Brigitte Gabriel is an Arab who is outspokenly pro-Israel. Her controversial viewpoint, however, may surprise you.
By Zach Reff

“It was an absolute nightmare of a life,” said Brigitte Gabriel, a Christian Arab who grew up in Lebanon during the throes of a devastating 15-year civil war. The tale of her early life is a tragic story that ends with an unexpected twist: her experiences turned Gabriel into a self-identified “hardcore Zionist.”

Today, Gabriel lives in the United States and is a controversial advocate for the State of Israel. Last month, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) brought her to San Diego to give two speeches about her experience growing up in Lebanon and how she eventually came to embrace Israel. “I believe that the JNF had her speak because she had the unique experience of what it is like to be an Arab and a Christian in Israel and our purpose in bringing her to speak was that she share that experience,” said Mitchell Simon, the Regional Director for JNF in San Diego.

Gabriel’s two speeches were held at the private homes in San Diego: one at the home of Shirley and Manny Ravet on the evening of September 29, and the other at the home of Linda and Jeff Church the morning of September 30. About 50 people attended the event at the Church residence and most seemed to be mesmerized by Gabriel’s story. “I came to the talk because I’m passionate about Israel,” said Mimi Gross, a member of Chabad of La Jolla who has seen Gabriel speak twice before. “She has so many facts and knowledge in her story. She’s phenomenal. She’s powerful.”

Gabriel’s story begins in her birthplace of Lebanon. Lebanon was once the only country in the Middle East with a Christian majority. During the 1970’s a civil war broke out between the Christians and the Muslims in the country, fueled by changing demographics, inter-religious strife and disagreements about the country’s national identity. Gabriel’s Christian family found themselves trapped in the middle it.
Her house was bombed and for years her family lived in a single-room bomb shelter as the fighting raged outside. She says she witnessed or heard of countless atrocities committed by the Muslim army including babies being torn in half and mothers forced to slaughter their own children. “These are the types of people we are dealing with. They have no soul,” said Gabriel. When she tells her story she speaks quickly and passionately and often runs out of breath.

In Lebanon, Gabriel says she was raised to hate Jews and was taught that Israel was her enemy. “I remember growing up all we would hear on the radio and on television is that, ‘Israel is the devil. That Jews are evil,’” said Gabriel. Today, because of the traumatic events in her past and the ways in which Israelis helped her family in their greatest time of need, she is a staunch supporter both of Jews and of Israeli life and culture.

“Israelis raise their children on love, on hope, on respect, on tikkun olam, to one day repair the world. They teach their children, ‘One day we’re going to have peace with our Arab neighbors,’” said Gabriel. “The Arabs, on the other hand, teach their children that, ‘One day we’re going to kill every single living, breathing Jewish soul and throw it into the sea. They teach their children hatred from their mother’s milk.”

In 1982 Gabriel’s mother was wounded by shrapnel. Gabriel took her mother to the only hospital she could reach—an Israeli one across the border. It was at that hospital that Gabriel first fell in love with Israel. She witnessed her mother, a Christian Arab Lebanese woman, getting treated ahead of Israeli soldiers simply because her injuries were more severe. It left Gabriel with the feeling that Israelis and Jews are compassionate and fair people, while at the same time she was understandably bitter toward those she blamed for the war at home--namely Muslims and Arabs. “The civil war in Lebanon was not between the Lebanese-Christians and the Lebanese-Muslims. It was basically a war in which all the Arabs, all the Muslims in the Middle East, tried to kill the Christian influence in Lebanon,” said Gabriel.

While Gabriel’s speech at the Church residence seemed to be well received, this has not always been the case. Some hold Gabriel’s views to be extreme and many of her past speaking engagements, including at Duke University and Columbia University, have been followed by heated debate and charges of racism. Last March, the Hillel at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada drew criticism from some students and student leaders for bringing Gabriel to speak during Israel Week on campus.

After hearing Gabriel’s speech, Emily Keogh, a student at Queen’s University, wrote a letter to the school’s student newspaper, The Journal, expressing her outrage. “Unfortunately, Ms. Gabriel was unable to provide me with any useful information and was indeed guilty of massive generalizations and oversimplifications regarding the Arab culture. Her talk was replete with rhetoric akin to hate speech,” said Keogh. Keogh was incensed that Gabriel presented herself as an authority on both Arab and Islamic culture. “We also need to recognize that even though Ms. Gabriel herself is an Arab, she is not in a position to make massive generalizations about the cultural practices and moral integrity of an entire population. She used her Arab heritage as a platform to criticize Islam, which she obviously knows little about.”

