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Trump's 2020 Winning Strategy Lies with White Evangelical Voters; Uniting America's Deeply Polarized Political Factions; Robert P. Jones, CEO, Public Religion Research Institute, is Interviewed About Politics and Religion; "Our Boys," a New HBO Series, Collaboration of Israeli and Palestinian Filmmakers; Joseph Cedar, Co-Director, "Our Boys," and Tawfik Abu-Wael, Co-Director, "Our Boys," are Interviewed About their New Series, "Our Boys"; Using Comedy to Heal Grief Aired 1-2p ET

Aired October 4, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." This week, we're dipping into the

archives and looking back at some of our favorite interviews from the year. Here's what's coming up.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I have great relationship with God. I have great relationship with the evangelicals.


AMANPOUR: Was Donald Trump's selection a resonance for white Christian America or its death rattle? I talk politics and religion with leading

expert, Robert P. Jones.

Then --


JOSEPH CEDAR, CO-DIRECTOR, "OUR BOYS": A few steps into understanding what this story is about, we realize that we can't tell this story without a

Palestinian partner.


AMANPOUR: For the first time, Israelis and Palestinians come together as filmmakers to tell the story of a devastating summer that ignited a

regional war. We hear from the team behind HBO's ground breaking new series "Our Boys."

And --


PATTON OSWALT, ACTOR: It's so much fun. I love the form. I love the hang. I love working with other comedians.


AMANPOUR: Patton Oswalt, funnyman, actor and writer, tells our Hari Sreenivasan about entertaining the crowds and using comedy to heal his


Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

Donald Trump's winning strategy for 2020 lies largely in the hands of white evangelical voters. The group represents a small slice of the American

population, but at the polls, they punch way above their weight. That's because white evangelical Christians vote at higher rates than any other

group and Donald Trump has a hammer lock on the vast majority of their support.

But even with that support, President Trump could be heading into serious electoral headwinds. The proportion of young voters and minority voters is

growing, a trend that favors Democrats. Trump's popularity still rides well below 50 percent. And more than halfway through his first term, the

president is no longer a blank slate. His record on health care, on gun safety, even on the economy could play a significant role in the campaign.

Robert Jones knows more about what drives the white Christian vote than just about any other observer. He is founder of the Public Religion

Research Institute and he writes about religion, culture and politics for the "Atlantic." I ask him whether there's any hope for ever uniting

America's deeply polarized political factions.

Robert Jones, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: So, let me take something that you have just written for the "Atlantic," you say, "While Democrats have the long-term demographic wins

in their back, Republicans have a time machine, a consistent skew in ethnic and religious voter turnout patterns that in national elections has the

effect of turning back the demographic clock eight or more years."

What exactly does that mean when it comes to the results at the elections?

JONES: Right. So, you know, one of the dynamics in the U.S. is that white Christian voters turn out to vote at higher rates than other Americans do.

And so, one of the kind of ironies of our current situation is that we are in a place where the country is changing quite dramatically and part of

that change is a decline in the percentages of white Christians and the country.

So, for example, we go back just a decade ago, the country was comfortably a majority white and Christian, 54 percent of the country identified as

white and Christian. But today, our latest numbers show that number has dropped down to 41 percent. However, that's on the general population.

But at the ballot box, things look quite different because that group, even though it's declining, turns out to vote at higher rates. And when you

kind of compare the voting population composition to the current demographic population, it basically looks like a time machine that takes

you back about two presidential election cycles, about eight years.

AMANPOUR: What you're saying is that even though what was a majority, white Christian, and in there, evangelical population, even though that has

fallen, that percentage, they are overrepresented at the ballot box. The question is why?

JONES: Now, part of that is because of a history of higher voting rates among, for example, white evangelical voters, which are kind of Trump's

dedicated base. So, they voted for Trump at 81 percent, according to the exit polls, they make about a quarter of the electorate. So, it's a

combination of both overperformance among white evangelical voters, for example, that are overwhelmingly Republican and also voter suppression and

lower turnout rates among minority voters in the country.

AMANPOUR: Which are overwhelmingly Democratic?

JONES: That's right. So, it gives Republicans basically this edge in election, in national elections, in particular, that they don't actually

have in the demographics in the country right now.

AMANPOUR: Which means that it's possible [13:05:00] that President Trump, again, could win an electoral college but not a popular vote. OK. So,

now, let's talk about current issues that may play into this next election.

So, obviously, front and center is the gun issue because of these terrible massacres and because yet, again, people are talking about this as

potentially a tipping point. So, I'm going to first play you something we heard from Senator Chris Murphy before the massacres.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): There is this national movement building. And in the House in 2018, 18 NRA A-rated incumbent members lost their seats and

were replaced by members of Congress who support tougher gun laws. It's a turn out issue. More people today turn out to vote in elections if they

think they're going to vote for somebody that supports things like universal background checks. And that, frankly, was not the case four or

six years ago. This issue has turned into a political winner everywhere.


AMANPOUR: Could the gun issue become the sort of, you know, 2020 as was health in the 2018 midterms even for suburban Republican voters?

JONES: You know, it's unclear. It is certainly been the case that in the past, these general policies, universal background checks, also even a ban

on assault weapons, these actually are supported at the grassroots level by Republicans, rank and file Republicans. They just have not been taken up

by Republican candidates.

