What a Hamas founder’s son thinks of Hamas, Gaza, Jews, and Israel

Mosab Hassan Yousef, "the Green Prince", at Sundance festival. WikiCommons.

Vivian Bercovici, Western Standard, April 5, 2024

Note to readers: The following is a profile of Mosab Hassan Yousef, written by Vivian Bercovici, a former Canadian ambassador to Israel and Aristotle Foundation Senior Fellow. Yousef is the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a Hamas co-founder. Mosab Yousef defected to Israel in 1997 and later moved to the United States where he wrote a book about his life, Son of Hamas, with a documentary later entitled The Green Prince. Both detail his departure from his childhood faith and his rejection of radicalism.

As Bercovici writes, “For Mosab, the fight is deeply personal, piercing the core of his existence and identity. The son of a revered Hamas co-founder and leader, Sheik Hassan Yousef, Mosab turned on his father, faith and people in their struggle for nationhood. And he did so in the most abhorrent way possible (according to Hamas cultural standards) – by siding with the enemy. Israel and the Jews.”

The profile is reproduced care of Ms. Bercovici and her Substack website, State of Tel Aviv, where it first appeared.

Mosab Hassan Yousef: The reluctant celebrity

During the time Mosab was in Israel in late February, he kept a low profile as he tends to do, but granted at least two interviews, and quietly toured the area of southern Israel that was pulverized by Hamas on October 7.th He saw first-hand the widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip with an Israeli military escort.

Something of a reluctant celebrity, he travels with a small footprint. No entourage. No trailing media photographers.

When he appears in public events (as he did at the end of November in Toronto where I was present) the audience is instructed that no photos or recording are permitted. Mosab very assiduously controls his public image.

His life has been one of extremes, as told in his riveting memoir, Son of Hamas (2010), and the documentary film based on his life, The Green Prince. Since October 7th, Mosab has also shown himself to be masterful at cultivating public interest by injecting his strong views into the global discussion on Islamofascism.

As he commented last night to the channel 12 interviewer: “Humanity cannot exist with savages like Hamas.”

The “Green Prince”

When I saw Mosab’s first post on “X” shortly after October 7th, I was pleasantly shocked. There is no voice that comes with greater authority when exposing Hamas than that of the “Green Prince”, his code name when he worked with Israeli security forces over a ten-year period. Once exposed, though, Mosab fled Israel, of necessity.

By his own telling, he had retreated for decades into a quiet life, seeking “normalcy.”  But the horrific and historic Hamas attack on Israel of October 7th was too compelling a moment. Continued anonymity and silence were not options for him. He has a rare sense of duty – to humankind – and cannot switch off, ethically. He has seen and felt too much.

Photo Credit: Mosab Hassan Yousef X-account

To Mosab, war between Israel and Hamas is a concentrated version of what awaits the West if liberal democracies continue to pretend that “they’re just like us.”

“They” – radical Islamists – are decidedly not like us, he says.

Radical Islam openly calls for the destruction of western democracies and the imposition of fundamentalist Islam, everywhere. By force. All infidels will be subject to their savage values. Not just Israel.

On Thursday night, he posted yet another of his declaratory statements – which he does often – in Arabic. He is a fearless and articulate one-man early warning system, doing everything possible to shake the west out of its naïve stupor.

Photo Credit: Mosab Hassan Yousef X-account
Photo Credit: Mosab Hassan Yousef X-account
Post-October 7: Silence was no longer an option

Last summer, I was in Toronto for my annual escape from the oppressive heat and humidity in Tel Aviv. I had planned to return to Israel on October 11.

My return was delayed, as I became involved in a number of community issues and projects while there, including an event on November 28.

Mosab was coming to town and I was not going to miss it. I flew back to Israel three days later. I was seated in the front row, ten feet away from the edge of the stage, which he commanded. Absolutely.

Mosab Hassan Yousef is a fit, wiry, tense projectile. His stage persona is one of ferocious intensity. He is also endearingly real. Believable. Vulnerable. And deeply principled.

The eldest child of a prominent founder of the Hamas movement, Mosab famously turned on his father and served Israeli intelligence as an asset for ten years, before literally walking out of his life and identity. Now 45, he resides in the United States and Thailand. As he said in his opening remarks to the packed hall of 500 people in Toronto: “It gets tiring sometimes.”

For decades, he said, he has lived a very nice, quiet life. He told the room that he struggled with whether to exhume the pain he had worked so hard to bury. But after the genocide of October 7th, he could not remain silent.

(And on that rather important point – that October 7 was a genocide – Mosab is uncompromising. Textbook genocide. He fumes. And, yet, the world flips that upside down too, accusing Israel of genocide; an obscene perversion of reality and facts.)