Sara Berger, the President of Queen’s Hillel at the time, says that Gabriel was brought to speak because she offered an interesting perspective. “She grew up with these experiences. It’s not so much from an academic perspective, it’s much more personal and because of that, it’s easy for her to get upset or express emotion. She doesn’t hold back like an academic speaker would,” said Berger. Looking back, Berger admits she regrets bringing Gabriel to her campus on behalf of Hillel because she believes Gabriel did not further Hillel’s cause and says that it’s important to bring speakers who are able to distance themselves from the subject on which they speak. “I understand that the Jewish community is trying to move away from bringing in the same old Israeli speaker to speak about Israeli borders or whatnot, but sometimes it’s just more effective to have a calm advocate come to speak.”

When Gabriel spoke at the Church residence in Rancho Santa Fe last month, Linda, who hosted the talk, introduced Gabriel by saying, “She will reveal what Arabs in general and Muslims feel about things…” Gabriel went on to tell the captivated audience, some of whom wept during the talk, about her life in Lebanon and thoughts about Muslim and Arab cultures--terms she often used interchangeably. “Islamic cultures by their sheer values are incompatible with civilized society,” said Gabriel. She also said that she is currently working on producing a television show that will monitor Arab media and, “show the American public how the Arabs lie about everything.”

According to statistics listed on the Middle East Policy Council website, there are over a billion Muslims worldwide, less than a fifth of whom are Arabic. After Christianity, Islam is the second most practiced religion worldwide and one out of every five humans alive follows its teachings. In addition, there are anywhere from 200-300 million Arabs worldwide.

“We of all people (as Jews) should be cautious about allowing anything we say to be construed as condemning an entire people,” said Morris Casuto, the Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego. “Now, you can certainly condemn the actions of countries because you condemn the actions of governments.
You can condemn the actions of organizations like Hezbolah or Hamas or the Palestinian authority for what they give license to other people to do. But to say, ‘All Arabs are…,’ or, ‘All Muslims are…,’ certainly steps over the line of prejudice and bigotry.”

“What I understand from Brigitte’s talk is that her whole focus was to tell Jews and Christians to go find out what’s going on in the world. Her purpose was absolutely not to have anybody have any negative feelings toward Arabs,” said Simon. He added, “We (The JNF) do not believe she was making any blanket statements about Arabs in her talk, otherwise we would have sent her out of the room.”

Gabriel did indeed tell the audience at the Church residence to educate themselves about what is going on in the world, and more specifically, to learn about their Muslim neighbors. “Find out how many Mosques and Madrassahs (Muslim Schools) are in your community. Find out who is funding them and call the F.B.I. and tell them,” advocated Gabriel. She claimed that 80-percent of Mosques in the United States are at least partially funded by Saudi Arabia and thus, are devoted to the training of terrorists and the teaching of hate. “If we are a democracy who fights for people’s freedoms and rights, we cannot allow such hate education to continue about any group in this country,” said Gabriel.

Susanne Marx, a member Beth Am who was at the speech, agrees with Gabriel. “The only way to teach other people what’s going on, and to raise awareness is by having speakers like this.”

Gabriel also repeatedly reaffirmed her love of Israel, and of Jews in general, throughout the talk. During a brief question and answer session, a few people complimented Gabriel but there was no one who challenged anything she said in her speech. “It is human nature to give people the benefit of the doubt when they speak in terms that support some of your most strongly held views,” said Casuto. Casuto stressed that it doesn’t mean there was no one made uncomfortable who saw Gabriel speak in San Diego. “It takes a certain form of courage to stand up and challenge a speaker,” said Casuto.

Gabriel has made quite a lucrative career out of retelling her story. In addition to being a sought after speaker, shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks she founded the American Congress for Truth (ACT), a political action committee meant to, in her words, “inform people about the news they do not hear in the media, inform them about what’s happening in the United States and inform them about terrorist cells.” Members of ACT (it is free to be a member but donations are encouraged) are sent emails alerting them to various Islamic terrorist activities worldwide and what Gabriel calls “Muslim infiltrations of our society.” Some of these recent “infiltrations” ACT informed its members of include the computer manufacturer Dell allowing its Muslim employees to pray during their workday and a bill asking the U.S. House of Representatives to recognize Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal (similar to the way in which Christmas is a recognized holiday).

Every email sent by ACT has a brief statement about the group’s mission at the bottom of the page that includes the line, “We are committed to combating the global upsurge of hate and intolerance.” A recent email sent on October 5th to subscribers of ACT’s mailing list written by a woman named Arlene Peck began like this, “You know, for an intractable and barbaric group of people, who have made their dysfunctional ‘religion’ into an obsession we all have to take note of, Muslims have learned ‘the system’ pretty well.”

