It’s not every day that you hear about someone born and raised in Gaza who managed to permanently leave, but, perhaps, even more strange is the fact that this particular Palestinian converted to Judaism. That is the story of Dor Shachar, formerly known as Ayman Abu Suboh.
His clip, which can be accessed on PragerU, provides an amazing insight into the people of Gaza, how children are indoctrinated from birth to hate Jews and Israel, the cruel and inhumane treatment towards women by their husbands, who see them as property and, finally, the torture suffered by anyone who dares to stray from the conventional lockstep thinking, which is based on the high calling of death for the cause.
What’s hard to believe is that Dor, today a man aged 46, dressed like any modern Israeli in khakis, a t-shirt and trendy sneakers, endured one of the worst childhoods imaginable and suffered unspeakable torture as a teenager in a Gaza prison.
His harrowing tale begins as a 7-year-old student, unable to fit in with his other classmates who appear to have no problem absorbing the intense hatred that is being drilled into them daily for their neighboring country of Israel. Shachar says his tender soul was unable to cope with the evil that was all around him, resulting in his severe punishment, humiliation and perceived betrayal.
Consequently, he had no choice but to drop out of school in order to survive, giving up on his aspiration to become a doctor. For the most part, he was forced to live on the streets or at construction sites, in Israel, the place where he fled, since he was thrown out of his own home after being called a traitor and a failure.
Being forced to grow up on his own, Shachar says that, even at that young age, he managed to find food, shower and live by his wits. It wasn’t until he met up with a religious Jew, who showed him kindness, fed him and gave him a sense of family and belonging, that he realized his greatest wish was to convert and become Jewish. Unfortunately, still a minor, he encountered a number of obstacles which landed him back in Gaza once he was discovered to be in Israel illegally.
It was there that he suffered months of torture, abuse and despair, but he never gave up on that dream to replace hate with love. Once released, he made his way back to Israel, doing all he could to start his conversion process, which could not occur until he turned 18. The hoops that he went through, to finally make his dream come true, included a very lengthy 7-year process of being given the royal runaround, but no one could dampen his fierce determination to become part of the people of Israel, culminating in a mikveh ceremony (immersion in water).
Shachar eventually fell in love with another convert to Judaism, and the couple married on a beach in the same Israeli city to where he fled as a child – Rishon LeZion, not far from Tel Aviv. His riveting story, although difficult and painful to hear, is worth the hour-and-a-half-long investment of subtitle reading, for those who don’t understand Hebrew, because his lived experience in Gaza is a treasure trove of valuable information.
Shachar explains, in great detail, why there can never be a peaceful coexistence between these two peoples, mostly due to the orientation of intense hatred, which is passed on from generation to generation, making it impossible for Gazans to respect Israelis, value Jews in any way or even see them as human beings, worthy of breathing the same air.
He says that UNRWA schools have been responsible for this kind of toxic thinking where studies are less important than the anti-Israel propaganda that makes up the bulk of their learning. Killing Jews is always ingrained into each child’s thinking because the goal of becoming a Shahid (martyr) is considered the highest calling for them to attain.
As an itinerant lecturer, Shachar tries his best to warn everyone about Hamas as well as Gazans who he describes as being far from innocent victims. Explaining why he was rejected to serve in the Israeli army, due to his refusal to be part of removing Jews from Gush Katif in the 2005 Disengagement, he says, “I was against it because I know who these people are and what they’re capable of.”
When asked why the Israeli government wouldn’t listen to him, he answered, “It’s because the truth hurts, and they preferred to believe in their own lie.”
It is this bit of revelation, coming from someone who grew up in Gaza, that truly gives a proper perspective into why and how October 7th happened. To hear it from Shachar, it was the convergence of two things – a people who marinated in a culture of profound hatred and loathing towards the Jewish people living just a few kilometers away, and who were taught that their greatest aspiration would be to die in the pursuit of killing their neighbors. That boiling cauldron was then strengthened and facilitated by our government, which lost its patience with the Palestinian Authority and switched its interest to Hamas as the heir apparent.
Shachar says that, prior to Oct. 7th, everyone believed peace was possible, but they forgot the Oslo Accords, to which he attributes the slaughter suffered by Israel just four months ago. Much to his regret, he believes that nothing has been learned from this very costly lesson because he laments that the world is being taken in by Hamas’ public relations lies. He says that they are somehow able to put out their version of suffering and killing which is automatically accepted by most, without any questions asked.
But Shachar, all too familiar with their manipulative tactics, knows how they cynically use children or hospital staff, which he claims are Hamas operatives but who garner the sympathy of the world as they stage false suffering. In his specific examples, Shachar shows just how these lies are so obvious to anyone who is willing to open their eyes.
It is, indeed, a tough story to absorb, but if there is any hope in what appears to be an unchangeable and hardened people, it is the fact that one man, even as a small child, was able to recognize the evil that pervaded his community and reject it, even at the price of losing a family, with which he still has no contact today. Perhaps, his experience will inspire the courage of others to come forward and reveal the truth.
If you ask him, he will say that his real family is the Jewish man, Nissim (whose name means miracles), who extended kindness and caring, those many years ago. To Shachar, Nissim’s children are his siblings. And most importantly, Israel is his country – nothing short of a miracle!
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.