Brigitte Gabriel Conclusion
Editor’s Note: In our last issue, we ran a portion of a print interview with Brigitte Gabriel. We continue with portions of a transcribed interview that Ms. Gabriel gave us permission to use. She is a former Jerusalem news anchor for World News Tonight, and her story will astound you.
From age 10 to 17, Brigitte lived in a bomb shelter, hiding from the Muslims who were torturing and murdering Christians in Lebanon. Taught to hate and fear the Jews, she is so loyal to Israel today that she buried her parents there and founded AmericanCongressforTruth.com. Her book Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America is now available.
We will briefly recap events in Lebanon before Brigitte found herself in a hospital in Israel.
When the Palestinians started fighting in Lebanon [in the 1970s], the war took on such savagery that it was inconceivable. They would massacre the Christian cities. City after city. A signature Palestinian way to kill a Christian man is to cut the man’s genitals, stick them in the victim’s mouth, and cut a cross with a knife on his chest. That’s how they used to kill the Christian men and leave them lying on the ground.
The Palestinians would park a cannon in front of our bomb shelter and shoot at Israel, fully knowing that Israel was going to retaliate and that we were going to die, because the way they would do it is they would shell Israel, then drive their tank away. So when Israel would shell back, we [Christians] would die and make great evening news, great ratings.
And that is a tactic that Palestinians use over and over. They hide between civilians. And they always chose the Christian homes only, not the Muslim homes, because they wanted us to die. It was unbelievable for us as Christians to even fathom the barbarisms and monstrosities that they committed, because we have no point of reference for such savagery.
We were raised in Lebanon thinking that Israel was the devil and the Jews were evil. But a few people from my town went to Israel and begged for help. And that’s how we stayed alive. Israel would come in the middle of the night and bring supplies to the Christians. That’s how we stayed alive for seven years.
In 1982 Israel entered Lebanon. And notice how I say “entered” Lebanon, not “invaded” Lebanon. The Christians were praying for Israel to enter Lebanon and liberate them from the Palestinians. And the only reason Israel came into Lebanon was because Hezbollah was working with the Palestinians, and also with the Syrians; and we had a lot of other Muslims from a lot of Arabic countries that came to Lebanon to fight Israel. While Israel entered Lebanon, the Muslims and Palestinians were shelling us frantically. One of their bombs exploded in front of my bomb shelter as my mother was running for the shelter; she became wounded.
Our only lifeline was Israel. That’s where all the wounded went to get treated. For seven years, medical treatment was free of charge to anyone who needed it, when Israel took care of us.
We put my mother in an Israeli-donated ambulance and drove her to the border. It was a 10-minute drive. When we got to the border, the Lebanese driver asked me for money for the fee. Like an innocent teenager, I pulled all the money my daddy had given me out of my pocket and showed it to him. “Give me $30,” he said. It was half the money I had. I gave it to him, and I thanked him from the bottom of my heart.
They transferred my mother into another Israeli ambulance inside Israel. The driver was an Israeli soldier. He was so nice to me. He treated me like his own daughter. He put me at such ease because I was afraid. I didn’t have anyone in Israel. My mother was half conscious in the back of the ambulance. And I was stunned at how nice that Israeli driver was.
We got to the hospital. They took my mother into the emergency room. I walked around to the Israeli driver to pay him. He looked at the money and he said, “What is this?”
I said, “Don’t you need the fee for the ambulance?”
And he said, “No, this is a free service from us to you. Keep your money, and I wish you well. I hope your mother recovers.” I thought, What an honest man. What an ethical man. And all of a sudden I felt very angry because I realized that the Lebanese driver, who drove me for 10 minutes, robbed me. That was my first lesson in the character and values of the Arabic people versus the Israeli people.
At the Hospital in Israel
We went into the emergency room, and there were hundreds of people wounded. There were Lebanese brought in from Lebanon; there were Christians, Muslims, Palestinians, all brought in from Lebanon. I could not believe my eyes. And I thought to myself, I can understand why they are treating me. After all, I am their friend. I am a Christian. I am their ally. But why on earth are they treating the Palestinians and the Muslims? These are the enemy; these are the people who were bombing us. Little did I know about the values of the Israeli people.
