The story of Mosab Hassan Yousef began many years ago in the heart of Gaza and in the Hamas family. However, over the course of his life, Mr. Yousef has proven the power of friendship and understanding as he came to support the Shin Bet during the Second Intifada.
We developed a special relationship with Mr. Yousef over the past year encouraging him to share his personal story. On September 10th and 11th we had the honor of hosting Mr. Yousef for three pre-screenings of The Green Prince in Boston and New York in support of OneFamily.
Review of The Green Prince by the New York Times: The emotional core of “The Green Prince,” Nadav Schirman’s gripping documentary thriller, is the deepening relationship of Mosab Hassan Yousef, a Palestinian recruited as a spy by the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, and his Israeli handler. Mr. Yousef, whose memoir, “Son of Hamas,” inspired the film, wasn’t a Palestinian fighter infused with jihadist fervor. But because his father, Hassan Yousef, was a founder of Hamas, he was a prize catch for the Israeli agency, which manipulated him with diabolical efficiency to glean vital intelligence. In turn, he was protected from exposure. The film alternates the recollections of Mr. Yousef, code-named Green Prince, and his Israeli handler, Gonen ben Yitzhak, in a he-said, he-said format. In this case, the two stories augment, rather than contradict, each other. Mr. ben Yitzhak is a likable man whose deepening affection for Mr. Yousef during their decade-long partnership led him to break the rules of a game as complex and duplicitous as the plot of a John le Carré novel. The word “game” is not chosen lightly. As Mr. ben Yitzhak describes the manipulation of Mr. Yousef, you have the disconcerting sense of monitoring a chess match in which strategical maneuvering and intellectual gamesmanship take precedence over the human cost. In one of many re-enactments, Mr. Yousef is first seen wearing a hood, while tied to a chair in a dimly lighted interrogation room. He is a fervently intense young man who, like Mr. ben Yitzhak, speaks perfect English. His reminiscences return repeatedly to the concept of shame. His acute sense of it began when he was raped as a young boy, an assault that he says he dared not tell anyone about because of the stigma attached. By the end of the film, this sense of shame has widened to include his betrayal of his family and the Palestinian cause and has become a defining theme of his life. Mr. Yousef, who eventually rejected Islam, now lives in the United States. His wooing by the Shin Bet began after his arrest and incarceration in the mid-’90s for buying and transporting weapons. Repulsed by Hamas’s killings, he was a relatively easy recruit to the other side. As his father’s “gatekeeper,” he provided vital information to Israel on Hamas’s activities and plans. Gonen ben Yitzhak was Mr. Yousef’s Israeli handler. Credit Music Box Films Mr. Yousef’s antipathy for Hamas further solidified after a series of suicide bombings in 2001, whose devastating consequences are seen in vintage news footage. His intelligence work involved elaborate, deceptive charades that included his serving grueling stints in Israeli prisons, to counter any suspicions of his betrayal. If “The Green Prince” sustains the tension of a well-executed thriller, it is achieved at the cost of a dispassionate objectivity. There are no outside voices to augment a film that becomes the increasingly sentimental story of a boundary-breaching friendship. In one emotional moment, Mr. Yousef recalls cooking a last supper with his father while knowing that they are both about to be arrested. The film is fleshed out with repetitious stock footage of bombing targets observed from the air, and such wasted time would have been better spent filling out the history. For all his intensity, Mr. Yousef never really tries to explain why he acted as he did. Perhaps there is no explanation beyond his revulsion at the carnage of war. “The Green Prince” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It has gruesome footage of corpses.