From palestinian terrorist to pro-Israel Christian!
|In 1993, I leafed through the Bible-the book of my enemies-for the first time," said Walid Shoebat, 43, who was born to a Moslem Palestinian family in Beit Sahur near Bethlehem. "In the Bible, I found the love that's missing in the Koran and that's how I found Jesus!"
As a young Palestinian, Shoebat threw stones from the Temple Mount at Jewish worshippers praying at the nearby Western Wall. At 16, he was chosen to place a loaf of bread packed with explosives near the door of the Bethlehem branch of an Israeli bank. Seeing Arab children playing nearby, he threw the loaf on the roof instead. But he was caught and went to prison. When he was released in 1987, he was 18 years old.
His parents sent him to college in the US, where he became a hard-line PLO activist on campus in Chicago. Shoebat settled in the US, and when he married an American Christian in 1993, he tried to convince her that the Bible was full of errors and Islam was the true religion. When she challenged him to prove it, Shoebat came to faith in Jesus. Today, he's a born again Christian who loves the people of Israel. In an interview with israel today editor Aviel Schneider, Shoebat said the Land of the Bible belongs to Israel-not the Palestinians.
israel today: Do you still have contact with your family?
Shoebat: My father is ashamed of me. He and my brother want to kill me to restore the family honor. My father was the mukhtar [Moslem village leader] of Beit Sahur, so my American mother had to convert to Islam. He took away her passport because she tried to escape several times. I was taught from childhood to hate Jews, and I hated them even though I'd never met one.
israel today: And today, do you love the Jewish people?
Shoebat: Yes, though my dream was to die for Palestine. I was often in situations in which I thought Israeli soldiers would kill me. But they wouldn't shoot Palestinians unless their lives were threatened. I wanted to convert my wife, Maria, to Islam, but she brought Jesus into my heart. God did a miracle in my life. He showed me that our Redeemer and Messiah, Jesus, is a Jew.
israel today: Is it possible to stop the cycle of endless bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians?
Shoebat: It's not a cycle of violence as it's depicted abroad. Israel is reacting to Palestinian terror as law responds to crime. Terrorists are cowards who send young people to their death. Look, Saddam Hussein was captured in a hole. Osama bin Laden is hiding in a hole, and Arafat sits in his hole in Ramallah. They know there aren't 72 virgins in heaven, so they send everyone but themselves to die. Under no circumstances should Israel and the world give in to Islamic terror.
israel today: But terror exhausts Israelis and makes us weary.
Shoebat: God will save you from that. I pray daily for your safety. The Jews have the Biblical right to the Holy Land, Israel-not the Moslems or Palestinians. If this makes me a traitor in the eyes of the Moslems, so be it. But I know I'm not a traitor in God's eyes.
israel today: I know some Palestinian Christians, but just a few see the conflict from the Biblical perspective of the Jewish right to the Land. Most of them support the Palestinian fight for ‘liberation.'
Shoebat: That's true. I call such Christians ‘Moslem-Christians'-a mix that doesn't work. When I look back today, comparing what I thought with the facts, I realize that I was throwing stones at Jews without knowing anything about their beliefs or religion. Why did I do that? I was brainwashed in mosques and schools, just like all the kids. We were told that Jews are pigs and apes who have no right to Palestine because they stole our country, and we must fight them to the death.
israel today: How can these two peoples come closer to one another?
Shoebat: Jews and Palestinians don't know each other well enough. Believe me, if Palestinians knew more about the historic and Biblical background of the Jews in Israel, many would think differently about Jewish existence. But the Palestinian leadership blocks every educational attempt to bring people closer to the Jews. Jews and Palestinians must develop honest, interactive relationships with each other.
israel today: But there are reconciliation projects like Musalaha that support the relationship between Jews and Palestinians.
Shoebat: I do not trust the reconciliation project of Salim Munayer because he speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He tells the Jews what they want to hear and the Palestinians what they want to hear. He tries to remove the Jewish roots from Messianic Jews and to question their military service in Israel. How is this possible when Jews must defend their country? Salim, who claims to be pro-Israel, defends only the Palestinian goal. He supports the division of Jerusalem and the return of the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians. The Bible says that the Land of Israel was promised to the Jews, not the Palestinians. In arguing this spiritual-political debate, many Palestinian Christians fail, and so does Salim.
israel today: How do you explain that the Western world, which is striving for freedom, democracy and human rights, has more sympathy for the Moslem East, which disregards those values, than for Israel where these values are upheld?
Shoebat: This is a spiritual battle between Heaven and Hell.
israel today: What is your contribution as a believing Palestinian?
Shoebat: I speak wherever I'm permitted. I want to show people that God is not on the Palestinian side of the struggle against Israel; rather, He is on the side of His people. I've decided to speak up because I was also a victim as a child of Islamic brainwashing against the Jews. Today, I see millions of such ignorant children. And it has nothing to do with the ‘occupied territories.' The hatred against the Jews and terror started before Israel's occupation of the territories in 1967.
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