The doctors treated everyone according to injury. They did not see religion. They did not see political affiliation. They did not see nationality. They treated people like human beings in need. The doctor treated my mother before he treated the Israeli soldier lying next to her because her injury was more severe. I thought to myself, This is unbelievable. Maybe this is an exception.
They took my mother to the fourth floor of the hospital, and we were in the room maybe five minutes when I heard all this commotion outside our window. I went to see what was happening. Two Israeli helicopters had just landed, bringing in Israeli soldiers wounded in Lebanon. I stood on the balcony looking at that scene, and I felt ashamed. I felt embarrassed. I felt out of place. After all, these people were wounded because of the war with my country. I didn’t look at anyone around me. There were a lot of people. There were mothers of wounded soldiers, fathers who were in the hospital with their children, and nurses. I didn’t make any contact with any-body around me and kept looking at the floor.
Then I felt this tapping on my shoulder. I looked, and there was an Israeli nurse looking at me. She said, “You are new here, aren’t you?”
I said, “Yes. They just brought in my mother. She’s in this room.”
She could see the fear in my eyes, and she just put her arm around me and said, “Don’t worry. We’ll take good care of her. Everything will be fine.”
For the first time in my life, I experienced civilization. I broke out crying, sobbing, because I experienced the compassion and the love and humanity that I knew my society would not be able to show its enemy. I knew for a fact that if I were a Jew standing on the fourth floor of a Lebanese hospital, I would be lynched and thrown down to the ground as shouts of joy, of Allahu Akhbar [“Allah is great”], echoed through the hallways of the hospital and down the streets.
When the Israelis found out there were Lebanese wounded in Israeli hospitals, they came bringing presents. They came extending a peaceful hand. They came bringing chocolates. They would visit the wounded families and ask, “What can we do for you? What can we bring you? Our homes are your home. If you need to sleep, if you missed bringing something from home, please let us bring it to you.”
It was unbelievable. I became friends with the families, with the mothers and the sisters of the wounded soldiers in the hospital. One in particular was Rena Potashnick. I’ll never forget her name. Her only son, Amir, was 19 years old and wounded in his eye. He lost sight in that eye.
She became like my surrogate mother. I spent a lot of time with her because I was with my mom in the hospital for 22 days. I would visit Rena, and one day in particular the Israeli army band came to play national songs to lift the Israeli soldiers’ spirits. I was visiting in her room when they came. They stood around Amir’s bed. And I felt so out of place that I started walking out of the room. Rena started crying, listening to the music. And when she sensed that I was walking backwards to leave the room, she pulled me by my hand, bringing me back inside. And she hugged me and said, “It’s not your fault.” And we both stood there crying.
I thought to myself, What a contrast between her, a mother looking at her only child, now deformed, and still able to love me, the Arab. What a contrast between her and the suicide bomber’s mother who sends her only son and daughter to strap bombs around themselves and blow themselves to smithereens just to kill a Jew or a few Jewish children.
I spent 22 days at the hospital. Those days changed my life. They changed the way I believe information, watch television, and listen to the radio, because I realize I was fed fabricated lies about the Jews and Israel that were so far from reality. I realize that it was my culture that taught hate. It was my culture that was unable to love and show compassion to its enemy in their time of need the way the Israelis were able to show compassion to the Palestinians, to the Muslims, and to the Lebanese in their time of need. And I realized the difference in values and character between the Arabic society and the Israeli society.
And that’s basically where the problem stems from. It’s a difference in values.
When my mother finished her treatment in the hospital, we had to go back to Lebanon. I was delighted to be back because I missed my father so much. We had been gone for a while. But it was a double-edged sword because I did not want to go back to Lebanon. And the minute we crossed the border, I felt I was crossing back into the gates of hell. I remember grabbing onto the barbed wire to the point where it cut the palm of my hand. I was bleeding, crying, telling my mother, “Please don’t take me out of here [Israel]. I do not want to go back into Lebanon.”
She looked at my face and said, “And who is going to take care of me and your dad?” I was an only child. I had to go back to Lebanon. And I felt I was being sentenced back to hell. I went into deep depression. I didn’t want to leave the house. I stayed home.
