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Raanan Gissin: A Bible in One Hand and a Gun in Another

I was astounded when I came across this debate on RussiaToday’s CrossTalk between Dr. Norman Finkelstein, a thorn in the pro-Occupation extreme Zionist camp and Raanan Gissin, an ex-official with the Israeli Government. Raanan Gissin was formerly a senior adviser to Ariel Sharon and currently works as a PR man for Israel, making frequent public appearances on various cable and international networks.

He made statements that many Israeli spokesmen and PR gurus are reticent to make, at least to American and European viewers. If I was the Israeli Media Defense Force (yes, such groups exist) I would be praying and hoping he wont make anymore appearances on TV. In the encounter, Gissin essentially said the reason that Jews have rights over those of the Palestinians who lived on the land is because it was written in the Bible. He says his grandfather tried to be nice to the Palestinians and do business with them after taking their land but some of them had to meet his gun. He also goes on to justify the take over of Palestinian land by Jewish Eastern Europeans and Russians by saying American settlers did the same thing to Native Americans.

Norman Finkelstein calmly and logically obliterates him. This is high voltage ownage that you don’t want to miss. (Below is the video and a transcript of the relevant portion.)

Transcription begins from 6:20 of video one, up until 0:55 of the second video. Enjoy.

Video 1:

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Video 2:

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Ranaan Gissin: When my great parents, came from Russia in a hundred and fifty years ago they came because there was a Bible in one hand, my grandfather came with a Bible in one hand and a rifle in another, and his hand was extended to the Arabs who lived here, some did make business with him and others who fought him had to meet the wrath of his rifle, and that’s how you live in the Middle East.

Norman Finkelstein: It is an oddity that you say you are coming and that you want to live in peace with someone you come with a rifle in one hand. I often have friends visit me at home and when they come to my home they don’t come with a rifle.

Ranaan Gissin interrupts: So did the settlers in America…

Norman Finkelstein: That’s correct. I appreciate Dr. Gissin’s comparison because I think it is exactly right, the first Euro-Americans who came to North America, came with rifle in hand because they came with the intention of displacing and replacing the indigenous population, that’s why they needed a rifle, and most Americans now a days at least acknowledge that what was done to the indigenous populations of North America was wrong and it’s exactly for the same reason that Jews from Eastern Europe had to come to Palestine with a rifle in hand because their intention was not to live with the indigenous population but to displace and dispossess it in order to create a Jewish state in an area that was overwhelmingly Arab, and uh, I think everything pretty much ensued after that, followed that basic fact. Now a days I would say there are possibilities for Israel to live at peace with what remains of the indigenous population but unfortunately Israel is unwilling to resolve the conflict along the lines of international law which would allow for some sort of co-existence between Israel and the Palestinian population that was displaced and dispossessed.

Peter Lavelle: Let’s go back to Tel Aviv, does Israel want to have peace with its neighbors and can the Palestinians have their own state as well? I mean, consistently the United States and Israel are the only two countries in the world that block this, consistently, consistently at the United Nations. So does Israel want to have peace? Go ahead Dr. Gissin.

Ranaan Gissin: Dr. Finkelstein’s formula is a formula for committing suicide, not for living in the Middle East. You have to live with the realities in the Middle East. I would like the Middle East to be like North America, I would like the Middle East, after four hundred years of bloody wars to be like Europe, but it’s not, it’s still a young region, it’s fraught with conflict, the Arab-Israeli conflict is not the only one, there are more conflicts than states in the Middle East, there are 22 states with one Israel and over thirty armed conflicts. Let’s face it, the largest conflicts are not between Israel and its neighbors but between Sunnis and Shi’ites, and Israel came with good intentions. Israel came with the intention to live alongside the Palestinians and let me say the way, when my great grandfather came from Russia, you know what he said, he had it very right and he had the Bible as his guide, he said the rights of the land are ours because this is our land. This is why I came back because this is our ancestral homeland, people who live on the land have rights and we tried to live with those people.

