Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A Terrorist Speaks

This story is a unique insider view that I would not think comes along very often. This is the testimony of a marked man for telling the ugly truth.
"I am not ashamed to stand in front of you and say I am Walid Shoebat and I used to be a Palestinian terrorist,” a middle-aged man from Northern California told over 115 students yesterday. Once imprisoned for his violent attempts to kill Israeli citizens, Shoebat now advocates for his former enemy, speaking worldwide about his rare and controversial transformation into a leading Zionist.

In a speech in the Alfred Lerner Cinema, Shoebat rejected occupation and land ownership as causes of the Arab-Israeli conflict, instead citing global and rising anti-Semitism, propaganda in Palestinian schooling, Islamic fundamentalism, and the relative silence of pro-Israel activists as major factors contributing to the problem.(/snip)

“My family hates me now,” said Shoebat, who spoke to his father last month for the first time in years after his father received a call predicting that Shoebat would be shot by those who oppose him.

“If go back home, I have five minutes to live,” said Shoebat. In the Middle East, “I am only safe in Israel proper.”

Shoebat’s family took away his land when he defected from their cause and converted to Christianity. His parents told him that he would have to return to Islam in order to regain acceptance.

“I was always taught that the Jews stole my land. My own family did,” Shoebat said. “I cannot go home ... not because of the Jews but because of my opinion.”

Shoebat said he “woke up and smelled the hummus” at age 33 when his wife asked him to prove that the negative things he claimed about Jews were right. For months he intensively studied Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the Jewish Bible to understand the people he said he used to hate.

“In order to understand the enemy you must put yourself in his shoes,” said Shoebat.

After “realizing that all that I was taught was a lie, I made a pledge to cleanse my grandfather’s house,” he said. As his grandfather did, Shoebat dedicates his life to promote what he believes to be the truth: Israel security and reform in the Middle East.

Shoebat blamed the Arab countries’ failure to accept Israel’s right to exist as the underlying factor in ongoing conflict, and he described the culture that he grew up in as intolerant of any belief other than “that of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, or the coffin.”

At age six in a kindergarten in Jericho, Shoebat said he would sing a popular song entitled “Arabs Our Beloved and Jews Our Dogs.”

“I used to wonder at that time who the Jews were but with the rest of the kids, I repeated the words without any knowledge of their meaning,” he said.

Relentless hatred towards the Jews has always been prevalent in Shoebat’s family, he said. He told the audience that after a Jew saved his cousin from drowning, his family refused to acknowledge the ethnicity of the rescuer. In fact, the cousin’s brother died in a suicide attempt in Jerusalem soon afterwards.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Shoebat said he would laugh with his family at images of naked, heaps of Jews, amazed by how far he thought Jews would go to fabricate the Holocaust.

“None of my teachers, family members, or friends said the Holocaust was real,” Shoebat said. “I was taught that it was an act intended only for the establishment of the Jewish State.”

Shoebat cited such thoughts in the Arab world as reasons for heightening anti-Semitism and Islamic fundamentalism, as evidenced by the presence of a DVD entitled “I Hate Israel” on the top of last year’s best-seller list in Egypt.

“New Palestinian leadership is not the solution,” he said. “Mahmoud Abbas [Abu Mazen], the prime minister of the PLO, himself wrote his thesis on the Holocaust as a fabrication,” said Shoebat.

“Neither is ‘Israel’s occupation’ the cause. Jews have tried to give land for peace,” he said. “The occupation is in the minds of children who are taught hatred.”

Shoebat acknowledged that Muslims are often offended by his speeches. But he emphasized that he was interested in exposing the violence present in Islamic fundamentalism rather than “exposing Islam as violent religion.”

This is the legacy of Arafat. So you defenders of suicide bombers, do you also endorse this society of hatred, brainwashing and death?

This man should be applauded for turning his life around and speaking out. I fear that Charles was right, the Palestinians may not be ready for peace for another generation or two....

(Link via Right Thinking)