You’ve probably come across him in the news this week: Mosab Hassan Yousef, eldest son and heir-apparent for years of one of the founders and leaders of the terrorist group known as Hamas — a strict Islamic organization, backed these days by Iran; dedicated to the destruction of Israel; now controlling Gaza; and a font over the years of suicide bombers and rocket attacks.
The bombshell news last week was that for years Yousef worked secretly, inside Hamas, from the West Bank, as an informant for the Israeli domestic security service, Shin Bet. That followed the bombshell news in 2008 that Yousef had converted to Christianity.
Yousef, who left the West Bank and moved to the U.S. in 2007, has just published a memoir, “Son of Hamas” (as I write this, it had not yet appeared on the NY Times best seller list, but had already jumped to #8 on Amazon). In his book, he explains how he made his “unlikely journey.” It began when he realized at the age of 18 that Hamas itself was the cruelest oppressor of its own people. He began asking himself questions that must have taken incredible fortitude to dare think at all — in a setting where people suspected of collaborating with Israel have been horribly murdered and strung up in public by their own brethren. Yousef concluded that the best way to help his own people, the Palestinians, was to help the Israelis curb the terror and the violence. More on that in my column this week on Scion of Hamas, based on interviewing Yousef by phone, and reading his book.
For Yousef to speak out now, and tell his story — as he is doing, at risk of his life — must take incredible courage. He’s been interviewed on a number of TV news shows this week, and you can find a good sample here, in an interview he did Wednesday evening with David Asman on Foxbusiness News. Whether you are inclined to agree or disagree with Yousef’s conclusions about terror, religion, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and hopes for peace in the Middle East, he is worth paying attention to. Above all, it is worth reading his book. In realms where too often any trace of common sense or decency is subordinated to geopolitical jargon and hot-house diplo-acadamic absurdities, Yousef cuts through it to talk about some very real issues, and what he himself saw, experienced and understood. He’s a brave man to offer us his story. His book ought to be required reading in the State Department. And if President Barack Obama wants to better understand the quicksands of the Middle East, “Son of Hamas” is what belongs right now on his bedside table.