Return to Transcripts main page
NATO Celebrates 70th Anniversary; Trump Arrived for NATO; United States Still in Paris Agreement Says House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Is U.S. Still Fully in NATO?; Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, is Interviewed About U.S. and NATO; Karin von Hippel, Director-General of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), and Gerard Araud, Former French Ambassador to the United States, are Interviewed About NATO; Climate Change, an Existential Threat; "Incitement," a New Film About Yitzhak Rabin's Assassination; Yaron Zilberman, Co-writer and Director, "Incitement," is Interviewed About His New Film. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired December 2, 2019 - 13:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: It's one of the most important journeys that we make as president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: President Trump on route to NATO's 70th birthday. But he's been its biggest internal threat. I ask NATO secretary general and a panel of
experts, will it make to 71?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I'm like a laser pointer, I mark my targets and conquer them one by one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: I speak to the director of "Excitement" about the assassination of the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, from the perspective of his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JONAH PERETTI, CEO, BUZZFEED AND CO-FOUNDER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Do you really want a few, you know, companies in California to be the ones who can
determines what speech is OK and what speech isn't OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Buzzfeed's CEO and Huffington Post's co-founder, Jonah Peretti, on the internet and free speech.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
President Trump arrives here for a meeting of NATO leaders. They'll be landing in a city still reeling from this weekend's terrorist attack that
killed two people and injured three others. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the post war alliance, which was forged on the principles of
democracy, civil liberties and the rule of law.
However, this gathering comes amid squabbling between world leaders, especially after French president, Emmanuel Macron, declared NATO is brain
dead. Donald Trump has criticized NATO even before becoming president. He famously called it obsolete and even once threatened to pull the U.S. out
altogether. Of course, he's also criticized the Paris Climate Accords.
And this week, the COP25 Summit on climate change is getting underway in Madrid. House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, is leading the U.S. delegation there
and she's sending this message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NANCY PELOSI, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: It's a privilege to lead this very distinguished congressional delegation from the House and Senate to
continue this crucial conversation. By coming here, we want to say to everyone, we're still in. The United States is still in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: She might say they're still in but the president pulled the U.S. out of that climate accords. So, is the U.S. fully still in NATO? I went
to the British Foreign Office to ask Jens Stoltenberg, the former prime minister of Norway and NATO's secretary general. I asked him what he
Secretary General, welcome to the program.
JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Thank you so much for having.
AMANPOUR: So, you know, there's already stress in the atmosphere. It looks like we don't know what Trump is going to say despite, you know,
soothing words from the White House, is it going to be some fisticuffs between Macron and Erdogan. You remember 2017, President Trump did not
confirm Article 5 until he was very much under pressure alter in 2018 at the summit. He threatened to walk away.
I have been speaking to ambassadors and people from some of the member states who are quite worried, particularly with what just happened in
Turkey, and we'll get to the specifics of Turkey in a moment. But -- and Syria. But as they look further, let's say to China, as they get
preoccupied elsewhere, the United States may not be counted upon to consider Europe its main area, its main area of activities and defense.
Are you sensing that amongst NATO members, that there's a little bit of a fear factor in whether the United States, right, under the Trump
administration, will remain, you know, such a pillar and to your defense?
STOLTENBERG: The United States is a global power. So, of course, they're also present in the Pacific and all the regions than Europe.
AMANPOUR: But are you worried that they might put more effort over there and less into Europe?
STOLTENBERG: Well, I think the United States is able to do both. What we see now is that the United States is not reducing their presence in Europe
but they're not necessarily increasing their presence in Europe. And they do that together with European allies, which are also in the (INAUDIBLE).
AMANPOUR: You're sitting here in London after a weekend of deadly terrorism. Will this leader's meeting, this summit, talk about realigning
NATO toward more of an anti-terrorism defense?
STOLTENBERG: So, first, I would like to express my condolences to those who lost their loved ones in the terrorist attacks in -- or attack in
London. I also commend the courage of those who -- or stopped and were able to stop the attack.
NATO has to be able to address both terrorism and all the challenges at the same time. We cannot choose between either terrorism or all the
challenges, we need to do both. NATO's role is to address the root causes of terrorism. That's the reason why we are part of the global coalition to
defeat ISIS. We have an enormous progress in Iraq and Syria. We are in Afghanistan. [13:05:00]
But terrorism, fighting terrorism is about more than high-end military capabilities. It's also about addressing the terrorism which emanates from
our own neighborhoods
AMANPOUR: You know, it's personal for you when you were prime minister, this happened in Norway, a terrible terrorist attack. Does it make even
more visceral for you, this idea of being able to do more than one thing and terrorism being a main objective?
STOLTENBERG: We have brutal terrorist attack in Norway on the 22nd of July 2011. And, of course, having been through that makes it perhaps easier for
me to understand the horror of terrorism. The attack of the (INAUDIBLE) but also in, some account, with a lot of young people in Norway.
I think what we saw in Norway but also see in the United Kingdom and in many other places, is that people stand up for their values. They don't
want to be intimidated by the terrorist. They want free, open societies. And as long as we stand up for those values, the terrorists are not going
get their way.
AMANPOUR: Is NATO brain dead?