Peter Lavelle: We’re going to a break. Norman would you like to have a quick word before we go to the break?

Norman Finkelstein: Yes, I wonder Mr. Gissin if I came with a Bible in one hand and came to your home, I knocked on your door and said “according to my Bible, my family lived where your home is, my family lived there two thousand years ago,” would you pack up your bags and leave?


I am waiting for your answer.

Gissin for some reason becomes obsessed with bringing his great grandfather into the picture. Maybe he was feeling nostalgic or reminiscing on olden’ time stories that he use to hear growing up, but it is quite chilling that he would think that the Bible is sufficient to justify taking another’s land. Just imagine a Muslim saying the same thing, “my grandfather came with a Quran in one hand and a rifle in another,” he would be branded a Jihadist terrorist in a split second. In fact, this is one of the stereotypical caricatures propagated by Orientalists and Islamophobes regarding Islam; the image of a Muslim warrior on an Arabian horse with a Quran in one hand and a sword in another.

Gissin has no intelligent rebuttal to Norman Finkelstein’s responses, his only retorts come in fumbling, high decibel, off topic spiels, at times he mumbles and stumbles over words. The most amazing portion might be where he justifies taking over Palestinian land by comparing what Jewish settlers did in Palestine to the actions of Euro-American settlers in North America. This is quite interesting because many pro-Israel defenders claim that it is not a correct analogy, and they say you can’t make that comparison; “it isn’t the same thing” we are told. There was just such a discussion in the comment section of a  previous article by our very own intrepid Danios, and yet here is an ex-Israeli official and one of their main PR men not only admitting that the comparison is true but using it as justification.

In my last article on Bill Maher I noted that one of the reasons for the intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the claims that religious Jews hold on the land. For them there is no room to maneuver because as Gissin states, using the Bible as his guide, “the rights of the land are ours because this is our land.”


For purposes of full disclosure, here is the third and final portion of the debate between Finkelstein and Gissin:

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  • Miakel

    Finkelstein has never lost a debate. I would love to see him as islamic scholar debating Robert Spencer.

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  • roncalling

    Can you believe someone can speak this insanity.?
    How can the wise citizens follow those people?
    Can you search for peace with such a thinking?
    Shame on you.
    Shame on you Israel, the 51 star in the american flag.
    Shame on you!