The demographic where this wheel resonate though is among younger people. For young people, this issue is absolutely salient. Young people have

tended to support Democratic candidates and the country lean heavily that way. But for Republican candidates, particularly in the Swing District

that is looking for kind of younger voters, this is going to be something they're going to have to speak to.

AMANPOUR: To what you're just saying, Representative Mike Turner who represents Dayton, Ohio tweeted his intentions after the massacre. And he

said, "Today, I announce my support for restricting military style weapon sales, magazine limits and red flag legislation." So, considering he was

an NRA-backed candidate in 2018, that's a pretty stunning move.

JONES: That is a strong statement. I mean, it's impressive. If you think way back on George H.W. Bush, actually, he renounced his NRA membership,

you know, back when he was president. So, there is some places where Republican candidates have pushback against the NRA. And I think it's

going to be really a willingness of Republicans to really take on that organization, which has been so influential in Republican politics. But it

does seem like there's an appetite among some for doing that.

AMANPOUR: So, now, let's go back to the African-American vote. President Trump is reaching out to black voters and his campaign is reaching out to

the black community. This is what he says about what he's brought to that community.


TRUMP: African-American people have been calling the White House. They have never been so happy as what a president has done. Not only the lowest

unemployment in history for African-American, not only opportunities zones for, really, the biggest beneficiary of the inner city. And not only

criminal justice reform but they're so happy that I pointed out the corrupt politics of Baltimore. It's filthy dirty. It's so horrible. And they are

happy as hell. So, you may have a couple of politicians boycott, but it's all affixed. That fact is, African-American people love the job I'm going

because I'm working for them. I'm not working for the politicians.


AMANPOUR: You know, it is true and we got all sorts of graphs that African-American unemployment has fallen under Trump, but it's a continued

trend that started under President Obama and it does also reflect the general unemployment level.

It is true that Trump did pass the First Step Act, which reduces sentences for some nonviolent conflicts. Again, that apparently started under

President Obama where he was using executive orders and the like. He couldn't pass reform because of the Mitch McConnel controlled Senate.

So, these trends have been happening. My questions to you is, is President Trump correct about how African-Americans are looking at him? What are

your statistics and demographics show?

JONES: You know, nothing like the image that President Trump is describing, to be sure. I mean, you know, we've been tracking favorability

ratings and, you know, consistently, like African-Americans have sort of, you know, voted for Hillary Clinton by about 9 and 10 in the last election.

And Trump's favorability rating among African-Americans has been in the single digits at times.

AMANPOUR: And I ask the chairman of the Black Congressional Caucus, Karen Bass, do she think President Trump's reach out will actually work and make

inroads in her community. This is what she said.


KAREN BASS, CHAIR, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: Well, I think it's a [13:10:00] cynical effort that he wants to go after African-American men in

particular. Well, African-American women, 88 percent voted for Clinton, 80 percent of black men did. He has zero possibility of making inroads in the

African-American community. People are not stupid. People know that he did not impact the unemployment rate of African-American. He inherited the

economy that President Obama put together.


AMANPOUR: So, with all of that, why would the president's campaign be going after and trying to woo African-American voters?

JONES: You know, I'm not sure there's a real strategy there. I mean, you know, what the real question be, how many resources are being put toward

that, what kind of a serious effort it is or whether this is just a rhetorical, you know, move on the president's part. And we certainly seen

many sorts of faints like this from President Trump on Twitter or even in speeches where, you know, he'll come out with something that even his own

aides don't know is happening.

And, you know, my thing would -- I guess my take would be, will have to wait and see. The proof will be in the pudding. And how do he staff it,

how serious of an effort is it or is this just a throwaway line and a campaign rally speech that is really, you know, not a lot of substance

behind it. And I do think that President Trump has clearly decided, yes, to double down and it really is about energizing its base with fear tactics

and then he presents himself as really the savior for this kind of apocalyptic view of where the country is heading.

AMANPOUR: So, interesting, because let's get back to his main white base. And you essentially described what President Trump has done in terms of the

evangelicals, particularly, turning them from values voters into nostalgia voters. And let's play this soundbite from President Trump, which was

before he won in 2016 where he's pretty much laying it out in an interview that the fate of the Republic hinges on voting him into office.


TRUMP: I think this will be last election that the Republicans have a chance of winning because you're going to have people flowing across the

borders, you're going to have illegal immigrants coming in and they're going to be legalized and they're going to be able to vote. And once that

happens, you can forget it. If we don't win this election, you'll never see another Republican and then you'll have a whole different church

structure, you're going to have a whole different Supreme Court structure.


AMANPOUR: You know, many people have said, well, wow. How could the, you know, Christians vote for a guy who is, you know, said all these bad things

about women and sexual innuendos and, you know, grabbing this, that, and the other, and it's been described almost as a shotgun wedding, that the

means justifies the ends. Do you think that still is the case amongst this demographic?

JONES: You know, I do. We've been tracking Trump's favorability among white evangelicals all through his presidency. And essentially, what we

found is that, you know, whatever he has said, whatever scandals there are, their favorability of President Trump has moved not very much in the state,

somewhere around two-thirds approval. It has been as high as 78 percent during his presidency so far among white evangelical protestants.

