|FROM PALESTINIAN TERRORIST TO
by Michael Freund
| Date: Fri. 13 Feb 2004 09:50:26+0200
From: "Michael Freund" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: From Palestinian Terrorist to Christian Zionist
Following is an article of mine from the Jerusalem Post about an interview I conducted recently with a former Palestinian terrorist who has now become a Christian Zionist and vocal supporter of the Jewish State.
Your comments and feedback are welcomed.
The Jerusalem Post, February 13, 2004
From Palestinian Terrorist to Christian Zionist
by Michael Freund
A former Palestinian terrorist who took part in attacks against Israelis in the mid-1970's has now become a vocal pro-Israel Christian activist in the United States as part of his "repentance" for his past actions.
"My first goal is to give strength to the Jewish people, to give encouragement, to get rid of the stupid idea of establishing a Pales-tinian state," Walid Shoebat told The Jerusalem Post in a telephone interview from his West Coast home. "I had a change of heart, and I am now very Zionist. I tie myself to the G-D of Israel," he said. Shoebat, who was born in 1960 to a Palestinian Muslim father and an American Christian mother, was raised as a Muslim and spent much of his youth in the village of Beit Sahur, outside of Bethlehem, and later in Jericho. As a child in school, he says, he was indoctrinated to hate Jews.
"I remember singing in school: 'Arabs are beloved, Jews are dogs.' We were taught that Jews are descendants of monkeys and pigs," he recalls.
As a result of his education, Shoebat also refused to believe that the Holocaust had occurred.
"I used to watch the Holocaust shows on Israeli television on Yom Hashoah with popcorn and laughter, because I did not
believe it was true. I thought it was a fabrication. I wondered where they found these skinny actors to portray the victims," he now says with regret.
Shortly thereafter, Shoebat began to take part in anti-Israel activities, proving adept at riling up crowds of demonstrators.
"As a teenager, I was involved in a lot of rioting and demonstrating, particularly between the ages of 14 and 18. I threw rocks
at rabbis at the Western Wall and protested on the Temple Mount." After being inducted into a Palestinian terrorist group, Shoebat agreed to take part in his first attack. "I carried a loaf of bread with explosives in it and my mission was to destroy the Bank Leumi branch in Bethlehem," he said.
But when he arrived at the site of his intended target, he saw a group of children playing outside and had second thoughts, "so I threw it on the roof of the bank. I walked away and a few minutes later heard an explosion. It shook me up greatly."
His other brush with terrorism occurred in the mid-1970's, when Shoebat and a group of friends nearly beat an Israeli soldier to death in Bethlehem. They set upon the soldier who was attempting to catch a stone-thrower. "We grabbed him, beat him with
a club, and he was bleeding profusely. He was nearly killed," Shoebat says, his voice trembling with emotion. "He had a baton
in his hand and swatted at us, and somehow he managed to get away."
Shoebat was later arrested on other charges and served a few months in an Israeli prison. At the age of 18, he moved to the United States, where he became a pro-Palestinian activist in Chicago and raised funds for the PLO. But in 1993, after marrying a Catholic woman whom he had tried to persuade to convert to Islam, Shoebat's life took a sudden and highly unexpected turn.
When his wife insisted he prove his assertion that the Jews had distorted the words of the prophets, Shoebat purchased a Bible
and sat down to read it. The experience, he says, was a eye-opener for him, leading him to abandon Islam and adopt Evangelical Christianity.
"Muslims claim to believe in prophets such as Moses and David, but they do not know what they say. The only way to do so is to read the Bible," he asserts.
When his family learned of his conversion, he was disowned and received death threats, and Shoebat is certain the PLO is planning his demise.
Nevertheless, he is determined to make amends for his past actions. "I seek forgiveness for what I have done. My whole dream was to destroy Jews and to destroy the State of Israel." Now, he says, "I want to fight for Israel from both theological and
political respectives. Israel must never be divided," he insists, adding that, "I am very Zionist. I believe that Zionism is the
process of Jews making aliyah and going back to their land. I call myself a Christian Zionist."
Shoebat has begun to appear before Jewish and Christian audiences in North America, preaching support for Israel and its retention of Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip, while categorically rejecting the idea of establishing a Palestinian state.
"I pray for the continuation of the Israeli 'occupation' so that we can have peace. If we put our hands with Israel and say that
we want to be part of greater Israel, we could be a great people. The Palestinians could then be the greatest people in the Middle East," he said.
But in order for that to happen, Shoebat argues, fundamental change needs to take place in Palestinian society, as an entire genera-tion of Palestinian youth has been taught to hate the Jewish State.
"The occupation is not Israel occupying the land which supposedly belongs to the Arabs," he says. "The true occupation is of
the minds of the Palestinians, of teaching them hatred for Jews. That is the real occupation."
"My goal is to go back to Israel and to live there, and to have a program for the Palestinians, to un-brainwash them." This, he
says, is essential if there is ever to be peace in the region.
"The Jews don't speak up as much as they should, so I will speak up," says Shoebat. "Israel is a small state and the Muslim world is a giant. Nevertheless," he concludes, "if we, the Zionist, stand strong, then we will prevail. I am sure that we will win."