The eldest son of Hamas founder Sheikh Hassan Yousef is siding with Israel in its war with Hamas, saying flatly that Hamas “puts Gaza’s children in front of Israeli tanks …[and] profits from the death of Palestinian children to get sympathy from the Arab world.”
Mosab Hassan Yousef, 36, who broke with his father many years ago and now lives in the United States, said in a conference call this week that the Hamas leadership in Gaza disappeared at the start of its war, going underground and leaving the civilians to deal with the Israeli war machine.
The issue of how many Palestinian civilians have been killed in the month-long war has been a subject of much controversy in recent days, and Israel has come under harsh attack for what critics say is a disproportionate military response. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a press conference yesterday, expressed deep regret over the loss of civilian life in Gaza, but he placed the blame for it on Hamas’ tactic of putting its fighters in residential areas, which exposes civilians to possible danger.
Yousef described Hamas as a “religious ideological organization that does not have political borders. Its ultimate goal is not to establish a Palestinian state. Its ultimate goal is to destroy the State of Israel and build an Islamic state on the rubble of the State of Israel. … Hamas hijacked the Palestinian cause and infiltrated Palestinian society with a sick ideology that spread like a cancer and the whole nation became caught in its trap.”
The conference call was organized by a group that supported Yousef’s successful political asylum request to the U.S. in 2010, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, a nonprofit organization that bills itself as a pro-Israel, pro-American think tank on Capitol Hill.
Yousef said on the call that “many people see me as a hero or as a traitor — it all depends.” He then went on to criticize Islam.
“Islam to me is a cult,” he said. “I think it is a sick idea and many Muslims are captive in this ideology.”
It is that strident criticism of Islam that has made him persona non-grata in much of the Jewish community. Many Jewish organizations that might otherwise trumpet him as an insider unmasking the true Hamas have instead kept their distance from him.
But his message regarding the war was similar to that of Israeli supporters when he said: “Hamas invites this type of war and forces Israel to have no choice but to bring its forces inside the Gaza Strip. I knew before hand what was going to be. There was no way to avoid civilian casualties no matter what the army did. The Gaza Strip is one of the most populated areas on the Earth. …
“Hamas learned that this is the way to make Israel’s best friends become its worst enemy. This is what Hamas considers as a victory. … I personally stand with Israel in this fight. All of us know that Israel is the real democracy in the region.”
A similar message was contained in a full-page ad that ran this week in several American newspapers. Written by Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel, it said Hamas is using “Muslim children as human shields” and that the “Hamas death cult must be confronted for what it is.”
“Moderate men and women of faith, whether that faith is in God or man, must shift their criticism from the Israeli soldiers — whose terrible choice is to fire and risk harming human shields, or hold their fire and risk the death of their loved ones — to the terrorists who have taken away all choice from the Palestinian children of Gaza. …
“I call upon President Obama and the leaders of the world to condemn Hamas’ use of children as human shields.”
The ad headline read: “Jews rejected child sacrifice 3,500 years ago. Now it’s Hamas’ turn.”
The London Times refused to carry the ad, which was sponsored by The Values Network founded by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, explaining that Wiesel’s opinion was “too strong and too forcefully made and will cause concern amongst a significant number of Times’ readers.”
Rabbi Boteach told JTA that Wiesel’s views “could only offend the sensibilities of the most die-hard anti-Israel haters and anti-Semites.”