He projects white heat. Mosab has no doubt regarding the morality of his mission. If you have the courage and fortitude to see good and evil then, I expect he would say, you have a duty to expose and fight it. Obliterate it. It is that simple.

“My fight with Hamas began before I met a Zionist,” he said. “From childhood they repressed and contained me. This is not just Israel’s fight with Hamas. It’s my fight.”

For Mosab, the fight is deeply personal, piercing the core of his existence and identity. The son of a revered Hamas co-founder and leader, Sheik Hassan Yousef, Mosab turned on his father, faith and people in their struggle for nationhood. And he did so in the most abhorrent way possible (according to Hamas cultural standards) – by siding with the enemy. Israel and the Jews.

Immersed in the movement, with privileged access to all and everything, Mosab was shocked by the cruelty, injustice and lies of Hamas; a movement that manipulates millions of people in pursuit of a goal which he considers to be a fallacy.

“There is no such thing as Palestine,” Mosab declared in Toronto, calling such a concept a lie. A flourish of imagination. “What is Palestine? He challenged. An ethnicity? Territory? Race? People? Nation?”

Historically, he told the audience, Palestine never existed as a nation. It was a part of the Ottoman Empire, then British Mandatory Palestine. Palestinian leaders refused any and all partition offers made by the international community, preferring to commit to war and what they considered to be the certain annihilation of the fledgling Jewish state. Woke historical revisionists and ignoramuses, he said, really must understand these basic facts.

The struggle for Palestine, in Mosab’s view, has been overtaken by the power lust and greed of its current leaders, among them Yahya Sinwar, the senior-most Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip today. A veteran of a long stint in Israeli prison, Sinwar bided his time there productively; obtaining a university degree, mastering the Hebrew language and studying, very carefully, the Israeli mindset. He planned the October 7th attack patiently, for years, deploying nuance and knowledge that he knew would devastate the enemy, psychologically, more than anything.

Sinwar also benefitted from Israel’s extraordinary medical care while in prison. After developing brain cancer, he was operated on by a top Israeli neurosurgeon. That doctor’s nephew was taken hostage on October 7th and murdered in Hamas captivity.

Blissfully ignorant or willfully blind?

In the aftermath of October 7th, we are living in a moment where woke, leftist identity politics collide and converge with Islamist antisemitism and loathing of the west. It has catalyzed a virulent hatred that has shaken the western world to its core.

This unholy union of historically ignorant, gender fluid, woke, hard left anti-capitalists and anti-democrats does not mesh well with the Islamist view of things. But that doesn’t prevent the “progressive” left from supporting their Hamas allies in promoting the most virulent wave of anti-Semitism to surge in almost a century.

Woke analysis begins and ends with measures of oppression. Whiteness. Colonialism. Among the many ironies of this misguided movement is the subset – Queers for Palestine – that imagines Hamas to be a champion of pronouns and the kind of gender obsessiveness that is au fait in the west at the moment. How can they be oblivious to Hamas’ medieval values and punishments?

But they are blissfully ignorant. Or willfully blind. Or dangerously malevolent. In the woke world everything is crisp and binary. One is either oppressed or oppressor. White or “of color”. Occupier or occupied. And, according to Critical Race Theory (“CRT”), the Bible of Woke, Jews and Israelis are at the apex of every pyramid of evil.

Palestinians: From secular to Islamic fundamentalism

Until the mid to late 80s, the Palestinian national movement tended to be secular, militarist and leftist. They developed a knack for executing dramatic terrorist attacks, preferring the hijacking of commercial airliners and other dramatic terrorist acts to press their extreme demands. But following the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979 and the PLO expulsion from its base in Beirut in the early ‘80s, Islamic fundamentalism began to influence the movement more heavily. Hamas was founded in 1987 and its members were active participants in attacks on Israeli civilians in the first Intifada.

The founding Charter of Hamas set out the annihilation of Israel, killing of all Jews and the liberation of Jerusalem to be its raison d’etre. “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” became the movement’s cri de coeur, and is now the slogan of the moment.

Hamas supporters and woke historical revisionists also seem oblivious to the extreme exploitation of the Palestinian people by their putative leadership, Mosab explained in Toronto, in collusion with the very institutions that are meant to (or have assumed that mantle) protect their interests: UNRWA. The International Committee of the Red Cross. The United Nations. The World Health Organization.

In recent decades, Hamas leaders have become mega multi-billionaires. Their people are impoverished and downtrodden. Wherefrom all the obscene wealth?

Which Palestine do you want?

Mosab is scathing in his takedown of woke, western fanatics.

“They have no idea what they are talking about.”

