Andreas Jeninga/The Hoya Ra’anan Gissin denounced Yassir Arafat last Thursday in Gaston Hall.

Ra’anan Gissin, a senior adviser and spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, asserted Israel’s right to self-defense in the face of a recent wave of suicide bombings during a speech in Gaston Hall on Thursday.

Gissin said Israel would make a “decent, respectful offer” of statehood to Palestine but audience members ripped into Israel’s national security measures and ridiculed the notion that it was a “democracy” during a heated question and answer session.

Gissin, whose family has lived for five generations in the area Israel currently occupies, prides himself on having grown up alongside Palestinians.

The world, Gissin said, allows Israelis to have “the right to die peacefully” but not “to live peacefully.” On top of this, he said that criticisms of Israeli measures are an insidious form of anti-Semitism.

“The new form anti-Semitism is camouflaged in an entire anti-Israel campaign that attacks and denies its right to self defense,” he said.

Gissin attacked Yassir Arafat, the one-time leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and current head of the Palestinian Authority, as the “head of the largest terrorist cartel in the Middle East.”

Palestine and Israel have had a tumultuous relationship as both sides have gone back and forth accusing each other of sabotaging the peace process.

Gissin also spoke of an “unholy trinity” that perpetuates terrorist attacks. He outlined this trinity as countries with weapons of mass destruction, countries that support terrorism and the organizations that carry them out.

These factors culminate “the threat today that is far greater than before,” he said, whose purpose is “to destroy western civilization and our life.”

Gissin expressed skepticism for peace after recent waves of suicide bombings.

“We’re willing to make painful compromises so that they can have a settlement of their own,” he said, but added that Israel would not compromise with terrorists. “We have the right and capability to defend ourselves unlike 65 years ago.”

And on the issue of media coverage, Gissin criticized the media’s portrayal of Israel as a harsh state while not concentrating on its innovation and cutting-edge industries.

Israel has a world-class biotech industry that has assisted Arab and Israeli clients with services such as fertility treatment, Gissin said.

In addition, Gissin pointed to Israel’s burgeoning high-tech computer sector which has propelled a silicon revolution within the nation.

Gissin lambasted some of Israel’s neighbors as “high seas full of radical Islam and lack of democracy.”

But at the end, he concluded by emphasizing that Israel is willing to seek peace but only with the cooperation of the Palestinians.

Gissin was forced to defend his statements when audience members took to the microphone and criticized his policies.

One student blamed the Israeli government for recent terrorist attacks, but Gissin retorted that “terrorism has nothing to do with Israel’s policy, it has to do with the factories of hate throughout the Middle East.”

Others questioned whether Israel was actually a “democracy” in light of alleged ethnocentric denial of civil rights.

Gissin fired back, arguing that Israel does in fact grant equal rights to Arabs and that it is the “most liberal among countries around it.”

Furthermore, its high standard of living makes it “one of the best places for Arabs to live,” he said.

Finally, he castigated the notion that Israel systematically oppressed.

“We [Israel] have more concern for the Palestinian people than their own leaders,” Gissin said.

Georgetown was one stop along his lecture circuit called “Caravan For Democracy,” which seeks to “promote dialogue on campus and discuss the shared values of freedom and democracy that connect Israel and the U.S.”

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