And, you know, one of the things I do think has happened is, you know, they were self-described values voters, which means, you know, we have these

principles and we're going to measure every candidate by it, we'll let the chips fall where they may. And I think their support for Trump, they

wholesale abandon that and really did go to an end to justify the means.

But the real question is that, why would you do that? Why does a group do that? And I think the answer is that it is a -- you can think of this as a

kind of desperate end of life bargain that they've cut with President Trump. So, as they see the demographics and the country shifting with

white Christians, in particular, not being -- no longer being the demographic and cultural majority in the country, and here is a guy who

comes along and his slogan is "Make America Great Again," and it's that last word, again, I think that had the power.

The question that we asked in 2016 about whether people thought that the country changed for the better or changed for the worse since the 1950s.

The country, turns out, is divided on this question right down the middle. The two political parties are mirror opposites. Republicans say it has

changed for the worse, about two-thirds of them. About two-thirds of Democrats say it changed for the better. But no group says it changed for

the worse more than white evangelical protestants, three quarters of them say the country changed for the worst.

AMANPOUR: You're absolutely right. We've got these figures, 74 percent agreed that America has changed for the worse since the 1950s but also, 66

percent agree newcomers from other countries threaten American values, 64 percent favored building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico, 63

percent said discrimination against whites was as bad as against other minorities. And this, of course, was back in October of 2016. How should

we interpret them for the future?

JONES: One other number I'll give you is we asked back in 2011 how much a candidate's character mattered. And in 2011, when we said, look, is it

possible for a political candidate who is committed an immoral act in their private life to still be -- behave ethically and fulfill [13:15:00] their

duties I their public life? Less than a third of white evangelical protestants said that this was possible in 2011.

But we asked the same question in 2016. And when we asked this with Trump at the top of the ticket in fall of 2016, 72 percent of white evangelicals

then said it was possible. The only explanation that is that they have really shifted their ethics and have found a way to support President Trump

because the end that he describes is really the end they feel, I think, somewhat desperately is needed to be supported with all the changes

happening in the country.

AMANPOUR: And have you done any subsequent polling after, you know, more than two years of the administration?

JONES: We have. We've been tracking this along these lines, and these numbers have hardly moved. So, yes. I think what we're going to see is

the doubling down. You know, it was just three months ago that Trump said at a rally, how do we stop these people? Talking about Latinos coming over

the border and a respondent yelled from the crowd, shoot them, and Trump kind of made a joke out of it, you know, and said, oh, only in the

panhandle of Florida can you get away with this -- like that.

But he's clearly not pushing back on any of this rhetoric. He's doubling down. That's so different even in recent, you know, political candidates

on the Republican side of politics. You know, one example there, John McCain, when a person -- one of his campaign events, stood up and started

talking about President Obama as a Muslim. He actually took the microphone away from her and said, no, ma'am. No, ma'am. He's a good family man.

He's a Christian. And we should take him at his word that -- you know, we're seeing really the opposite of that behavior in President Trump where

he really is doubling down and stoking these fires.

AMANPOUR: And yet, as you said, this predates Trump. This is a trend that has been growing and feelings of anxiety that have been growing. So, given

that the Census Bureau says that by 2050, America will be a majority nonwhite country. Are we still in the midst of basically a battle for two

competing versions of America?

JONES: That's correct. To describe this as two competing, you know, visions of America. One of them, I think, is, you know, a leaning end and

embracing of this very diverse America that is ethnically diverse, racially diverse, religiously diverse. And another vision that it really is about a

white Christian country.

We actually asked about this directly in a recent poll this year, and what we found is the two political parties actually do hold very different

visions. This Democrats, by and large, majorities of them do say they would rather live in a country that is religiously and ethnically diverse.

Republicans are much more divided on this question. And in fact, with the plurality of them saying, we would rather live in a Christian nation.

So, this kind of -- it's a big picture and ideological fight, I think, really over the kind of country that we want to live in. And it's maybe

not that surprising given that we are in the midst of this demographic change that is something the country has never seen before, but in many

ways, it's already with us. Americans under the age of 10 today are already a majority nonwhite.

And if you look at what, I think, culturally matters, that is this kind of white Christian dominate culture, we've already passed this tipping point

and have gone to being a country that's no longer majority white and Christian. All of that together, I think, does means we're in this kind of

place of anxiety, I think, for many white Americans who have to figure out, I think, how to pull up a chair alongside other Americans, I think, instead

of, for example, trying to invite people to a table that they seem to own.

AMANPOUR: Really fascinating with so many implications. Robert Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Group, thank you very much indeed.

JONES: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: And we turn now to a part of the world where two deeply divided views have led to a hundred years of violence and death.

In the summer of 2014, 2,000 lives were lost in a 50-day Israeli war on Hamas in Gaza. But it's the events leading up to that war that's a focus

of a new series called "Our Boys" coming to HBO this Monday.

First, the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish teens in the occupied West Bank. Then the revenge killing, the burning alive of a Palestinian

teenager in East Jerusalem. The new series looks at the devastating events of that summer through a groundbreaking collaboration between Israeli and

Palestinian filmmakers.

Together, Joseph Cedar and Tawfik Abu-Wael created "Our Boys." I asked them why and how they came together to tell this story.

Welcome to the program.




