In August 2008, the New York Times Magazine interviewed Brigitte Gabriel about her newest book, They Must Be Stopped: Why We Must Defeat Radical Islam and How We Can Do It. The interview described Gabriel as a "crusader" and "Islamophobe," leading CAMERA and David Horowitz's Jihad Watch to denounce the New York Times for its slanderous attacks on Gabriel. Responding to this backlash, the New York Times contacted Gabriel's book publisher to determine if the Times interviewer had misled readers. "We had no problems with the questions or the answers, as depicted in the piece," said the publisher. It was "totally accurate."
Brigitte Gabriel was born in 1965 to a Maronite Christian family in Lebanon. Gabriel grew up during the Lebanese civil war and, at age ten, was hospitalized after her family's home was shelled by Muslim militants as part of an assault on a nearby Lebanese military base. In 1978, after Israel invaded Lebanon in Operation Litani, Gabriel and her family took refuge in Israel. Gabriel went on to work as a news anchor for the Christian satellite TV broadcasting network, Middle East Television, before moving the United States in 1989, marrying an American and founding a media business.
Gabriel founded the American Congress for Truth (ACT) in 2001, which seeks to "fearlessly speak out in defense of America, Israel and Western civilization." ACTpublishes the ACT! For America Voter Guide, which compiles responses to a survey issued to congressional, senate and presidential candidates. This year's survey asked questions relating to energy independence, sanctions and military action against Iran, and the cultural and legal implications of a growing Muslim immigrant presence In the United States. Both John McCain and Barack Obama have declined to respond to this survey.
As a fervent proponent of the "clash of civilizations," Gabriel portrays Arabs and Palestinians as hateful and barbaric, while the West and Israel are held up as the epitome of developed culture and democracy. "The difference, my friends, between Israel and the Arabic world is the difference between civilization and barbarism. It's the difference between goodness and evil [applause] ... and this is what we're witnessing in the Arabic world -- they have no soul! They are dead set on killing and destruction," Gabriel stated at a Christians United for Israel event in 2007.
Gabriel roots her belief in a clash of civilizations in her traumatic childhood. The experience of being terrorized by Muslim fighters in Lebanon serves as her public justification as well as her motivation for advocating a modern-day crusade against radical Islam. Her rhetoric portrays Muslims as a monolithic force that seeks to undermine Western civilization. When challenged on this point by the New York Times, Gabrielle responded: "The moderate Muslims, at this point, are truly irrelevant."
Within the United States, Gabrielle portrays the threat from Islam in the context of a "culture war" that seeks to overtake American culture and values. In the same New York Times interview, she lashes out at the University of Michigan for installing public footbaths for Muslims to wash before prayers. "This is the way they are taking over the West. They are doing it culturally, inch by inch. They don't need to fire one bullet. Look what is happening in Europe. Do we want to become like 'Eurabia'?"
Gabriel questions the patriotism of Muslim Americans and portrays Islam as an evil and destructive force. "America and the West are doomed to failure in this war [on terror] unless they stand up and identify the real enemy: Islam. ... If you want to understand the nature of the enemy we face, visualize a tapestry of snakes. They slither and they hiss, and they would eat each other alive, but they will unite in a hideous mass to achieve their common goal of imposing Islam on the world. This is the ugly face of the enemy we are fighting," she famously said at the 2006 Intelligence Summit.
Gabriel is listed as a speaker with the Hasbara Fellowships. Hasbara Fellowships are run by Aish Hatorah International, an organization aligned with the Israeli Likud Party, which has close ties to the producers of "Obsession."