  • Abdulmajid

    I don’t think it helpful to address people with racist, fascist inhuman ideas nicely. On the contrry, if any fascist feels insulted by how I call him the better. A lot of fascists feel insulted if they are called that. Because deep down inside they know how wrong and evil their ideas are.
    And while I do not approve of suicide bombings, especially as in the past they always happened when there was a thin shred of hope that Israels and Palestinians would finally try to get together seriously, and that hope was shattered, you must see any acts of violence by the Palestinians in perspctive. Almost all were preceded by a “routine” Israeli raid or other act of gratuitous violenvce which resulted in “collateral damage”. And I feel that many among the Israeli right think and say: “We have the upper hand here, we have more than enough brute force to crush all the Arabs who surround us, we have inflicted complete military defeat on them every single time we have confronted them (or they us). We could have invaded Damascus and even Bagdad easily; if we had set out for Cairo we would have to recall our forces from Tangier now; and we did not do it. That was our retreat, and now we are holding teh second defense line, and we hold on to it. So why should we give the Palies anything?”
    All right, all right, they have the upper hand; they have the unconditional support of the world’s No.1 superpower; they have weapons of mass destruction. For now they have won.
    But I can’t imagine that they will be able to stand by brute force for eternity.
    The Roman Empire, the Spanish Empire, the Austrohungarian and the Ottoman Empires were established with the help of brute force (which superpower was not?); but there must have been something more to them that held them together for centuries. The Soviet Empire was established through brute force and held together by brute force alone. And it lasted only from 1945 to 1989.
    The Israelis grind the Palestinians under their heel while whining all the time that they only wish to live in peace with their Arab neighbors, that they occupy only sooo little land in the Arab world. Well, they have more than enough brute force to conquer, but all their lobby work and propaganda notwithstanding they can’t convince.
    In a way I find all this very regrettable. For history has shown that in Muslim countries Jews were better off than in Europe and that generally Jews and Muslism got along better with each other than Jews and Christians. Despite all the claims by Islamophobes that Muslims must see Jews as “pigs and apes”; despite that there have been persecutions of Jews in Muslim kingdoms, but copmparatively much less than in medieval Europe or Czarist Russia, not to mention that there never were such pogroms in Muslim countries as during the Crusades or in 19th century Russia. Not to mention the Holocaust. So imagine what the whole region would look like if the Israelis hadn’t come with that murderous fascistoid hate and the idea to dispossess the Palestinians. Imagine what it would be like if Israeli industriousness and the capital of the Gulf states got together (and why not? In the Golsden Age of Islam, how many Muslim rulers had Jewish advisers! Or how many important philosophers, poets, musicians, artists of the Muslim world were Jews!) then the second Golden Age of Islam would be here already! Can’t have that. And remember “divide and rule”? Of course there are some people in the West who don’t like that at all, and weho are delighted that after the Holocaust teh European Jews all went to palestine, so Europe remains “judenfrei” (a horrible word, I know, but it is true, only a handful of Jews remain in Europe compared as to pre-war times!) So, there we have it. The Nazis did the dirty work, now Europe is free of Jews, as the antisemites always wanted, (Proof? the Allies could bomb Dresden to rubble but not the railway lines to Auschwitz or the gas chambers; and really did nothing to prevent the Holocaust from happening; just as they did nothing to prevent the Bosnian genocide from happening; they were just not interested in the people) and the descendants of the European Jews are embroiled in a bitter and unending struggle with the original inhabitants of Palestine which no side can win unless it is prepared to wipe out the other side completely. And don’t anybody tell me that a majority on either side wants just that. A lose-lose situation. We will not see the end of it. But I doubt it will be the same in times of our great-great-great-grandchildren. But as I said we will not live to see it. One side will finish off the other completely, but it is really no use to speculate on which one. Supporters of the one side will of course say their side will win, and supportes of the other side will also say their side will win. But none will live to see it. So they might as well keep quiet about it.
    I will not follow the news on Palestine-Israel any longer. For as long as I live it wil always be the same, and no matter how many conferences they organize or whatever proposals they come up with, the picture will always be the same: to paraphrase George Orwell, the Palestinian face being stepped on by the Israeli boot. The face will always be there to be stepped on. They hope to perpetuate the situation. But they will not succeed in the long run. In the very long run that is. And since none of us will be around 200 years from now, what does it really matter?

  • Jack

    “Yitzak Rabin said that. After having fought the Palestinains for so long. Ah, but alas, he was murdered, and teh whole “peace process” died with him. – by someone who merits the qualification as Zio-Nazi!”

    Riiiiiiight…. so the suicide bombings by Hamas in the early nineties on disco’s and Pizzeria’s had nothing to do with Israeli public opinion shifting to the right.

    Furthermore, calling some zionists ZIO-NAZI’s is like referring to some Republicans as RepubliKLANS for being racist. Now, that might be meant as to raise awareness, but basically it just turns people off from your arguments.

  • Abdulmajid

    Like I said, I do not call ALL Israelis, or all Jews Zio-Nazis; but there are some who really behave like Nazis towards the Palestinians. But unless the Israelis are prepared to see the Palestinians as human beings (a small number of them is willing to do that) and not as undesirable vermin, there can be no peace. “You have to shake the hand which you can’t cut off.” or “You have to make peace with your enemies, not with your friends.” Yitzak Rabin said that. After having fought the Palestinains for so long. Ah, but alas, he was murdered, and teh whole “peace process” died with him – by someone who merits the qualification as Zio-Nazi!
    And I repeat, it is a silly notion to think that people whose ancestors were victims of fascism in the 1940s cannot be per definitionem fascists themselves.

