To devout Muslims, renouncing the “one true faith” is an act of apostasy warranting a death sentence. By Islamic measures, however, Walid Shoebat has three strikes against him: In 1993, he renounced Islam, converted to Christianity — and, unlike most Middle Eastern Christians tutored in replacement theology, Shoebat adopted ardent Zionism along with his new found faith.
“Christ is a Jewish rabbi,” he insists today. “He was a Zionist.” Shoebat believes that God loves Israel. “How can anyone claim to be Christian and hate Zionism?” he asks, citing Psalm 53. “Christians seek ‘salvation’ and true Christians know that ‘salvation’ comes out of Zion, ‘When God bringeth back the captivity of his people’.”
A Muslim who converts to Christianity takes his life in his hands. Even in the U.S., according to Shoebat, former Muslims are often murdered by their families. In such cases, he adds, news reports seldom cover the Islamic motives. One noted scholar of Islam, the former Muslim Ibn Warraq, writes under a pseudonym to protect his life. In Leaving Islam he collects the accounts of more than two dozen apostates that poignantly demonstrate the need of former Muslims for security precautions.
Yet Walid Shoebat’s journey from Islam to Christianity and Zionism is especially remarkable. A self-described former Palestinian terrorist, Shoebat’s dream in the 1970s was to die as a “shaheed, a martyr.” He spent his youth engaging in riots. He confronted soldiers, hoping to be shot — a virtual impossibility, since the Israelis never targeted the torso “without good reason.” Once, he tossed a fire bomb. Another time, he nearly killed an Israeli solider, who was saved only when Israeli reinforcements arrived. Today, Shoebat seeks forgiveness for his terrible crimes.
Born in 1960 in Beit Sahour near Bethlehem — in so-called West Bank territory that Jordan occupied illegally in 1948 — Shoebat was raised in the jihad doctrine. Under Islam, he reports, Palestinian children are inculcated to hate non-Muslims, and especially to hate Jews and Israel.
“The Arab war against Israel is a jihad,” Shoebat says. “Of course it’s a jihad. It is a religious, holy war. What part of ‘religious, holy war’ can’t the world understand?” Even Christians are indoctrinated in jihad ideology, he notes. Rejection of Jewish rights and history in Israel underlies the foundation of this Islamic jihad doctrine. 
In the Middle East, jihad theology has deep historical roots even for some churches. In the mid 19th century, according to noted Islamic scholar Bat Ye’or, the papacy allied with French imperialists to promote Arab nationalism among Arabized Middle Eastern Christians in the Ottoman provinces. They hoped to defeat Britain and Zionism. These efforts failed, she writes in her seminal Islam and Dhimmitude. But in 1970, the Vatican dispatched an apostolic delegate to Jerusalem to establish a Catholic Justice and Peace Commission. That was when the Latin Catholic, Orthodox and other Palestinian churches began building “an Arab Palestinian identity hostile to Israel and shared by Christians and Muslims.” 
Coincidentally, as the seeds of these alliances began to bear their malicious fruit, Walid Shoebat came of age in Beit Sahour. Until fifth grade, he was the sole Muslim in a Christian school. He was taught that Jews were usurpers and thieves, fit only to be “beneficiaries” of virulent, mass-produced hatred — and all that implies. In Islamic school in sixth grade, Shoebat’s jihad indoctrination continued along the same lines. Every song he learned incited blood and murder. “The end product was a terrorist,” he explains.
Not surprisingly, Beit Sahour is also home to Ghasson Andoni and George Rishmawi, are the co-founders of the Rapprochement Center. They also co-founded the International Solidarity Movement with Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro. Both organizations appear to be driven by the malevolent jihad ideology that Walid Shoebat describes. Indeed, at the third annual Palestine Solidarity Conference at Ohio State University in November, ISM featured such radical speakers as Khalid Turaani, executive director of American Muslims for Jerusalem. According to Steven Emerson, AMJ is a radical group that “routinely invokes ‘Zionist’ conspiracies and has featured calls at its conferences for the killing of Jews.”  Last May, the ISM held a $40 per plate dinner co-sponsored by an Islamist group, the Muslim Public Affairs Council. Another sponsor: the American Friends Service Committee.
