on March 2, 2010
This book was very well written and gripping - i couldn't put it down! It was filled with details of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, yet was easy to understand and follow. The story pulls you in so much that it 'feels' more like reading a fictional spy book than an autobiography. From a literary standpoint this book was an amazing work. Making a history lesson interesting is no easy task.
The story itself is also amazing. As a Christian, it was inspiring to see how one sentence from the Bible was able to transform Mosab's heart and change the course of his life. As a result, many lives were saved. It is also a work of peace, helping us see that there are no cut and dry answers to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. All have done wrong, with Jesus all are capable of peace.
Amazing job, Mosab! Thanks for sharing your story.
on March 6, 2010
I first met Mosab Hassan Yousef, the oldest son of one of the founders of the Hamas, by phone in 2009. We spoke several times for several hours, getting to know one another and taking each other's measure. Later, we corresponded a bit by email and finally met for coffee. It was an unlikely encounter, to be sure. How often, after all, does a former aide to an Israeli Prime Minister and a former aide to the leader of a terrorist movement meet and become friends. But we have. And the reason is simple: we have both been transformed by the love of Jesus Christ.
Mosab was raised a Radical Muslim. He believed "Islam is the answer, and jihad is the way." He was poised to become the future leader of Hamas. As such, he would have become one of Israel's most dangerous and wanted enemies. But something happened along the way that changed everything. Mosab came to the stunning conclusion that Hamas was evil, that Islam was wrong, that suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks were abhorrent, that Israelis were his friends not his enemies, and that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and the Savior of the world. In short, Mosab has become a Revivalist. Today he believes "Islam is not the answer, jihad is not the way; Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus." What's more, he believes that the only way for Israelis and Palestinians to truly find peace with each other is to first find peace with God by embracing the Prince of Peace -- Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem; Jesus, who was raised in Nazareth; Jesus who died on the cross in Jerusalem, and rose again, and is coming back to the Holy Land soon.
How this transformation happened -- and the choices Mosab has made as a result -- is the subject of one of the most powerful books I have ever read. SON OF HAMAS, written by Mosab and journalist Ron Brackin, is part spy thriller, part spiritual testimony of a young man leaving terror for redemption. It is a must-read book and one can only hope it becomes the basis of a major Hollywood motion picture.
In just the first week since the book was released, Mosab has received enormous media coverage -- Haaretz, Ynet News, CNN, Fox, NBC, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, and Forbes, among many others. Most of the reports and interviews have focused on the intelligence intrigue of how Mosab became a double agent for Israel's Shin Bet secret service agency against Hamas, helping to stop scores of terrorist attacks and saving countless Jewish and Arab lives as a result. Unfortunately, most of the reports have glossed over the spiritual side of Mosab's journey. The good news is the book covers both sides of Mosab's life in gripping details.
Here are a few tidbits worth considering:
* Mosab hated the Jews. He cheered when Saddam Hussein fired 39 Scud missiles at Israel during the 1991 Gulf War, and was disappointed when Israel wasn't destroyed. He wanted Hamas to seize back all the land of "Palestine" from the Jews. But in 1996, at the age of 18, he was arrested by the Israelis for buying automatic weapons to kill Jews. He was sent to an Israeli prison. There he was stunned at what he saw: Muslims torturing Muslims. "I had never heard a human being scream like that guy did. What could he have done to deserve that." (p.97)
* "Nearby, fellow Hamas members -- fellow Arabs, fellow Palestinians, fellow Muslims -- shoved needles under [his friend] Akel's fingernails." (p. 100)
* "Every day there was screaming; every night, torture. Hamas was torturing its own people! As much as I wanted to, I simply could not find a way to justify that." (p. 102)
* Months later, after being released from Israeli prison, Mosab was walking past the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. Someone -- not knowing who he was -- invited him to a Bible study. Curious, he attended. They studied the New Testament, and gave Mosab a copy to read for himself. "I began at the beginning [in the Gospel According to Matthew], and when I got to the Sermon on the Mount, I thought, Wow, this guy Jesus is really impressive! Everything He says is beautiful! I couldn't put the book down. Every verse seemed to touch a deep wound in my life. It was a very simple message, but somehow it had the power to heal my soul and give me hope. Then I read this: `You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.' (Matthew 5:43-45)....I was thunderstruck by these words. Never before had I heard anything like this, but I knew that this was the message I had been searching for all my life." (p.122)