  • Mahmoud

    I don’t see why people are calling Gissin insane. He just suffers from “Truth-telling”, a highly dangerous disease for israeli representatives.

  • Jack

    “Has this been confirmed?”

    No, it hasn’t. The organisation behind the woman who made the claim has retracted the allegation, saying it has not been checked by them. They wrote an follow-up email, which I posted in reply to Les, explaining the story had not been verified by the staff member who recounted it, nor by them.

    They excused her for taking the story at face value, amid so much death and destruction, but basically say the allegation should not have been made by her without any corroboration.

    I’m sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians and highly critical of Israel’s behavior and national ambitions, but to accept such horror stories as truth simply because people with a vested interest to make the IDF look like nazi’s say it is so, is beïng naïve.

    As one columnist commenting on the Al Dura case put it: “[…] we’ve seen cases where the bodies of Palestinian martyrs carried on stretchers are inadvertently dropped, then, of their own volition, climb back on again. We’ve seen reports of massacres, as in Jenin in 2002, that turned out, after independent investigation, to have been greatly exaggerated. Needless to say, such episodes don’t instil an abiding trust in subsequent Palestinian claims, at least until they’re verified.”

  • Abdulmajid

    And not only that. I’ve seen that man Ranaan Gissin often enough in the news when he was spokesman for Ariel Sharon’s government, and his talk, his attitude, his looks, his expression remind me so much of Momcilo Krajisnik (who was Radovan Karadzic’s “foreign minister”)

  • Abdulmajid

    “In one report, an Israeli soldier asked a Palestinian mother to choose 5 of her 10 children to die as a “gift for Israel”. When she pleaded for mercy, this terrorist shot 5 of her children dead in front of her.”
    Has this been confirmed?
    If it is true, how can anybody object to me calling people who do such things “Zio-Nazis”? They ARE no better than the Nazis. Maybe different in their methods but not in their intention. Just think of those T-shirts showing a pregnant veiled, ostensibly Muslim woman in the crosshairs of a sniper’s rifle and the caption “One shot, two hits!” or some such. Who makes such things, and who wears them, isn’t it right to call him a Nazi, no matter how Jewish he is? What gives some people the silly notion that victims of fascism, or their descendants, can’t be fascists themselves, or even worse than that? That it is all right of them to take revenge for past historic wrongs on people who have nothing to do with that? And you can’t call them fascists? All too often just that is the case. Just look at the Serbs. See what I mean? Does all they suffered under Ottomans, Austrohungarians and, yes, Nazis, give them any right to commit genocide against the Bosniaks? What an incredible cruelty to let a mother condemn her own children to death. I think I haven’t heard such a thing even from Bosnia or Rwanda, even though I wouldn’t put it past them (past the Israelis neither.) After all that is what characterizes all genocidals: they don’t see their targets as human beings but as inferahuman, as dangerous enemies. Whom it is legitimate to dispossess, expel and kill. Then it becomes easy for perfectly normal and law-abiding citizens to kill, rape, rob and expel “the enemy”. Also, I read often anti-Muslim postingss which so drip of hate and make Muslims out to be dangerous enemies that I must suppose those who write such things would, if told that it is perfectly all right to do so, really go out and murder, rape, rob and expel other people just because they are Muslims.
    So please don’t object to my caling “Zio-Nazis” what they are. It s true that what they call “Operation Cast Lead” can’t be compared to Srebrenica, but the hunger blockade over Gaza can very well be compared with the siege of Sarajevo (and of Srebrenica). And that another Srebrenica can occur in Palestine, well, for me that is just a matter of time. All that “peace proces” is just a sham to divert attention from their true intentions: to create Greater Israel.

