The Continuing Absurdity of Walid Shoebat
Richard Bartholomew printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:00:35 PM EST
The shadowy Clarion Fund's recent mass distribution of the anti-Muslim film Obsession via American newspapers has once again put the spotlight on Walid Shoebat, the Palestinian-American convert to Christianity who is presented in his usual role as an expert on Islam and Palestinian society. Shoebat has also recently given yet another pair of public talks, this time at Sioux Falls, South Dakota; at Augustana College he gave his usual "from hate to love" conversion narrative, and the next day he spoke at the local Central Baptist Church on "Islam in Bible Prophecy".

Shoebat's claims of having a terrorist past have been widely-discussed, at Talk to Action and elsewhere, including at the conservative Jerusalem Post. Although some conservatives - such as Debbie Schlussel - are sceptical of his story and of his character, many others have staked their credibility on endorsing Shoebat: along with the Obsession film-makers, Daniel Pipes is probably the most notable. Shoebat is also on the advisory board of right-wing groups such as the "Endowment for Middle East Truth".

Probably we will never know for sure how accurate Shoebat's autobigraphy is, but even so, a brief survey of some of Shoebat's recent pronouncements must cause his backers some discomfort, for the simple reason that they are obviously preposterous.

I've already dealt with Shoebat's claim that "666" is Arabic for "In the name of Allah" and foretells a Muslim anti-Christ, which he justified by reference to an ancient manuscript of the Book of Revelation which does not exist. He also recently expounded on the significance of horses for Muslims and Nazis, in a radio interview that discussed why the Bible predicts Muslims rather than Russia attacking Israel:

[Interviewer:] I [wouldn't] look for Russia to be attacking on horses as the Bible talks about. It would be clear to see Muslim nations attacking Israel on horses. You know, because they're still predominately using horses. Right?

[Shoebat:] That's right. In fact, the Nazis used horses, the German army. Horses were a very main element of transferring and transforming [sic] weapons, and soldiers, that all kinds of things like that. And the Muslims do have tons of horses.

This perhaps just the most baldfaced example of Shoebat pulling assertions from out of thin air, to make what must be the most strained argument ad Hitlerum in history.

Media Matters has another choice quote, in which Shoebat explains Barack Obama's Indonesian educational background in conversation with G. Gordon Liddy:

[SHOEBAT:] Well, when I went to a government school -- you know, it wasn't a madrassa. He was not in a madrassa school, but it was a government school. And in those schools, from fifth grade, we learned what is called Islamic eschatology, that the day of judgment will not come to pass until the tribes of Islam destroy the tribes of Israel, the Jewish people.

LIDDY: Well, would he have achieved -- been exposed to those things at the age of 10, in a government school over there in Indonesia?

SHOEBAT: Yes. It would be the same thing, it would be exactly the same kind of an education system.

Again, this has simply been pulled out of thin air - Shoebat has no knowledge or experience of primary education in late 1960s Indonesia, yet he feels able to make the most inflammatory definite assertion (one that had been debunked already anyway).

Shoebat's appeal is that he offers his audience what amounts to a conspiracy theory about Palestinians and Muslims: he alone has broken ranks to tell a hidden truth about how horrible and evil Palestinians and Muslims really are. It would be foolish to ignore the problem of Islamism in Palestinian society, and the turn to Hamas has been disastrous for anyone who believes in civil society. But Shoebat has only a one-dimensional account of Palestinian life as a constant deluge Jew-hating Islamist brainwashing going back to the beginnings of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in a deranged Deliverance-like society where horrors such as gang child-rape are considered normal.

In fact there are many Palestinians who have published in English well-received books about life in Palestine: Karl Sabbagh's Palestine: A Personal History, Raja Shehadeh's Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape, and Sari Nusseibeh's Once Upon a Country are just three; I should also mention Edward Said's Out of Place, despite Said's status as a hate figure on the US right. Doubtless such books contain arguable points, but these are serious works by serious people. By contrast, there is no sign that Shoebat has any special insight or knowledge about Palestinian society or Islam, whatever the truth about his background, and every sign of a media-savvy chancer enjoying the status of "expert" simply because he is willing to pander to the prejudices of the ignorant.

My local paper in Dayton, OH sent a copy of  "Obsession" in last Sunday's paper. Needless to say, I pitched it immediately and let the Dayton Daily News know that I was displeased to find this trash in the paper. Other readers in Ohio and Pennsylvania (including writers to the Toledo Blade, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) have been offering similar criticisms, although in fairness, I should mention there have been relatively few defending "Obsession." The critics have had more letters sent than the defenders.

The Clarion Fund thinks fear will sell just as well this year as it did in 2004, but some of us never bought it. Unfortunately, it might just sell with some people.

by khughes1963 on Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 03:30:10 PM EST

2004 is right, khughes. Corsi's swiftboating attempt hasn't grabbed like it did in '04, and the right is getting desperate. This is so blatant that anyone with two brain cells to rub together should see it for what it is. Unfortunately...

by trog69 on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:29:01 AM EST
And see Chris Rodda's posting, thanks to the DVD, someone has decided to gas children at a mosque while their mothers were at prayer. I hope the Clarion Fund is proud of itself-not!

by khughes1963 on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 09:13:28 PM EST

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