STOLTENBERG: No. That's not the case. Because, actually, NATO is doing more now than we have done for many, many years. And we do more together,
North America and Europe, than they are doing for many, many years. And NATO is the most successful in history because we have been able to change
again and again when the world is changing.
AMANPOUR: But you would agree with President Macron who said that to the economist that what he was saying was that the head is not coordinating,
the different heads are not coordinating, vis-a-vis, the issue in Syria, fighting terrorism, anti-ISIS, a big coalition, NATO big, big deployment
and President Trump gives President Erdogan a greenlight to do a major military operation and none of you know about it. That seems brain dead to
STOLTENBERG: Well, NATO is the only place where the United States, Canada and the European allies sit down together and discuss this side and take
actions together on a daily basis. We do that in the NATO structure every day. And most of the time, we agree. But sometimes we disagree. And when
it comes to the situation in Northeast Syria, people -- allies have different views.
AMANPOUR: But you didn't know about it. Were you shocked?
STOLTENBERG: Well, we have stated again and again that we need to use NATO even more as a political alliance for even more closer consultations, and I
expect that NATO allies will agree on this meeting to look into how can we further strengthen NATO as a tool for political consultation.
AMANPOUR: Were you shocked that two allies did this thing without consulting others?
STOLTENBERG: Well, it has been clearly stated from Turkey over many years that they would like to have a safe song or security song along their
border in Syria. And the United States has stated over a long period of time that they will not stay permanently in Northeast Syria.
AMANPOUR: I mean, the reason I'm pushing you on this is because it's going to come up because we've got what Macron said about being brain dead, we
then have, you know, Turkey firing back that actually he's brain dead. I'm going play these two soundbites.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): I respect the security interests of our Turkish ally who has suffered many terrorist
attacks on its soil. But cannot one, on one hand, say we're allies and with respect to this demand of solidarity and on the other hand put its
allies in the face of a military offensive done as a fait accompli which endangers the action of the coalition against Islamic State, which NATO is
RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): He says NATO is experiencing a brain death. I'm addressing Mr. Macron from Turkey and I
will say it at NATO, you should check whether you are brain dead first.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That doesn't sound like a very constructive group of statements from world leaders.
STOLTENBERG: It confirms that on the situation Northeast Syria, there are serious disagreements between NATO allies. But, actually, I think that
makes it even more important that we meet, that we sit around the same table and face-to-face discuss these issues.
AMANPOUR: I want you to talk to me a little bit about Turkey because it seems to be empowered. President Erdogan seems to think he can do pretty
much anything and demand pretty much anything. We saw it on the ground in Northern Syria. And now, he's basically saying to you something that you
want and all the other NATO allies want, which is the security pact for the Baltic States, Poland (ph). And he's saying, no, I'm not going to agree to
that unless you agree that the YPG are terrorists.
And the YPG are the people who has been helping you. The only people on the ground who have been reliable in the fight against ISIS. Is he holding
STOLTENBERG: Well, first of all, we have plans in place to protect all NATO allies.
AMANPOUR: So, you can go ahead and do that without Turkey's [13:10:00] agreement?
STOLTENBERG: I'm saying that we have the plans we need and more than that, we have the forces we need, both forces deployed in the Baltic Region and
Poland for the first time in our history. But, also, we have triple the size of the NATO response force. So, we can quickly reinforce if needed.
AMANPOUR: And hen what do you when you have a NATO ally, Turkey, again, which is part of this Western alliance and buying massive sophisticated
missile systems from Russia, which you say and all the other NATO leaders say is the biggest threat to our institutions ever? How can it have it
STOLTENBERG: So, Turkey is an important ally. But, of course, I have expressed, as many other allies, my concerns about the consequences of the
Turkish decision to require Russian made S-400 air defense systems and also, I stated that these systems can never be part of NATO's integrated
air and missile defense. And I also welcome, in fact, that there are some talks going on between the United States and Turkey on the possibility to
delivering (INAUDIBLE) batteries and also, France. It would be a very European system.
AMANPOUR: So, they might have both, Russian systems and Western systems?
STOLTENBERG: It's not yet decided but at least we hope that these talks can lead to something.
AMANPOUR: OK. If I was doing a pop psychology test, I would say that you have some very ornery members. President Trump demands what he demands.
President Erdogan, another strong man, demands what he demands. And you guys are here trying to placate them.
You just recounted a whole number of countries who are going to send more military to Turkey because Turkey has violated the contract and bought air
defense systems from Russia.
STOLTENBERG: No. What we are saying is that we are trying to find a solution to an issue which created problems for these lines, the Turkish
decision to acquire S-400. And then some others allies have sat down with Turkey and started to discuss with them whether there's a possibility to
deliver other systems.
AMANPOUR: So, on a scale of 1 to 10, is this going to be what number compared to last years and the year before?
STOLTENBERG: I'm not in the business of ranking summits or leaders meeting of NATO. For me, it is important we meet and that we make sure that NATO
continues to change, because the success of NATO is that we have been able to change when the world is changing.
AMANPOUR: Secretary General Stoltenberg, thank you for joining me.
STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: Listening to that interview from Paris is Gerard Araud, former French ambassador to the United States and the United Nations. Here with
me in the studio, Karin von Hippel, director-general of the Royal United Services Institute, which is one of Britain's leading think tags.
Both of you, thank you very, very much for joining me.
