I Was Raised for Jihad
by Nonie Darwish

I grew up in Gaza, indoctrinated to hate Israel and the West. For peace to take hold, things have got to change.

Editor's Note: A key contributor to the failure of the Oslo peace plan was the ongoing indoctrination of Palestinian children to hatred -- in textbooks, television, mosques and summer camps. Now, with democratic progress in the Middle East, and the glimmer of hope toward a peace agreement in Israel, an important new initiative was launched this week -- Teach Kids Peace -- to ensure that Palestinian children are educated toward a culture of peace.

The following article, reprinted from, is a first-hand account of education toward a culture of hate.

Terrorism coming out of the Muslim world did not happen by coincidence; it is the direct result of a culture that has been promoting hate, jihad and anti-Semitism for generations.

I grew up in Egypt controlled Gaza in the 1950's, at a time of President Nasser commitment to unify the Arab world and destroy Israel. He mobilized the Arabs in Gaza to start the 'Fedaeen' movement to make undercover cross-border attacks to terrorize Israel. My father who headed the Egyptian military in Gaza and the Sinai at the time, was killed as a result of these operations. He was hailed as a national hero, a 'Shahid,' meaning martyr. Nasser vowed that all of Egypt would take revenge and made no mention of the heavy toll of death and destruction brought upon Israel.

During that time Jihad meant a holy war and was not yet developed into the current epidemic of Muslim suicide bombers. The reason jihad has developed into the epidemic of suicide bombers is because of the deterioration of Arab educational system that has based its curriculum on hate, vengeance and retaliation against non-Muslims, especially Jews.

In Gaza elementary schools I learned of hate, vengeance and retaliation. Peace was never an option and never mentioned as a virtue as long as Jews existed. The Glory of battle was the ultimate honor. They scared us from Jews and taught us to solve disputes through violence. I was told not to take any candy from strangers since it could be a Jew trying to poison me. Girls were in tears reciting jihadist poetry daily and pledging to give up their lives as martyrs.

National Obsession

After several generations brought up under this severe indoctrination, many Arab children were brainwashed like robots to value suicide bombers as someone to look up to in the hope of going to heaven. This unprecedented and extreme form of jihad produced the current generation of suicide bombers who kill non-Muslims with no mercy.

The indoctrination was not just in schools but also in songs, poetry, movies, cartoon and every facet of life. The divine mission of every generation was to take over the endless duty of jihad.

The goal of education was to instill a commitment to destroy the state of Israel; which became the Arab national obsession. Arabs convinced themselves that the existence of Israel gives them a carte blanche to do anything, and nothing was more sacred. The end result is a culture -- out of control, fueled by oil money, and contaminating the world with terror.

As a child, I was discouraged from questioning the teachings of hatred of Jews and other non-Muslims; to do that was an unforgivable sin. I quickly learned to keep my opinions and questions to myself. One has to hate the enemies of Islam to be a good Muslim.

The indoctrination of Muslim children into hatred of a common enemy was also used as a tool for compliance. Jihad needs hatred of an enemy, and hatred comes out of fear, thus fear of Jews had to be promoted constantly by incredible tales and lies. That was not hard since most Arab children never met or interacted with Jews. Isolating and boycotting Israel was thus vital in promoting hate.

Destroy the Infidels

Arab culture relies on fear of a common enemy to bring about unity and cohesion among its citizens to form in a united front. This is necessary in an oppressive culture that discounts individual rights, privacy and promotes death for God's approval. The unity of Muslims has to be maintained and nourished constantly at the expense of hate propaganda against Israel and the West.

Hate speech and violence is also taught in mosques. Muslim clergy have failed miserably in stabilizing their society. Instead of being a source of comfort and wisdom, they have become a source of hate, rage and subversion. They work the worshipers into a frenzy of anger and paranoia against the West and Israel.

I remember, as a young woman, visiting a Christian friend in Cairo during the Friday prayers, and we both heard the verbal attacks on Christians and Jews from the loudspeakers outside the mosque. We heard "May God destroy the infidels and the Jews, the enemies of God. We are not to befriend them or make treaties with them." We also heard worshipers responding "Amen." My friend looked scared, and I was ashamed. That was when I first realized that something was very wrong in the way my religion was taught and practiced.

The end result of this kind of educational system is a dysfunctional society that is exporting terrorism to the world. Arabs have to understand that they have created a failed system that has to be changed. This system is hurting Arab children and society from within more than they realize; it is simply a system that will not solve, but will create worse problems and unintended consequences. The teaching of hate in the hope of hurting the enemy is a form of child abuse against the healthy upbringing of Muslim children.

It is the duty of good Muslims to bring out and uplift the compassion, forgiveness and tolerance in Islam; not only verbally but also through their actions. Teaching Arab kids peace, tolerance and compassion is essential to bring about a better and more prosperous society and the only solution to Islamic terrorism. That is the only way to build trust, respect and peace between nations.

Author Biography:
Nonie Darwish was born and raised in Gaza. She now lives in the US, as a writer and lecturer, working to encourage Arabs and Muslims toward open and mutually respectful dialogue.


Ex-Muslim terrorist turns away from hate

Thursday, April 6, 2006


NORTH CANTON - Only in America could a former Muslim terrorist speak at a Catholic university for a program sponsored by Jewish organizations.

On Wednesday, Ibrahim Abdullah visited Walsh University, where he shared his journey from harboring a visceral hatred of Jews to his conversion to Christianity.

Abdullah was born in Dearborn, Mich., home of the nation’s largest Muslim population.

“I grew up as a cultural Muslim, but an avid Palestinian,” he told the audience of more than 200. “I was born and raised to hate the Jews ... . Unfortunately, many Muslims around the world, regardless of where they live, hate the Jews.”

At his parents’ urging, Abdullah said he immigrated to Israel at age 18, where he joined Fatah, the main, radical arm of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Palestinians, he noted, specifically hate America for its support of Israel and because America is seen as a stumbling block to the spread of Islam.

Abdullah said he was prized by Fatah for his American passport and his fluent English.

“I was recruited the second day I was there,” he said. “I was excited. I hated the Jews. I was taught to believe they were responsible for every evil in the world. I had the same mind-set as a suicide bomber.”

Abdullah was arrested by the Israeli Army, but released two weeks later on the condition that he never return.

Upon coming home, Abdullah embarked upon an intense study of Islam.

“I was captivated by it,” he said, adding that he also began a four-year study of the Bible.

“I was determined to find proof the Bible was wrong.”

Instead, he said he found God. Abdullah said that in contrast to the Koran, the Bible has scientific and archeological proof and eyewitness accounts.

“The more I was amazed, the more depressed I became,” he said. “It took a year to go from my head to my heart. There was an ‘ice block’ there because I hated the Jews.”

Knowing the dangers of converting to another faith, Abdullah said he initially hid his conversion from his wife, but she later converted to Christianity after her own study.

“I came to love the Jews,” Abdullah said. “I love them as much as I love my own people. I came to the conclusion that we’re all the same in God’s eyes.”

Asked whether the Palestinians’ anger is justified, Abdullah replied that the Palestinians have been repeatedly used as “frontline fodder” for the Arabs’ desire to destroy Israel.

“Arabs have been the Palestinians’ worst enemy,” he said.

Abdullah’s appearance was sponsored by the Arlene Knell Education Fund of the Canton Jewish Community Federation and the university’s Ed & Ruth Wilkof Jewish Studies Project.