Mosab Hassan Yousef was born in Ramallah in 1978. By 1987, his father, Sheik Hassan Yousef, was helping to found Hamas. Mosab has said that he was raised to want to become a soldier fighting Israel and that he was first arrested at the age of 10 for throwing rocks at settlers in the West Bank.
"The model for every Palestinian child is a mujahid (ph) or a fidahi (ph) or a fighter. So, of course, I wanted to be one at that point of my life. It wasn't -- it's not my only dream. It's every child's dream in that territory."
He says that at one point, he was captured and tortured by Israeli agents -- part of the country's Shin Bet security agency. But in prison, he also saw Hamas leaders torturing fellow Hamas whom they suspected of having cooperated with the Israelis.
He explained during a CNN interview, "So I became confused about that, about who's really my enemy, and everybody is torturing everybody. Now, when I was released from jail, I decided I don't want to work for Shin Bet; I don't want to work for Hamas either..."
He accepted an offer to meet with Shin Bet soldiers, at first thinking it would give him a window into their organization, so he could spy on them. But ultimately, he says, he decided to work for the Israelis by spying on Palestinians, including his own father.
From the CNN interview:
"At least the Shin Bet is an organization that is committed to the constitution. They have their own rules. And they respect the rules.
"Yes, there are mistakes, and they are responsible for killing civilians, and I admit that, and I'm witnessing for things like this, but this doesn't make them thirsty to kill Palestinians.
"Now, what Hamas is having something absolutely different. Hamas targeted -- targets civilians. It's their goal to target civilians. And there is a difference if -- if -- if you're targeting a terrorist and there is a civilian casualty."
He says he worked as an informant for Israel for ten years.
In 2010, Mosab publicly revealed his story, which has been made into a book and, now, a documentary film, The Green Prince, which opens in New York this week. His family has disowned him and says he was brainwashed, but Mosab says he saved his father's life by advising the Israelis to put him in prison rather than kill him.
Mosab, now 36, has converted to Christianity and lives in California, where he teaches yoga. He gained political asylum in part because of his friendship with Gonen ben Yitzhak, a Shin Bet agent who had to reveal his own secrets to testify on Mosab's behalf. Their friendship is part of Mosab's story.
Ben Yitzhak told the New York Times, "My father was a general in the Israeli army, Mosab's father founded Hamas, and those two figures were fighting each other. Now Mosab and I have become brothers."
According to a news release, Mosab is scheduled to address Congregation B'nai Israel on Saturday, September 20, at 8 p.m.:
As the son of one of the founders of Hamas, he will provide a first-hand account of the Middle East conflict and discuss his life as a double agent working for Israel. The event is open to the public and tickets are $50 and $36. Space is limited and those without advanced-purchased tickets will not be permitted on the campus.
Visit cbiboca.org or call 561-241-8118 for tickets.
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