  • Ibski

    Gissin’s a nut job.

    And I have a man crush on Norman. He rules!

  • ConcernedCitizen


    It may very well be true, but the point is when you cite an incident that has not been verified, you risk weakening your position. I am sure that there are a sufficient number of horror stories which have been confirmed.

  • Les


    Yes, I’m aware. But I believe the story. Would it really surprise either way? Israeli soldiers are very capable of this behavior and have done similar acts in wars since ’48.

  • IbnAbuTalib
  • Jack

    “In one report, an Israeli soldier asked a Palestinian mother to choose 5 of her 10 children to die as a “gift for Israel”. When she pleaded for mercy, this terrorist shot 5 of her children dead in front of her.”

    You are aware that the the Middle East Children’s Alliance followed up on that claim by saying they never investigated it, asking people to refrain from spreading it on the internet?

    Barbara Lubin and all of us at the Middle East Children’s Alliance believe that we should have confirmed the story about the Gaza woman who was told by an Israeli soldier to choose which five of her ten children should die, and then witnessed their murder. We are doing everything we can now to verify the story, but have been unable to do so. We ask that you do not publish or post this story on the Internet. If you have already done so, please post this statement, as well.

    Barbara Lubin went to Gaza to deliver four tons of medicine and other aid to the people there. When she arrived in the immediate aftermath of the Israeli assault the scene she encountered was chaotic and the people traumatized. She heard and retold many horrifying accounts, and saw for herself the devastation to homes, schools, businesses, land and lives. In these catastrophic circumstances, it’s not difficult to see how Barbara would find this story credible. Unfortunately, we sent it out before taking the time to verify it.

    We know that several hundred children lost their lives in the assault, and that some appear to have been shot at close range. There are reports of family members being shot in front of each other. Israeli forces entered Gaza homes and apparently used people as human shields. Israel is now being investigated for using unconventional weapons like white phosphorous and dense inert metal explosive (DIME).

    All of us at MECA are committed to accuracy as we relate the stories of what we see when we travel to Palestine. We will keep you informed about what we learn.

    Doctors at a hospital near Gaza are almost overwhelmed by the number of Palestinian children needing treatment for bullet wounds to their heads.

  • ConcernedCitizen

    That was really hilarious…I wish this Gissin character would get more exposure in the media…he’s brilliant.

  • Les


    They also bombed cheese and dairy factories and a flour mill. Well all know these supplies can be used to make bombs, right? But this is Israel. A terrorist state that inflicts collective punishment on the civilian population. They destroyed many food and water sources. Keep in mind that Gaza was already in a humanitarian crisis due to Israel’s blockade (which was against the ceasefire) before Israel launched its barbaric massacre. There’s many tragic reports of Palestinian women and children who were killed in cold blood by the “most moral army in the world”. In one report, an Israeli soldier asked a Palestinian mother to choose 5 of her 10 children to die as a “gift for Israel”. When she pleaded for mercy, this terrorist shot 5 of her children dead in front of her.* No talk of this Jewish extremism and terrorism from Islamophobes.

    *According to Barbara Lubin of Middle East Children’s Alliance

  • Jack

    So the IDF destroyed 80% of the crops and killed 50.000… in self-defense!
    I guess the chickens were all Hamas militants firing rockets at Sderot.

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  • Ustadh

    Gissin sounds and looks unstable. I think a bit of the abnormality of his state has rubbed off on him.

  • Les

    NF: “Yes, I wonder Mr. Gissin if I came with a Bible in one hand and came to your home, I knocked on your door and said “according to my Bible, my family lived where your home is, my family lived there two thousand years ago,” would you pack up your bags and leave?”

    TOTAL OWNAGE. Gissin simply had NO answer. This question reveals the lunacy that is Zionism. Make ONE secular state for all and end this shameful Jewish colonial project.

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