AMANPOUR: So, this is really a remarkable series and it's -- you're not looking way back into the State of Israel and all the other things that

most people have done. You're taking something very real but very recent. Just tell me, both of you, why did you want to take this on? Why this

particular issue?

CEDAR: So, our mandate for the show started with an assignment from HBO. Do something that touches the essence of the conflicts [13:20:00] and that

somehow explains the chain of events that unfolded in the summer of 2014 in Israel.

So, we looked at that summer. It was a tragic and terrible summer. Five days later, the whole region was in the war. We took these events and

tried to find the one point that is most complicated for us, as Israelis, and probably sensitive or too sensitive for anyone else other than us to


AMANPOUR: So, let me play the little clip which shows the beginning of the story and that is where another group of Israeli Jewish boys, Yeshiva

students, are singing, they're also caught up in the great national grief and hope because they've been told to hope that these boys are going to

come back. And you seeing this pain in this little clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's wrong, Avishai? What's wrong? Why are you crying? They'll find them, don't worry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Avishai, they'll find them. Listen to Yosef Haim, he knows what he's saying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're alive, they're OK. They'll come home soon. Just sing, get the noise out of your head. Sing. Sing.


AMANPOUR: Just describe that tension before the 18 days in which they found and, in fact, they had been killed.

CEDAR: Something about the age of these boys, 16-year-olds, right at the beginning of their life hitching a ride home from their high school. And

the way their parents were able to communicate their -- you know, the stories of their children but also, the way they communicated their grief

created something that, as an Israeli, I don't remember seeing.

Just -- like the whole country came together around this real hope that they'll come home alive, when it's disappointed. The hope disappears and

that solidarity turns into something that isn't positive. That's -- I think that's a sentiment that we try to understand.

AMANPOUR: Well, and that becomes incredibly and violently obvious, Tawfik, when you have these boys found dead and the retribution that happens

against the Palestinian boy also 16 years old. So, here is that moment where the Palestinian father is desperately looking for now his boy who has

gone missing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Police Department. Brit speaking.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning. Listen, settlers took a boy from outside my shop. It could be my son.



AMANPOUR: Tawfik, do you remember, from your perspective as a Palestinian, the tension in the real-life situation? What were you, along with Joseph

and your other filmmakers trying to portray in this series?

ABU-WAEL: You know, this series has various points of view. It's trying to tell what happened in 2014, you know, from Israeli point of view and

from a Palestinian point of view through the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. A young boy, 16 years old, who was taken in front of his house,

beaten and been alive in the forest.

It's one story, you know, that I have the opportunity to tell in this series, you know, to tell a Palestinian tragedy because nobody would

believe that Jewish could -- can kid a boy and burn him. And it was so intensive, you know, to tell this story and --

AMANPOUR: You know, this isn't just, you know, a series in a vacuum. It's not even just a series in Israel and the Palestinian territories in a

vacuum. It's one of the worst murders that happened in recent years and it led to a 50-day war with thousands of casualties in Gaza.

So, I want to ask you, for people who might not understand, how do Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers get together?

CEDAR: We started on working this project without Tawfik. We decided to do something about us, not about the [13:25:00] Palestinians. Something

from our point of view. Honest and revealing about the dynamic of living in this contentious and dangerous region.

Once we decided that the story that most interest us is the story of the killers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Like Tawfik said, when the body of

Mohammed Abu Khdeir was found, and we understood that he was burnt alive, a 16-year-old boy burnt alive, apparently by Jews, most Israelis were not

only in shock, they were in denial. How could this happen? It's impossible that anyone close to us or associated with us would do something

like this.

So, we decided it look into that. A few steps into understanding what this story is about, we released that we can't tell the story without a

Palestinian partner. I think from -- I called Tawfik because Tawfik is, in my mind, an amazing storyteller. His feature films have this beautiful

combination of a poetic touch that doesn't shy away from harsh reality.

ABU-WAEL: Yes. First of all, you know, usually as a Palestinian director, I'm using to have calls from Israeli directors or creators to do something

about Arabs. So, every time I say no. And this time, you know, when Joseph called me, I like him very much. I appreciate his work. So, I just

immediately went to meet with him.

And suddenly, I get close to those people, you know, to -- that they want to tell their tragedy and I'm coming with those Israeli guys, you know, the

-- for them they represent the murderers, they represent the occupation, the depression that they suffer, you know, every day in Jerusalem.

So, suddenly, they understand that I'm going to tell their story, they just looked at me, you know, in such relief and I felt like it was a big

responsibility, you know, I felt like a destiny that I have to make this series and you have to make this story. It was not easy. I hesitated.

But, you know, at the end, the big reason, you know, I made the series just to tell the story of Mohammed Abu Khdeir for his parents.

AMANPOUR: Have you had reactions from both your communities?

CEDAR: We're in this cycle, a cycle that starts with an act of violence, creates a victim, the victim deals with the pain of that act of violence.

Turns the pain into rage. That rage becomes revenge. The revenge creates another victim. So, we've been in this cycle for some would say 90 years.

So, I decided that it's more crucial for me to understand the aggression than it is the victimhood. And that's where we came from. This is

extremely controversial for most Israelis because they want to see themselves as victims. And it's so -- it is easier to sympathize with

characters who are victims. But from a storyteller's point of view, it seems necessary to figure out where the aggression comes from.

