Another irony in regards to the Walid Shoebat narrative is that he claims he was fueled by religious teachings to destroy Israel while being a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), yet the PLO was not an Islamic group, but an Arab nationalist movement with Marxism leanings.
The PLO’s former spokesperson during the Yasser Arafat era, Hanan Ashwari, is Christian. She and many of PLO members, while it was considered to be a terrorist organization, weren’t born in Muslim families but Christians. Why did they join the PLO and accept violence as a means of resistance? Was it because of Christianity or occupation and oppression?
Violence against civilians by any group, Marxist, Islamic or Jewish, is never acceptable. This fraud is promoting fear through a narrative of the Palestinians that is fallicious.
Self-described ex-terrorist to lecture
Controversial group at MSU hosting talk by ex-PLO member
Lansing State Journal
Walid Shoebat grew up near Bethlehem, living what he calls “basically a very violent life.”
As a teenager affiliated with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, he says he tossed a bomb onto the roof of a bank and, with friends, nearly lynched an Israeli soldier.
“The whole notion of destroying Israel was part of our goal,” said Shoebat, 47, who now lives in the United States, has converted from Islam to Christianity and tours the country offering his controversial take on Islam and terrorism.
He will visit Michigan State University on Tuesday.
Critics say Shoebat’s conversion to Christianity skews his view of Islam, that he paints the fundamental fringes of the religion as universal and that his stories about his past are questionable.
“Either he’s a fraud or he should be detained by the Justice Department if he really was involved with a supposed terrorism attack in Israel,” said Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“He has no credibility among people who know Islam, the Muslim world and the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Mohammed Ayoob said of Shoebat.
Ayoob is a professor of international relations at MSU’s James Madison College and author of the new book, “The Many Faces of Political Islam” (University of Michigan Press, $22.95).
“He, and others of his ilk, pander to the basest Islamophobic instincts of a small group of people, some of whom are rich and powerful, and make a living out of doing so.”
Eric Thieleman is co-chair of MSU’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, which booked Shoebat’s talk with funding help from the Virginia-based Leadership Institute.
“We’re in very volatile times right now,” Thieleman said. “Terrorism is still an issue. It hasn’t gone away. It isn’t going to go away. We needed to be prepared for everything.”
He said Shoebat is entitled to express his opinions.
“I don’t buy that he’s preaching against Islam,” he said. “It has nothing to do with that.”
The MSU chapter of Young Americans for Freedom – classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – has brought other controversial speakers to MSU, including Minutemen co-founder Chris Simcox and British Nationalist Nick Griffin.
Shoebat, born to a Muslim father and an American mother, says he was imprisoned as a teen for his PLO activity, but was released because he had U.S. citizenship through his mother. He moved to Chicago to go to college.
“I remember the streets of Chicago, demonstrating and crying out as loud as I can, saying, ‘Who runs the Congress? Israel.’ ‘Who runs the media? Israel.’ ”
He said he was recruited by a U.S. branch of Hamas. He was forced to break up with his girlfriend, not listen to music and live in seclusion.
“After a while I just couldn’t live that dungeon lifestyle,” he said.
He said the current terror problem is directly connected to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, and blames the West for helping build the confidence level of Islamists.
Shoebat says the only way to end terror is take away that confidence by crushing groups he calls “terror infrastructure,” including Hamas and Hezbollah. He compares today’s situation to the rise of Nazi Germany.
“For me to say, ‘We have a war,’ makes me an Islamophobe,” he said. “But the Naziphobes were right.”
Walid, of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said talks such as Shoebat’s distort the image of Islam.
“They seek to define the Muslim community not by its true productive, moderate core but by radical fringes,” he said.