Shortly after the October 7th Massacre and outbreak of war, Mosab activated a new twitter account. His initial post (a video monologue which is no longer accessible) was a blistering challenge to western woke ideologues. “What Palestine do you want?” He goaded, repeatedly, knowing that 99% of those listening would be clueless as to what he was talking about.

Mosab continued, and I paraphrase: “Do you want the corruption of Mahmoud Abbas? Yasir Arafat? George Habash? The Islamist fundamentalism and barbarism of Hamas?”

His point, of course, is that these ardent “Palestine” advocates lack basic knowledge of the cause they purport to support. On stage in Toronto, Mosab mocked Mexican drug cartel leaders, who apparently are the latest Hamas fanboys, some having taken to sporting the terrorist’s trademark green headband.

Do these “supporters” understand that Hamas uses civilians, hospitals and schools as human shields? Are they aware of how wildly unreliable are Hamas “statistics”, exaggerating casualties and double-counting military as civilians? That they routinely use photographs from the Syrian war to falsely depict “Israeli war crimes”?

“They kidnap infants and children and demand the release of mass murderers” as a quid pro quo. Mosab shakes his head in disbelief.

“What is going on? Such a mad world.”

Hamas, says Mosab, is all about violence. An offshoot of the 100-million strong Muslim Brotherhood global movement, they are Islamists, believing in a global caliphate with no political borders. One state. One religion. Hostile to all aspects of western civilization.

“If you don’t like western civilization” he asks, “then why not go back [to your country of origin]?”

That is a question which, if asked by a non-Muslim, brands them an “Islamophobe.” It also happens to be a fair and reasonable question. Why would anyone choose to move to a country with values – social, cultural, moral, political, economic – that it considers to be contrary to its core beliefs, in every way?

Mosab to his father: “Do I get a say?”

I have no idea how long Mosab spoke. I was spellbound. He launched into a very personal analysis of his family.  His father, he explained, made the decision to devote his life to Hamas, which meant that from age 10 Mosab worked to support the family. He worried constantly about providing, juggling multiple jobs.

“You made a choice to do Hamas business. That means that I had to work to support the family,” he raged, as if speaking directly to his father, who has spent significant time in Israeli prisons for terror-related crimes.

“Do I get a say?” he asked his father.

And Mosab told us that the father listened to his son. But he never changed his ways. Mosab was disgusted by the violent culture of Hamas and rejected outright what he considers to be the political and factual lies upon which it is based. Their erstwhile religion and ideology has always been to wage holy war against Israel and Jews. He sees Hamas as promoting hatred and destruction with no positive outcome.

Genocidal celebration in Canada

October 7th, Mosab has said repeatedly, was genocide. In conception and execution. Hamas makes no secret of its highest goal; to annihilate the state of Israel and murder every single Jew. Everywhere. They hate Jews with a Nazi fervor. And that is no coincidence.

The West has long had a compulsion to airbrush Palestinian violence and reinterpret it as some form of heroic freedom fighting. But this time? It’s all way out of whack. In the days immediately following October 7th, Israel was in a state of shock, which I fear will never dissipate. The horror of the Hamas savagery, magnified by the glee with which they murdered, maimed and tortured, will never fade.

In Toronto, I watched the city which I had called home for decades transform into a Jew-hating cauldron. Tens of thousands on the streets of cities and towns across Canada, the kheffiyeh crowd marching with the “progressives.”

They targeted Jewish-owned businesses to threaten customers and vandalize the premises. They chanted for the annihilation of Israel and killing of Jews. One Saturday evening thousands of men lay down prayer mats and transformed the heart of the business district into a mosque. That seemed to have been something of a turning point, when Canadians began to realize that these “demonstrations” were about much more than Israel. The penny dropped. The way in which Hamas-supporting Islamists assumed control of our city, and how they did it infuriated and terrified many. We just don’t do that in Canada. If you choose to worship then the mosque is that way. This was a step too far.

Mosab came to address Torontonians about two weeks after the first “pop-up mosque” event (there have been others since), which, I believe, marked a very small shift in the way in which the silent majority of the disengaged began to see this “protest”.

It became a much broader issue, where the “protesters” were taking control of the society and streets in a manner that is decidedly not Canadian. They began to see this ugly occupation of our streets as an initial step in assuming control of society.

This weird moment was compounded by the raging antisemitism and madness that was everywhere. In our schools. Universities. Unionized work places. On our streets.

The genocide and rape denialists

As we saw throughout North America, vociferous campaigns were launched immediately after the October 7th atrocities, denying that they had ever even happened. All made up.

