"I truly hate my job," said ex-Palestinian terrorist Walid Shoebat. As a child, Shoebat was indoctrinated into hating Israelis, but as an adult he now travels extensively speaking out against terrorism. The Bethlehem native and Arab Christian lives in Northern California with his wife and two children. Before emigrating, he was a Holocaust denier who also spent time in an Israeli prison. As a teenager he attempted to blow up a bank. Shoebat talked by telephone with The Jewish Journal prior to his speaking engagement in Los Angeles this Sunday.
Jewish Journal: What has changed in Palestinian terrorist culture since the death of Yasser Arafat?
Walid Shoebat: I've always been an advocate for keeping Arafat alive as long as possible, because Arafat was a known enemy and President Bush refused to speak with Arafat, and now with this new enemy [Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas], America is demanding that Israel resume negotiations. It is much worse when we think our enemy is our friend. The chameleon is now growing again and is waving an olive branch; the leopard has not changed its spots. These are enemies of Israel.
JJ: But suicide bombings are down this past year, so it would seem that a lot of Israelis are willing to talk and negotiate with Abbas.
WS: The drop in suicide bombings was not a result of a powerful peaceful desire by the Palestinians. It's because Israel did that right by expanding its security fence, tightening its borders and cracking down on bomb factories. Terrorism is down when Israel decides to use strength. Peace does not come in a vacuum.
JJ: But some world leaders at least want to give Abbas a chance and try something new.
WS: They have, in history, tried something similar with the Nazis, when they wanted to give Hitler land in Czechoslovakia. Israel has two choices whether to crack down on the terrorists themselves: clean house or keep kowtowing to terrorism and watching it expand and grow. Land for peace is not going to work.
JJ: What do you think of the Cedar Revolution going on now in Lebanon?
WS: It's a positive thing. Syria is not going to give up Lebanon; Hezbollah needs to be cleaned out as well. It's a terrorist organization. I'm not for Israel starting a war with Syria or involving itself with Lebanese issues. Israel should be concentrating on cleaning house in Gaza.
JJ: What role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is played by America's mainline Protestant churches, which often give strong support to the Palestinians, such as the Presbyterians' push for divestment of funds of companies doing business with Israel?
WS: They play a similar role to the Islamists. I call them Islamists in Christian garb. I went to the Anglican-Lutheran school in my [West Bank] village, and there I learned that Abraham and Jesus were Palestinian revolutionaries. The Bible is being taught in these schools as the theology of liberation. They cooperate very closely with the Palestinian Authority. They all have one thing in common, they all want to divide Jerusalem.
JJ: Many Christian Zionists in the U.S. are concerned and upset with Bush at his advocating of some land-for-peace swaps. Do you think Christian Zionism helps or hurts Palestinian Christians?
WS: It can't hurt Palestinian Christians. I agree with them for being angry at Bush. I believe Bush should be kept at bay, because these [Christian Zionists] are one of the main reasons why he won the presidency. They have a right to be angry.
JJ: One complaint that more centrist and liberal American Jews have about Christian Zionism is that there is no depth to their Zionism. Can you see how this Christian Zionist issue would be a problem for less politically conservative Jews?
WS: The less conservative Jews believe we should create the state of Palestine. They don't understand that this whole notion of Palestine is not an issue of land; it's an issue of eliminating and taking away the Jewish guardianship of Judea and of also eliminating the Jewish people from Judea.
The problem is over Jews living in 1.7 percent of the land of Judea. If the creation of the state of Palestine would be just a normal national movement, why are Jews not allowed to live in it as part of a state?
JJ: But politically centrist and liberal American Jews want to compromise for peace.
WS: It is easy for these people to compromise on land with homes that do not belong to them. They did not pay any sweat and blood with these communities. It would be something else if it were their own homes in America. Whoever in the world says that it is normal? We throw the community out that is being terrorized, and we allow the terrorists to remain?
"Confessions of a PLO Terrorist, Walid Shoebat Speaking in Defense of Israel," will be held on Sunday March 13, at 7 p.m. (sushi and cocktails), 8 p.m. (lecture). $18-$36. Writers Guild Association Theatre, 135 S. Doheny Drive, Beverly Hills. For tickets, call (800) 742-2228.