It is comments like these (Gabriel herself has called Arabs barbaric in previous speeches) that have concerned some listeners of Gabriel’s talks and brought charges of bigotry. “Nobody can call me a racist, because I’m an Arab,” said Gabriel.
Gabriel says her passion is not to be confused with anger and says she would fight just as passionately for any group that was being abused.

Asked about the JNF’s position on Jewish-Arab and Jewish-Muslim relations, Simon said, “The Jewish National Fund has been responsible for many, many projects in Israel to better the Arab-Jewish relationships. In fact they’ve given money, a lot of money, and a lot of education to Bedouins in the Negev. And they hold very strongly that we should have a strong and healthy relationship with all the Arab’s in Israel.”

“I speak passionately because I’m an advocate for peace,” said Gabriel.
“Somebody has to throw political correctness in the garbage and start speaking the truth.” After all, she adds, “Evil dwells when good people keep their mouths shut.”

Funding Abu Mazen's Hate Education
By Yoram Ettinger

Abu Mazen's hate-education has benefited from US foreign aid ($3BN), which has been extended – since 1994 - to the Palestinian Authority (PA), to Palestinian NGOs (all of which are controlled by the PA) and to international organizations, which assist the PA (e.g. UNRAW).

The Palestinian Terrorist Act 2006 (H.R. 4681) – introduced by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Tom Lantos – would stop such misused funding to the PA.

1. Abu Mazen's education system reflects his ideology/strategy, more than his dialogue with the West. Abu Mazen is the architect of PA education, shaping long term attitudes toward Israel and the Jewish People. It is the main manufacturing line of homicide bombers, a role model/reservoir for Islamic and international terrorism.

A Feb. 9, 2006 analysis of 2004-5 PA school textbooks was conducted by Israel's "Center of Intelligence Legacy".

2. Abu Mazen's education system idolizes martyrdom-homicide bombing (5th grade "Our Beautiful Language" pp. 31, 36, 70; 10th grade "Grammar" p. 30), denies the Mideast roots of Judaism, of the Jewish People and of Israel, repudiates Israel's right to exist, fuels anti-Semitism and glorifies "the claim of return" (code name for the destruction of the Jewish Country).

3. Shaheeds (homicide bombers) "live next to Allah" (5th grade "Our Beautiful Language" p.26) and their blood is pure (10th grade "Grammar" p.146 and "Islamic Education – part II" p.48 and 5th grade "Our Beautiful Language" p.32). A full chapter in 5th grade "Islamic Education" glorifies Shaheeds, including the first female Shaheed and a mother of four Shaheeds (pp.42-44). Supporting Shaheed families is a pinnacle of morality (5th grade "National Education" p.16, 10th grade "Environmental and Health Sciences" p.54). Palestinians revere a religious war on Israel (10th grade "Islamic Education – part II, p.50). A popular male's name is Jihad (Holy War).

4. Israel's establishment – in 1948 - is "the beginning of occupation" and the 1967 War is "continued occupation". Pre-1967 Israeli towns are "illegal settlements" (10th grade "Modern World History p. 64). The 1917 Balfour Declaration is damned (5th grade "Mathematics – part II" p. 114, "Our Beautiful Language" p. 57).

5. Israel does not exist, according to all PA maps and PA school textbooks, but in a disparaging manner. It is replaced by "Palestine" (5th grade "History of Ancient Cultures" p. 53; 10th grade "Modern World History" p. 86; 10th grade "Environmental Sciences" pp. 112,114). Haifa is Palestinian (5th grade "Our Beautiful Language" p. 86), as are the Galilee and Nazareth (10th grade "Home Economy" pp. 36-7), the Lake of Galilee (5th grade "Physical Geography" p. 25) and the Mediterranean lies on the Palestinian coastline (ibid p. 26).

6. The "Claim of Return" is the central theme, to be realized via Holy War at the expense of Israel's existence (5th grade "Our Beautiful Language" p. 88).

7. The "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", which spearheaded Soviet Anti-Semitism - a best-seller in the PA and in Arab countries - has been integrated into Abu Mazen's education system. The "Protocols" expose the racist nature of Zionism and its plan to control the globe (10th grade "Modern World History" p. 63).

8. The Jewish connection to Zion is denied vehemently, and the reference to Judaism is mostly derogatory. 5th grade "Muslim Education – part II" pp. 46, 52, 54-55 claims that Moses and Aaron were sent by Allah, in order to convince Pharaoh to accept Islam!

9. Holocaust Denial is promoted by "Modern World History", consistent with Abu Mazen's own Ph.D. thesis at Moscow University, (10th grade "Modern World History" p. 83).