The Truth from a Son of Hamas
By Marivir R. Montebon
(A Music Box Films production, opens on Friday, September 12 in New York and LA. PG 13)
New York City — The Green Prince tells us that despite the brutality of war, friendship can surprisingly become a victory for personal peace.
This brave documentary, written and directed by Nadav Shirman, is the story of Mossab Hassan Yousef, son of a Hamas leader who became an asset to the Israeli government for ten years. A native of Ramallah, Yousef is the eldest son of and personal assistant to a Hamas founder and leader in the West Bank, Sheik Hassan Yousef.
Based on a memoir which he himself wrote, Son of Hamas, the Green Prince is a personal account of the bloody Palestinian-Israeli conflict that unexpectedly ends in friendship between the informant and his handler, Gonen Ben Yitzhak, of the Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency.
The Green Prince is a winner of the 2014 Audience Award World Cinema Documentary of the Sundance Film Festival.
Producer John Battseck says, “We don’t attempt to tackle the complexities of the situation in the Middle East directly in the film, but we see it through the lens of this friendship. So, in some way, the film does inevitably shine a light on the conflict, but very deliberately does not embark on a deep analysis of the situation itself.”
Yousef’s narrative, in heavily accented English, is a voice in the tumultuous times of youth: his rape at a young age, his arrest by Israeli soldiers when he purchased illegal guns at 17, in order to defend his father who was constantly beaten and imprisoned by Israeli soldiers, how he was coerced by the Shin Bet to be an informant, and finally his disenchantment with the Hamas who tortured and killed members of its own movement.
As the personal secretary to his father, Yousef reveals his being a convenient tracer to all leaders of the Hamas, through phone calls, secret meetings, and public engagements.
Code named the Green Prince, Yousef admits to have “shamed” his family for betraying his father and the Hamas which they operate like a “family business”. But he justifies that he could not have done any better than succumb to the Shin Bet’s coercion in order to save his own life and family.
Seeing for himself the excesses of the Hamas and the tyranny of war, Yousef opts to escape from his world of “lies”. Confronting his own fears and frustration, he flees to San Diego in California, through the help of Yitzhak, who was earlier dismissed by the Shin Bet for giving Yousef too much favors.
The Green Prince highlights on the teary-eyed Yousef, scared and lonely, when his own family disowned him and the Israeli government disenfranchised him for being a turncoat. As he seeks political asylum, Yousef also converts to Christianity in the US.
The 101-minute documentary is not cinematically impressive, but it is rich in rare archival footage and its personal message, set in the barbarism of death and destruction, is clear – that friendship can happen between the most bitter of enemies. (Photos by Google.com)