Karin von Hippel, let me ask you first. Everybody is always a little worried when President Trump travels to these meetings.
KARIN VON HIPPEL, DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE ROYAL UNITED SERVICES INSTITUTE (RUSI): Yes.
AMANPOUR: Because he has very distinct worldview of his own. He actually said something kind of conciliatory as he was leaving Washington. He said
this is the most important trip that presidents can make. What do you predict will be his misdemeanor here?
HIPPEL: Right. Unlike in Brussels in 2018 when he really just, you know, blew up the meeting by questioning NATO's existence, in some ways, I think
he's going to try to appear presidential this time. He's facing impeachment hearings in the United States and they're only going to get
worse this week. And so, I think he will want to demonstrate that he can play nice on the world stage with the other leaders.
AMANPOUR: And let me ask you, Ambassador Araud, because it looks like your president is front and center of this meeting now, not President Trump,
because -- but your president. The idea of NATO being brain dead and then this unseemly exchange between himself and President Erdogan, and Erdogan
saying, aren't you brain dead? What do you make about it? I mean, that's very undiplomatic, first of all, isn't it?
GERARD ARAUD, FORMER FRENCH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Yes, it is. You know, I think that President Macron wanted to send a wakeup call and
say, you know, the periphery of Europe is burning from Ukraine, Syria, Libya. On the other side Obama and Trump said very clearly, we the
Americans, we don't have to take care of that. So, it's to the Europeans to react. And the fact is that so far the Europeans have not been
AMANPOUR: So, what do you think? What do you expect? I mean, you know, I think what you're saying is that there needs to be some kind of stronger
European, I don't know, army or military or something like this. But nobody agrees with President Macron, at least none of the Europeans. Jens
Stoltenberg doesn't agree with it, Angela Merkle doesn't agree with [13:15:00] it.
They say nothing can supersede NATO. We can't do without NATO, Gerard Araud.
ARAUD: Oh, you know, we have had this recurring debate between NATO and European defense. You know, they are complimentary. And you have quoted,
I guess, leaders from the north but, you know, if you ask the Portuguese, the Italians, the Spaniards, the Greeks, what they think of President
Macron saying that there is a threat coming from the south, you get a different response.
Yes, we can have a European defense complimentary to NATO. We are not going to supersede NATO, but we have to be active in the south.
AMANPOUR: OK. Complimentary. Karin von Hippel, what do you think? What will the American view on that be, do you think?
HIPPEL: You know, it's interesting. I mean, NATO is 70 years old and institutions get rusty and need a reform. And as ambassador was saying,
NATO is facing a number of challenges in the south, in the east, from disruptive technologies, what to do about China, and it really does need to
reform. So, in a sense, I agree that Macron's wakeup call was probably the right thing.
Instead of pretending like there isn't a problem and trying to deal with it behind closed doors, why not get it out in the open. I mean, personally, I
don't have a problem with that, but I know other people do. And I think, of course, America not only is withdrawing from its leadership role, which
is already a challenge for NATO, but at the same time, it's questioning NATO's -- really, the commitment to Article 5.
And so, you know, there's a bit of concern in many corridors about the future of NATO due to all of these different threats.
AMANPOUR: So, let me ask you because, certainly, members of the NATO alliance, and you're right, Ambassador, it's probably northern members that
I'm talking to most, but they are concerned that President Trump's actions and his view on NATO and his withdrawal, to an extent, could lead to, I
mean, NATO or the United States, the United States --
AMANPOUR: -- no longer being an active supporter in defense of the other NATO, particularly Europe. Seeing, you know, China as a bigger threat and
as a bigger --
AMANPOUR: -- area of focus. Do you share that worry or do you not worry about it? Does France worry that the United States will not be as
committed to defending Europe?
ARAUD: No, I don't think France is doubting really the commitment of the U.S. to implement it's the Article 5 commitment. You know, if the Russians
attack the Baltic States, you know, I think we can rely on the Americans to fulfil this commitment.
No, for Macron, it's more about the southern periphery. You know, Syria, Libya, but also the Sahel. You have all range threats where, obviously,
the American administration -- it's not the Trump administration, it was already the Obama administration, doesn't want to act.
And the question mark is there, why the Europeans are not ready to act? Why the French orders are the only ones to die in the Sahel fighting
AMANPOUR: Gosh. It's so interesting. And let's just tell everybody again what we know, that this Article 5, of course, is the basis on which NATO is
built. It means an attack on one is an attack on all and if there's an attack on one, all have to defend that one. And the only time it was ever
invoked was for the United States after 9/11. But that is very interesting what Gerard Araud says, that it's this situation of France thinking that
why is France sharing or bearing the burden of the southern periphery? Whereas Trump says, why is America bearing the majority of the burden
north? So, how do one -- how does one -- I don't know --
HIPPEL: You mean that circle?
AMANPOUR: Yes. Where that circle.
HIPPEL: It's very hard with President Trump because he is probably the most isolationist president we've had in decades. And he really doesn't
want to get involved anywhere unless he sees some sort of transactional exchange as our oil and (INAUDIBLE) or something like that.
Now, at the same time, there are number of other countries, France included, that do, you know, take initiatives when a country is imploding.
Mali is one example. It doesn't mean we always get it right though when we go into these places. And I still think we need to sharpen our tools and
understanding of these countries before we go plunging into these situations.
