Son of Hamas Cofounder Speaks at Rackham Auditorium

On November 28, Mosab Hassan Yousef, a former member of Hamas, and former Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) spoke at Rackham Auditorium. They discussed the Hamas–Israel war and the responses to it on campus.

Yousef said Hamas “pose[s] as a national resistant [sic] movement with the intention to liberate what’s so-called Palestine” but is actually “a religious ideological movement waging a war — a holy war — against a race, against a nation.”

Yousef added that “all the pro-Palestine groups” “are giving, directly and indirectly, support to a savage group that just committed genocide against entire communities. They wiped out everything in their way, killing children, women, raping, burning, systematically ethnically cleansing a race only because they are Jewish.”

Yousef is the son of Hamas cofounder Sheikh Hassan Yousef. Once a Hamas militant, the younger Yousef was imprisoned in Israel and became an informant for the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service, in 1997. He later converted to Christianity and was granted asylum in the United States.

As his father is a Hamas leader, Yousef was not surprised that “no one is condemning Hamas for taking their own people as human shields”:

Even my own father, when he had to choose between Hamas and his oldest son, he chose the ideology. He sacrificed me. He told the whole world, “You can kill him. I am not his father, and I will not come after you.”

Yousef was skeptical of Palestinian leaders’ inclination toward peace:

It’s not in their interest to end the conflict because they profit out of it. They know only how to thrive in chaos. They don’t know how to create, how to build. They don’t like order. If there is no conflict, there is no need for them. This is why it’s in their interest to keep it going for eternity. You can give them all the solutions in the world, and they will reject it.

Thus Yousef wondered about how the war might end. Citing the examples of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he said it is possible that “some of us, could be one of us, would have to take the responsibility to drop a dirty bomb somewhere in order to stop the war from spreading.”

The event was hosted by Facts on the Ground at Michigan (FOG), a campus organization founded after Hamas’s terrorist attacks on Israel in October. FOG campaigned for students to vote no on Assembly Resolution 13-025 (AR 13-025), which accused Israel of genocide against Palestinians.

“Some students came together recognizing the disinformation on campus and in AR 13-025, and we said, ‘Let’s take some action against it. Let’s work to combat the disinformation and work to get people to vote no,’” Evan Cohen, a member of the FOG executive board, told the Michigan Review.

Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee, told students to “widen the aperture of the lens” when talking with their peers about conflicts in the Middle East. Specifically, they should question why there has been comparatively little outrage over violence and human rights violations in Egypt, Syria, and Yemen.

In response to anti-Zionism from left-leaning groups, Deutch argued that supporting Israel is progressive:

In the democratic state of Israel, instead of the hatred and the violence, you see a country where women’s rights are valued and prized, where LGBT equality is valued and prized and recognized. You see a country that is leading the world in combating climate change. You see a country that is the first, the first on the ground anywhere in the world where there’s a humanitarian disaster, providing relief to whatever that country is and whoever its people are.

Regarding the campus climate, Deutch encouraged students “to push back against those voices who seek to silence you and your right to speak out, and who seek to bully you so that you’re uncomfortable expressing your views and expressing the facts.”

The university administration canceled the vote on AR 13-025 on November 30. On December 5, the administration announced that it would “disallow any future votes on” AR 13-025.

Describing AR 13-025 and an opposing referendum, Assembly Resolution 13-026, the administration stated, “The proposed resolutions have done more to stoke fear, anger and animosity on our campus than they would ever accomplish as recommendations to the university.”

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About Alex Stamell

Alex Stamell is editor in chief emeritus of the Michigan Review.