Walid Shoebat: The Simon Altaf Connection

Following on from my examination of Walid Shoebat’s snake-oil Biblical scholarship a couple of days ago, I decided to check out his former collaborator, Simon Altaf. Altaf, who is based in the UK, explains his links to Shoebat on his “Abrahamic Faith” website:

Three years ago [2000] when I met Walid Shoebat, an Ex-Muslim convert from Bethlehem we started to discuss end times prophesy.  He was the one who enlightened me about real theology and eschatology of the Bible….I am an Ex-Muslim Convert of the dominant Sunni sect from Lahore, Pakistan.  I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ back in September 1998 after reading the testimony of an Egyptian convert while browsing the internet one day.  Later Walid and I both decided to create a website on the internet… to propagate the truth to the world about what is coming to pass.

Early versions of the “Abrahamic Faith” website state that Shoebat and Altaf founded it together. As well as pushing hardline Christian Zionism, it originally attacked other Christian groups, including Evangelicals and Charismatics, Billy Graham, and the Pope. They also wrote a book, This is our Eden, This is our End, and the above paragraph is taken from that. However, in a report in the Arab American News Shoebat’s handler Keith Davies suggests that a falling-out occurred:

Davies denies Shoebat is a follower of that fundamentalist branch of Christianity, or any branch, and is just trying to unite everybody, “Muslims, Christians, Jews together to bring peace.” He also denies any working relationship with Altaf, saying they once were friends and were going to write a book together.

After Shoebat wrote [This is our Eden], he decided he didn’t want to release it, which Altaf did without permission. Afterwards, the Shoebat Foundation asked to be removed from Abrahamic Faith, “because we didn’t agree with the stuff he was putting on his website,” Davies said.

Altaf and Shoebat founded the website in 2001, although they appear to have kept their full names off it for a while. A version of the site from 2002 tells us that

This site was founded by Walid and Shimoun, Ex-Muslims who discovered God’s love for Israel. They believe in the God of Israel (YHWH) who re-established Israel in her original land in 1948 as He promised in the Bible (Isa 66:8), they proclaim that the Messiah (Jesus of Nazareth) of Israel is Yahshua who died for Israel and the rest of the world and is coming soon. It is time for both Muslims and Jews to look at the Hebrew Scriptures. We are offering these numerous details explaining why the Bible alone is God’s eternal word.

When Altaf found Jesus in 1998 he was baptized into a Messianic Jewish group in London, and Messianic terms like “Yahshua” for “Jesus” appear throughout; in later versions, “God” becomes “G-d”. There is also an early version of Shoebat’s conversion narrative, in which he describes himself as having been involved in anti-Israel rioting during the Intifada, but which doesn’t mention any PLO membership or bomb-planting. This version of the story also tells us that Shoebat’s mother was a Christian, and that he was converted in 1992 after reading Armageddon, Appointment With Destiny, by Grant Jeffrey. On his own current website, Shoebat says he was converted after reading the Bible in an attempt to convert his wife to Islam.

In early versions of the website, Altaf and Shoebat took a hard line against various other Christian groups:

We reject any church or group that is a member of the World Council of Churches or its allied agencies, nor shall the mission or its agents ever become organically involved with ecumenical movements or projects. We reject Evangelicals and Catholics together as part of the falling away who teach false doctrines. We reject unscriptural emphasis on the “sign gifts” as essential part for evidence of salvation. We reject the Faith Theology Movements, Charismatic Catholics, Benny Hinn, School of Prophets, Toronto Blessing, Pensacola Florida, Rodney Howard Brown, Jack Hayford, or anyone similar or associated with these as part of a counterfeit revival.

There’s also a denunciation of “Billy Graham’s Love affair with the Pope”.

But why did they fall out? It seems that a couple of years ago Altaf became involved with the Bnai Yahshua Synagogue Florida, which is the home of Rabbi Moshe Yoseph Koniuchowsky, and Altaf was ordained by him as a Rabbi. Koniuchowsky is a controversial figure, and he has developed a movement called “Messianic Nazarene Yisrael”, which is distinct from Messianic Judaism. Koniuchowsky explains:

Messianic Judaism views saved gentiles as non Israelites, who have no Israelite blood whatsoever, having no legitimate claim to be physically descended from the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They believe that any born again “gentile”, who claims physical descent from the patriarchs, either has a drop of Jewish blood from an ancient grandparent, or are just Jewish wannabe’s, engaged in delusion. Views the concept that any saved non-Jewish believer, could be a lost non-Jewish Israelite, as utter nonsense.

Messianic Nazarene Yisrael believes that most of the non-Jewish followers of Yahshua are Ephraimites, those who were scattered amongst the gentile nations starting in 721 BCE. They were the Lo Ami of Hosea one, who were not a people, but have now been restored as individuals as promised by the prophets, through Israel’s Messiah. These latter day “gentiles”, are washed and then awakened to their Israelite heritage by Messiah Yahshua, in fulfillment of many promises. Their recognition of their identity as the seed of Ephraim and their union with Jewish Israel, is a necessity for all Israel to be saved and for the Kingdom to be restored to Israel.

This claim that non-Jewish followers of Jesus have physical descent from Ephraim would be problematic to most Christian groups, as it appears to bring in a racial element. And historically, of course, it is even more preposterous than British Israelism. However, it’s not the only “Ephramite” group out there: I blogged on some others back in 2005. Various websites dispute Koniuchowsky’s theology, and raise questions about his identity. Koniuchowsky’s movement is international, and known as “Bnai Yahshua Synagogues Worldwide” (BYSW) – as well as Altaf’s Synagogue in London (Southall), there are apparently affiliates in Australia, Columbia, Cuba, India, Pakistan and Panama.

UPDATE: Shoebat explains his split from Altaf