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Thread: Wow. The Palestinian Militant Turned Zionist

  1. #1
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/mid...st/3430077.stm

    Palestinian militant turned peacemaker

    Walid Shoebat vividly remembers the tumultuous days of June, 1967, when Israel and its Arab neighbours were at war.

    For six days and six nights, Walid and his family hid in the bathroom of their home in Jericho, as fighting raged outside.

    "On the sixth day, everything went quiet," Walid told BBC News Online. "My father was listening to Arab radio and the news said: 'We cleansed Jerusalem of the Jews'. Then we opened the door and there was this Israeli tank with the Star of David flag standing in our street!"

    Less than a week after the war began, Jordan had been repelled from the West Bank, Israel had taken over and the map of the modern Middle East had been redrawn.

    A humiliating defeat for the Arabs, the Israeli victory spawned a new generation of young nationalists determined to restore lost pride, vanquish the enemy and establish a Palestinian state.

    "From kindergarten we were taught that Jews were dogs," said Walid. "We were taught that Jews were the converts of monkeys, that Jews were Sabbath breakers and prophet killers. We even considered Arabs in pre-1967 Israel traitors because we could not understand how they could co-exist with Jews."

    'To die as a martyr'

    As a teenager in the mid-1970s, Walid joined the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and became a local activist - printing fliers, organising demonstrations and confronting Israeli troops.

    "My whole dream was to die as a shaheed [martyr]. At demonstrations I would open my shirt hoping to be shot - but the Israelis would never shoot at the body, so I never succeeded," he said.

    One day, in the middle of a riot, Walid was part of a group which snatched an Israeli soldier who was trying to quell the violence.

    They beat him senseless and tried to lynch him, before he was rescued by troops and the group fled.

    "We ran to a monastery where the nuns protected us - even they hated the Jews!"

    Walid was eventually caught and imprisoned in the Muscovite Prison in Jerusalem, but was released after a few weeks.

    He returned to violence straight away, bombing an Israeli bank in Bethlehem.

    The course of Walid's life took a turn when his parents sent him to the United States to get a better education.


    Walid says it will take a generation for attitudes to change
    Walid enrolled in Loop College in Chicago, where he became president of the Palestinian Students' Association, raising funds for the PLO and recruiting volunteers to fight in Lebanon.

    He eventually moved to California, where he met his current wife, a Catholic from Mexico.

    "I wanted her to convert to Islam," he said. "I told her Jews had corrupted the Bible and she asked me to show her some examples of this corruption. At this point I had to go and buy a Bible and I started reading it and I saw the word 'Israel' all over it. I had to be brutally honest - the very word I hated the most was throughout this book!

    "I thought: 'How do you explain this?' Then I started thinking, really the Jews didn't do us any harm but we hated them and accused them of all this horrible stuff. I began to think more openly."

    In the mid-1990s, Walid went to a family reunion in southern California where a row broke out after he defended the biblical matriarch Rachel, whom his uncle had called a "Jewish whore".

    " 'You deserve to be spat at'," my uncle said, "and they threw me out the house".

    "I realised they knew nothing about history, all they knew was the same propaganda that I had been taught."

    Speaking out

    Walid's convictions led him to renounce violence and convert to Christianity but it was at a price: his family disowned him and his own brother threatened to kill him for abandoning Islam.

    His disappointment with his own family's ideology and remorse at the folly of his youth strengthened Walid's resolve to speak out against militancy as a way of solving the Palestinian problem.

    "Yes, there is personal risk to myself. If I went back to my village of Beit Sahour I would live five minutes, I can guarantee it. But I hope that by speaking the truth I will open other people's eyes."

    "I chose to speak out because I was a victim, as a child I was a victim of this horror. Now I see other victims, millions of them, kids.

    "I was taught songs about killing Jews. You need to get rid of the education system where they are teaching this type of thing and get rid of the terrorist groups. It will take a generation, but until then, there's not going to be peace, it doesn't matter what kind of land settlement you have."

    A militant-turned-peacemaker, Walid wants to meet the Israel soldier he tried to kill almost 30 years ago.

    His voice cracking with emotion, Walid said he would offer the soldier his hand and say to him: "'Please understand, we were just children, brainwashed to kill you, to hate you.' I would seek his forgiveness."

  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
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    And the Zionist turned Palestinian activist is here. Both by the same author, but you will notice he is a lot easier on the palestinian than the Isreali woman. Perhaps because the author is a Zionist himself?

    Though you are incorrect, he became a Christian not a Zionist. That is tied into Jewish faith.

    In an office on the fourth floor of a building in East Jerusalem, a group of Palestinian women wait impatiently.

    They are here to see their lawyer, but she is busy on the telephone.

    It is a hot day and the windows are open in a vain attempt to air the stuffy room.


    A picture on the wall catches my eye. It is a painting of Palestinian prisoners sitting shackled on the ground in a desert camp, watched over by menacing-looking Israeli guards.
    I notice that the room is adorned with pictures - all of them depicting scenes of Palestinian suffering.