AMANPOUR: So, President Macron, Karin von Hippel, said that we have to be able to face terrorism as well.
AMANPOUR: You were deputy to John Allen on the fight against terrorism against ISIS, obviously, in Syria and Iraq. How does NATO pivot or has it
already been doing that? Is it trained up -- or not trained up, is it prepared --
AMANPOUR: -- to be an ant anti-terrorist alliance?
AMANPOUR: NATO is helping right now in [13:20:00] Iraq with the advice and the assist for the Iraqi army. It was -- it is a member of the coalition,
but I'm concerned about the future of the coalition because it really did survive with U.S. leadership. And the U.S. has really, as I said earlier,
taken a backseat to its leadership role locally on a number of challenges. Everything from climate change to counter ISIL to what to do about a
resurgent China and Russia and -- or how to deal with a number of these disruptive technologies, et. cetera.
So, the U.S. really isn't playing that leadership role and other countries are really trying to figure out what role they should play and then what
organizations they do it in.
AMANPOUR: And Ambassador Araud, you know, much was made of President Trump and President Macron's relationship. I think it was called a bromance.
Now, it seems the bromance is disintegrating over a number of issues. Is that real, do you think or are there areas where the personalities of
Presidents Trump and Macron can they still work together?
And I realize that I'm not asking you a NATO question right now but I'm asking you, for instance, an Iran question. We see the terrible protests
in Iran. We see the heavy crackdown by the Iranian State on ordinary people. According to (INAUDIBLE) the international, something like 180
people killed. And we know that President Macron has been trying to get the United States and Iran to somehow not have such a massive disruption
over this nuclear deal.
Is there anything going on in that lane right now that you know?
ARAUD: First, there has never been a bromance. I think the two men have been disagreeing on most of the issues but they have succeeded to keep a
sort of a working relationship, a gentlemen's disagreement in a sense.
On Iran, I think, as you know, President Macron has been trying to -- really, to open a channel of negotiation between the two presidents,
President Rouhani and President Trump on the other side. But expect for obvious reasons, considering what is happening right now in Iran, these
efforts for the moment are on the standstill.
AMANPOUR: And I wonder when both of you look at the next challenges for NATO, I realize NATO is a military alliance but climate change has been
declared by the U.S. military and others as an existential threat that requires military response as well. And this is what the U.N. secretary
general has said about how we're not stepping up enough to battle the onslaught of climate change. This is what he said as that summit got
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Climate change is no longer a long-term problem. We are confronted now with a global climate crisis.
And the point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is insight and hurdling toward us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Karin von Hippel, what do you think -- I mean, you heard that. The U.S. has pulled out of the climate --
HIPPEL: It was encouraging to see secretary --
AMANPOUR: House speaker
HIPPEL: -- House Speaker Pelosi at the event. Congress is behind it. Many American cities and states are supporting it. And so, it's hard to
say what it means. U.S. doesn't fully withdraw for another year or two. And it will be at the end of the Trump presidency. And so, it's very
likely that if he does not win at the end of the next year that the -- if a Democrat wins, that they will fully commit to --
AMANPOUR: But if they don't?
HIPPEL: -- the accord. Well, if they don't, it will be -- it's really hard to say what is going to happen. I mean, you see so many divisions
right now in the U.S. I mean, it's very interesting that Congress shows up at a U.N. meeting without the president's support. So, that already tells
AMANPOUR: And, finally, to you, Ambassador Araud, what I tried to ask Secretary-General Stoltenberg. Turkey seems to want to have its cake and
eat it too. It has bought this massive, you know, air defense system from Russia, the S-400. NATO says it's impossible to integrate those with, you
know, either French or British or American systems.
What do you think should be the stance with a very emboldened and somewhat audacious President Erdogan at this NATO summit?
ARAUD: Well, unfortunately the real-life is telling her is that we need Turkey. We need Turkey also because there are millions of migrants, Syrian
migrants, in Turkey was -- who come to Europe and create a major crisis in Europe.
So, again, like we've foreseen, we have to negotiate with Erdogan. And we are not in a position of strength. So, I'm a bit [13:25:00] sorry to say
that let's talk to -- with Turkey, let's talk with President Erdogan and let's try to find a comprise.
AMANPOUR: Gosh. It's going to be an interesting couple of days here in London with these leader's meeting on the 70th birthday of NATO.
Ambassador Araud in Paris, Karin von Hippel here, thank you both for joining me.
HIPPEL: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Now, we turn to a dramatic new film that tells a story of the assassination of the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin.
Almost 25 years later, the real-life story behind incitement continues to tear at the fabric of Israeli society. The country's current leader,
Benjamin Netanyahu, is yet to form a government three months after the election and he has been accused by opposition leader, Benny Gantz, of
heated rhetoric he says played a role in Rabin's assassination, which Netanyahu's spokesman rejects.
Now, this new film looks at the events from the eyes of Rabin's killer. A religious Jewish extremist named Yigal Amir. Here's a clip from the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wake up, open your eyes. Look what this demonic government is doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rabin's a traitor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overthrow the government. Whoever cooperates with a government that hands over land to Arabs is a Kapo. He must die.
