There is a massive line snaking out from the Wisconsin Room, were everybody was going through metal detectors. It’s clear that not everybody can be accommodated. Indeed, the venue has a capacity of 750, and they have now started turning people away.
A group called “Jews Against Islamophobia” is demonstrating outside the room, five or six people total. They are segregated in a roped-off “demonstration area,” but are in plain sight of everybody there.
7:53 -- an announcement that the event will start in five minutes. Even then, likely a lot of people will be going through security, but you can’t wait forever.
7:59 -- people are still streaming in, the program is just starting.Introduction
Lists sponsors, Conservative Union at UWM, Committee for Truth and Justice, Hillel and Advocates for Israel, Milwaukee.Shoebat
Says: “Happy Chanukah”
Tells personal story, how his mother and father met. Mother a Christian, father a Muslim. Went to Christian school, where the teacher said he was the only one who cared about learning the Bible.
Remembers Six Day War. Purpose was to destroy the Jews and throw them into the sea. His mother was reminded of the story of Joshua and Jericho.
Not going to take one side: will pick on Christians, and Muslims and Jews.
Objects to being called an “Islamophobe.” Points out that all religions can be criticized in the U.S., but if you criticize Islam, you are an “Islamophobe.”
Quotes Mohammed: famous passage about a rock that says “there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
Cites anti-Semitic comments from around the Middle East.
Remembers seeing pictures of holocaust on black and white TV. Asked teacher (he’s now apparently in a Muslim school) about it, and was told it was a Jewish plot, not real genocide.
His mother wanted to get out of Muslim territory, but the law did not allow it. “For 35 years my mother remained captive.” She could not leave until 1994, when Shoebat became a Christian, and “rescued” her.
Muslim/Christian marriage? It’s virtually always a Muslim male marrying a Christian woman, and not vice versa.
Wasn’t taught about the Jewish connection to the land of Israel, but that the Arabs were the original Canaanites. His school curriculum came from Jordan. Lacked any concern with critical thinking skills.
But there was a strong emphasis on wiping out the Jewish state.
He considered himself a Jordanian originally, but then the doctrine changed after the Six Day War, such that the place he lived became “Palestine.”
He asked his uncle whether life was better when Israel ruled over Palestinian territory, or when a Palestinian government did. His uncle said it was much better under the Israelis. Then why not advocate Jewish rule? “Arabs will never agree to be ruled by Jews” said his uncle.
Says a Palestinian state will be a “Hamas state.” Talks about two Jews getting lost in Ramallah, and they were lynched my Muslims. Indeed, the entire male population was involved, shouting “Allah Akbar.”
When he converted to Christianity, he got a call telling him he lost all his land. He points out that the Jews didn’t steal his land, Muslims stole his land.
He realized “in my culture, you can’t change your mind.”
In 1991, something began to change for him. He took a trip to Israel. A Jewish woman was sitting next to him in the plane. He began to talk (taking on the manners of a Californian!), and found the woman had children in the Israel Defense Force. He asked her, “what do you think of your children killing Arabs.” She began to cry, and explained that she loved Arabs.
He took trips all over Israel, and noticed graffiti. It said (apparently in Arab neighborhoods) “we knock on the door of heaven with the skulls of Jews.” He also noticed a gang of Arabs stoning a bus full of Jews.
Asked why Arabs are allowed to live in Israel (and even have Mosques), while Jews are not allowed to live in Palestinian territory.More Observations
His Aunt Fatima had a son killed by Israeli soldiers. This resulted in a celebration, since the dead son in Heaven was supposedly interceding for family members.
“We have created a civilization that loves death more than life.”
Tells of developer who wanted to build an apartment building for Palestinians, but his proposal was rejected by the Palestinian authorities because they like to keep the refuge camps. The visual images were good propaganda.
Objects to Jimmy Carter, who first said that Christianity is “not about politics,” but then wrote a political book critical of Israel.
Confronts his father with the fact that a Jewish doctor saved his life. Asked if he ever said a prayer for the doctor. Response: “cursed be the Jews.”
Asks himself: “what is really the problem?”
It’s obvious, he says: “you see it on television.” “Death to American, death to Israel.”
“The American people still haven’t woken up and smelled the humus.”
He begain to do research. “Was the holocaust real, or was it a fabrication.” Discovered it was real.
Went to garage sales to buy Jewish songs. He was expecting war songs. When he was a kid and listened to Palestinian radio, he heard lots of war songs. He sings some of those songs for the audience.