    As I sit there wondering about the images, I am brought back to reality with a jolt. "Come," commands a woman with a gravelly voice. "Sit," she says, gesturing towards a chair.

    "Now, what is it you want to discuss?" she asks.

    The woman is Lea Tsemel, a straight-talking lawyer, well-known and respected by human rights groups in Israel for her work with Palestinians.

    To many Israelis, though, she is anathema. Her business is to defend would-be Palestinian suicide bombers who have been captured by Israeli security forces before they could blow themselves and others up.

    "It is hard to say how many bombers I represent," she says, but agrees it is probably in the dozens.

    'Negative and bad'

    Born in the Israeli port of Haifa in 1945, Ms Tsemel was 22 when Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Six Day War, the outcome of which, she says, affected her profoundly.

    "Only in the '67 war did I realise really what it was all about. Until then I was a very moderate Zionist woman.


    "The occupation made it very clear to me that there was something wrong, and I started to ask myself all kinds of questions and came to the conclusion that Zionism is negative and bad, and that we are oppressing the Palestinians.
    "Since then my future career was more or less determined."

    Ms Tsemel represented Palestinians accused of violence in the first intifada, in the days before suicide bombs were the militants' favourite weapon.

    "It used to be Molotov cocktails, but it has changed. I see suicide bombings as just another development - a technical development, nothing else.

    "Everyone fights with their abilities - the Israelis have helicopters and rockets and the Palestinians have nothing but themselves and some very primitive home-made explosives."

    Such "primitive" home-made explosives have killed hundreds of Israelis and maimed countless more, many in the streets just yards from where we are sitting.

    'Better suicide than surrender'

    Despite their devastating effects, Ms Tsemel says she understands the motives behind suicide bombings.

    "I grew up in an Israeli culture where suicide attackers are really heroes", she says.

    "Look at Samson, who in order to fight the Philistines in Gaza made the theatre collapse on himself and all the civilians there. He is a very big hero among Jewish children.
    "I grew up on the myth of better suicide than surrender. So what is so special about suicide bombers?"

    I suggest that many Israelis would find her views hard to digest, but Ms Tsemel is firm in her convictions.

    "I don't understand why people would find my views abhorrent. If you ask any Israeli to put himself in a similar situation of occupation and oppression for 36 years - everyone would say they would do the same, including [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon.

    "I never heard any similar criticism from those Israelis who are shocked by the killing of women and children in suicide attacks, of an Israeli rocket attack that kills Palestinian civilians."

    Ms Tsemel says she has never asked any of her clients why they chose to become suicide bombers because to her it is abundantly clear.

    "I don't support such actions or see this as the solution, but I can very well understand how suicide bombings became a very popular way of fighting - first, because it is quite successful; secondly, because people are ready to risk everything in order to achieve some progress in the national struggle.

    "They feel it was something they had to do. No-one that I know was tempted into it. They all volunteered themselves.

    "Those who were stopped before they could explode their bomb are happy they were not killed and they see it as a sign of God, that God did not want them to die."

    But do they ever think that what they set out to do was wrong?

    Ms Tsemel sits back and clasps her hands. "Some regret their actions," she says. "It happens."


    The author makes great play on the deaths of a few hundred Isreali's, but no mention of the deaths of a few thousand palestinians (over a 1/4 of who were children).

    It pays to check your sources.

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    There are lots of Israelis who are pro-Palestine. It's a free society and I'm quite sure that you know of Peace Now, a large organization that advocates immediate return of all occupied territory in return for peace. The Israeli public even voted for Barak with the understanding that this is pretty much what he'd attempt to accomplish.

    An Israeli who thinks that they should get out of the occupied territories is not a rare breed. The whole argument is how to do it. A Palestinian who is loud about Israel deserving a country is news. Like he says, if he went back home he'd live 5 minutes. Peace Now rallies used to attract hundreds of thousands of Israelis without any mass murder.

    As for the author being tougher on the Israeli... I think your own bias is taking over. He's easy on both of them and I think he did a good job of letting both speak their minds.

    And another thing. A zionist is someone who believes in a Jewish homeland in current-day Israel. It's not based on the believer's religion.

    It pays to check your facts.

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #4
    Such "primitive" home-made explosives have killed hundreds of Israelis and maimed countless more, many in the streets just yards from where we are sitting.

    The author makes NO play on the deaths, it is a statement of fact. Great play would include the use of emotive terms such as "great" or "innocent women and children", or "viciously slaughtered". I noticed you slipped the "children" thing into your body count. Kudos, impartial observer.

    If her statement was "great play" she must have a limited vocabulary.

    The "great play" aspect is also inconsistent when you consider that she also said this:

    "I never heard any similar criticism from those Israelis who are shocked by the killing of women and children in suicide attacks, of an Israeli rocket attack that kills Palestinian civilians."
    I think her point was that she is literally in the "middle" of the action and she observes both sides.

    You are so agenda driven that you appear to be more interested in rebuttal than considering the message. These articles have nothing to do with which side is right, at all.