* "For years I had struggled to know who my enemy was, and I had looked for enemies outside of Islam and Palestine. But I suddenly realized that the Israelis were not my enemies. Neither was Hamas nor my uncle Ibrahim [one of the torturers in prison] nor the kid who beat me with the butt of his M16....I understood that enemies were not defined by nationality, religion, or color. I understood that we all share the same common enemies: greed, pride, and all the bad ideas and the darkness of the devil that live inside us....Five years earlier, I would have read the words of Jesus and thought, What an idiot! and thrown the Bible away....But now, everything Jesus said on the pages of this book made perfect sense to me. Overwhelmed, I started to cry." (p.122-123)
** Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of Epicenter 2.0: Why the Current Rumblings in the Middle East Will Change Your Future and Inside the Revolution: How the Followers of Jihad, Jefferson & Jesus Are Battling to Dominate the Middle East and Transform
on March 4, 2010
I heard about this book and its author on NPR a few weeks ago and preorder it on my Kindle. While I was expecting a good story and some unique insight into the Arab side of the conflict my hopes were not high for the quality of writing and storytelling that I assumed a man with a military and religious background could produce. Boy, was I wrong about the quality!!! The book opened up the inner working or rather lack of inner workings within Hamas and loudly vindicated what Israel and the whole world knew about Arafat as a selfish global beggar, who was the main driver behind the second intifada with no regard for the well being of his people. The story is extremely well written and shares a writing style with Natan Sharansky's Fear no Evil. While the author's Christianity plays a large role in his life journey this book should be enjoyed by everyone. I am surprised at how good the actual writing style was and commend Masab on the lives he has saved through considerable risk to his own. Hopefully there are many more operatives like him operating in Gaza and will lead to the release of Gilad Shalit.
on March 4, 2010
My only regret in purchasing this book is that it was so riveting it made me late for work! It is a heart warming story of a man's journey from hate to love for all of humanity. After decades of studying the Middle East and thousands of hours spent studying Islam, I can verify that the author is clearly the real deal. While he characterizes and explains things in a different manner than I sometimes would and his view that "delivered from the oppression of Europe, Israel became the oppressor" is, although an understandable view from his prospective, not entirely fair, his overall understanding of what drives the Israeli-Islamic Conflict is far superior to 99.99999 percent of the views I see regarding the topic. The author is one of those rare souls that managed to figure out some of the most complex and difficult issues to understand in the World today given all of the disinformation and errant opinions, both inadvertent and intentional, promulgated about the conflict and Islam. I guarantee that you will not regret purchasing this book. The author also has great courage to speak out as he has. May God protect him. The author's view of Israel as an oppressor is no doubt a sincere view, but it is a view clouded by his proximity to the conflict. Sometimes when we look at something too closely we suffer from a bit of myopia. While Israel's conduct may seem oppressive at times to one who has suffered from Israel's attempts to defend itself, it is conduct driven by desperation and the need to protect its people. But for the enslavement of Arab Muslims by Islam and the cultural effect of Islam on the entire Arab culture - even non-Muslim Arabs - Arab and Jews could and would live in relative peace together and the Arabs would proper from the industriousness and economic vitality of Israel. The fact is that far from being an oppressor, Israel is the one hope that inhabitants in the area have of living under a relatively fair and just government. All the Arabs need to do is quit trying to destroy Israel and to indiscriminately kill Jews and they will reap the benefits of Israel's better attributes. But when you try to destroy a people, it is hardly a surprise that their natural, instinctive self-defense response will seem "oppressive."
This is a great read and you will have no buyer's remorse. I was only sorry that the story was not longer! The author is an exceptional man wise beyond his years.
on March 7, 2010
The devout Muslim son of an Imam Palestinian leader, befriended by Jews and working for the Israeli "CIA", converts to Christianity while spying for Israel and still protecting the life of his Hamas father in the midst of vengeful incursions by Israel into the West Bank.
And that's just the easy part!
