and, frankly, has changed because people within the Jewish community no longer feel comfortable being part of the Labour Party and
this problem must be tackled.
And I've been asked, well, why don't you leave the Labour Party? And my answer is, this isn't Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party. Everyone who votes
Labour is a shareholder in this party.
The millions of people across the country who vote for Labour, they're shareholders in this party and have every right to be in this party and
wants to be part of the Labour Party.
And I believe my voice, Christiane, from within will sound much stronger than from being without. So, my intention is to try and change things
within the Labour Party.
Is that going to be easy? No, it's not. But they really have to change their attitude. You've heard what Corbyn has been saying, but now let us
see if these words get into action, which is really what is so absolutely relevant and salient today.
AMANPOUR: Some people have said that this virulent anti-Semitism really - well, for many reasons, it shouldn't be happening, but one of the effects
of it, the side effect is that it blurs the line of legitimate criticism of, let's say, Israeli government policy, government policy, for instance,
over what's the politics and the peace process and the rest of it.
Does that concern you?
LEVY: Well, I really do believe very strongly that there shouldn't be any blurring between the Israeli situation and anti-Semitism.
If one says one doesn't believe in the state of Israel, one doesn't believe in the existence of the State of Israel, I think that crosses the border
One can absolutely believe in the State of Israel, the security of the State of Israel, but be critical of the government and actions that happen
in Israel. That is genuine criticism of a government in a country that is a democracy.
That is very, very different from some of the Zios, what Zionists stand for and what really is tantamount to not believing that the State of Israel
should exist, should have security and be part of the world of nations.
To me, Christiane, that is a very, very big difference. And I want to refer back to your earlier comments and the comments by the professor that
was on before me, I worked so hard with Blair for 10 years as the envoy for there to be peace in this region.
In the same way, I don't want to give up the fact that the Labour Party will come back to the party that I have always supported and believed in.
I want to believe that there is still a way forward for there to be peace in this region because listening to what the former heads of Mossad said,
it is the biggest problem facing Israel today.
And, frankly, I would like to think that, during my lifetime, there can be real peace in this region, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Let us hope so as the 70th anniversary is nearly upon us on May 14th. Lord Levy, thank you so much.
All this talk of bigotry, division and violence, it does beg the question. Are we losing touch with what it means to be human? It's the topic of a
new book by the American author and comedian Ruby Wax.
She is a household name here in the UK and a passionate campaigner for mental health. She calls this new work a manual to help upgrade our minds
in a world obsessed with technology and instant gratification. And she joined me earlier here to discuss her own search for inner peace.
[14:20:07] Ruby Wax, welcome back to the program.
RUBY WAX, AUTHOR, "HOW TO BE HUMAN: THE MANUAL": Thank you.
AMANPOUR: So, what made you take on this, basically, "How to be Human: The Manual" after you've been immersed in mindfulness for so long and your
on-stage programs about mindfulness. What is different about this?
WAX: Let's leave mindfulness, because it's not for everybody, aside. The manual for how to be human, it's the thing that's missing I felt. And so,
I used a monk and a neuroscientist because the monk really understands the nature of the mind, but because I don't want to get too new agey, the
neuroscientist comes in and says right or wrong. This is actually where we know, research has shown, this is in the mind and, yes, it's true. We can
hold back on thoughts. We can observe thoughts.
(INAUDIBLE) technology, we're at the top of our game. But understanding how our minds work, nobody really paid a lot of attention.
So, we're supposed to be, at this stage, as far as our toys because we understand evolution has helped us build this unbelievable - we invented
bubble wrap, for God's sake. We're advanced. But it's like we have a Ferrari on top of our heads, but nobody gave us the keys.
And so, it's time to understand - because there's so much distraction - what to pay attention to and what you can let go.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, give us an example. What made you think of this? What were you paying too much attention to not letting go of enough?
WAX: Well, first of all, it's really important to know what's human, what we all share. So, for example, why the negative thinking? Somebody said
we're Velcro to negative thoughts, but Teflon to positive ones.
We all have that, I'm not good enough, I shouldn't do this, and the more stimulated we get. It's not actually more exciting. It actually is more
threatening. What you don't, what you're showing.