Understanding what triggered their action. The atmosphere that they lived in felt like the kind of soul searching that as storytellers we needed to


AMANPOUR: It is very, very interesting. I want to play another clip, actually, from the Israeli perspective because this is Simon who is the

main investigator in the Shin Bet unit and he s trying to figure out what happened to the Palestinian boy, Mohammed Khdeir, who as you mentioned, was

burned alive.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back to the shoe for a second. Looks like Caterpillar. We can compare it to the tracks at the scene. Any insight on

the repetitive hand gesture?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't say for sure, it's very strange. But if I had to guess, I'd say he's on some sort of medication. Some meds affect motor

function. Looks like something like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't look like Arabs to me. Something about the body language.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They walk like Jews.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do Jews walk?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you spot an Arab?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can spot most Arabs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I can spot Jews.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, keep me posted.


AMANPOUR: So Joseph, that is so complex on so many levels. Just tell me about that scene.

CEDAR: All right. So one of the interesting things that we discovered when we researched the story is that every Israeli remembers the first

couple of hours after Mohammed Abu Khdeir's body was found, not believing that Jews could do this.

And then different pieces of evidence turned into rumors that gave most Israelis confidence it wasn't Israelis who did it. That it may be a crime

committed by his family, for instance, for different reasons.

Israelis so badly wanted to believe that it wasn't one of us. It immediately convinced everyone, including many people in the securityforces

in the Police Center.

What we're seeing in this clip is a bunch of professionals looking at a video of the perpetrators, the kidnappers of Mohammed Abu Khdier and

discussing whether they're Jews or Arabs based on their body language.

We thought when we heard that police investigator tells us that they have this discussion, we thought this is really remarkable material because, as

Tawfik will say, I think every Israeli says he can identify another Israeli or every Jew can identify a Jew and most Arabs will say they can identify

an Arab. The truth is we can't.

AMANPOUR: And the truth is, as everybody knows, you're so so similar, which is why this whole historical conflict is just so, so profoundly

tragic. And now let's go over, Tawfik, to a scene which I want you to comment on, which we're going to play which is where the Israeli

investigator is talking to Mohammed's parents and, you know, the dad is trying to get even the tiniest bit of information that they might have.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you? How do you feel?

The samples are fine. We sent them to the lab, we'll have answers in a few hours.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll call you. Why can't you make an identification? Either it's him or it's not him. You know what Mohammed looks like, what

he was wearing. What happened?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Listen, I'll call you. So you have my number. I'll take this because your battery is at 60 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't right. I want to talk to the guy who said he's in charge of this investigation. I want to talk to him. This isn't


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's very busy. He can't talk but I'll tell him you want to talk to him.




AMANPOUR: Walk me through that, Tawfik.

ABU-WAEL: What happened there, you know, what happened since he came to the police to find his son suddenly found himself, you know, investigating

him about the kidnapping of his son. Maybe it's something connected to the family. It was like a big crazy thing just to put away the real thing that

a Palestinian boy was murdered in such a cruel way by Jewish guys or Jewish side.

AMANPOUR: So the early part of the series is about the murders and the investigation. What is the whole thing about?

For those who haven't seen. Obviously, it's about to drop on HBO. What do you want to leave your audience with?

CEDAR: I started working on this story feeling that there's a lot of things that I don't understand. There's this fog that is blurring my

ability to see straight.

Who did what? What is the moral value of everything that occurred in that summer?

Over the period of research, writing the screenplays and probably most in the conversations we had with Tawfik, which were arguments, not -- wee --

this wasn't a smooth process.


Every little detail in this show was argued between the creators until we at least understood what our opinion was, if not the opinion of the other


There's a moral value to every single action that happened that summer. Some things are not known to most people.

But once they're known, it's easy to see what is right and what is wrong, at least for me. And I'm hoping that this process from murky waters to

clear waters is something that the audience will feel, as well.

AMANPOUR: And Tawfik, what do you want the audience to take away? What do you want your people or the people who see this to take away?

ABU-WAEL: First, I want to recognize their story because most of those people live in there don't know that this story happened and to identify

with them with their pain and just to lose their son in this brutal way, how the system treated them.

You know, it's like the theory for me is not about the occupation but you have a window through this story to understand what's occupation for

Palestinian through the story of the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir.

For me, the first thing, it's for the memory of Mohammed, for their parents. This is the first time that you can see a Palestinian parent in

the world platform.

So I hope, you know, it will touch people because I think it's a very strong and powerful story. And what can I say, you know, for me, it's a

series from the Israeli point of view that Joseph and Hagai want to tell a significant Palestinian story.

And I decided I wanted to be a part of it. And I hope it will maybe change the mind of a few people at least.

AMANPOUR: Well, it's incredibly powerful and it is actually quite difficult to watch and I think people will get a huge amount of it. So

Joseph Cedar and Tawfik Abu-Wael, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

CEDAR: Thank you.

AMANPOUR: "Our Boys" is available on HBO.

We turn now to our next guest, Patton Oswalt, best known for playing Spencer Olchin in the "CBS" sitcom "The King of Queens" and for lending his

voice to cartoon characters.

