Watch the shocked enemies of Israel as Mosab captivates many at the U.N. with TRUTH.
Mosab speaks at the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference
JUPITER, Florida — The first time I see Mosab Hassan Yousef, I’m looking around for the bodyguards.
This is the eldest son of one of the co-founders of the Hamas terror group; his father has been in and out of Israeli jails for decades. And Mosab “betrayed” him and the Islamist, Israel-loathing cause: While his father’s Hamas did and does its best to kill all of us land-stealing infidels and occupiers, Mosab spent about a decade working as a Shin Bet agent to keep us alive, notably at the height of the Second Intifada suicide-bomber onslaught — as his father’s right-hand man, security chief and most trusted confidant, passing on any scrap of information and intuition to help Israel in the battle against terror.
So, yes, we might be thousands of miles away, in other-worldly, mellow south Florida, but I’m assuming Hamas hasn’t forgotten the score it has to settle, and that Mosab is protected accordingly.
Instead, I see a man in a baseball cap, wearing sunglasses and heavily bearded, walking toward me from the hotel elevators, conspicuously alone. “You don’t have security?” I ask him in surprise.
“Who’s going to pay for it?” he fires back.
Later, he’ll give me a fuller answer. He’ll point out that Hamas doesn’t have worldwide tentacles. He’ll explain that Hamas has no great interest in bringing his name back into the headlines by trying to kill him and thus reminding the world of the humiliation it suffered when it turned out that its West Bank chief’s eldest son was working for the Zionist enemy. He’ll muse that we can all die anytime, anyway; that death is nothing to be scared of; that nobody knows what death is about; that, sure, he’ll jump like anybody else if he’s startled by a loud noise or something, but that he’s certainly not living in fear.
Mosab Hassan Yousef (left) and David Horovitz at an AFMDA event in Florida, December 2018 (Courtesy)
He’ll tell me lots of things over the next five days during a surreal series of public talks and non-public conversations, against the distant background of Hamas’s latest wave of terror attacks back home, that I’d never have expected to hear from the “Son of Hamas,” as he called his autobiography.
But he starts by taking me to Whole Foods Market.
Mosab Hassan Yousef, 40, has been living in the US for the past decade, and among the many things he knows that I don’t is where to go for a healthy lunch. So once we’ve made our introductions, and I’ve suggested we sit down together somewhere so that I can get to know him a little, he proposes we walk to the local Whole Foods Market, about a mile away.
We need the quiet time together since I’m supposed to interview him at events (for which we are both being paid) over the next five days across south Florida organized by American Friends of Magen David Adom (which supports Israel’s Magen David Adom national ambulance, blood-services and disaster relief organization).Son of Hamas, by Mosab Hassan Yousef
I’d read his book when it first came out, in 2010, and I’d watched the subsequent documentary about him, “The Green Prince” — so named for the color of the Hamas flag and Mosab’s royal place within the movement.
I knew he was arrested by Israel as a hate-filled teenager — a victim both of childhood rape, and of the extremist conditioning of his home and schooling. (“It wasn’t ‘take a gun and kill the Jews’ at school,” he says. “But it was ‘the Zionists stole our land.’”) He was caught with a gun, with which he fully intended to kill Israelis. I knew he’d begun to ask questions when, in jail, he saw Hamas inmates torture and even kill fellow Hamas inmates they (falsely) suspected were collaborating with Israel, and that he’d ultimately undergo what he called in the documentary a “crazy transformation” — from trying to murder Israelis to risking his life in order to save them.
Actually, his transformation was far more than crazy, way beyond improbable. “Collaborating with Israel is worse than raping your mother,” Mosab says in the film. But becoming the Shin Bet’s most vital source in the war against the suicide bombers, when your father is helming their West Bank hierarchy, is simply unimaginable. Which is why he got away with it.
And why, he would later tell me, when he telephoned his father from the United States to tell him that it was so, and that the whole story was about to become public, it came as a complete shock to Sheikh Hassan Yousef. Did his father never suspect that Mosab might not be loyal to him, to the Islamist cause? “His ego would not allow him to think it.” The father nonetheless told his son he would not disown him, and then publicly disowned him two days later. Which Mosab completely understands. “I had brought unthinkable shame on the family,” he tells me, as we walk together by the side of a road, in blazing Florida sunshine, en route to Whole Foods Market.
When we get there, he shows me how to assemble a good lunch, insists on paying for it, and sits down across from me with what I would come to learn are several of the key elements of his meals: broccoli, avocado and olive oil. Where possible, he’ll also ask for steamed spinach. He insists that’s not all he eats, but it is pretty much all I saw him eat over the next five days.
He tells me more about the gradual process of disillusionment with Hamas, and his sense — no more than that — that this is not the “pure religious movement” his father wanted with which to fight Zionism, but that “my father’s ego” would not permit him to admit that it had gotten out of control. “If you ask him, Is this what you planned, Is this what you set out to do, he’d probably rather commit suicide than admit no…” Mosab remembers the day they printed the first leaflet for what would become Hamas in 1986. “My father is not a violent man,” he says straight-faced. And, “my family are wonderful people as family — full of love and laughter.”Hamas official Hassan Yousef at his office in Ramallah, July 30, 2015 [Elhanan Miller/Times of Israel](Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a prominent leader of the Second Intifada in the West Bank, was recently freed by Israel from his latest stint in administrative detention, having been arrested last December for calling to “escalate the Jerusalem uprising” against US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize the city as Israel’s capital. Now in his early 60s, he has spent about a third of his life in jail.)