The jihad against the Jewish people in the holy land dates back centuries. But in March 1920, Yasser Arafat’s idol and relation, Jerusalem Mufti Hajj Amin el-Husseini, reignited the Islamic reign of terror, says Shoebat. El-Husseini sent for muhajideen from Syria to stage bloody riots. Soon afterwards, he led violent agitations to win the coveted role of Jerusalem Mufti over another candidate who apparently did not espouse jihad. 
As a child, Shoebat heard tales of jihad incitements from Beit Sahour elders like Dheib Abd Rabbo: “Hajj Amin el-Husseini said, ‘Do not have pity on them. Take your gun and your sword, and murder the Jews and rape their women.’ At that point, Rabbo decided he would not do this. He would not rape. So he took his gun and his sword and he went home.”
Plenty of others participated, however. “In Hebron and in our village, even before World War II, jihad was genocide,” Shoebat notes. In 1920, Arabs murdered nine Jews in Halsa and Bnei Yehuda. On August 26, 1929, they killed 133 Jews in Hebron, Safed, Motza, Tel Aviv and elsewhere and wounded 339. In 1936, they murdered at least another 70 Jewish civilians, wounded hundreds more, and destroyed Jewish farms, homes, villages, crops and cattle.  El-Husseini influenced Hitler, saluted the Nazi Arab legion, helped create the Muslim S.S. unit that committed genocide in Bosnia and, in 1944, broadcast another call to jihad from Berlin:
“Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion. This saves your honour. God is with you.” 
Michael Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, taught Islamology and Arab philology for decades. According to Shoebat, he hews to Islamic jihad dogma as well. The church doctrine of Jew-hatred rests on an Islamic foundation well-laid by Sabbah’s predecessors, Bat Ye’or confirms. In the 1970s, the Greek Melkite Archbishop Hilarion Capucci was convicted of gun-running for the Palestine Liberation Organization and deported to Brazil. Shoebat, who joined the PLO in the 1970s, once started a major riot in Beit Sahour at Capucci’s command.
Islamic thinking motivated one high-ranking official to recommend that European churches subordinate to Islam through an Eastern “wisdom of sufferance.” Thus Kenneth Cragg, assistant and honorary Latin Bishop of Jerusalem from 1970 to 1985, ignored frequent historical collaboration of church leadership with Islam for personal gain. He also minimized Islamic destruction of holy land churches, abductions, assassinations and forced conversions of pilgrims — Muslim practices ongoing in Israel today — and the Turkish jihad that decimated 1.5 million Christian Armenians. To avoid blaming the real enemy of Eastern Christians, Cragg usurped the false, inverted characterizations first used by Arnold Toynbee, who maliciously cast Jewish victims of Islamic genocide as Nazis who “crucified” Palestine.  “Christians should be appalled by this rendering,” says Shoebat.
Jerusalem Patriarch Sabbah also promotes Islamic loathing of Jews in Palestinian churches. Following a theological map created in 1983 by the al-Liqa Catholic center and a CJPC pamphlet, “Moslems and Christians on the Road Together,” Sabbah supports the Sabeel “Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center,” whose very name suggests a Christian brand of jihad.  In language “stuffed with expressions of compassion, justice, and peace toward and evil Israel,” Sabeel director Naim Ateek refined his perverse jihad ideology,  which Palestinian churches now export to the U.S. at every opportunity.
Palestinian Christians behave much like medieval serfs, and function as subservient little dhimmis. But their acceptance of jihad dogma is a futile enterprise, Malik stresses. Even “removing Israel from the equation and satisfying the Palestinians beyond their wildest dreams would not eliminate the violence against non-Muslims inherent in political Islam.” 
Other Middle Eastern Christian churches better deflected Islamâ€™s corrupting jihad ideology. Rooted in indigenous pre-Islamic cultures, languages and faiths, the Armenian, Assyrian, Serbian, Coptic and Lebanese Maronite churches maintained some religious autonomy before Islamâ€™s timeless advance, according to Bat Yeâ€™or. However they also â€œreact as hostages struck dumb with fear,â€? she observes. Â
Only in 1998 did the Middle East Council of Churches at last awaken to its peril. That year, the council expanded its agenda from a “hitherto exclusive fixation on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian problem,” observes Maronite Lebanese scholar Habib Malik. Now they now also address the welfare of native, mainly Christian non-Muslim minorities, Christian unity and human and women’s rights. 