His stand-up comedy show "Annihilation" nominated for an Emmy Award is touring the U.K. and the U.S. this summer. And it's a lesson in heroism in

the face of adversity. He spoke to our Hari Sreenivasan about his career and healing grief with laughter.


HARI SREENIVASAN, CONTRIBUTOR: So while you're not doing stand-up, you're on, I don't know, six, seven T.V. shows, a movie or two.

PATTON OSWALT, ACTOR: I think so, yes. I've got a movie coming out.

That was animated. Secret Life of Pets 2, I did voiceover for it. So that was a little more manageable than all the T.V. shows that I was doing.

SREENIVASAN: That's still acting.

OSWALT: It's still very -- yeah, it's very active, but at least I didn't have to get into make-up and, you know, get into costume. I could show up

in sweatpants so that's good.

SREENIVASAN: Is that why most of Hollywood love the voiceover gig? They just stay in sweatpants.

OSWALT: Voiceover is such a relief from the, OK, make sure you are camera ready, make sure you're wired, make sure you're miked or is our costume


Voiceover is more, OK, are we in the character? Good, let's go.

SREENIVASAN: Let's take a look at a clip from that.


CAT: First time here?

MAX: Yeah.

CAT: Oh, Dr. Francis is the best veterinarian in the business. You're going to love him. He specializes in behavioral disorders.

MAX: Behavioral disorders?

CAT: Yeah.

MAX: But I don't have a behavioral disorder. I mean, I worry a little, sure, but it's a -- it's a dangerous world. You'd be crazy not to -- to


CAT: Yeah, I'm fine too. It's my human that's nuts. I mean, you know, I -- I bring her a dead bird and she throws it out. I bring her a dead

mouse, right in the garbage. Is nothing I do good enough for you, mother?



SREENIVASAN: It's an interesting premise.

OSWALT: Yes, I mean well, it's especially interesting in that it's an animated movie where it's such a strong ensemble. It's not just the one


I mean, obviously, I have a whole story where my character goes to a farm, which you would think he would be very excited but then Kevin Hart is

amazing in it, his bunny character.


SNOWBALL: I'm going to be the first bunny with washboard abs.


OSWALT: Jenny Slate.


GIDGET: Any plans today?


OSWALT: Eric Stonestreet.


DUKE: We're going on a trip.

MAX: Really?


OSWALT: Harrison Ford, his first voiceover role.


MAX: Really?

ROOSTER: Are you scared?

MAX: No, I'm not.

ROOSTER: Now, you're talking.


SREENIVASAN: You're not standing in a room together.

OSWALT: No, I wish.

SREENIVASAN: You're doing it at different times.


OSWALT: I'm not -- I was not in a room with Harrison Ford. We were, you know, doing -- the director was in France so we were on -- I was on Skype

with him and then Harrison did his.

So, everyone, it's all technology. Everybody can be everywhere and you can assemble them for an animated film.

SREENIVASAN: That's cool.


SREENIVASAN: You are also -- you just finished up a second season of "A.P. Bio". That's a show on NBC.


SREENIVASAN: You did "Word Girl" on the one end. You did "Archer" on maybe the other end. You've got now "Happy."


HAPPY: How do I get one of these?


SREENIVASAN: You're an animated horse?

OSWALT: I'm an animated --

SREENIVASAN: Flying horse?

OSWALT: -- unicorn Pegasus imaginary friend, a blue horse. I mean not that I'm going to compare "Word Girl" with "Happy" because they're not the

same thing. But performance-wise, you are playing these very, no pun intended, cartoonishly big kind of no boundaries style characters so you

have to bring the same thing to both of those.

I don't really think of it in terms of, oh, well, this is a kiddy show and this is an adult show. I want to serve whatever the material is, you know,

do the best thing I can with it.

And there were really, really funny, cool, hidden things on "Word Girl" and there's very heartfelt, sweet stuff on "Happy."

SREENIVASAN: You're also a comic book and sci-fi fiend on a significant level.


SREENIVASAN: When did that start?

OSWALT: When I was a little, little kid, I liked superheroes and science fiction but it wasn't until high school when it was like the one-two punch

of discovering Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" and Harvey Pekar's "American Splendor" that I really felt like there was a whole other form of

literature that's being reborn or at least being reinterpreted.

And that felt really -- because I remember, you know, at the time, I was studying poets like you would read T.S. Elliot and James Joyce and you

were taught that at the time this was a revolutionary thing that when it dropped, when "The Wasteland" appeared, literature was not the same

afterward, when Howell appeared in the '60s.

So I had never been able to be alive and experience a thing that appears and then changes the form of something. So seeing that in what people

assume was a very disposable art form, comic books, was very exciting to me.

That suddenly these multilevel, darker interpretations were being put on a cartoon character like Batman was really exciting to see. And then also to

see the form of comic books being used to tell these very every day, non- heroic stories the way that Harvey Pekar was doing it was also incredible

for me.

SREENIVASAN: Yes. There is a -- I remember there's an outtake that you had at "Parks and Rec" where you did an improv and it's like 4 million

views on YouTube already but you just go -- I'm assuming it was improv because nobody else could have written whatever came out of your mouth.


