FP: Brigitte Gabriel, thank you for joining us today.
Gabriel: Thank you for inviting me. I'm delighted to join you.
FP: First things first, tell us a bit about your background.
Gabriel: I was raised in the only Christian country in the Middle East, Lebanon. A lot of people think the Middle East has always been made up of Moslem countries. That is not true. There once were two non-Muslim countries in the Middle East. One is a Jewish state called Israel which is under attack for its existence today and the other was a Christian country called Lebanon now under a Moslem majority controlling influence.
When Lebanon got its independence from France in the 40's the majority of the population was Christian. We didn't have any enemies. We were merchant, descendents of the Phoenicians, strong in commerce in which we prospered. In no time Lebanon became the Paris of the Middle East the banking capital of the Middle East. We were the only westernized Arabic speaking country in the region.
I was an only child to older parents. My parents were married for twenty-two years before I came into their lives. They were unable to have any children. My mother was 55 years old and my father was 60 when I was born. I had the ideal childhood, the love, adoration and attention of two mature adults who looked at me as a miracle in their lives, and were thankful for god for blessing them with a child.
Even though I was raised in a Christian country, it was still an Arabic country trying to please its neighbors, the Arab Muslims. Even the Christian private school I went to was affected. When we studied the Bible, we only studied the New Testament. I never saw the Old Testament or heard anything about it, because it was considered the enemy's bible. All I heard was Israel is Satan, Israel the devil, Israelis are demons, and they are the source of the problem in the Middle East. The Jews are evil, they are unstoppable and they want to control the world. I heard nothing but hatred toward the Jews.
FP: Can you expand a bit on some of the tragedy that befell your family? I am sorry that this is painful territory.
Gabriel: The Christians in Lebanon always had problems with the Moslems, but we never thought our neighbors would turn on us. That situation was aggravated by the influx of the Palestinians coming from Jordan after King Hussein kicked them out in Black September. That's what tipped the scale in Lebanon. Not only had Moslems become the majority but they now also felt empowered by the presence of the Palestinians and Yasser Arafat wanting to attack the Christians, take over Lebanon and use it as a base from which to attack Israel.
When the Moslems and Palestinians declared Jihad on the Christians in 1975 we didn't even know what that word meant. We had taken them into our country, allowed them to study side by side with us, in our schools and universities. We gave them jobs, shared with them our way of life. We didn't realize the depth of their hatred to us as infidels. They looked at us as the enemy not as neighbors, friends, employers and colleagues.
A lot of Muslims pored in from other Muslim countries like Iran -- the founder and supporter of Hezbollah, one of the leading terrorist organizations in the world today. They came from Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. The Lebanese civil war was not between the Lebanese, it was a holy war declared on the Christians by the Muslims of the Middle East.
They started massacring the Christians, city after city. Horrific events the western media seldom reported. One of the most ghastly acts was the massacre in the Christian City of Damour where thousands of Christians were slaughtered like sheep. The Muslims would enter a bomb shelter, see a mother and a father hiding with a little baby. They would tie one leg of the baby to the mother and one leg to the father and pulled the parents apart splitting the child in half. A close friend of mine was mentally disturbed because they made her slaughter her own son in a chair. They tied her to a chair, tied a knife to her hand and holding her hand forcing her to cut her own son’s throat. They would urinate and defecate on the altars of churches using the pages of the bible as toilet paper. They did so many things I don't need to go into any more detail. You get the picture.
Americans just don’t realize the viciousness of the Militant Islamic fundamentalist. I think the biggest disservice for the American people was the denial by the networks to air the beheading video of Daniel Pearl. I think we as a society need to see what type of enemy we are fighting. People have been so sheltered in this country they have not paid attention to what was going on in the last 20 some years. They were more interested in watching a documentary about Madonna than paying attention to world events.
The majority of the Lebanese army was Muslims. Christians went to universities, not to the military. The Muslims began taking over military bases across Lebanon. They combined their forces with the Palestinians and formed what they called the Arab Lebanese Army and started attacking the Christians. I lived 50 yards below the last military base left in the hands of the Christians. While attempting to bombard the military base their shells missed landing directly on my home bringing it down and burying me under the rubble. I was 10 years old.
