Up until a few years ago, I didn't know much at all about the conflict that exists between Israel and Palestine. When I ever heard a news story about the "Middle East Crisis" or "Middle East Peace Process" (and usually in reference to the peace process being unsuccessful), its not that I'd tune out, but I just didn't understand it. In 2007, Andy & I traveled to Israel to tour the Biblical sites in the area and it was at that time that I actually started to grasp it all.
In our hotel there was a map of what I'd always known as "Israel", but it was divided in to sections and color coded. When I asked the front desk what did that all mean, I got my first real understanding of the Palestinian "Occupied Territories". And as I wandered the streets of Jerusalem, I noticed military personnel everywhere-- all carrying giant guns-- but from two distinct groups. A blue uniform for Palestinian military, and the traditional army green for Israeli forces. They coexisted on the streets, with their guns. It was strange to say the least.
One of our travel agendas was to pass into Bethlehem to tour the church built on top of the site where (supposedly) Mary gave birth to Christ. Our tour bus drove through the streets and eventually pulled up to a giant cement wall. We had to get off the bus and load onto another bus, trade in our Israeli tour guide & driver for Palestinian ones, and then drive through some heavy security to get to the other side of the wall. Once inside, the guide announced "Welcome to Palestine!" We has crossed into the Palestinian "West Bank."
Since that time, I have increasingly learned about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from my Arab friends. It is a very important issue to them-- Palestinian or not. And in their minds eye, all Americans and Westerners side with Israel. So, I have tried hard to learn as much as I can-- in an effort to understand my Arab friends, and to grow in compassion for all those affected (on both sides) by the suffering this "conflict" has caused.
So when my friend Angela heard about this new book, Son of Hamas by Mosab Hassan Yousef, she recommended it to me. I gobbled up this book. It is a fast read, chalk full of information from a unique perspective. Yousef is the son of one of the leaders of Hamas (a Palestinian "party" for lack of a better word) who was, at one point, a revenge-seeking wannabe terrorist who survived Israeli prison and came out the other side to become one of the most valuable spies for Israel into the network of Hamas and other Palestinian parties. His account details his work for both sides of the conflict. It is gripping!
After finishing the book, I feel I have a better understanding of both sides. I have an increased compassion for those caught in the cross-fires of what I think is a impossible-to-win (for either side) war. And I heard a beautiful testimony of learning from the teachings of Jesus-- to love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you. This is a fabulous book that I'd recommend to anyone wanting to learn more about one of our generations most heated, and ongoing conflicts.
Click here to buy the book on Amazon.