Overthrow the government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands off me. Get off me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not touching you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rabin is a traitor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police state. Police state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Amir was captured after he assassinated the prime minister and he is currently serving a life sentence. But authorities never went after
the rabbis who were implicated in case they were accused of sparking a civil war among Israeli Jews.
Joining me from Los Angeles to discuss all of this is the director of "Incitement," Yaron Zilberman.
Mr. Zilberman, welcome to the program.
YARON ZILBERMAN, CO-WRITER AND DIRECTOR, "INCITEMENT": Thank you very much for inviting me.
AMANPOUR: Well, this is a really powerful film and it's hard to talk about it as a film because it feels so real. And I just wonder from the
perspective of an Israeli, you were there when Rabin was assassinated. What do you remember and what caused you all these years later to make this
into a feature film?
ZILBERMAN: What I remember, first, before Rabin's assassination, there was a huge hope. One of those most historical moments of hope to the country.
As we know, not all of the Israelis wanted this peace process to progress, hence the -- you know, part of the protest and the incitement involved, but
there was at least half of Israeli people were hoping, dreaming for peace and to end the violence with the Palestinian people.
And I think we were on route for there -- to that direction. And then we had the horrible, horrible assassination, which I think is the -- I mean,
based on my research, this is a result of the incitement both from politicians, rabbis, I mean, Messianic rabbis from the West Bank and also,
you know, others, you have university professors and other, incitement all around. And I think that's what led to the assassination.
So, that was a shock for us. Any, you know, assassination, any assassination of a prime minister is a shocking of course, like you had JFK
in the United States and Lincoln way, way back. So, it's always shocking. And you have Anwar Sadat, of course, after the peace he made with Israel.
But in this case, because of the profile -- I mean, the idea that the religious Jew actually assassinated him and the idea behind the
assassination, which means that he used religious justification and all sort of, you know, scripture and rambomb (ph) words in order to get the
justification, the religious justification, that's what made it even more sort of -- we couldn't fathom that happening.
AMANPOUR: So --
ZILBERMAN: There was a shock. And six months later, we had a change of regime. So, that was even worse.
AMANPOUR: Yes. Well, we'll get to that in a second. But let me just have you walk us through incitement. Because incitement is, in fact, a really
powerful word because you are, as you said, you know, quoting all those groups and people who you just mentioned, you're saying that really
important parts of Israeli political and civil and religious society egged on this guy or he was able to get justification from seeking out
And that's what your film shows very, very carefully. He kept trying to go to the politicians, to the rabbis, to, as you said, professors and others,
to for -- them to justify what he in his heart believed, that this was betraying the state of Israel, the Oslo peace accord.
He wanted some kind of justification from them to murder the prime minister. And that's what he got.
How did you go about tracing all of that? Because a lot is not different, but it's a huge amount of layering from what we knew at the time.
YARON ZILBERMAN, DIRECTOR, "INCITEMENT": Yes.
So that's -- again, that's the research. We conducted years of research. We had two top researchers. One of them is from Hebron. So he knew that
world and he himself claimed -- was completely anti the peace process and was part of the protests.
And he sort of brought me into that world of the discussions, the whole ideas of what we call din rodef and din moser, which is the law of the
pursuer and the law of the informer, which have death sentence associated with them. These are religious laws.
So that was one. And the second is another -- a top journalist joined our research team that went to speak with the family, also was part of that
movement. He was also part of the anti-peace protest.
So we really worked with people, I would say, from the other side of the political map. We joined forces in order to tell the truth about what
happened. And we got all that wealth of information.
So, it's really research, reading a lot meeting people, discussing with people who were involved, who knew, who heard all these conversations. And
from that, we used that part for the movie.
ZILBERMAN: You also see there are many documentary segments in the movie.
AMANPOUR: That's right. There's many real life archival clips in the movie. And that's shocking as well.
And I want to get to a few of them in a second. But you spoke to and your writers spoke to Yigal Amir, the killer himself. He never showed any
remorse in his trial, and it appears he is still remorseless.
Can you just elaborate on what you found and your researchers and writers found in the hours and hours you spend talking to him? And how did you
actually speak to him? Did you visit him?
ZILBERMAN: I did not visit him, but our researcher Amihai Attali went to speak with the family.
And then Yigal Amir's wife allowed us to -- I mean, our researcher to -- she handed the phone to him. And he spoke with him for hundreds of hours,
actually, not just hours, but in-length conversations.
We know that the Shabak, our security services, listened to these conversation, so there was nothing here that was sort of not OK to do.
But, in this conversation, we try to understand first about him, his motives, understand the personality, because, for me as a director, and
also as a co-writer to write -- I wrote this film together with Ron Leshem, a super writer -- that we had to have all this knowledge in order to create
this -- to write the script, but also for me to be able to direct this person.
Like, the actor Yehuda Halevi, Yehuda Nahari, how to be -- to become Yigal Amir, I needed all this information about who he was. And, also, we asked
specific questions about the scenes that you see in the movie to try to gain as much knowledge as we could.
Of course, we took it with a grain of salt, because he liked to present himself as a hero, of course. And we had to make decisions and also to
crosscheck with other sources what he said, whether what he said was true or not.
But that was a long process. It was a tough, tough process emotionally, because you are communicating with the assassin. As much as we dislike him
and his act, of course, in the most extreme way, that we -- against it, but, at the same time, we -- the idea was to try to gain as much
information, so that we can present it in the most authentic way, so that we can learn as much as possible about how incitement works, what led to
the assassination, and try to get as much insight for us, as artists, and also as a society.