Moab Hassan Yousef, this SON OF HAMAS founding leader Sheikh Hassan Yousef, tells a compelling story. He takes the reader from his rock-throwing boyhood in the first Palestinian intifada, through his teenage years of imprisonment with its threats of torture by both his Israeli captors and his fellow Palestinian prison mates, to his heart felt desire to save his people, all people, from endless violence and death. While the author's writing style, in collaboration with Mr. Ron Brackin, may come off at first perhaps a bit adolescent, reading on, the reader is taken into experiences that are anything but childish.
From "true believer" as the son of an Imam to befriending the Jewish state, to encountering "the one true God" of neither of them, Moab Yousef takes the reader through all three camps. Yet, despite the author's earnest attempts to light the way to peace, the reader may be left, as I was, still holding a lamp of hope while wandering the geopolitical wilderness.
on March 3, 2010
I am a sucker for spy novels, but have often been disappointed by nonfiction accounts of spies. Spycatcher was particularly disappointing. Son of Hamas is unlike any spy nonfiction I have ever read. It is gripping reading, and I could not put my kindle down until I had read it all.
Mossab Hassan Yousef has helped me understand the Middle East in a new and profound way; In the past I was strongly tempted to see Israel as the good guy and anybody else as the bad guys, but he helped me see many shades of gray in Palestine. Yousef's story is more than a compelling spy thriller or political geography. It is also the story of his repenting of his sins, and believing in Jesus Christ for his salvation. I can barely conceive of how difficult it must have been for him to break his family's heart, take up his cross, and follow Jesus. This book is an absolute must-read. I hope Mossab is adjusting well to life in the United States.
on March 14, 2010
...and I read a lot. I drive 2+ hours a day back and forth to work listening to Audio Books. This is a gripping story, I can't stop thinking about it. The risks he took, leading a double life at the top of the most violent group of killers in the world. Most books are interesting but I don't expect to ever shake this one. Mosab is still on a mission. We sit around fretting about the Middle East while civilization unravels. Mosab is perhaps the only man with a complete picture of the wretched travesty, and he's not sitting, he's carrying the world on his shoulders. Our leaders are lost, so Mosab is putting his life on the line to save as many as he can. My heart goes out to him. For those of you who pray, pray God will protect and sustain Mosab.
on May 13, 2010
"Son of Hamas" is a fast-paced, sensational, heartbreaking read. Mosab Hassan Yousef's story is unique and important, and he tells his story with frankness, tears, and outrage. He is the son of a founder of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas; he himself was a prisoner, an Israeli spy, and, eventually, a convert to Christianity. The book is an easy read; you can finish it in a couple of sittings. It's really more of a long magazine article than a book, though. Neither MHY nor his co-author, Ron Brackin, delves deeply into the many complexities of the story. Rather, the book's focus is on recounting of this or that spy activity. From this book, I didn't gain deep insight into what it's like to be an undercover agent, to betray one's beloved father's ideals, or to convert from Islam to Christianity.
MHY's description of Hamas is scathing. The most memorable passages in the book describe Hamas members torturing other Palestinians in Israeli prisons. MHY worked as the torturers' scribe. He wrote their fastidious accounts of what the tortured inmate confessed to. These files read like pornography. Inmates confessed to unbelievable acts, acts that included cows and cameras. It was clear to MHY that these victims were making up stories to satisfy their torturers' twisted appetites, and to, thereby, make the torture stop.
The Hamas torturers focused on men who did not have outside protectors to avenge their torture. One poor soul, Akel, was targeted for torture because his only living relative outside prison was a sister who would not harm anyone in revenge for Hamas shoving needles under Akel's fingernails. Too, Akel was a "simple farmer" "never accepted by the urban Hamas" who took advantage of him. MHY describes a Palestinian prisoner throwing himself against a boundary of razor wire. An Israeli guard was about to shoot him. The man explained that he was not trying to escape the Israeli prison, but, rather, his fellow Palestinian inmates.
The bulk of the book consists of journalistic accounts of this or that spy operation. Clever ways are devised for MHY to meet with his Israeli handlers. Other clever ways are devised for MHY to avoid being detected as a spy, even as he meets with top figures like the PLO's Yasser Arafat. MHY thwarts suicide bombings and tries to make sure that terrorists are imprisoned, rather than killed. Fans of espionage may find these passages intriguing.