    The message of these articles is not much different than Mark Twian's message in Huckleberry Finn published in 1885. Huck was taught that Blacks were more akin to animals than humans and it wasn't until he spent time on the river with the escaped slave, Jim, that he became "de-educated" and saw the person through the lies.

    The message is that if people are willing to question what they have accepted unconditionally (the lies and propaganda on BOTH sides) and attempt to look at the other side of the coin, they will find that perhaps they can relate to the enemy, maybe it is just a matter of truthful communication and dissolution of the lies which have bred hate and fear to the citizens on both sides.

    People really are people.
    Aren't we in the trust tree, thingey?

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #5
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    My point was that in the article on the palestinian, there is no mention of the large amount of palestinian civilian deaths caused by the illegal occupation. In the article on the Isreali, deaths were mentioned. Yes, deaths on both sides. But that is not my point - it is the airbrushing of palestinian deaths in the first article.

    I am not interested in rebuttal of the stories per se, as they are interviews with people who have views formed by their respective backgrounds and experiences. Both are in the realm of opinion rather than statements of fact on the situation. I was referring to the journalistic spin used and also pointing out that people go both ways depending on their values/experiences.

    I have no argument with your statement about considering the other side as that is self evident, but we must never forget that Isreal is illegally occupying the palestinian land and running a de facto apartheid state. Like resistance movements the world over, the palestinians are entitled to defend their land and fight oppression. If you do not agree with that then you also sanction the Nazi occupations, Saddam's occupation of Kuwait, etc etc.

    People are indeed people the world over. After watching a recent BBC series on the Holocaust, it reinforces the tragedy that it is the Isreali's behaving in such a manner.

    Oh and to counter the inevitable anti-semitic jibes - first get your terminology right, then remember that the IDF former Chief of Staff, the Chief Rabbi of the UK, decorated IDF soldiers and pilots who have served for 15+ years, and a large section of Isreali's themselves agree with my opnions.

  6. The Drawing Room   -   #6

  7. The Drawing Room   -   #7
    Originally posted by 1234@28 January 2004 - 22:45
    My point was that in the article on the palestinian, there is no mention of the large amount of palestinian civilian deaths caused by the illegal occupation. In the article on the Isreali, deaths were mentioned. Yes, deaths on both sides. But that is not my point - it is the airbrushing of palestinian deaths in the first article.

    I am not interested in rebuttal of the stories per se, as they are interviews with people who have views formed by their respective backgrounds and experiences. Both are in the realm of opinion rather than statements of fact on the situation. I was referring to the journalistic spin used and also pointing out that people go both ways depending on their values/experiences.

    I have no argument with your statement about considering the other side as that is self evident, but we must never forget that Isreal is illegally occupying the palestinian land and running a de facto apartheid state. Like resistance movements the world over, the palestinians are entitled to defend their land and fight oppression. If you do not agree with that then you also sanction the Nazi occupations, Saddam's occupation of Kuwait, etc etc.

    People are indeed people the world over. After watching a recent BBC series on the Holocaust, it reinforces the tragedy that it is the Isreali's behaving in such a manner.

    Oh and to counter the inevitable anti-semitic jibes - first get your terminology right, then remember that the IDF former Chief of Staff, the Chief Rabbi of the UK, decorated IDF soldiers and pilots who have served for 15+ years, and a* large section of Isreali's themselves agree with my opnions.
    Since choosing or defending sides bears no relation to the message of the articles, why comment on that?

    If you want to talk about that, there are only 18 threads and 6000 posts on the subject already. Not every thread needs to be dragged down this same street.
    Aren't we in the trust tree, thingey?

  8. The Drawing Room   -   #8
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    Maybe we should have a pinned Israel\Palestine thread.

    This is an ongoing subject, it's in the news every day, people are always going to comment on it. It is not possible to stay neutral when you firmly believe one side to be more to blame, and when you believe that side holds the keys to peace. Understanding both sides does not preclude taking sides. Each side having a case does not make them equal.

  9. The Drawing Room   -   #9
    Hobbes, good post up there. I didn't feel like the author put any spin on the articles either and I don't know how Israel became compared to apartheid South Africa, Hitler's Germany, Hussein's Kuwait. And all in one post!

    Sorry 1234, you truly lose all credibility by going there. By stretching your argument to hyperbole, it devalues your total point alltogether. It makes you look like you're a foaming at the mouth one-trick pony, someone who is so overboard that you're not worth even trying to speak to rationally.

    How's this for a surprise: I feel enough for both sides that I can make a convincing argument that both sides are right. I diasgree with the settlement policy but I feel that Israel was right in occupying the land until peace could be established.

    Open your mind, buddy.

  10. The Drawing Room   -   #10
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    How do I lose credibility exept from those with closed minds?

    Apartheid - check out Isreali law, esp on land.

    Holocaust - those ghettos in Poland etc look damn similar to refugee camps and besieged towns in Palestine.

    Saddam - he invaded a neighbour and declared the land his own. At least he didn't claim justification from a book of 2500 year old morality tales though.

    Open your mind, buddy.

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