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The courage to imagine the other

April 15th, 2014
10:45 AM ET

By Lucky Gold and Christiane Amanpour, CNN

The showdown between Russia and Ukraine demonstrates how hard it is understand the story of “the other.”

The struggle over narratives dates back at least to the time of the Passover – which began on Monday – when Pharoah kept the people of Moses in bondage.

Now imagine a world where imagining the other could mean deliverance for warring sides such as Israelis and Palestinians.

In what may be a first, Mohammed Dajani, a Palestinian professor at al-Quds University in east Jerusalem, recently took 27 of his students to Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp in Poland.

The idea was to promote greater understanding between peoples.

And yet Professor Dajani was branded by many of his own people as a traitor.

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‘Era of these negotiations is over’ says Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett as Palestinian Mustafa Barghouti says Israel reneged on deal

April 9th, 2014
03:45 PM ET
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Israel minister says negotations at 'end'

CNN's Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, speaks with Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett about the peace process.

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Palestinian: Israel reneged on deal

CNN's Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, speaks with Palestinian leader Mustafa Barghouti about the peace process.

By Mick Krever, CNN

“The era of these negotiations is over,” right-wing Israeli Minister Naftali Bennett told CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday.

“The approach that we’ve been trying for twenty years now clearly has reached its end,” Bennett, who is chairman of the Jewish Home party, said.

“Everyone understands it’s going nowhere. Everyone in the world gets it. So why are we bashing our heads again and again?”

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Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

Israel would preserve ‘Jewish, democratic’ values with Palestinian deal, Tzipi Livni tells Amanpour

March 4th, 2014
03:49 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A peace deal with the Palestinians would allow Israel to keep its “values as a Jewish, democratic state,” chief Israeli negotiator and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

“The best choice is to divide the land and to keep the state of Israel – maybe smaller – but with our values as a Jewish, democratic state living in harmony – a secured state,” Livni said from Washington.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Washington to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama and discuss, among other things, America’s renewed push for Middle East peace.

Secretary of State John Kerry is spearheading an effort to have Israel and the Palestinians reach a framework agreement – a foundation upon which a permanent deal could be negotiated.

“I’m sure that [neither] us [nor] the Palestinians are going to be in love with it,” Livni said. “But I hope that both of us can live with it, move forward, and this is something that can create trust and basis for negotiations.”

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

Israel boycotters making a ‘mistake,’ sending bad message to Palestinians, says Israel ambassador

February 7th, 2014
08:50 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Proponents of a boycott on Israeli goods are making a “mistake” and sending a “problematic” message to Palestinian negotiators, Israeli Ambassador to the UK Daniel Taub told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“If they genuinely want to advance peace, what they're really doing is they're sending a double message, which is very problematic,” Taub said. “They're sending a message to the Palestinians … that you don't need to be sitting at the negotiating table.”

The “suggestion that they can go off to other places to try and get political gains, I think, would be very, very damaging,” he said.

The campaign to divest from Israel and boycott its goods – not unlike the campaign to pull out of Apartheid South Africa more than two decades ago – has been gaining increasingly mainstream traction.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Israel • Latest Episode

Peace process is ‘millennial opportunity’ for Jews

January 9th, 2014
04:52 PM ET

EDITOR'S NOTE: The transcript of Christiane Amanpour's full interview with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is available here.

By Mick Krever, CNN

The Israeli/Palestinian peace process is a “millennial opportunity for Jews to create a good, fair, and just society,” Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who for 22 years was Chief Rabbi for all Commonwealth nations, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

“We’ve got just too many tears in our history to make us indifferent to the suffering of others,” Rabbi Sacks said.

Peace would also, he said, protect Israelis “against a constant risk of terror.”

Sacks is one of the leading exponents of interfaith dialogue, and is extremely optimistic about the new papacy of Pope Francis.

“I think he is in many respects somebody who has broken new ground in his openness to Jews,” Sacks said.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Israel • Latest Episode

Israel/Palestinian conflict needs a ‘Nelson Mandela,’ says author

January 8th, 2014
11:19 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Any “real peace” between Israeli and Palestinians will remain out of reach until both sides truly acknowledge each other’s tragedy, Israeli columnist and author Ari Shavit told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday.

