A Palestinian Zionist?
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A Palestinian Zionist?

A Palestinian Zionist?

A Palestinian turns from radical Muslim to true Zionist.

by Alexandra J. Wall

It may sound like an oxymoron, but it's an apt description of Walid Shoebat, a would-be terrorist who now lives in the Bay Area.

In a recent appearance before Berkeley's Bridges to Israel group, Shoebat donned a kippah and proudly proclaimed Ani Tzioni - I am a Zionist - in Hebrew.

Shoebat's talk to a group of about 40 people, took place in the offices of Berkeley's Congregation Netivot Shalom. Bridges to Israel, founded locally by Seymour and Hilda Kessler, is not affiliated with the synagogue, but some of its members are.

Shoebat, 42, hails from Beit Sahour, outside of Bethlehem. He is the son of a Palestinian Muslim father and an American Christian mother. His great-grandfather on his mother's side was the mayor of Eureka in Humboldt County, while his grandfather on his father's side was friendly with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseni, who allied himself with Adolf Hitler.

Shoebat's parents met in the United States, married and moved back to the West Bank. Once there, his father took away his mother's passport. Though she tried escaping several times, she was unable to.

As a young man, Shoebat participated in some political activities - including putting a Palestinian flag on top of a mosque and throwing rocks on Jews praying at the Western Wall.

Shoebat was chosen for a special mission: to deliver a loaf of bread with some explosives inside to the Bank Leumi branch in Bethlehem.

These actions landed him in jail, where he encountered some militants who chose the 16-year-old for a special mission: to deliver a loaf of bread with some explosives inside to the Bank Leumi branch in Bethlehem.

"At the last minute I got terrified to death," he said. "I knew that I didn't want to, and threw it on top of the roof. Fortunately no one got hurt."

In another incident, he "almost lynched an Israeli soldier." The soldier was trying to catch a child who threw a rock at him, and Shoebat and others descended upon the man, inflicting injuries before the victim was able to escape.

When he was 18, he came to the United States and became an activist in Chicago, fund-raising for the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

But Shoebat is a completely different person now. If he could, he would like to meet that soldier, he said. "I would like to seek his forgiveness for this. It's something on my mind for a long time that I want to clear up, and I don't know how to go about it."

The transition began after Shoebat married a Christian woman, and in trying to prove to her that Islam was the true path, he began reading the Bible to prove to her how wrong she was.

"In 1993 I started looking into my enemy's book, the Tanach," he told the Bridges to Israel gathering, "and I came to the conclusion that the Jewish people are the most peaceful people on earth."

Now he is a Christian, whose love for Israel and the Jewish people is genuine.

"I come to you out of love for your people and your Bible, to say my people are wrong. The Arabs and Muslims are wrong.

"The Jew has the right to return to his land. Does this make me a fanatic? Fine!"

His beliefs have strained his relationship with his family. "My own father wants to kill me," he said. At a family reunion several years ago, he was told he must have been brainwashed by the Jews. Fundamentalist Muslims have said he must die because he abandoned Islam, he added. But this doesn't sway him.

While he works as a computer programmer, his real purpose now, he said, is to spread what he sees as the truth.

"That's my mission now - to go to Americans and churches and anywhere I can go and explain God's plan for the state of Israel, and how God intended Israel to be a light unto the nations, and how all of our hatred toward Israel is really evil."

When asked later why he didn't have more sympathy for his people's struggle for a homeland, Shoebat said if more Palestinians understood the Jewish claim to the land, as is told in the Bible, they too would be swayed.

"When I examined what I've experienced and documented the facts, I came to the emphatic conclusion that I was throwing rocks without ever listening to the Jewish cause," he said. "I made my conclusions about Israel as an occupier without ever learning Israel's history.

"Why would I carry a rock or a club and hit a soldier on the head? Because I was indoctrinated in the mosque and the school.

"I never learned about the Jewish connection to the land," he concluded. "But the reality is, this is simply a people and their desire to come home."

Reprinted with permission from The Jewish Bulletin News.

Published: June 28, 2003


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Visitor Comments: 23

(22) Fred Steiner, May 7, 2012 2:33 AM

congratulations, for being so braave to tell the truth

Only truth can bring peace, and a specialy if that truth is spelled out by someone like Walid, rI am sure there are more people like Walid, they should take an examle of his bravery and come out and spread the world of peace among people

Sue Pearce, May 7, 2013 8:26 AM

Adelaide South Australia

Are you the Fred Steiner I so admired in Adelaide? I hope so! We were talking about prison camps today and I had to google you - you are both often in my thoughts Best wishes Sue

(21) Martha Hernandez, June 1, 2007 2:45 PM

I appreciate Walled

I heard Walled speak at a Friends of Israel Prophecy conference at Winona Lake a couple of years ago. I was so impressed with his testimony and courage to speak out the truth

(20) Peper, February 14, 2005 12:00 AM

Walid is for real!

I find it increasingly hard to understand how someone such as Mr. Shoebat who has transformed from wanting to kill Jews etc...to one who wants peace for them, and others is accused of being false or a tool for others!Any respectable person would want to stop children from blowing themselves up to kill innocents.He knows what he was taught as a child, and obviousley it is a part of him he despises, and feels much guilt, thus his need to reach out to those he wished to hram before!!

(19) Bob Annett, May 25, 2004 12:00 AM

Yesterday's Dennis Prager Show

Dear Walid,
I was fascinated by your story while listening to the subject show yesterday. Your's is a message that needs to be heard around the world. America and its coalition partners are engaged in a crucial struggle against the fundamentalist Islamic forces of the world. Victory can be the only acceptable outcome. They are the personification of evil in our world today and yet we have media in America that fail to recognize the truth.
God bless you and your efforts to spread the truth!
Bob Annett
La Mesa, CA 91941

PS--Have you been successful in getting speaking engagements on college campuses? If you have any plans to speak in San Diego, I would like to know when and where. Thanks.

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