AMANPOUR: I want to play you something that, in watching the film, I suddenly remembered, that covering the election that had to be held after
the assassination, I interviewed Leah Rabin, Yitzhak Rabin's widow.
And I interviewed her on the day of the election, May 1996. And I asked her, what happens if -- if the opposition party wins. And at the time, it
was the Likud, led by Benjamin Netanyahu.
This is what she said to me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEAH RABIN, WIDOW OF YITZHAK RABIN: If Labor doesn't win today, then his loss was in vain, and then his loss was a triumph to the murderer and to
those who sent him, because he wasn't there a free agent on his own. He was sent by someone. He was incited by many people in this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So she used the word incited.
And you spoke to -- you spoke at the beginning about an election and a result, that we never saw this move towards peace since then, since the
And I just wonder if you can reflect on that, of how is this film being received in Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu's spokespeople are vigorously
denying that his impassioned speech against Oslo had anything to do with the atmosphere or the incitement.
Tell us a little bit about how it's being received there at home.
ZILBERMAN: It was received -- surprisingly, we -- it was received by, I would say, the -- both -- all opinions and all ideas, meaning that we saw
religious people watching the movie. We saw even settlers. We -- young people who were not alive at the time really crave to see the movie.
And we see schools, high schools, take all their students to go and watch the movie. There's a -- sort of a big movement behind the movie. And, for
that, we're very grateful. And we hope that it's going to make a change eventually, be part of a change, especially an anti-incitement change, so
that people would not agree to listen to incitement, to take part in incitement, to vote for people who incite the public, and be very strong
AMANPOUR: Yaron Zilberman, thank you so much, indeed.
It's a very, very powerful film about a very, very powerful matter. And the film will be released in the United States in the new year.
Now another critical institution that faces a tense and divisive time is the Internet, as digital media companies wrestle with the question of how
to protect free speech, while enforcing appropriate standards and practices.
Jonah Peretti is the co-founder of The Huffington Post and CEO of BuzzFeed, some of the most used online platforms for news and entertainment. And he
says our media ecosystem is broken.
He spoke to our Walter Isaacson about what public interest means in this Internet age.
WALTER ISAACSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You did The Huffington Post, then BuzzFeed. And you were there for this sort of glory -- glorious
feeling that media was going to bring us together.
Do you think that's fallen apart now, that the media is dividing us?
JONAH PERETTI, CEO, BUZZFEED: I think there was tremendous optimism about the Internet. People were very excited about it empowering people to have
a voice and everyone have a voice.
And I think we are in a different stage of the Internet right now. There's a lot more fear. There's a lot more focus on the negative sides of the
Internet and the downsides of the Internet.
But I'm still very optimistic about the Internet and think that the First Amendment, free expression, the ability to create on new platforms, you
have the ability to make things that have a global impact, are all really exciting. We just need to continually improve and reinvent the Internet in
order to have it live up to its promise.
ISAACSON: Well, let's talk about some of the fixes that could have it live up to the promise.
And we will start with BuzzFeed. What does each news group or news service, what should they be doing to help restore the good part of the
PERETTI: So, I think, a few years ago, we were swimming with the tide, making content that was joyful and truthful.
We would make fun, entertaining content people would share with their friends. We would break stories and expose things that powerful people
didn't want exposed with our news division. And that felt like it was in line with the way people saw the Internet in those years.
I think, more recently, people have started to see the Internet in a more negative light. I think the kinds of content spreading on the Internet has
not been defined by joy and truth. They have been defined more by fear and lies, hate and lies. Negative emotion is driving a lot of the sharing.
If you look at the most shared things on Facebook, they tend to fear -- right now, it tends to be fear-based content. You look a few years ago, it
tends to be joyful content.
And so I think there's been a big shift. The biggest thing BuzzFeed has done is to stay true to that joy and truth. So, even in the era where we
know, if we just look at the data, that scaring people will drive lots of sharing and engagement, we still are focused on joy and truth.
And I think that's the key thing that the Internet can really provide for the audience.
ISAACSON: You and BuzzFeed work very closely with Facebook. What would you want them to do to improve things?
PERETTI: I think the biggest thing -- and they're starting to do it -- is recognizing the difference between news and other types of content.
If you have low-quality entertainment content, it's just low-quality entertainment content. If you have low-quality news, it stops being news.
It starts to be fake news or some counterfeit news.
If you're not calling people up, if you're not checking sources, if you're not working on getting an accurate story, then it isn't really even news.
And so I think Facebook has started to realize that, that creating this new news tab, paying some companies to produce high-quality journalism,
recognizing that, in an open marketplace of content, where every piece of content is competing with every other, there's no way that journalism will
be able to win, because it's more expensive to produce.
Yet you need quality journalism on a platform that two billion people are accessing.
ISAACSON: It seems to me -- and push back if you think I'm wrong -- that one of the formulas of BuzzFeed is a mix of sort of what you almost would
call clickbait, wonderful, fun little things that are going to grab people, and then journal -- you have Ben Smith, you have others who do high-quality
And, sometimes, you use one to drive traffic or cross-subsidize the other. Is that the way you look at it? And is that sustainable?