I woke up from a dream life into a nightmare. My eyes were blinded by the bright light of the explosions. But the light faded quickly as a hot liquid started poring into my eyes burning and shutting them closed like glue. I was wounded by shrapnel, which cut the artery in my arm that was twisted on top of my face. Blood was poring over my face and into my mouth. By the time I was rescued by my parents and taken to a hospital the next morning at I was on my last breath. I was put on a bench in the emergency room and operated on without anesthesia. As the nurses held me down the doctors cut my flesh with scissors and sawed into my bone to get out the embedded shrapnel. As I faded in and out of consciousness, between my screams I prayed to God to stop my torture. I ended up in the hospital for two and half months.
While there, I would ask my parents why this happened to us, they would say because we were Christians and the Moslems want to kill us. So I knew ever since I was 10 that I was wanted dead simply because I was born a Christian.
When I returned home my new home was no longer the one that I knew. We ended up living in a bomb shelter under ground without electrify, water and very little food. Little did I know that this would become my life for the next seven years. Our bomb shelter was an eight by 10 feet cinderblock room buried underground, that my father used as a storage room for our restaurant.
FP: What is life like under the threat of Islamic terror?
Gabriel: We borrowed life one day at a time. After sleeping in cardboard boxes for a month that had been stored in the bomb shelter, thinking this will be over soon, we realized this situation is getting worse and worse. We finally furnished the bomb shelter with two old mattresses from our garage. My mom and I slept on one and my dad on the other. To get food my mother and I would go out and find different types of grass and dandelions to eat around the shelter in between the bombing. My mother would soak chickpeas, rice, lentils and beans over night so we can eat something during the day. My father couldn’t get out because in the bombing of our house, he lost his hearing and he wouldn’t hear the sniper’s bullets nor the bombs coming so he can hide. He had to stay put while my mother and I got out. To get water we would crawl in a ditch under snipers bullets to a near by spring. Every time we’d leave we would say our last good-byes because we didn’t know if we would come back alive. My mother would use her stocking on top of the bottle to filter all the worms and the debris so we can drink it. Then we would crawl back with bullets flying over our heads. Sometimes it would take us hours just to crawl 100 feet back into the bomb shelter.
One day when I was 13 one of our soldiers warned us that we are no longer able to fight and we are going to be attacked viciously that night. He wished us a merciful death as he left. Knowing we were going to be slaughtered that night I put on my Easter dress because I wanted to look pretty when I was dead, knowing that there would be nobody to prepare me for burial. I stood in my dress in front of the mirror crying as my mother combed my long hair and tied a white ribbon in it. I told her: “please I don't want to die I’m only 13.”
FP: Discuss your intellectual journey about your view of Jews and Israelis, from what you were told in your childhood to when you started questioning whether it was true, to what you think today.
Gabriel: My town was 2 and half miles from the Israeli boarder. We in our Christian town were faced with the combined Muslim and Palestinian forces waiting to slaughter us. We knew our fate, knowing what they have done to other Christian towns and cities in the rest of Lebanon. To our back was Israel. The enemy, Satan, the demon possessed Jews. We had no where to turn but one way, to the devil Israel. After all we knew the Jews wouldn’t slaughter us because we had more shared values with them than we had with the Moslems. Under the cover of darkness, few men from our town went to the border, flagged down an Israeli boarder patrol, explained the situation and begged for help.
Israel agreed to help the Christians. Israel became our lifeline. The Israeli military would come during the night and bring food and ammunition to the military and milk for the children. They would take the Christian men anyone from age 13 to 70 and train them to fight; most of them have never held a rifle before. Most of the Christian men had degrees that decorated their walls, but all the degrees in the world can not defend you when an enemy is facing you with a gun, wanting to kill you by what your enemy believes is an order from God.
The only reason we stayed alive is because Israel came into Lebanon and drove the Muslims away from the surrounding hills and set up positions in our town to protect us. Things got worse as Syrian, Libyans, Iranians Egyptians became enraged and flocked into Lebanon to fight the infidel Christians and Jews.
