Monday, 28 June 2010

Interview excerpts with the Son of Hamas

Probably the most fascinating figure I have ever come across is Mosab Hassan Yousef, the eldest son of one of the founders of Hamas. After disillusion with Hamas' hypocrisy, Joseph (Yousef) went on a search for the truth ("who is my real enemy?" was his guiding question), and it led him to Christianity. The revolutionary moment for him was hearing from the lips of Jesus words he considered unthinkable: "Love your enemies as yourself." The story is long and I can't go into detail here (read his biography, which made it to the NY Times top 10; I've yet to get round to it). In short: he ended up spying for ten years for Israel's security body, Shin Bet, with the express intention of fulfilling Jesus' words: i.e. to save lives on both sides of the fence. He even negotiated with Shin Bet to have suicide bombers arrested rather than executed, risking his own life in the process. For me, one of the most fascinating and beautiful things about Joseph is the way he constantly emphasises the humanity of terrorists. In contrast to the simplistic and self-righteous attempt to explain them away by calling them "mad men," Joseph talks of them with love in his heart and a yearning for "their salvation," most of all salvation from their own ideology. In light of all this, the latest twist in his inspiring story is so perverse it could almost be in a comedy book rather than a tragedy: the US Inland Security wants him deported to the West Bank as a security threat. The reason: in his biography he describes how working for Shin Bet meant working within Hamas itself (seems obvious to me). Returning to Palestine would mean his execution of course, as conversion from Islam is a capital offence. The hearing, by the way, takes place to day. Pray for him.

For more info, John Hobbins has a round up of relevant sites and videos here. "Joseph's" Facebook page is constantly being updated with the latest news (for example, Inland Security in the States want him deported as a threat) and his website has various videos and information. He even personally authors a blog here.

Today I just want to share some of the latest video excerpts that I've come across in Youtube. They're taken from a Christian conference (I don't know which one) and give you an insight into what really does seem to be the motivating and sustaining factor behind everything that he is doing. If you think that his "political" work can be separated from his "personal faith" (a peculiarly modern dichotomy), than which this powerful interview with CNN's Amanpour. I get the impression that even this hardened interviewer was taken aback, even moved ... . Whatever you think of his opinions, I don't think his voice can be ignored.

So here are the most recent videos:

First, an account of his relationship to his father:

Here he answers the question: "who is my real enemy?:

Here are some comments on "how God is working the the Middle East":

Here he's talking about Jewish and Palestinian converts to Christianity:

Here's an anecdote about worshipping with an Israeli soldier:


Anonymous said...

Thanks for these. I am still not quite sure how to add any interpretation to this I might only suggest for further theological reflection on Israeli-Palestine Epp Weaver's book States of Exile.
I was translating Jonah for an upcoming sermon and came to Nineveh's repentance from their chamas (violence). I assumed this was related to the meaning of Hamas' name as an organization but I have not read that there is any allusion . . . strange irony I suppose.
In any event thanks for drawing attention to this individual.

Phil Sumpter said...

Hamas is an acronym for their full Arabic name, which I don't know off by hand. I've noticed the irony, but I'm not sure it's intentional. That kind of thing can happen with two related languages like Hebrew and Arabic. There's an Arab Israeli hip hop group called DAM which has an intentional word play.

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