The Green Prince
By Zachary Brenner
When The Green Prince ended, my first impression was that it was a documenta- ry about achieving peace. But upon thinking about the film further, I realized that the mes- sage might have been darker than I had initially perceived.
The documentary is di- rected by Nadav Schirman and based upon the book Son of Hamas. It was written by the subject of the film, Mos- ab Hassan Yousef, the son of a founding member of Hamas.
The film follows Mosab’s difficult transformation from dedicated Hamas heir to loyal Israeli agent. He ends up em- ployed by one of Israel’s top in- telligence agencies, the Shin Bet.
“I asked myself what Pales- tinians would do if Israel dis-appeared,” Mosab wrote in his book. “If everything not only went back to the way it was before 1948 but if all the Jewish people abandoned the Holy Land and were scattered again. And for the first time, I knew the answer.
“We would still fight. Over nothing. Over a girl without a head scarf. Over who was tough- est and most important. Over who would make the rules and who would get the best seat.”
This seems to summarize Mosab’s transformation quite ac- curately. He looked at the Israel and Hamas schism and realized that he could not be a part of an organization that would never realize when the fight was over.
The film’s purpose is not only to highlight his newfound allegiance to Israel, but also to explore his wavering attach- ment to his family. What was most shocking to me, in par- ticular, was a scene in which Mosab loses faith in his father. His father consistently advo- cated for the good of the com- munity, but had to endorse acts of terrorism in order to main- tain his position within Hamas.
While I agree that Hamas’s terrorist activity should be stopped, the film made me pon- der whether the Israeli govern- ment actually has intentions to make peace with other groups. For all of Mosab’s efforts, he ul- timately leaves the Israeli intel- ligence agency because he views the government’s counterter- rorism strategy as ineffectual, preventing attacks but not get- ting to the root of the problem.
What the film most suc- ceeded at was portraying the actions of the Israeli intelligence honestly—far less peaceful than most Jews and Israelis are told, but still very successful at de- terring attacks. However, in their frank portrayal of the Is- raeli secret service, the filmmak- ers reveal a harsh truth: Peace is much more difficult to attain than most would like to believe.
While Mosab and his “han- dler” Gonen Ben Yitzchak were able to forge an amicable rela- tionship, they are an exception. The film portrays that individ- uals can change and fight for good and humane causes, but the unfortunate reality is that there will always be people on both sides whose aims cannot be achieved without bloodshed.
The future is not utterly hopeless, however. While Hamas might never change and ne- gotiate with Israel (and the Is- raeli government might never openly negotiate with Hamas), there are people like Mosab who are testaments to the po- tential for progress and peace.