All I thought about were my days in the hospital because I had left my heart in Israel. I left my heart with people who taught me respect for humanity, respect for human life. I was able to see a side to the Israelis that I knew for a fact did not exist where I came from. They had respect for humanity that I didn’t know of until I went to Israel. They had compassion. They had values. They had principles that were foreign in my culture. I was so depressed, and I vowed that one day I would return to Israel because those are the type of people I want to be like. I ended up going back to Israel three years later to work in Jerusalem.
Facing Death for Reporting the Truth
I got a job working as news anchor for World News Tonight in Jerusalem. It was a dream come true. In my wildest dreams I never thought I would be able to work in Israel in such a profession that gave me the ability to meet world leaders and be exposed to information that was not filtered through Arabic filters and Arabic propaganda.
I was able to make decisions and learn about situations in the world where I could evaluate and form an opinion, my own opinion, based on factual information without the exaggeration and the propaganda of the Arabs. It also gave me insight into the Palestinian and Israeli cultures.
Jerusalem is the pinnacle of East meets West. In Jerusalem you have the western side of the city where the Jewish people live, and you have the eastern side of the city where the Arabs live. And the contrast is blinding.
I learned about the exaggeration of the Arabic media and what truly was happening in the territories. We would visit our Christian friends in Bethlehem. And it got to the point where the Christians were afraid for their lives because they were so intimidated by the Palestinian Muslims.
The Palestinian Muslims would go into the Christian cemeteries, break the crosses, and dig up the bodies. When we would interview these Christians, we had to disguise their faces because their lives were threatened just because they were telling the truth. If a neighbor ever found out that they were speaking about what they were being subjected to, they would be killed. The intimidation and death threats were unbelievable.
In the Old City of Jerusalem where I was working as a news anchor, in the Christian quarter a few Christian girls walked home from Catholic school dressed in the Catholic uniform. And there were a few incidences where Muslim Palestinian students would throw acid in the Christian girls’ faces. A couple girls were deformed because of acid and had to be taken to Israeli hospitals. I was able to see the Israeli side that always believes the best, hopes for peace, and teaches its children, “One day, we’re going to have peace with the Palestinians. One day, we’re going to have peace with our Arab neighbors. And we’re going to do everything we can to achieve that peace.”
Yet you would visit the Palestinians, and the Palestinians teach their children, “One day we’re going to kill all of the Jews and drive them into the sea.” I saw nothing but two faces: one, a face of hate and evil; the other, a face of love and compassion. And that’s what the situation is between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
As a reporter, I was afraid for my life because in the Middle East, when you speak the truth, when you report honestly, your life gets threatened. If the Palestinian media cannot control what you’re saying, you are a major threat to them because you are informing the population of what is truly happening. And that’s what I did when I worked for Middle East Television. They tried to assassinate me in Lebanon.
One day they shot at me when I was walking home.
They thought I was dead, but I played dead in a ditch until they left, and then I crawled home.
They chased me in Israel. Twice I was chased for two hours between Tel Aviv and Haifa. I traveled wearing wigs so people would not recognize who I was. I would always disguise my appearance.
People in America do not realize that, in this country, we can voice our opinions; we can even curse the president on national television and never fear for our lives because we have freedom of press, freedom of speech. In the Middle East there is no such thing. Many journalists in the Middle East have been shot, killed, or lost their jobs; it’s a well-known tactic in the Palestinian territories. You do not go against the Palestinian media or you will be killed. And the tactic they’re using right now is that they’re accusing reporters of being traitors, of being informants to the Israeli army; and they’re killing them publicly. Hezbollah published my picture in the Hezbollah magazine in Lebanon along with the Israeli news anchor from the evening news, calling me a traitor and saying I should be killed, calling me an Israeli informant, an Israeli spy. It was very dangerous for me to even travel within the security zone inside Lebanon.
Before I left Israel and came to the States, I wanted to make sure both my parents were buried in Israel. My father was living with me before he died, and I buried him in Jerusalem at Mount Zion. But my mother had died a year and a half earlier. So before I came to the States, I went back to her grave, dug her out of her grave, took her out of her casket, put her in another casket in my car, drove her to Israel, and buried her with my father. I wanted to ensure that my children, yet unborn, will always know where my loyalty lies and will always be drawn to Israel. I believe actions speak louder than words. If you are ever in Jerusalem visiting the Oskar Schindler cemetery, you will pass my parents’ graves on your way to his tomb.
