Son of Hamas Leader Converts to Christiantiy, Denounces Organization

A bad week for Hamas, the Islamist movement which has proven disastrous both for Palestinian civil society and for those advocating Palestinian rights under Israeli occupation. A couple of days ago the Palestinian human rights organisation al-Haq issued a report accusing Hamas and Fatah of the artibrary detention and torture of Palestinian prisoners (and if this is how they treat their own people, the conditions endured by Hamas’ Israeli prisoner Gilad Shalit are difficult to imagine); now the son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef, who is Hamas’ leader in the West Bank, has announced his conversion to Christianity and given an interview to Haaretz. Masab Yousef, who is now based in California, has quite an indictment of Hamas:

“These people have no morals, they have no integrity. But they aren’t as stupid as Fatah, which steals in broad daylight in front of everyone and is immediately suspected of corruption. [Hamas people] receive money in dishonest ways, invest it in secret places, and outwardly maintain a simple lifestyle. Sooner or later they will use this money and screw the people.

“Nobody knows them and how they operate as well as I do…”

Yousef, or “Joseph” as he now prefers to be known as, also takes credit for his father’s relative moderation:

“He’s a nice, friendly man. But I discovered how evil his colleagues are…When I was with my father, I in effect pushed a moderate Hamas leader into making logical decisions, such as stopping the attacks and establishing two states alongside one another. I felt responsible. It was better for me to be there rather than a gang of fools who would poison his mind…”

Joseph explains that he became a Christian a while ago while still living in Ramallah, but that he kept quiet about it. He doesn’t explain to what kind of Christianity he has converted, and he gives few clues; although he has harsh words about Islam (“In the view of Hamas, peace with Israel contradicts sharia and the Koran”) and Palestinian society (“An entire society sanctifies death”), and says that he “respects” Israel, he doesn’t appear to have followed the path of Palestinian convert Walid Shoebat, whose entire religious identity is now grounded in a fundamentalist anti-Muslim and apocalyptic Christian Zionism.

The report has been received with predicable glee by pro-Israel websites; Joseph’s relatives meanwhile are denying that the story is true.