Mosab notes that there were times in recent years when his father proposed a “truce” with Israel, and says that while his father does not accept that there is a Jewish connection to the Holy Land, he does know Israel is not going anywhere. Indeed, Mosab says Hamas has recognized that Israel is not going anywhere and cannot be destroyed. I tell him I don’t see any sign of any such realization. It won’t be the last time we agree to disagree.
He tells me that his work for the Shin Bet came to an end when a new handler required him to take a polygraph test, which he failed, and then a second, which he passed, but by then he’d “had enough,” and felt “I don’t owe you anything anymore,” and it had all become so acutely dangerous.
Astoundingly, he was able to get to the United States: He got a visa at the US Consulate in East Jerusalem — apparently the computer system didn’t erupt with warning whistles and bells: “Son of Hamas! Jailed by Israel! Do not admit to the United States!” He flew to California, via Jordan and Europe, and doesn’t understand why they let him in. His Palestinian travel papers were about to expire, which should have been enough to block him. Also, when they asked him where he was going from the airport, he said to spend some time with friends in La Jolla — which was true — but he couldn’t actually pronounce La Jolla.
These were Christian friends he’d met back home. He’d converted to Christianity in 2004 — baptized in the Med at a Tel Aviv beach by a young Californian woman — though he says that phase of his life only lasted a few weeks. Still, “the teachings of Jesus certainly changed my life,” he says.
He sought asylum, was rejected, and was facing deportation, when Gonen Ben Yitzhak, his main handler and a man he considers “my brother,” risked his life and flew to the US to confirm the astounding story of his counter-terrorism work. Without Ben Yitzhak’s testimony, Mosab had no way to prove his implausible claim to have been on the side of the life-savers.Gonen Ben Yitzhak, in the US testifying on behalf of Mosab Hassan Yousef, 2010 (YouTube screenshot)
In what way, I ask, was Gonen risking his life? Mosab, to his credit, does not look at me as though I’m an idiot, but patiently explains that Shin Bet agents are anonymous figures, and that in coming forward to save Mosab from deportation, and a likely grisly fate, Gonen was exposing his identity to all the murderous forces he had spent a career tackling.
That night, at our first AFMDA event, Mosab will recall, to much audience hilarity, finally filling in his US citizenship form at the very end of the process, and placing a check in all the wrong boxes: “Have you ever been a member of a terrorist organization?” Yes. “Have you ever advocated the overthrow of any government by force or violence?” Yes. “Have you ever been convicted of a crime or offense?” Yes. “Have you ever been in jail or prison?” Yes…
Scooping mouthfuls of avocado, he praises Trump, backhandedly but not nastily. “You need someone like him. It’s a dirty job,” he says, not unreasonably.Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and US President Donald Trump at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017, in New York. (AFP/Brendan Smialowski)
He likes the fact that Trump is “offering a deal” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — rather than trying “to make peace.” If the Palestinians don’t take it, that’s their problem, and Trump will just move on. “Israel must be strong,” he says. And “sometimes it’s appropriate to surrender,” he adds, referring to the Palestinians. “Look at the Dalai Lama,” he offers. “Look at how his people are treated. But there is no resort to violence.”
I feel like I’m bombarding him with questions, this impossible figure I met barely an hour ago. I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want to tire him out. I don’t know what his sensitivities are. He tells me his only concern is that “if I am talking or eating, I’m not breathing, and the less I am breathing, the less energy I have.”
We head back to the hotel, and news is coming through of a terror attack outside the Ofra settlement in the West Bank north of Jerusalem — not far from from where Mosab grew up in Ramallah, and where I happen to have family. A pregnant woman, Shira Ish-Ran, has been shot and critically injured. Doctors have delivered her baby by C-section. The baby is said to be stable; the mother fighting for her life.Amichai (left) and Shira Ish-Ran, wounded in a December 9, 2018, terrorist attack outside Ofra in the West Bank, at their wedding (Courtesy of the family)
The week of terrorism is going to be the jarring, bloody backdrop for our events. Introducing Mosab that evening at a synagogue in Fort Lauderdale, I update the audience on the attack. Hamas has praised the “heroic” shooting, and here we are with Son of Hamas at an event raising money for the ambulance service that provided first-response emergency care and took the wounded to the hospital.
The Palestinians, he tells the audience, could long since have had a state, but their leadership is corrupt and untrustworthy, and doesn’t act in their interests. These remarks recall the staggering short speech he delivered to the UN Human Rights Council last year, on behalf of the NGO UN Watch: “The suffering of the Palestinian people is the outcome of your selfish political interests. You are the greatest enemy of the Palestinian people,” he said then, directing his remarks to the Palestine delegation, as fellow delegates spun in horror at the sound of a Palestinian voice defying the Israel-bashing consensus.
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