OSWALT: Please allow me to finish this because it's going to seem like a bit of a jump. We see Thanos who was the villain teased at the end of the

first Avengers Movie. Now, Thanos, as you know, owns the infinity gauntlet, which has the time gem, the mind gem, the power gem, the space

gem, and the reality gem.


SREENIVASAN: That's just the stuff that's going around in your head, floating around. Like you actually just --

OSWALT: I think that --

SREENIVASAN: -- know enough about Marvel and D.C. and the Avengers and everything elsewhere --

OSWALT: Yes. But I think that's floating around in everyone's head on some level or another. We use stories, whether they're false, you know.

And when I say false, I mean fictional like a myth or a heroic story, an epic, a comic book, or even the stories that I think, like a sports fan

will put on their team or a certain player's journey that they love, that you know, that kind of heroic rise, fall and rise over and over again.

I think we use those to make sense of everyday life and everyday pressures where you feel so unheroic a lot of days, going, I am being ground down by

the pressure of having to get my car fixed and you want to feel like, well, I could face the pressure of having to save the universe but it's the day-

to-day stuff that actually -- that we overcome that makes us heroic.

SREENIVASAN: Why do stand-up? I mean, you've got enough work to keep you busy. What makes you go back to --

OSWALT: Because stand-up is so much fun. It's so much fun.

I love the form. I love the hang. I love working with other comedians.

I love the fact that it is the -- I think one of the last no committee creative posts left where you -- it's what I think and I go up there and I

talk. And I'm not running it by other people.

I mean, if I do run it by other people, it's by other comedians and we're doing it for fun and riffing off each other and that to me is just constant



SREENIVASAN: I can't imagine anything that would be more vulnerable than doing stand-up, because when you're not funny, it's just you. As you said,

there's no committee.

You screwed up. You didn't make people laugh.

OSWALT: It's on you.


OSWALT: Yes. I mean, there is a -- but there's two sides to that because there is a vulnerability to stand-up in that you are up there and it is on

you whether it succeeds or fails, but you do have a lot of advantages in that you are on stage, you're above the audience, there's a light on you,

your voice is amplified.

So you are coming at it from -- your bets have been hedged a little bit. You know, and you would think that if people have shown up for the show,

they want to laugh. They want you to do well.

They're not showing up to go, oh, I hope this guy turfs out and I get to watch. So you have a lot going for you. And then I think that comfort

zone is what helps you become more vulnerable and open and honest on stage.

SREENIVASAN: Your last stand-up dealt with some of the current day events and then also some other stuff. Let's just take a look at a clip from

that. "Annihilation" is what it was called on Netflix.


OSWALT: I'm genuinely surprised you're in such a good mood, especially with what -- I'm sure you guys saw what just went down on Twitter five

minutes ago. Did you -- you didn't see? No?

I'm kidding. Nothing happened. But that's -- that's the world we're living in right now, basically. Every -- oh, [bleep], what did he do?

What? What do you mean?

I almost feel like I could get out of a mugging using that for the next couple of years. Like, if someone put a gun in my face, give me your

wallet, take my keys, man, it's over, go check Twitter.

What? And I just bolt like I could make it to survive.


SREENIVASAN: It's true. And that couple of years is still going.

OSWALT: It's really weird how this thing, Twitter, which was a very fun distraction, now it's like -- it feels like the fate of civilization hangs

on Twitter now, which is not what I think it was meant to be.


OSWALT: You know, Facebook, Twitter, a way to connect us has also refocused us in some really, really bad ways. And I think it's almost

affected the rhythms of conversation and I fear that it's affected the rhythms of thought and how we approach problems.

And you know, it's why someone like -- someone who's older like an Elizabeth Warren sounds so refreshing because they don't necessarily have

the Twitter syntax in their voice. Like this person sounds like they know what they're talking about. Well, because they're not talking in these

weird, limited character blips.

SREENIVASAN: There's a kind of now-famous episode where somebody who wrote back to you in a harsh way, Michael Beady, you ended up taking a very

different tone and response to this. Tell us a little bit about what happened.

OSWALT: Well, this guy, Michael Beady was just writing -- I even forgot what he wrote to me. It was something vicious about -- because I had said

either something about Trump.

My first thing was I wrote something back very snarky and then I don't know why but I looked through his timeline and he was like, oh my God, this

guy's actually facing all these health problems, he's a veteran. So I said, OK, let's maybe try to help him out.

What I was saying was, like, people like Bernie Sanders and all these people that you hate are actually -- they want to make the world better for

you so that you can -- if you are sick or you are wounded, you can deal with it with some dignity, without having to beg.

Like it's -- it's embarrassing that America has GoFundMes and Indiegogos. America should be run the way like small gangsters run their neighborhoods

where they brag about someone's heat gets cut off in my neighborhood, some little old lady, I take care of that.

Like that's what we should be. We shouldn't be bragging about the amount of weapons we have or the amount of strength. We should brag about, in our

country, GoFundMe had to close its doors because no one needs it anymore because when someone gets sick, we take care -- like we have things in

place where no one has to go begging.

SREENIVASAN: What were the details of his life that caught your attention?

OSWALT: He was a veteran who was -- he had suffered some kind of like health problems with septic shock. It was just really bad and he was,

like, he was in a bad way.