By chance, MHY runs into some Christians and begins to discover Jesus in the pages of a gift Bible. MHY left Islam and became a Christian. This made life completely impossible for him among his beloved home and family. He had to leave Israel for the US. Even that departure had to be orchestrated by Israeli intelligence.
The intense heartbreak MHY has experienced in his life is suggested in this book, but never plumbed. I wonder if he'll ever write a more probing, confessional book that will explore what must have been a very tough life. MHY's love for his father and his family is obvious. His family has disowned him; they have to. Islam mandates the death penalty for apostates. MHY was born into an impossible situation for an ethical being. He loves his father; his father supports terror. He loves his family; his family must renounce him for leaving Islam. He loves his homeland and his people; too many of his people are committed to pointless violence and are rigid in their resistance to any alternative point of view. I suspect that many readers reading this book will be moved to pray for MHY and his family as well. Readers will pray for his safety, of course, but also for peace for the many heartbreaks he has experienced, heartbreaks not of his own making.
on March 4, 2010
if you are serious about understanding the MIddle East and the ideologies competing for dominance over there this is a must read. Joseph as we call him will be remembered in history as a great man of faith and courage. Take this book very seriously it comes at great cost.
-Pastor Matt Smith
on March 8, 2010
The title of this book describes exactly what it is. It is a gripping, powerful, terrifying tale of unbelievable choices, political intrigue and betrayal of the most potent sort.
Mosab Hassan Yousef, known as the "Green Prince" to the Shin Bet (an Israeli intelligence service comparable to America's FBI), is the oldest song of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, a cofounder and leader of Hamas since 1986. What is Hamas? It is an Islamic resistance movement in the West Bank and Gaza, listed by several organizations and governments as a terrorist organization.
My Aunt bought this book and read it quickly and I couldn't resist the pull of it. I remembered reading about Mosab (Now Joseph) in an article a few months back and thought how fascinating his story must be. Fascinating doesn't even begin to describe this journey.
There are facts and facts laid bare in this book. I don't even know where to begin writing about it. The relationship Mosab has with his father is one that defies all typical American assumptions when it comes to terrorist relationships. Despite his father's heavy involvement in Hamas, he proves that the line is not always black and white and that there is a wide expanse of gray there in the middle. While his father does not participate first-hand in the terrorist acts nor actively condone them he does nothing to stop them which causes Mosab to have one of many second thoughts as to his place in the conflict.
Most of all, this is a story of salvation - although it begins to get a bit lost. This is not a book that preaches to you. It's a simple statement of fact from a man raised in a deeply religious, Muslim family and lifestyle and how he struggles with the differences between the God of the Bible and the God of the Qur'an. An example is this paragraph:
"Somehow, I seemed to always benefit from divine protection. I wasn't even a Christian yet, and al-Faransi certainly didn't know the Lord. My Christian friends were praying for me every day, however. And God, Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 "causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." This was certainly a far cry from the cruel and vengeful god of the Qur'an."
One of the parts of the book that struck me the most was the following passage. In this section of the book Mosab is speaking of an Israeli man, a Jewish man (Amnon) who refuses to serve in the military despite it being a required 3 year term. The reason for Amnon's refusal? He cannot justify killing.
"When he still refused to serve, Amnon was arrested and imprisoned. What I didn't realize was that Amnon was living in the Jewish section of the prison the entire time I was at Ofer. He was there because he refused to work with the Israelis; I was there because I had agreed to work with them. I was trying to protect Jews; he was trying to protect Palestinians.
I didn't believe that everybody in Israel and the occupied territories needed to become a Christian in order to end the bloodshed. But I thought if we just had a thousand Amnons on one side and a thousand Mosabs on the other, it would make a big difference. And if we had more ... who knows?"
Mosab is now currently living in California. His father refuses to denounce him in order to protect him from death. His father denies that Mosab ever had any information about Hamas and was not a member of the organization. I don't know whether this is the truth or not, but I do know that what I have read in this novel shed a definite light on some things and made me think long and hard about a situation which, up until this point, was dark and mysterious.
I applaud Mosab's courage in telling his story and I am thrilled at the message that he conveys through it. If only we had a thousand people to listen and take up his way of thinking just think what we could do. And like he said in this book, "if we had more... who knows?"