It took decades for Holocaust Denial to become a serious “movement.” Yet, within days, moments, of October 7th, the haters were in full swing. The bodycam film and audio that had been recorded by Hamas terrorists – who livestreamed their savagery to applause – was suddenly either non-existent or a Zionist fabrication.

Mosab spoke out about that.

Photo Credit: Mosab Hassan Yousef X-account

Posters showing the faces of Israelis and other nationals held hostage by Hamas, from then 9-month-old Kfir Bibas to elderly men and women in their 80s, were ripped from lamp posts and fences. Who does that? When asked why they would be so venal, these people typically spat out something about the evil Zionist regime, or that the stories of hostages were all fabricated.

This is mass hysteria. Where people decide that they hate Jews and Israel and from there distort whatever facts exist to align with their preferred narrative.

Mosab spoke out about that.

Photo Credit: Mosab Hassan Yousef X-account

Among the horrors of October 7th was the mass gang rape and sodomy of women and men by Hamas terrorists. From the first moments, sexual torture was deployed as a war tactic in the most sadistic, grotesque way. Young women, girls and older women, men and possibly boys, were subjected to horrific sexual violence.

In addition, in the time since October 7, Israeli experts have compiled significant catalogues of forensic evidence confirming these crimes. Hamas terrorists bragged openly about taking the pretty, blonde women to serve as sex slaves in captivity. The others they would just rape and then kill. But even this was too much for the committed antisemites of the world, so rather than condemn they chose to look the other way.

Among them was UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. Mirjana Spoljeric Egger, president of the International Red Cross. All Red Cross workers on the ground, in Israel and the Gaza Strip. The World Health Organization. Diplomats of many countries. They were all silent.

It is worth noting that it took all of these very senior officials seven weeks to even acknowledge the fact of the savage sexual war waged on Israelis.

But this was no latent outpouring of compassion and support. It was far too late and way too calculated.

They made the statements they did because the growing pile of evidence demonstrating their hostility and negligence to the massive rape and sexual violence engaged in by Hamas was irrefutable. Seven weeks.

Is it because the victims are Jewish and Israeli? It certainly is not for a lack of evidence. “The world is not even allowing Israel to defend itself against the savages.” Mosab spat out the words. With disgust.

Not one person stood up and said: “This Hamas does not represent us.”

“We could be on the verge of WWIII if we do not contain Gaza. Israel is fighting on behalf of the free world. We have to give them our full support.” If we continue with this incomprehensible denial, he warned, we – everyone else – could be next.

The Hamas father: Permission to murder his son 

On November 28, a day before he spoke in Toronto, Mosab shared this statement on “X”.

Photo Credit: Mosab Hassan Yousef X-account

He said that coming to terms with that feeling – that his father should be killed if it would stop this madness – and saying it to the world, had been one of the hardest days of his life. And for Mosab, that is saying a lot.

“For many years,” he told the room, “I saved his life. What was my reward?”

His father, he says, gave permission to Hamas to kill his son.

“Who betrayed who?”

“You do everything from love and they say you are obsessed with hatred.”

The judgement to which he has been subjected by so many clearly rankles Mosab. He is disowned by Hamas and his family. He is disparaged by people who understand nothing of his epic story; for having betrayed his family, the Palestinian cause.

He did not ask for this life and he seethes with resentment. “My father made his choices and I made mine.” His, he believes, are firmly supporting strong ethical values, decency, goodness. Truth and love.

When October 7th happened, he simply could not turn away. Unlike UN Secretary General Guterres, Mosab Hassan Yousef is not built to look away. He is not built to hate.

Repeatedly, he reminds us that he did not want this life. But he felt the responsibility to speak out. And to act. I have read every publicly available testimony of his colleagues and friends from the past. And to a person, they laud his courage, decency, ethics. And then there is his remarkable legacy: that he, alone, is responsible for saving so many lives. Lives. Palestinian, Israeli and others.

It is life that he values. And honesty.

In mid-February, Mosab shared this message on his “X” account.

Photo Credit: Mosab Hassan Yousef X-account

Mosab is correct. Sinwar presumed that Israel would fold and empty its prisons in return for the hostages. In the first few days after October 7th, Sinwar visited an underground cage in which approximately 12 elderly hostages were held.

“How are you all? Everything OK?” he asked in his flawless Hebrew.

“Don’t worry,” he assured them. “You’ll only be here for a day or two.”

Many of the octogenarians he so cavalierly reassured then remain hostage in Gaza today. Six months on, Sinwar scurries and hides underground as Palestinian civilians suffer horribly for his sick megalomania.

And the son, Mosab, waits, patiently, for the father to admit his epic failure; an unwitting hero of this classic tragedy.

“I did not choose this life,” he told us in Toronto.

But he lives it so honorably.

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