PERETTI: It's not really how I look at it. I love the entertainment content we make. We make lists, we make quizzes.
I think it just has to be looked at through a really different lens. It is tied to emotion. It is tied to social connection. We have a lot of young
people who, in groups, will take BuzzFeed quizzes, compare their results with each other, use it as a way to connect with people in their lives.
A lot of entertainment content exposes people to new things in the world, new identities, new groups, new ideas, new ways of living. Increasingly,
people have access to an overwhelming number of possibilities. There's overwhelming choice.
And a lot of our entertainment content is people trying things, experiencing things. What kind of show should they watch? What kind of
place should they visit? What kind of food should they cook? What kinds of things should they eat?
And that has become increasingly a way of curating these massive platforms, and allowing our audience to see what's worth their time, what's worth
doing, what kinds of fun things should they do with their friends.
And so, really, how to how to connect and do interesting things in the world and how to connect with their friends and other people is a huge part
of the BuzzFeed entertainment brand and what we do with Tasty, what we do with BuzzFeed, and the news pieces,where it's much more informational.
There's less than an emotional component and a social component. And it's more about exposing things that the public has a right to know.
ISAACSON: BuzzFeed recently had to do some layoffs.
Was there -- what were the reasons behind the stutter step in the business model?
PERETTI: Yes, I mean, BuzzFeed has started with a business model of native advertising that was 100 percent of our revenue.
And we had to transition our business to have four or five different sources of revenue. And it was a pretty dramatic transformation. We have
grown our revenue 10 years in a row since we have had any revenue. We have been able to continue to grow it.
But some lines of revenue have declined, and then others have emerged to make up for those declines and help us continue to grow. And so, without
much change and shift in our business, we have had to make some unfortunate restructuring and changes to be able to set ourselves up for the future.
This year, we have crossed over into profitability. We should be profitable for all of next year. We are feeling very strong. We're
feeling great about our business right now.
But we got to this place because we had to make a lot of really -- we had to really actively manage the business and make a lot of changes to
diversify our business into new kinds of revenue.
ISAACSON: Do you do the news coverage because you think it'll be a good business? Or do you do it because you think it's the right thing for you
PERETTI: I would say it's a mix of both.
In the long term, I hope it can be a good business. But there's definitely some cross-subsidization of our news business, because it is more expensive
to produce news. It requires more work than to make a quick list or a quiz or even shooting a Tasty recipe video where we're cooking something.
It's a lot more work to do quality journalism. So, we cross-subsidize it. But I think lots of great media companies throughout history have done
that, where they have subsidized their news in part, because it gives the - - it's a public service.
It gives the company charisma and influence. And it's important for the world and important for our culture.
ISAACSON: Well, as you say, throughout history, companies have cross- subsidized and subsidized news, whether it be a news network, like CBS News is subsidized, in the public interest.
Do you think media companies should act in the public interest that way, even if it's not going to make them money?
PERETTI: I think that the problem right now is that the -- whenever there's been an attention monopoly of any kind, news has become a part of
it and has often been subsidized.
So if it was NBC, CBS, ABC, the news programs were part of having the spectrum and being able to broadcast. And I think you have seen that with
radio. You have seen that in a lot of different media conglomerates, where news is something that is subsidized by a very profitable company.
I think the challenge right now is, the most profitable company that has an attention monopoly is Google. And they are not cross-subsidizing news. In
fact, they're the only company in history that has had an monopoly this size, huge outside profits, and is not subsidizing news and saying, we will
take a loss on news because it's so important to society that we are going to actually invest in this beyond the profit.
They still at Google say, we will do a rev share, and we will give you a portion of it. And a rev share against content that's very expensive to
produce is not going to be nearly as enticing as for other kinds of content. And so it's not a good deal for society and for the public.
And so, I would say we can do some cross-subsidizing news -- and we do -- to the tune of millions of dollars. But Google has billions and billions
in profit and isn't doing it at all. Facebook has billions in profit. And they're just starting to do it with their news tab, which is a great step
But people -- companies that are generating massive profits from attention should take some of that and subsidize news, because it's so important to
the world, society and the public, and should be important to the mission of these companies and the culture of these companies.
ISAACSON: But do we want Google deciding what is news and what is good news?
PERETTI: I think that we probably want to have a set of news organizations that actually do things that news organizations should do, that have
journalists working for them, that work on the -- that do actual journalism, that call people, that work on stories, that publish stories,
that make corrections when they have errors, that do all the things that a news organization should do.
And that is a high bar to clear. It's hard for just a person by themselves to do that, without having editors, having fact-checking, and having a
larger organization that has some kinds of policies in place.
ISAACSON: In Europe, they have tried different ways to do this, which is - - the content providers have resisted just allowing Google to aggregate everything.
Do you see anything in the rules in Europe that might work as a United States rules and regulation?
PERETTI: I'm not sure that Europe is a great guide. It feels a little bit more like it's a war between the media companies that have had a lot of
power and Google and Facebook, which have taken a lot of power from them, and it feels like they're fighting each other.
I think what we need is a pathway for collaboration, where they're working together. The Internet is an amazing thing that has added so much to the
news and industry. And the solution has to be figuring out ways for tech platforms and companies to work together with companies that are actually
doing journalism, and find ways to create the right balance of subsidies and revenue models, and to make quality journalism sustainable, so we can
have an informed electorate, an informed public, and people can know what's going on and what matters in the world.