No one better understands the dangers that Islam presents to Middle Eastern Christianity than former Islamic terrorist Walid Shoebat. “The slogan known to all Palestinians is, ‘Saturday people first and Sunday people next’,” he reports. “It means if Israel and the Jewish people were ever defeated, Christians will be next.” From recent events, that should be obvious. By fighting Israel, Christian leaders like Hanan Ashrawi and George Habash abet their own people’s demise, Shoebat says.
Unfortunately Palestinian Christian leaders stand neck deep in corruption. They take extensive profits from dealings with Islamic terrorists, according to Shoebat. “For American churches, their packaged message is ostensibly peace and justice,” he says, explaining a policy of blatant duplicity. “Do you really think Capucci reformed? He’s a terrorist. They facilitate terrorists. Their message at home is very different from the one they deliver here.”
Occasionally, the politically correct facade maintained for U.S. churches cracks open. Emil Salayta, who heads the Latin Patriarchate schools in Jerusalem, once spoke on “peace” at the Presbyterian Church in Walnut Creek, California. Shoebat attended and challenged Salayta. Could peace be achieved by bombing Israeli buses, he asked. “I have him on tape. ‘Israel must be eliminated, by whatever means,’ he replied.” No one else seemed concerned.
Shoebat cautions U.S. churches and universities to be more wary. “These people back terrorists,” he warns. “Michael Sabbah, Niam Ateek, Elias Chacour, Riah Abu el-Assal and Emil Salayta are evil.” In 1993, at age 33, Shoebat read the Bible for the first time. Only then did he learn — contrary to everything he had been taught — that it was written in Hebrew, and repeatedly invokes peace and praises Israel. He was shocked.
The Palestinian Authority condemns the supposed Israeli theocracy. Yet in December 1920, Musa Kazem el-Husseini, of the Mufti’s clan, demanded restoration of Islamic theocracy in Palestine in a letter to British High Commissioner Herbert Samuel. . The PA Constitution, moreover, formally adopted the rigid, anti-democratic Islamic sharia. Lest there be any doubt of its meaning, Islamic law carefully spells out the institutional inferiority that has been forced on non-Muslims by majority Muslim societies since the time of Mohammed. As Sheik Muhammad Ibrahim al-Mahdi explained on official Palestinian Authority TV in 2001, Muslims
“of Palestine want to meet Allah and we are the soldiers of the Caliphate, that was announced by the Prophet… Therefore, the Caliphate will be in accordance with the prophecy, in Al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem, and in its surroundings…
“We welcome, as we did in the past, any Jew who wants to live in this land as a Dhimmi, just as the Jews have lived in our countries, as Dhimmis, and have earned appreciation, and some of them have even reached the positions of counselor or minister here and there. We welcome the Jews to live as Dhimmis, but the rule in this land and in all the Muslim countries must be the rule of Allah… Those from amongst the Jews and from amongst those who are not Jews who came to this land as plunderers, must return humiliated and disrespected to their countries.” 
Shoebat relates historical and current incitements in Israel to the Armenian genocide, which was also religious war. Armenian Christians were poor and weak, he says, but Muslims were told, “Do not have pity on them. It is your duty to cleanse the land of these people.”
In late 1914, pamphlets throughout the Muslim world called for jihad, Peter Balakian reports in The Burning Tigris. The Ikdam Turkish paper underscored the call to jihad. “The deeds of our enemies have brought down the wrath of God. A gleam of hope has appeared. All Mohammedans, young and old, men, women and children must fulfill their duty…. If we do it, deliverance of the subjected Mohammedan kingdoms is assured.” 
A 31-page Universal Proclamation to all the People of Islam circulated widely in 1915 urged Muslims to complete “the deliverances of all the Islamic kingdoms from the hands of the infidels.” Muslims everywhere must, it continued,
“rise up and as the rising up of one man, in the one of his hands the word and in the other the gun, and in his pocket balls of fire and annihilating missiles and in his heart the light of the Faith, and that we lift our voices to the utmost, saying—-India for the Muslim Indians, Java for the Muslim Javanese, Algeria for the Algerians among the Muslims, Morocco for the Moroccans, Tunis for the Muslim Tunisians, Egypt for the Muslim Egyptians, Iran for Muslim Iranians, Turan for the Muslim Tureks, Bokhera for the Bokharians, Caucasus for the Caucasians and the Ottoman kingdoms for the Muslim Turks and Arabs.” 