The Muslims had one vision, to take control of the only Christian country in the Middle East and than attack Israel. Syria, with its military already suffocating the Christians, Iran with its militia Hezbollah, The PLO with the number one world terrorist Yasser Arafat, and all the other Muslim zealots on a holy mission, were using Lebanon as a terrorist breeding ground exporting terrorism into the rest of the world. Under the auspices of a peacekeeping force in Lebanon Syria shelled Israel along with Hezbollah the Iranian financed holy warriors. The world press which was getting its information from the Muslim controlled areas in Beirut were saying that Israel is occupying Lebanon and the poor Lebanese were fighting back to kick the Israelis out.
By 1982 Israel was fed up with Syria’s repeated attacks on its northern boarder. They invaded Lebanon declaring war on the terrorist infrastructure, going all the way into Beirut. During the first two days of the invasion as the Muslims were retreating they shelled us frantically. In their last artillery barrage, they scored a direct hit on the front of our bomb shelter. My mother was seriously wounded and would die without immediate medical attention. My father was too old and weak to take her to the hospital, the responsibility fell on my shoulder. We had to take her to Israel for treatment. For her it was a life saving experience. For me it was a life changing experience. It was my first lesson in the difference between the Arabs and the western world particularly the Jews.
Before we left my father gave me $60 dollars in case I needed some money since we were going to Israel for treatment. We took her first, to the Lebanese hospital in town which was vacant and bombed out. There was an Israeli doctor on duty for first aid situations. He gave my mother first aid and we put her in an Israeli ambulance and drove her under the bombs to the border. It was about a ten-minute drive, the driver was a friend of the family. When we got to the border we changed ambulances. The Lebanese driver asked me if I had any money for the ambulance fee. Like an innocent teenager who never handled money I took it out of my pocket and handed it to him and asked him how much did he want. He said: give me 30 dollars, which was half the money I had. I thanked him for driving us with tears dripping down my face and got in the Israeli ambulance and we drove off.
The drive to the hospital inside Israel was an hour long. The driver was a middle-aged soldier. He treated me like his own daughter with such respect and compassion. He listened to the radio and explained to me how the war was going in Lebanon. I felt alone and afraid. My mother was fading in and out of consciousness and moaning from pain. We got to the hospital and I walked around the ambulance to pay him the fee. I took the money out of my pocket thinking (God I’m sure this is not going to be enough for this man) If the 10 minute drive cost me 30 dollars I’m sure this is going to be much more. I extended my hand with the money asking him how much I owed him. He looked at me surprised and said: “you don’t owe me anything. The ambulance ride is a free service from us to you. Keep your money, I wish everything goes well with you. I wish your mother, health, and speedy recovery.”
I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and thought to myself: what an honest man!!! What an ethical man! He could have taken my money and partied all night and I would have not known the difference. Yet he didn’t. And all of a sudden I felt this anger towards the Lebanese driver who was supposedly a friend of the family. I realized that he actually stole my money. I didn’t have to pay a fee for the ambulance, he basically robbed me. I felt violated. I thanked the Israeli driver from the bottom of my heart for his honesty and help.
We went into the emergency room and I was shocked at such a scene. There were many wounded people lying all over the place. Israeli soldiers, Lebanese Muslims, Christians and even Palestinians brought in from Lebanon! I was stunned at such a scene. I thought to myself why the heck are the Israelis helping the Muslims and the Palestinians? I am a Christian, I am their friend, but why are they helping the Palestinian and the Moslems? Little did I know about the principles and values of the Israeli people? The doctors treated everyone according to their injury. The doctor treated my mother before he treated the Israeli soldier lying next to her because her injury was more severe. They did not see religion, they didn’t see political affiliation, they did not see nationality, they saw people in need and they helped.