ISAACSON: Do you think that the platforms, meaning Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter, should have some responsibility, should take some
responsibility for the truth of the stuff that they distribute?
PERETTI: Well, they already have taken some responsibility, not because they want to, but they had no choice.
So, when you see anti-vaxxer groups exploding on Facebook, it's hard to just take no action if there's a public a health crisis that could be
amplified because of your platform, or if you have Holocaust deniers, or you have hate crime, or you have people who are harassing other users on
So, there's no way to say you're neutral and you're not policing speech.
ISAACSON: But you're the one who just said that more hateful things and false things are getting spread.
So even if they're taking down a few anti-vaxxering things...
ISAACSON: ... it seems the platforms are not taking responsibility for the truth of what they spread.
PERETTI: Well, there's the emotional side, which is a harder thing to manage.
Like, it's hard to say you can't express certain emotions like hateful content. And so if there's a story that says something factually incorrect
about immigrants storming the -- across the border, that's an easier thing to address. If it's just stoking irrational fear, but there's no factual
error in the piece, that is a lot tricker.
ISAACSON: But does Facebook take responsibility for factual errors in pieces?
PERETTI: They try to avoid it.
ISAACSON: If somebody wrote a piece saying immigrants are storming across the border, would Face...
ISAACSON: Do you think Facebook should take it down or not allow it spread?
PERETTI: I think that there are a lot of tradeoffs, and that one of the challenges right now is, if you read the press about these issues, it's
like you're bouncing between critiques that are incompatible with each other.
So one critique is that free speech is in jeopardy and that a few big platforms are controlling what everyone sees, and that, do you really want
a few companies in California to be the ones who can determine what speech is OK and what speech isn't OK?
And the other critique is this incompatible critique, which is, there -- there's anti-vaxxers, there's hateful content, there's false information,
there's things that are stoking fear that are completely made-up stories, and that these companies need to step up and take responsibility and get
rid of that kind of content.
That's sort of the challenge, is that is that there's something pretty compelling about both those critiques, but they're really at odds with each
ISAACSON: And which do you fall on more these days?
PERETTI: I mean, I think we have to find some way to get past that -- these -- the opposition of those two goals and find ways to have free
speech and protect the integrity of the content that's being distributed.
I think that one nice thing that we have is the Internet separate from Facebook, separate from Google. If you are wanting to say hateful content
and tell lies and make things up, you can create a Web site, you can post on that Web site, you can find other ways to reach people.
And so -- and then, also, on messaging apps and on chat and things like that, I think that you should be able to talk to your friends and say
whatever you want to your friends.
I think it's when you're amplifying content, and you're showing it to many more people, you're starting to behave like a media company at that point.
When your algorithm is saying, this story was read by a few people, and now, because of the way they interacted with it, we're going to show it to
millions of people, then you're taking a different role.
And it's more of the role of a broadcaster who's pushing it out to the masses. And, at that point, I think you want to have a lot more control of
ISAACSON: And what -- that is what Facebook does, which is, it has algorithms that say, OK, now we're going to broadcast it out to the masses.
So do you think Facebook should be doing more now to sort of make sure of the quality of the content, not spread hate speech, not spread falsity?
PERETTI: I think that Facebook's problem right now is that they're trying to be a media company and the phone company.
And they can be critiqued for being a bad phone company, if they take -- if they limit your speech and don't let you say things, and they can be
critiqued for being a bad media company if they amplify false information or opinion that is reprehensible.
And what they really need to do -- and I think they may be moving in this direction -- is to split into a phone company and a media company. The
phone company should be encrypted private communication, where you can talk to the people in your life about things that matter to you.
Now, maybe you're an anti-vaxxer and they're an anti-vaxxer, and you're talking about that, but you can do that on the telephone as well. And
nobody wants AT&T or Verizon to come in and say, sorry, you can't talk about that, even if it's an ignorant, wrongheaded, false conversation.
You don't want the phone company intervening. So I believe that there should be encryption and people should be able to talk to other people
online. And that's Facebook operating like the phone company.
But then you shouldn't amplify stuff. You shouldn't make stuff go viral. You shouldn't say -- that's like if you're having a phone conversation, and
you say something funny, and, all of a sudden, they take it and show it to everyone on the AT&T network.
Like, that's not cool. So, for that part of Facebook, it should be about your close friends, it should be encrypted, it should be private, they
shouldn't get involved, and they should say, we believe in the First Amendment and we believe you can say whatever you want.
In the part of their business where they are taking video and articles and stories and amplifying them to the world, they should be much more
opinionated, and they should say, we're not the phone company here. We're a media company, and we are going to look at -- we're going to take
responsibility for content and make sure that we are not propagating lies to the public and to the country, but across the United States and the
We're going to have to be more opinionated and operate more like a media company, because we are magnifying the things here, and we are -- our
algorithm is serving the role of an editor that is showing many people this story.
ISAACSON: Jonah, thank you for being with us.
PERETTI: Thank you so much.
ISAACSON: Appreciate it.
PERETTI: Good to see you.
AMANPOUR: And that is it for now.
Thank you for watching. And goodbye from London.