So, our levels of fear are always at the top level. Now, at that point, we can't think clearly. So, it's really important to say, this is how we're
built. We're supposed to be on the lookout.
But in a world where the news is 20,000 miles away, it can't affect me the way it affects me that I wasn't invited to the party that I'm not
attractive enough. All these things are human features, but now they're exasperated.
AMANPOUR: OK. What I think is really interesting is just I'm focusing on what you said. We're somehow sticky to bad news and Teflon to the
positive. What did you discover about the human mind that makes us be that? Why can't we sort of latch on to the positive and absorb the
WAX: First of all, it's a survival mechanism, is that, like animals, they have to be on their toes always to see what's coming up, but because we
don't have claws or we don't have sharp teeth, we have our minds.
Now, our minds can imagine things. So, we can't really - as I said, we can't tell what's really dangerous and what isn't. So, like an animal,
always looking around, we have these now words that are alarming.
So, rather than saying, watch out, the Ice Age is coming, there's a predator which is really helpful, we're going, oh, my God, what should I
worry about, North Korea or too much salt because part of our brains are still 500,000 years ago.
They don't know why we're feeling the fear. They're just highly alarmed and that has a real top-down cascade. Every disease, almost every illness
is because the mind is agitated.
Once that cortisol starts coming down, you could say goodbye to your immune system and everybody wonders why, why, why, it's because this is frazzled.
AMANPOUR: And so, what is the solution? With your Buddhist monk and your neuroscientist and you, what are the solutions that you've come up with?
WAX: First of all, it's to understand the mind. You can't get busier and you can't fake it anymore. I mean, you can, but you will crash and burn.
And success isn't everything. And if you hothouse your children, they may get straight As, but call me in 45 years and tell me what institution
they've been put in.
So, we have to understand, just a little bit, the nature of this mind. So, if you understand why more negative, then you don't feel so much, it's your
condition, it's the human condition.
So, basically, if you understand the machinery a little bit, then you forgive yourself.
AMANPOUR: When you say to be human, you're focusing especially on mental health, on the state of what's happening right here?
WAX: I'm saying, just express what's going on for you. If it's not good, just tell me. Don't bump it up because we now live in a world where the
pressure of showing that you're having a wonderful time is extreme.
AMANPOUR: Do you feel that, right now, we're in a highly stressed set of political realities?
WAX: It's too much incoming and we have no way of saying this is important decision. I've written 10,000 emails. I really only had to do 5. We're
creatures of addiction. And we're creatures that - adrenaline is really delicious. So, not only do we - it harms us, this constant incoming, but
we have a hunger for it.
So, in a way, by setting these people up, it keeps us agitated. The thing is nobody gets addicted to kale. They get addicted to chaos.
AMANPOUR: I get exactly what you mean.
WAX: In a way, this constant going on about Trump - we got a problem, but I'm not a politician - is you can see there's almost pleasure in it. Every
dinner party, it's salacious. Every time, every comedian that comes on who talks about him is bumping up the anger of the other guy.
I don't know what to do, but I'm just saying we're addict to now this madness.
AMANPOUR: What is your definition of being human, how to be human?
WAX: First of all, it's understanding my machinery a little bit and it's understanding when I start getting too threatened, what actually happens
biologically in my head. My memory shuts down - I really - what usually happens is, I believe, it's coming from you because we will project. Then
I'll slam it back because, again, it's that animal's thing. You see it in business with the antlers lock. It doesn't make you feel worse. It's
actually thrilling. What we don't understand is that every time you squirt some of that adrenaline, it's like alcohol. You're poisoning yourself.
People are at work and they're at full turbo. Then they go, they're still at full turbo. If you understand how to drive your mind like you drive a
car, pull it in, now push it out, now I need - sometimes you need your mojo, but sometimes you need to pull the brakes. Kids need to learn how to
lower their cortisol before they take an exam and they are now teaching emotional intelligence at school. And that's really necessary. We're
already gone. But the next generation should not just academically - with themselves, but really understand how they relate to each other.
AMANPOUR: It's amazing. It's part of a real big debate that's ongoing right now particularly, as you say, with kids in the next generation. Ruby
Wax, thank you very much indeed.
WAX: Thanks very much.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Goodbye from London.