They took my mother to the 4th floor of the hospital and put her in a room with two other Lebanese ladies one Muslim and one Druze. We were in the room for 5 minutes and we heard this loud commotion outside our balcony. People were walking through our room to go out and look. I went out to see what was going on. Two Israeli helicopters had just landed to deliver wounded Israeli soldiers. I stood at that balcony feeling sick to my stomach. I felt Ashamed, Humiliated, Embarrassed, Broken hearted. After all these people are wounded because of the war with my country. I didn’t even look at any one around me I kept my eyes down. I was surrounded by mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children of wounded soldiers. I felt out of place, I felt uncertain I didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone because I didn’t know how they would react to me.
While I was standing there, I felt someone tapping on my shoulder. I looked up to see a nurse standing next to me. She asked me: “You are new here aren’t you?” I said yes they just brought my mother to this room. She put her arm around me and looked into my face and said don’t worry we’ll take good care of her, everything will be fine.”
I broke out crying, I never felt such compassion and love. For the first time in my life I experienced a human quality that I know my culture would not have shown to their enemy. I experienced the values of the Israelis who were able to love their enemy in their most trying moments. That nurse didn’t even know if I was a Christian, a Moslem or a Palestinian. I spent 22 days at that hospital, those days changed my life and the way I believe information, the way I listen to the radio or to television. I realized I was sold a fabricated lie by my government about the Jews and Israel that was so far from reality. I knew for fact that if I was a Jew standing in an Arab hospital I would be lynched and thrown over to the grounds as shouts of joy of Allahu Akbar, God is great would echo through the hospital and the surrounding streets.
When Israelis heard there were Lebanese wounded in the hospitals they came barring presents, they brought chocolates, they asked people what they wanted and what they needed. They said our home is your home if you need anything let us know. They came extending a peaceful hand. I became friends with Israeli mothers staying at the hospital with their wounded sons. One in particular Rina, her only child was wounded in his eyes. One day I was visiting with her and the Israeli army band came to play national songs to lift the spirits of the wounded soldiers. As they surrounded his bed playing a song about Jerusalem Rina and I started crying. I felt out of place and started waking out of the room, and this mother holds my hand and pulls me back in without even looking at me. She holds me crying and says: “it is not your fault”. We just stood there crying holding each other’s hands.
I thought: "What a contrast between her, a mother looking at her deformed 19 year old only child, and still able to love me the Arab, and between a Moslem mother who sends her son to blow himself up to smithereens just to kill a few Jews or Christians."
The Moslem woman who was in the room with my mother stayed in the hospital for about 12 days. And even after 10 days the doctors would come and change her bandages and check on her in their morning tour, as they would be leaving the room she would have the evil look on her face and say: "I hate you all. I wish you were all dead." For the first time in my life I saw evil. I realized that this Muslim couldn’t love the Jews even after they saved her life. And when you are unable to be grateful to the people that saved your life there is no hope.
I had to go back to Lebanon because I had to take care of my parents but I vowed that one day I would return to Israel. That one day I will live among those people. These are the types of people I want to be like. These are the types of values I want to adopt. I knew they had something even I did not. They were able to love the Palestinians and forgive them much more than I was able to, and I was a Christian who was supposed to love like Jesus taught.
FP: What hope is there? I doubt that if the Palestinians get their own state that they will suddenly love the Jews and that the whole Islamic-Arab world will put anti-Semitism on the backburner. What do you think?
Gabriel: Israel is stepping out in “good faith” again to do whatever it takes to achieve peace with its neighbors. As if Hamas is going to appreciate the goodness of the Jews and re-write its charter accepting Israel as neighbor and a friend. Hamas has only one goal and that is to eradicate Israel one piece at a time until it becomes vulnerable to Arab military aggression and conquest.
As one who knows what's in the hearts and minds of Arabs, let me repeat what seems to be the hardest thing for world opinion to accept: The Arabs have no intention of having peace with the Jews period, exclamation point, end of discussion. No Jews can exist free and unencumbered in the Middle East. "What an outrage. Jews are dhimmis, how dare they come back and live in our midst, make the desert blossom and create a country more advanced than any other in the Middle East. And they don't have any oil?"
So far all territory concessions made by Israel have been an illusion of land for peace. In Egypt, who was given the Sinai Peninsula back in 1979, or Jordan, who signed a peace treaty with Israel, the phone books go from Ireland to Italy as if Israel never existed? What type of peace is this without full acknowledgement of statehood? What type of peace is it when Egyptian government, run and controlled television, airs the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion?"