“The heart of this conflict is really mutual blindness.”

The Israelis are blind to the fact that there are a Palestinian people, he said, and the Palestinians blind to the Israelis, and their right to a Jewish state “in the ancient homeland of the Jews.”

That despite, he said, the “amazing” work U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has done trying to bring reconciliation.

Shavit has just written a new book, “My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has launched the largest American effort in years to bring peace to the region, having just wrapped up his 10th visit in pursuit of that goal.

“One has to recognize the fact that Secretary Kerry with unique ingenuity and pressure and commitment has surprised us all,” Shavit said.

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Filed under:  Israel • Latest Episode • Palestinian territories

'No quarrel' between Iranian and Israeli people, says singer with feet in both worlds

December 21st, 2013
10:49 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

There is “no quarrel” between the Iranian and Israeli people, a pop star with a foot in both worlds told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Friday.

Rita Jahanforuz was born in Iran, but has been one of Israel's most popular singers for nearly three decades.

“You know, it's between the government or the leaders or something like that,” she said. “I'm very Iranian; and I'm very Israeli. And with my existence, I can show that everything can intertwine with each other, amazingly.”

She is known to her fans simply as "Rita," and took many of them by surprise when last year she released an album of songs sung entirely in her mother tongue, Farsi.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Israel • Latest Episode

Iran existential threat? Israel ‘is indestructible,’ shouldn't be governed with ‘holocaust memories,’ says fmr Mossad chief

November 18th, 2013
04:45 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

In making a case against the oft-repeated argument that Iran is an “existential threat” to Israel, former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the country “is indestructible” and should be governed with “self-confidence,” not "memories of the holocaust."

As Iran and world powers negotiate a potential nuclear deal, Halevy says that Israel should be engaged rather than sit on the side-lines.

“I think that Iran is a very serious threat,” Halevy said from Tel Aviv. But “I believe that Israel is indestructible. And I think that this should be the basic tenet of every Israeli leader to have self-confidence, and the confidence in the future of Israel.”

That confidence, he said, “has to be the point of departure” for governing the country.

“It is wrong to bring up the memories of the past, the memories of the holocaust of so many years ago, when we were defenseless,” he said. “Then we were defenseless; now we are not defenseless.”

Halevy was born and spent his early years in the U.K., and he spoke with fondness of Winston Churchill.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Israel • Latest Episode

Bad Iran deal ‘will lead to war,’ Israel minister warns

November 18th, 2013
03:23 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

A bad nuclear deal between Iran and world powers “will lead to war,” Naftali Bennett, Israeli economy minister and leader of the hawkish Jewish Home party, warned on Monday in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“There’s no one who wants a war less than us,” Bennett said. “However, it’s one of those cases where a bad deal will lead to a war, and a good deal with actually prevent war.”

A good deal, he said, would be one that “dismantles the nuclear weapon production machine.”

He warned of a so-called breakout capability, in which Iran would not actually build a nuclear weapon, but rather the ability to produce one, at the flick of a switch, at any given time, within a few weeks – he said “within six weeks.”

If a “bad deal” is brokered with Iran, he said, military action will become inevitable.

He cited the Israeli strikes on nuclear installations in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria – which the country has never publically admitted – in 2007.

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Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Iran • Israel • Latest Episode

As West negotiates with Iran, Israel takes hard line

October 24th, 2013
08:04 AM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

To the U.S. and Europe, renewed nuclear negotiations with Iran are a reason for cautious optimism.

For Israel, they may be a sign that the international communities is trying to “get Iran off the hook.”

That’s a according to Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, who spoke with CNN’s Hala Gorani, in for Christiane Amanpour, on Wednesday.

“People forget this, but back in 2006, you had the beginning of six U.N. Security Council resolutions under Chapter Seven of the U.N. Charter that said Iran must suspend all uranium enrichment activity,” Gold said.

“We would expect that the international community would stick to those original concepts, those original resolutions,” he told Gorani, “and not start thinking about, well, how can we get Iran off the hook.”

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Filed under:  Iran • Israel • Latest Episode
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