Son of Hamas leader helps Israel, inspires hope

Son of Hamas leader helps Israel, inspires hope

It takes a lot to strike out against your father — especially when he’s a founder of Hamas.
But that’s exactly what Mosab Yousef did. For more than a decade, Yousef, son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef, assisted Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, to interrupt dozens of would-be suicide bombings and attacks on Israel. It’s likely that he helped save hundreds of live.
After agreeing to work with Shin Bet after he was arrested in 1996, Yousef went on to become one of Israel’s most valuable informants. He was even known as the “Green Prince” to intelligence insiders, green being a color on the Palestinian flag.
Now out of the shadows, Yousef’s days of supplying intelligence are over. He left the West Bank back in 2007 for California, and left Islam to become a devout Christian.
Since revealing himself earlier this week, Yousef’s father, who has been captive in an Israeli prison since his arrest in September 2005, has spoken out to distance his beliefs from his son’s. In a letter from prison, he reportedly wrote that the rest of his family “inclusively and exhaustively denounce our eldest son.”
Yousef has gone to great lengths this week to explain his actions to the media.
“After I was tortured by Shin Bet, I was transferred to prison [where] Hamas tortured Hamas members and I became confused who was really my enemy,” he told CNN. “I accepted to meet Shin Bet. My people did not understand this. Shin Bet is committed to a constitution but Hamas targets civilians. There’s a difference between targeting a terrorist and civilians.”
Yousef is rightly being recognized as a heroic figure in Israel while being denounced by his own people — that much makes sense. But what does Yousef’s change of heart — from supporting Hamas to supporting Israel — mean in a larger context?
If anything, Yousef represents a hopeful alternative. It is certainly not possible, or even remotely likely, that Israel will see a giant influx of Palestinians jumping to help out the cause. But if Yousef — undeniably one of the closest people to Hamas’ core — can realize that the beliefs of anti-Israel and anti-Semitism with which he was indoctrinated as a child may not be such a solid foundation, then who’s to say others couldn’t, too?
The same can be said about Israelis.
How many Israelis, or Jews in general are staunchly unwilling to consider the beliefs and issues behind the Palestinian cause? And vice versa?
Yousef’s case is definitely an outlier in the Israeli/Palestinian struggle, but his openness to understanding the other side should inspire hope that more people could be willing to consider both sides, not just their own.