Finally found one song with the word “war” in it. He went to a Jewish doctor to ask for a translation, and it was “the Gentiles will not learn war anymore.”
Gives multiple stories about the anti-Semitism he encountered as a child. But says anti-Semitism is common here in the U.S. Cites some demonstrations where the shout is heard “who controls the media.” And the response is: “the Jews.”Still More
Says Palestinians should be willing to say “the problem with my country is not the occupation, it’s in our minds.” Talks of Jews forced out of other Middle Eastern countries. Who created the State of Israel? “Our hatred created Israel.”
Quotes Hitler saying that Islam would have been (if the Battle of Tours had gone the other way) perfect for the German temperament. Says that Muslim treatment of Jews was very much like Nazi treatment of Jews.On Sharia
“Islam creates suicide.”
Yassar Arafat response to discussion of terrorism: “we are only killing Jews.”To the Critics
“Are you fighting the real terrorists?”
“Are you fighting the real racists?”
“I am the one who is hated now. I’m the one who is being hunted now.”
“Vigilance is the cost of freedom.”
“Appeasement is the process of feeding the alligator, hoping he eats you last.”[End of Speech]
Strongly favorable response from crowd.[Question & Answer Session] Questioner
: challenges whether Shoebat was really a terrorist.Shoebat
: refers to Daniel Pipes website. Claims he can produce various documents.Questioner
: Why do you accept money from fundamentalists?Shoebat
: I have a sign in front of my house saying “accepting Zionist bribes.” But he hasn’t gotten any. Has had trouble being accepted by mainstream Jewish organizations because he opposes a Palestinian state.9/11 Conspiracy Theorist
: says that Mossad staged 9/11 attacks. He is pretty much hooted down by crowd.Questioner
: are all Muslims extremists?Shoebat
: absolutely not. One of his best friends is Muslim. Notes Muslim demonstration in U.S. where the slogan was “down with terrorism.” But Arab student groups don’t take this attitude.Questioner
: why can a Teddy Bear not be named Mohammed? Further, can you explain the statements about Palestinians being the Cannanites, pre-Joshua.Shoebat
: somewhat long answer, defending the right of Israel to occupy the land it does now. Land was bought, he says.Questioner
: Why are Jews so naive about the threats that face them?Shoebat
: somewhat long and rambling answer.[At this point, our Wi-Fi connection failed. So from this point on, we are summarizing.]
Over the course of the event, and especially during the Q & A, the crowd became rather boisterous.
Questions were met with applause. People shouted out questions out of order – without coming to the microphone and being recognized.
In one case, a person (obviously a critic of Shoebat’s) began to make a speech. The moderator asked “are you making a speech,” and the fellow said “yes.” The moderator told him to ask a question or please sit down, and supporters in the crowd shouted “let him speak!”
It appeared that both Muslims and Jews were well-represented in the audience.
Pro-Shoebot comments got loud applause, while one anti-Shoebat heckler shouted “moron!”
The nadir came when one hostile questioner said to Shoebat “you’re a speck like this, and I’m going to stomp on you.” This was the only threat of violence during the evening. Shoebat replied “I’ve never lost a fight.”
Another questioner (apparently an Arab) brought up the “Jenin massacre,” and even how humane Saladin supposedly was. Shoebat corrected him on the facts of the “Jenin massacre.”
Shoebat made no bones about being a fundamentalist Christian who takes Biblical prophecy very seriously. But he handled the issue well. One questioner asked “Haven’t you given up one extreme [radical Islam] for another?” Shoebat made it clear that he believes that Jesus will return to earth at Jerusalem to lead a defensive war to protect Israel from attackers on all sides.
He then asked, “suppose I’m wrong?,” and added that the worst that happens is that Christians like him hang around and nothing happens. This in contrast to Islam, which preaches violent conquest.Evaluation
Like all people obsessed with a particular evil, Shoebat tended to overstate the danger of radical Islam. For example, he rattled off a series of countries in which radical Islam has won elections, or would win elections if fair elections were held.
He didn’t bother to mention that Al-Qaeda has been routed in Iraq.
Some his comments about Islam were extremely harsh, but he did concede that there are moderate Muslims. He clearly feels they are too few.
We see his views as an authentic response to the real, virulent extremism and real anti-Semitism that he has seen. He is extremely passionate – some would say fanatical. But passion is an appropriate response to what he has seen.
But that’s not to say that his outlook on Islam is fair and balanced. It’s a legitimate response to an unbalanced set of experiences he has had. It’s not all of Islam, and probably not even most of Islam. It is too much of Islam.