And I was like, let's meet his GoFundMe goals so he can live with some dignity. And unfortunately, I've seen him since on Twitter the way he

responds to people, he's kind of gone back to his kind of MAGA, which is like, you know, but it was like, it wasn't so much trying to -- yes, I was

trying to help him but I was also like maybe the act itself will get signal boosted and other people.

And by the way, I was inspired by Sara Silverman basically did the same thing a year before where a guy came after her and then she went through

his timeline and said, oh my God, this guy's back is all messed and there's no one there to help him. Can anyone like -- she just was like, maybe I'm

going to try that.


So, again, I don't know if she changed this person's mind but it was like, her act made me do that and maybe more people will do that.

SREENIVASAN: Yes. One of the things that came out of your "Annihilation" stand-up in Netflix, the last one was you figured out a very strange way to

help the audience laugh about a personal tragedy of yours, the passing of your wife.


OSWALT: Mother's Day, we'll be at the airport and we'll travel and I'll make that day really fun and I'll fill that with adventure and I'll keep

her mind off it all day. And we'll be home and we'll deal with this all again next year, step by step.

So now we're at the airport, we're walking up to the security gate, I'm like I think I pulled this off. Here, sweetie here's your ticket. She

loves to hand up her ticket. Here it is.

So I go here's your ticket. She gives the gate lady her ticket. I give the gate lady my ticket.

She's a very old, sweet Polish woman and we're walking on to the plane just as we're about to go down the tunnel, her hand falls on my shoulder, and

she says, I hear what happened to your wife.

She looks at Alice, to your mother, to be without your mother on Mother's Day, I -- my mother died when I was your age. I never get over it. I

never -- I'm still so sad. My father never got over it. It broke him. He died alone and -- but when you are sad, what I tell myself is that also

there are so many other sad people.


SREENIVASAN: There's a section of that, maybe the last 15, 20 minutes where you could hear a pin drop. It was almost like a bizarre cathartic

moment where people are just wondering what's happening here and the rousing applause you get at the end, rights, it's -- they witnessed

something happening.

OSWALT: It was really -- well I mean because I think they witnessed me being really, really frightened on stage and being in silence that long for

a comedian is really terrifying and not knowing if you're going to pull out of it.

And even though at that point, I had been doing this -- the show long enough, that set and that material that I felt like I knew where the laughs

were, even though there were long silences. I'm like, well -- but there was still a fear in me that when I would get there, doing the show, and

with everyone seeing the cameras and everything, I had a fear the audience would go, no, this isn't cool, I don't want to watch this and we shouldn't

be laughing at this.

Like I still -- so I didn't know that it would work until after it worked. And it was really, really nerve-wracking for me.

SREENIVASAN: Yes. And you were very public about your grieving process or at least there was lots of information that was out there about it. I know

that you didn't obviously grieve completely in public but why did you do that?

OSWALT: Because a lot of the stuff that got me through it were from people that had grieved in public beforehand and they either wrote it down. Or I

read C.S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed." I was reading a lot of Annie Lamott and those people were brave enough to very much put their grieving out


Cheryl Strayed was another one. Just whatever shipwreck they found themselves in, they went well, I'm going to do this publicly so maybe

someone else can have something.

So I kind of did that, like thinking maybe this will help someone else and then did the special the way that I did it thinking, well, down the road,

maybe someone else will go through this and they can look at this.

SREENIVASAN: It doesn't need to be hidden.

OSWALT: No. Yes, I think we hide too much disease and grief so that then when it hits other people, they feel like, well, I've never seen this

happen so I must be the only person going through this and it feels way more dire than it needs to be.

And I was very lucky that I had a -- I and Alice had a grief group to go to so we could work through this stuff. It was not easy.

SREENIVASAN: You talk about your daughter, Alice, in the stand-up quite a bit and then other things. What have you learned about dealing with grief

watching her go through it? What's she taught you?

OSWALT: Well, the first thing that I've learned was that children are way more resilient than adults. That children bounce back from stuff and turn

damage and trauma into positive things way quicker than we do.

And I think mainly because they still see the world as new and newer and newer stuff coming on. and I think as you get older, you're like, well

I've seen a lot of this before and this grief is going to -- I don't know what new is coming down the pike for me. So --

SREENIVASAN: It sounds like she was helping you more than you being--

OSWALT: She helped me. Again, I remember three days into it or four days into it, we were up all night, we couldn't sleep, neither of us.


And then my daughter, who was, you know, seven at the time, said, when your mom dies, you're the best memory of her. Everything you do is a memory of

her. She said that.


OSWALT: And I wrote it down. I ran and I got a piece of paper, I wrote that down. But that was this -- and it wasn't her, like, coming up with

something profound out of nowhere. That was something she had been thinking of for days and how do I say this and articulate this.

It was amazing to hear that. Like that was a huge help for me because it made me look at her in a different way of, like, you know, this is not this

fragile kid that has to -- she wants to go and be in the sunlight and experience life in order to assuage the grief of losing her mom.

Like the better the life she lives, the better it is for the memory of her mom.

SREENIVASAN: Patton Oswalt, thanks so much for joining us.

OSWALT: Thanks for having me, man. Appreciate it.



AMANPOUR: That's it for now. Thanks for watching this special edition.

Remember, you can always listen to our podcast and see us online at And you can follow me on Instagram and Twitter.

Goodbye from London.