The PA Doesn’t Want Peace
People need to realize that when the PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] was formed in 1964, Gaza was illegally invaded and occupied by Egypt, and the West Bank was illegally invaded and occupied by Jordan. It wasn’t Gaza and the West Bank that Yasser Arafat was fighting to get. It was Israel proper. Today under the Palestinian Authority [PA], when you see maps of Palestine, Israel doesn’t exist. The maps show the whole area as Palestine. They want the whole land. They do not want Israel to exist in the Middle East. They do not want any Jews living in Arabic territories.
Yet look at Israel. Israel has Muslim-Israeli citizens. They have Muslims in parliament in the Knesset. Show me one Arabic country in the world that has a Jew in its government. The Arabs hate the Jews, and they do not want the Jews in the Middle East. Israel could give the West Bank to the Palestinians, and it’s not going to be enough. There’s not going to be peace. They’re [Arabs] going to fight to get more and more and more.
The Palestinian leadership is corrupt; it is the cancer that is killing the Palestinians. Ever since the Palestinian Authority came into power in 1995, millions of dollars have poured in from the United States and European Union into the Palestinian territories and went into the pockets of Yasser Arafat and his cronies, while the Palestinians are still living in refugee camps. Refugee camps under their own leadership!There is no other group of people in the world who live under their own leadership in refugee camps like rats without dignity. They live on top of each other.
The least the Palestinian leaders could do if they care about their people is take some of that money and allocate it to improve the Palestinian territories. Let them build townhouses for the people. Let them go to the bathroom in decent bathrooms. But instead, it goes for bribery, for driving the Mercedes, for driving the BMW, for fancy vacations, for fancy homes. Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] has a $1.5 million home in Gaza. How many Palestinians live in Gaza in a $1.5 million home?
The Palestinians need to wake up and kick their leaders out. The world cannot do it for them. They need to realize they are being used as puppets in the hands of a corrupt leadership. And they need to kick that leadership out and start negotiating with the Israelis if they want peace.
Hamas in America
The Palestinians learned to manipulate the media. They know how to play the West like a violin. When the Israelis, for example, go after Hamas leaders, those Hamas leaders hide among Palestinian civilians. They [Hamas] are basically killing their own people. But when you watch the news at night, and you realize that when Israel kills a Hamas leader and 14 other people are dead, some of them children, the West thinks, “Oh my gosh. Israel is doing a horrible thing here.” People need to realize that these leaders are hiding among these children. They’re killing their own people. The West does not understand how the Middle East thinks.
We are in a state of war. We are fighting a holy war that’s been declared on Jews and Christians worldwide. Yet in this country we are burying our heads in the sand. You have organizations such as Duke University, which are supposed to be intellectual places where people come to learn and be tolerant about each other. Yet a university like Duke allows a hate fest, basically, where people can stand up and spew hate toward the Jews and say, “All the Jews need to be killed.”
How come we allow such talk? If I, as an American citizen, got on television or organized a rally and said, “All gays need to be killed because all gays are terrible,” would I survive a day? I would be thrown in prison or sued. When you refuse to condemn suicide bombers, terrorism, and violence, your hands are soiled with the blood of the innocents just as much as any suicide bomber who blows himself up.
The Middle East should be the most important matter to all Americans, especially after 9/11. For the last 20 years Americans have not paid attention to what’s been going on around the world. Where do you think Islamic Jihad came from? Where do you think Hamas came from? To focus only on al-Qaida is a fatal error. Al-Qaida is a transnational organization made up of different groups. We have proved that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah have established linkages with al-Qaida in the United States. And of all terrorist organizations in the United States, Hamas has the largest American infrastructure. Hamas is not an Israeli problem. Hamas is the United States’ problem. Hamas is a world problem.
If Americans would read the Hamas charter, Article 22 mentions the Lions Club as a secret organization to be destroyed. The Lions Club, Rotary Club, the Freemasons, the Kiwanis. How many Lions Club members in the United States know they are mentioned in the Hamas charter?Hamas has chapters in 40 states. And that’s what America needs to wake up and start learning about.
The sad reality is that these are the same types of signs that we started seeing before World War II. It’s the hate verbiage that Hitler used against the Jews before World War II, before he started killing them. And the Jews did not believe it back then, and they always hoped for the best. And now, as a third party, I see the same thing happening again.
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