On May 5, Pajamas Media published a piece written by Walid Shoebat, a former Muslim PLO operative-turned-Christian-Zionist, calling Mosab Yousef, the son of a well-known leader of Hamas who became an informant for Israel, “more double agent than turncoat.” In this piece, Walid quoted translated portions of interviews Yousef made on various Arabic media outlets.
Among the comments made by Yousef was, “Israel is the problem, and as an occupation it needs to end.” He also referred to Israel as “the enemy” and stated, “We will have our victory against Israel.”
In the days that followed, Yousef responded to Walid’s criticisms on his blog. Yousef attempted to excuse his comments by accusing Walid of quoting him out of context, pointing out that the Arabic language is far too culturally nuanced to be captured accurately by a mere English translation. While this may be the case, Yousef was unable to satisfactorily explain away most of his comments.
The second post on Yousef’s blog was entitled “Shame on you, Walid Shoebat.” This post was written by Yousef’s friend and manager, Gonen Ben Itzhak, a former Israeli Shin-Bet agent. Itzhak very strongly denounces Walid in nearly every way possible, accusing him of being a complete fraud, while extolling Yousef as a hero.
While I strongly disagree with the spirit and approach of Mr. Itzhak’s letter, no doubt it was motivated by a desire to stand up for his friend Mosab. This is completely understandable. And as a friend of Walid Shoebat, I would also like to say a few things that need to be said.
I’ve known Walid for about four years, having worked with him closely while co-authoring the book “God’s War on Terror.” During the time I have known Walid, I have seen an onslaught of accusation leveled against him. The most pronounced attacks began with an article featured in the Jerusalem Post accusing Walid of lying about his past activities as a PLO operative in Bethlehem. Since this time, numerous political and theological opponents have continued to recycle these same accusations, none adding anything new. The thing about accusations is that they are easy to make. But worse, they need not be true to do damage to a person. In today’s world, accusations are a cheap but powerful tool. As they say in dirty politics, “It’s not the truth of the allegations, rather the seriousness of the charge that matters.”
That said, I want to say a few things concerning the accusations against Walid Shoebat.
A few years ago, I participated with Walid and a couple of security experts on a panel discussion concerning terrorism and radical Islam for a television show in Phoenix. Upon hearing that Walid was coming to Phoenix, an old friend from Bethlehem had emailed him and asked if they could get together. After recording the show, we all went out for dinner, with Walid and his friend sitting across from me. This was the first time they had talked since they were young adults in Bethlehem. There around one table was a Jewish rabbi, a former agent in the Israeli Mossad, as well as Walid and his friend, both former anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli operatives, all enjoying sweet fellowship as followers of Jesus. (Who says that there is no hope for peace in the Middle East?)
Now, I had heard the charges against Walid. Yet while sitting with Walid and his childhood friend, not once did his friend ask him why he was busy traveling the country making up lies. Instead, I listened for hours as these two recounted many old stories that validated Walid’s story. (I know Walid’s testimony well, having scoured several of his written accounts, regathering and editing it for use in the book “Why We Left Islam”).
At one point, Walid recounted nearly beating an Israeli soldier to death with a piece of wood during a riot. Walid’s friend chimed in, “Walid, don’t you remember? I was the one who handed you the stick.”
For a moment Walid and his friend looked at each other, remembering the crime they had committed together. Then they both hung their heads, shaking them in shame and together they grieved out loud, “Lord have mercy on us. This was nothing to be proud of.”
Many other things were discussed, which shouldn’t be recounted here. But my point in recalling this story is to put my two cents in and assure you that Walid Shoebat is not a fraud. Walid is the real deal. To those many critics, especially fellow Christians, who have recycled accusations against Walid because of mere hearsay or something that they read on the Internet, you should truly be ashamed. Walid is a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people. For this he should be honored.
And Yousef’s story is also true. Despite having been raised under the weight of Hamas’ indoctrination, he made the hard decisions, risked his life and became an informant for Israel. He is also a believer in Jesus. This young man has been through a lot, has made some incredibly courageous decisions and has certainly risked his life to do what is right. For all that he has done, this man also must be honored.
But while Yousef should be acknowledged for his stance against the violence of Hamas, it does not erase the fact that he still seems to agree with the end-goals of Hamas, which is the establishment of a Palestinian state. This position, although sadly embraced by many churches today, is not only fundamentally contrary to the concepts of justice, but also unarguably in conflict with the Lord’s position on this issue as defined for us in the Scriptures. (Joel 3:2-4, Zechariah 14:1-3, Isaiah 25:8-10, Isaiah 34:12, Isaiah 60:11-14, Isaiah 63:1-4)
Walid and Yousef have both opened the idea of meeting together to work through their disagreements. My hope is that beyond reconciling as brothers in Christ with very similar pasts, Yousef would also come around to understand that if one is to truly follow Jesus, they must move on to embrace the full revelation of who Jesus is, what He does when He returns and whose side He has told us He will be on.