Cliff May

Then came Camp David: In 2000, President Bill Clinton put pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barack who offered Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian Authority and leader of Fatah, "about 90 percent of the West Bank, the entire Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem as the capital of a new Palestinian state. In addition," Mosab writes, "a new international fund would be established to compensate Palestinians for property that had been taken from them. This ‘land for peace' offer represented a historic opportunity for the long-suffering Palestinian people, something few Palestinians would have dared imagine possible. But even so, it was not enough for Arafat," who rejected the offer, refused to negotiate further, and launched a bloody intifada against Israel.

Why? Yousef explains: "Yasser Arafat had grown extraordinarily wealthy as the international symbol of victimhood. He wasn't about to surrender that status and take on the responsibility of actually building a functioning society. ... ...For Arafat, there always seemed to be more to gain if Palestinians were bleeding. Another intifada would surely get the blood flowing and the Western news cameras rolling once again."

Yousef decided that something "had to be done to stop this rolling madness. I knew the time had come for me to begin working with Shin Bet. And I went at it with all my heart."

He was good at it, too. For example, he discovered that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were actually composed of Arafat's personal guards, members of Force 17, largely funded by American taxpayers. They carried out terrorist attacks while Arafat denounced terrorism, blamed most of it on Hamas, and insisted he was doing all he could to restrain the violent extremists.

Yousef knew that by working for the Israelis he would be seen as "a traitor in the eyes of my people." But it was the only way he could prevent suicide bombings, the only way he could save both Palestinian and Israeli lives, the only way he could contribute to "the ongoing war on terrorism in which Israel plays a leading role."

In 2007, Yousef retired from the spy business and left the Middle East. He now lives in California. He also has left Islam which, he came to believe, has a "beautiful side," but also a "cruel side that requires its followers to conquer and enslave the earth." He is now a devout Christian.

He wrote "Son of Hamas" because, "When Middle Eastern nations - Jews and Arabs alike - start to understand some of what I understand, only then will there be peace."

And it would help if President Obama were to read his book and realize that Israel's policies - least of all its plans to build housing for growing families in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem -- are the least of the obstacles standing in the way of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.


Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.