Intelligence sources say there are plans to create a terrorist state in Gaza where world terrorist operations will be planned and carried out. This is equivalent to Somalia & Afghanistan terrorist controlled societies, but within striking distance of Israel proper. The mini Hamas Terror State would have an airport and port facilities from which to export terror to the rest of the world.
U.S. security officials have received multiple confirmations of a meeting in March  between al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah figures. Most alarming is Hamas' move towards embracing global jihad as evidenced by its publishing the messages of Osama bin Laden mentor Abdullah Azzam-Palestinian, originally from Jenin. Hamas openly publicizes its support and alliance with al-Qaeda organizations jihad action in Chechnya, Kashmir the Balkans and Afghanistan. As Al Qaeda associate Jordanian terrorist al- Zarqawi firmed up his relationship with bin Laden in Iraq, it is only a matter of time for Hamas to follow suit under the sovereignty of an independent mini-terror state free from the demands of the weakened PA leadership under Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
They will form an instant terror base from which to attack every corner of Israel bent on jihad and revenge for al Nakbah-the catastrophe of their defeat in the 1948 War of Independence. Israel is engaged in an existential crisis of Armageddon-like proportions. Another piece for a peace? You have to be kidding, right?
FP: It is interesting that most people think of Hamas as an Israeli problem. Which it is of course. But it is also an American problem. And it will become a great American problem. Can you comment on this?
Gabriel: Many terrorist organizations have already set up shop here in America. The three most threatening ones are Hamas, Al-Qaeda and Islamic Jihad. Some of their operatives and supporters have entered the country illegally using visa fraud.
Of all the Islamic militant groups in the US. Hamas has developed the most sophisticated American infrastructure. Under our liberal un-restrictive environment of the United States these people are operating and were able to set up a whole array of cells that spread across the US from sea to shining sea. According to intelligence information they have cells in the top 31 cities in the US. Right in many of our towns and cities. Right in our back yard. And it’s our lazy government officials and lax laws that allowed them to come here to plan our destruction. Many are still blind in this country to the threat that we face. When are we going to wake up? Yes, we now have enacted Homeland security but without all Americans supporting the war on terrorism today our success will be limited.
What we need is to know our enemy better. And I’m not just talking about Al Qaida. How many Americans have read the Hamas charter published August 1988. Excerpts for the charter of the Hamas, the charter of Allah, the platform of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas: Article 22: "Our enemies have planned from time immemorial in order to reach the position they’ve obtained now. They strive to collect enormous material riches to be used in the realization of their dream. With money, they’ve gained control of the international media beginning with news agencies, newspapers and publishing houses, broadcasting stations. They also used this wealth to stir revolutions in different parts of the world in order to fulfill their interests and reap their fruits. With their money they created secret organizations that spread around the world in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests. Such organizations are: the freemasons, rotary clubs, lions clubs, b’nai b’rith and the like. All of them are destructive espionage organizations. With their money they’ve taken control of the imperialist states and pushed them to occupy many countries in order to exploit the wealth of those countries and spread corruption there."
How many rotary club members, Lions club members know they are mentioned in the Hamas charter the largest militant Muslim infrastructure in the United states that they are considered the enemy to be destroyed.?
We really need to realize…All Americans need to realize that these people hate us and want nothing but to eliminate us because as far as they are concerned we are the infidels. These are religiously motivated fanatics who you cannot negotiate with. These are people who are convinced that god has ordered them to kill us. Their motivation is tremendous. They believe that the minute they die, at the first drop of blood, a crown of pearl will be placed on their head and they will be carried by the angels to heaven and placed at the right side of god and 72 virgins are offered to them. We cannot drop our guard for a minute. We must be more vigilant than ever before. Wake up America.
FP: Brigitte Gabriel, you are an incredible person with an extraordinary, inspiring and vital story to tell. Thank you, it was an honor to speak with you.
Gabriel: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to join you today. Organizations like yours make it possible for people like me to get the word out. Together we can make a difference.