February 24, 2024

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Author of How to Prep When You’re Broke and Bloom Where You’re Planted online course

I recently came across a book called Son of Hamas. Written by Mosab Hassan Yousef, it is a deeply personal story about what it was like growing up in Gaza. But Mosab wasn’t just an average Gazan. He was the eldest son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, who was a founding member of Hamas.

You might think that this book has nothing to tell you. You might roll your eyes and say, “This is just propaganda meant to make you feel bad for the Palestinians. Hamas is nothing but a terrorist organization!”

But I think truly understanding a conflict means digging deep into both sides. And furthermore, Mosab was anything but a blind follower of Hamas and Islam. In fact, they consider him a traitor.

What’s the book about?

The book is a good story, first of all. It’s one of those things you start reading, and you are grabbed on the first few pages. It begins the first time Mosab was arrested by the Israelis. He was young, still in high school, when he was taken and beaten. He didn’t know whether he would survive to see his family again. He was terrified, as any young person would be in such a situation.

Then, the story goes back to his early childhood. He writes with a deep love for his father – his emotion and respect for his dad leaps off the page. I’m reminded by his prose that not everyone is all good or all bad. His father may have been responsible for the foundation of a terrorist organization, but he was also a beloved fixture in his community, a kind father, and a true believer that there was goodness in his religion. He helped others, he dispensed wisdom, and was deeply respected.

When Mosab was growing up, his most fervent wish was to make his father proud of him. That makes what happens later in the story even more difficult and conflicted.

Mosab writes without seeking pity, telling stories of average Palestinians who were just trying to get by – trying to get enough water to drink and food to eat, trying to avoid being arrested, trying to protect their children from being harmed just for being outside playing. He paints a realistic picture that helps you to see how terrorists are created, not born.

At the same time, he shares how children are brought up to despise and fear the Israelis. His stories show how deeply influenced these kids are by their early experiences and how shocking it was to him to see the other side of this conflict in his later years. His discovery that the Israelis were just as afraid of the Palestinians put him on a path to something different.

Mosab began working for the Israelis.

While he was still quite young – during his second arrest, Mosab agreed to work for the Israelis in exchange for protection for his father. His family never knew that he was doing this. It was during this time he was exposed to Israelis as human beings, not just “the enemy.” He began to see the situation with more clarity, especially as he watched imprisoned Hamas members torturing other Palestinian prisoners on a daily basis. He was sickened by what he was watching.

When he enrolled in college, he attended a Christian bible study for something to do on one boring evening. He was given a copy of the New Testament, and he first began to see that there might be another philosophy. At this point, he was still a devout Muslim but some seeds had been planted – the seeds of peace, love, and forgiveness. All of this was foreign to his upbringing, and we read of his struggle to come to terms with this.

Mosab spent several years working as a double agent, trying to protect his family, trying to stay alive, trying to fulfill the commitment he had made to the Israelis. During this time, his faith in the Christian God grew and his belief that neither side was all bad or all good was solidified.

Mosab’s awakening is incredible to read about. Seeing his shift in perspective is hopeful, and you can’t help but cheer him on.

Mosab’s story came at a great personal cost.

He felt his story was very important. So important that he sacrificed what he held most dear: his relationship with his beloved family. The day before the book was published, his father released a statement from prison that he had disowned Mosab. At the time an additional chapter was added to the book, they had not made amends.

As well, his life remains at risk for the things he divulged – the inside workings of Hamas and the corruption of those who worked to “free” Palestine but actually had other motives.

Why I recommend the book

It’s easy to watch what’s happening in Gaza right now and think that one side is “good” and the other side is “bad.” But by affixing some humanity to both sides and truly learning how this legacy of hatred and fear has been stoked by those who benefit from the ongoing crisis, it has helped me to understand how this has been going on for so long. Regardless of your beliefs, challenging them with a new perspective can only help you to comprehend this Middle Eastern Hatfield-and-McCoy-style feud that has gone on for countless generations.

It explains why Hamas and other groups like it have sworn animus against those who have funded Israel. It provides deep insight into the Islamic belief system and shares Mosab’s view of why some Muslims who are moderate – not extreme – could be the biggest danger of all.

And it also shows you how difficult it would be for the enmity to end. It’s been bred into the hearts of the people. They were raised bathed in it. Fear is a powerful motivator.

I guess the only thing that is stronger is love.

If you are confused about what’s going on in the Middle East, or if you think you have a solid understanding of it – I recommend you read Son of Hamas. Everything you believe you know will be challenged by this beautifully written tale of family, war, intrigue, and faith.

Please note that there are some people who have cast doubt on Mosab’s story, calling him a fake. I believe him to be genuine. It would be quite a victory for Hamas to “prove” that nobody left their group and spoke against them, wouldn’t it?

Since October 7, Mosab has advocated for war against Hamas, explaining that they are not trying to make life better for the Palestinian people and that their motives are entirely different.

Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Did it give you a new perspective on the situation? Is it something you’d like to read?

Let’s discuss it in the comments section.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3) PreppersDailyNews.com, an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand Survival.com You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.