Often, Islamic clerics called directly for the extermination of Armenian Christians.
“Despite a previous decision concerning the elimination of the Armenia Race, as the necessities of time did not allow the fulfillment of this holy intent, and now, after we eliminated all obstacles, and seeing that the time has come to redeem our nation from the dangerous race. We have in-trusted you, and we insist, that you do not surrender yourselves to the feelings of pity, as you face their miserable situation. For the cause of putting an end to their existence, you need to work with all your strength, to completely destroy the Armenian name in Turkey, once and for all.” 
Jihad pogroms began exterminating countless Armenian Christians in the late 19th century, according to Balakian. But calls to jihad reached a crescendo in 1914 and 1915. This led Turkish Muslims to butcher 1.5 million Armenian Christian men, women and children. They openly sought to destroy Christianity in the Islamic Ottoman Empire, says Shoebat.
The current jihad in Israel, he says, is of precisely the same nature. “Thomas Friedman wrote that terrorism is an issue of education and an issue of jobs,” says Shoebat. “Excuse me. It isn’t. My own family is very well off.”
Shoebat’s family is better off since his conversion to Christianity: They stole his property in Beit Sahour, he says, and Islamic law prohibits his reclaiming it. An attorney he knows called to warn him: “If you ever go back to Beit Sahour, you will lose a lot more than property. Your children will be taken, and your wife will not be yours.” Islam allows no rights whatever to born Muslims who leave the faith — formally, murtadd fitri — including the right to life.
Frequently, extra-judicial executions of former Muslims and non-Muslims are conducted by slitting the victim’s throat. Former Muslims must therefore sometimes live under police protection. This is the sad case for Sabatina James, who immigrated to Austria with her family from Pakistan. As a former Muslim convert to Christianity, the young woman requires constant protection from family threats.
“I was a terrorist,” says Shoebat today. After coming to the U.S. in 1978 as a student, he participated for years in Arab Muslim “activism,” attended political events, and called, like most Palestinian Americans, for Israel’s destruction. In 1993, he married a Christian woman and now has Christian children.
Shoebat also rescued his American mother from Beit Sahour, where he says she was effectively held prisoner by Islam for 40 years. He was never told that she was herself a Christian. He remembers that once, his mother took him and his brother to run away. But the neighbors spying from their balconies reported her departure. When they arrived at the station, Muslim relations were waiting to take them back. Shoebat’s father cracked his mother’s skull with a hammer. After that, he watched her closely.
Now, Shoebat is surprised by reporters’ facile acceptance of Palestinian political goals. He worries that too many U.S. churches and universities promote Palestinian “peace” emissaries so unquestioningly. Their apparent messages of “justice,” in reality, are thinly-veiled calls to jihad and genocide, he says. “They have no shame for killing. If a Jew ever walks in the streets of the West Bank, he’s dead.”
Despite all this, Shoebat says he loves his fellow Palestinian Arabs as much as he loves the Jewish people and Israel. How so? “Terrorists are also victims. They suffer an occupation of the mind.”
1 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (2002), pp. 279-286.
2 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 280.
3 Steven Emerson, American Jihad: The Terrorists Living Among Us (2002), p. 203.
4 Zvi Elpeleg, The Grand Mufti: Haj Amin al-Hussaini Founder of the Palestinian National Movement (1993), pp. 10-15; Samuel Katz, Battlegroud, pp. 63, 68.
5 Martin Gilbert, Routledge Atlas of the Arab Israeli Conflict (2003), pp. 10-13,
6 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 283.
7 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 284-285.
8 Bat Ye’or, email correspondence, Aug. 5, 2003.
9 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 281.
10 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, pp. 289-291.
11 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 289-290.
12 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 290.
13 Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude, p. 153.
14 “A Friday Sermon on PA TV: We Must Educate our Children on the Love of Jihad,” special dispatch # 240, Memri.org, Jul. 11, 2001.
15 Peter Balakian, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response (2003), pp. 169-170.
16 A Universal Proclamation to all the People of Islam, National Society of Defense, Seat of the Caliphate, 1333 (Muthba’atâ’el Haireyet, 1915) p. 21.
17 Na’aeem Bek, Armenian Atrocities, p. 43.
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