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Book Review: Son of Hamas by Mosab Hussan Yousef
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A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices
This book is a must read for anyone seeking to understand the intricacies of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. The author of this book has seen it from all angles: Palestinian/Islam, Israeli/Jewish and Christian. As the eldest son of a revered Hamas leader, he has been an insider in these issues in ways that no other human being on Earth has.
This book is immensely compelling. It reads like any of the most exciting spy novels you have ever read, yet every bit of it is true!
Mosab Hassan Yousef, born and raised in the Palestinian Left Bank, is the eldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the original seven founders of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas, founded secretly in 1986. He worked along side his father for many years and experienced first hand the inner workings of the various Palestinian organizations, including those involving the PLO and Yasser Arafat.
He eventually began to realize that Hamas, though originally founded on sincere and altruistic principles, had become as evil as the evil it was trying to defeat. He became disillusioned with all the Palestinian leaders, most notably Yasser Arafat, who Mosab charges was in it largely for the gold and the glory, instead of truly acting in the best interests of the Palestinian people.
He stated specifically regarding Arafat’s refusal of the offer for a Palestinian State made by Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the Camp David summit in 2000: “Yasser Arafat had grown extraordinarily wealthy as the international symbol of victimhood. He wasn’t about to surrender that status and take on the responsibility of actually building a functioning society.”
As a seventeen-year-old young man about to graduate from high school, he had been overwhelmed by grief and anger over the repeated arrests of his father by the Israelis. He vowed to find some guns and start shooting Israelis. He was arrested by the Israeli Shinbet (Israeli version of the FBI or CIA) and pressured to become a “collaborator”. He originally agreed to do it with the true intention of using the position to provide information to the Palestinians about Israeli activities.
In this position, he began to see the situation from the Israeli point of view. He was also amazed at how kindly the upper level Israelis treated him (in contrast to the beatings he received from the Israeli soldiers who arrested him). This was completely opposite to the way the Hamas leaders treated their own people. Mosab was sent to prison by the Israelis a couple times to throw off any Palestinians who might have begun to question who he was really working for. Inside the Israeli prison, he witnessed unfathomable cruelties performed by the other imprisoned members of Hamas upon their fellow Palestinians. These cruelties far exceeded any type of punishment inflicted on the Palestinians by the Israelis who were operating the prison.
Since Mosab had the experience of working with high level policy makers on both sides of the conflict, it finally dawned on him that neither the Israelis nor Palestinians had a solid workable solution to the problems they were facing. He began to think that there was a missing piece to the whole puzzle that was not being considered by either party.
Mosab Hassan Yousef talks about converting from Islam to Christianity
One day while he was traveling in Israel, he was invited to attend a meeting of some Christians who were living in Israel. He initially went out of curiosity to gain an insight into a third point of view. He began to see that the teachings of Jesus Christ offered the only real hope for true and lasting peace.
Mosab divulged in the book that he was “thunderstruck” when he read that Jesus said to “love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you”. He remarked, “I knew that this was the message I had been searching for all my life.” After a lengthy period of Bible study, prayer, and thoughtful consideration, he made the decision to become an ardent follower of Christ.
After becoming a Christian, Mosab eventually grew tired of spying for the Israelis and deceiving his own people. At the same time, because of his new found Christian beliefs, he did not feel he could in good conscience participate in the Palestinian leadership’s modus operandi. In addition, he knew he would not be accepted by them any longer if it became known that he had turned from following Islam. He convinced the Israelis to permit him to “retire” and provide the means for him to seek asylum in the United States.
Life in the United States has presented a whole new set of challenges for Mosab. One of the major ones being the extended separation from friends and family. He had always been very close to his parents and siblings. His family was deeply grieved to discover that he had turned his back on Islam, especially his father. He was thankful, however, that his father did not disown him because this relationship was the only protection he had from being assassinated.
Regarding the threat of Islam to the rest of the world, Mosab suggests that moderate Muslims are actually more dangerous than extremist ones because they seem unthreatening. He says you never know when a moderate Muslim will turn into an extremist. In his own words: “Most suicide bombers began as moderates.”
He does, however, retain sympathy for the plight of the Palestinian people. He addresses the issue of what constitutes a “terrorist.” Concerning the Palestinians he says, “They were not terrorists by nature. They were just people who had run out of hope and options. Their backs were to the wall. They had nothing left and nothing to lose…” As you may have heard it said: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
You might be interested in looking up the videos interviews on You Tube of Mosab Hassan Yousef with the media that have taken place since he has been living in the United States. I have included one below
Then read the book--you’ll find it hard to put it down.