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Son of Hamas founder stands with Israel at Snohomish event amidst statewide protests

Nights of Hope for Israel with Mosab Hassan Yousef at The Pursuit Church in Snohomish, Washington | The Pursuit NW

SNOHOMISH, Wash., November 20, 2023Son of Hamas author and former member of the controversial Palestinian group Hamas, Masab Hassan Yousef, spoke at Pursuit NW Church in Snohomish Monday, November 5, condemning the attacks of his former resistance movement and showing his support for Israel.

“I’m not an advocate for the Jewish people or anyone – this is the truth,” said Yousef. “If I have to advocate for any people, I wouldn’t be here tonight, but I love the Jewish people. I have so many Jewish friends that we shared bread together, we laughed together, so if anybody touch the Jewish people, they touch me somehow and of course I’m going to be outraged.”

Pastor Russell Johnson of The Pursuit NW (left) with Masab Hassan Yousef (right) at Pursuit Church NW on Monday, November 5, 2023. SOURCE: The Pursuit NW

Mosab was born on the West Bank of Ramallah, in 1978, His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, is one of the founders of Hamas, an organization that many countries consider a terrorist threat due to their use of suicide bombings and other deadly attacks against Israel. The United States designated Hamas a foreign terrorist organization on October 8, 1997.

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Sheikh Hassan Yousef, one of the founders of Hamas and father of Masab Hassan Yousef. SOURCE: Middle East Monitor.

For years Yousef played an integral part of the movement and was imprisoned several times by the Israeli intelligence. He withstood torture in prison only to discover Hamas was torturing its own Palestinian people in an endless search for collaborators, he said. Around this time Yousef began to question who his enemies really were.

“I did not like my father’s movement because his movement was to annihilate the state of Israel. This is not defense,” said Yousef. “A good father would risk their lives to protect their children, not sacrifice their children for their own political gamble. He wants to annihilate the Jews and relocate 10 million people, but these people have a birthright to that land.”

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Hundreds attended Pursuit Church NW on November 5, 2023, to hear Masab Hassan Yousef’s story. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

Yousef said he began to see that his father’s movement would become a “vicious cycle of violence” that would never end. He added that if the movement had a political agenda, then negotiations may be an option but “it’s a religious movement and no political value or price can satisfy their religious ambition because they want the holy land.”

“How can you negotiate with that? That is why democracy doesn’t negotiate with terrorist groups because they use force as a means to obtain their political goals. Democracy is not based on the use of force — it has an army to protect it but it’s based on dialogue, not on the gun only,” said Yousef.

 “Hamas is a terrorist group by all standards,” he continued. “In fact, terrorist is an understatement, because what they did on October 7 was barbaric…Hamas initiated the war, that was the cause, what we are witnessing right now is the effect of that war. Israel does not target civilians, bottom line. Ten years I was a part of the Israel intelligence operation and I know, and I trust Israel one hundred percent, they do not have the intention of harming civilians but they cannot be responsible for what happens to civilians when Hamas used them as human shields.”

Hamas Terrorist attack of October 7, 2023

On October 7, 2023, Hamas led a series of coordinated attacks against Israel — on a Sabbath day and date of many Jewish holidays — killing over 1,000 Jewish civilians and approximately 350 Israeli soldiers. Approximately 3,000 Palestinian militants infiltrated Israel from Gaza using trucks, powered paragliders, bulldozers, and speedboats, opening fire on Israeli civilians and setting homes on fire. Additionally, Hamas took approximately 200 Israeli hostages, approximately 30 of which were children. That day was the largest number of Jews killed on a single day since the Holocaust.

At least 44 nations considered the attack an act of terrorism but Hamas, and many Arab nations, blamed Israel saying the attack was provoked by Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in Gaza.

In response, Israel declared a state of emergency and preparedness for war pledging the destruction of the military and governmental capabilities of “Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.” The Israeli military urged civilians living in Gaza to flee on October 17 and led an airstrike on October 31 before troops and tanks poured in. At least 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza as of November 13, according to the Washinton Post.

Additionally, at least 37 journalists have been killed while covering the conflict making October the deadliest month of journalists since the Committee to Protect Journalists began tracking data.

UW and other college’s nationwide hold protests in support of Palestine

In early October, hundreds of Palestinian supporters showed up en masse at University of Washington’s Red Square with signs and megaphones. Those who stand with Israel also showed face.

Some protesters even had photos of the Hamas paragliders who dropped into Israel on October 7 on their signs.

Noah, a University of Washington student, informed the Lynnwood Times there were posters circulating around campus blaming the Jews for the conflicts in the middle East, which he believed to be promoting antisemitism.

Additionally, students could be spotted around removing photos of “kidnapped children,” taken hostage by Hamas after their infiltration of Israel.

On October 26 a walkout of faculty and staff was also held at the university. Students displayed signs that read “Rise, Resist, Return; Gaza” chanting “we will free Palestine.” Some signs read “Free Palestinian Freedom Fighters,” marching through campus.

“We don’t want Israel to exist, we don’t want Zionist counter-protesters to exist,” said a protester on the UW campus October 26 while explaining the demands of protestors were for the UW to: “cut ties with weapons companies, UW to condemn the attacks against Palestinian students, UW to cut ties with Israel, and to end the siege on Gaza now.”

Both gatherings were organized by the student-led group Students United for Palestinian Equality and Return, a group dedicated to justice for the Palestinian people, holding educational, awareness, and speaker events annually, in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

According to its website: “SUPER UW understands the struggle for Palestinian liberation as intimately entangled in global struggles for economic, social, and cultural justice, including the struggles of other indigenous peoples around the world, and the structural inequality we face in our own country. We understand that the true definition of “solidarity is an honest understanding that our own liberation is tied up in the liberation of others; and that the oppressed must lead the struggle.

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Dr. Hayim Katzman

UW President Ana Mari Cauce, during her annual President’s Address, condemned the Hamas attack on Israel while recognizing Dr. Hayim Katzman, who recently earned his PhD at the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington and lost his life during the attacks.

Ironically, Katzman’s scholarship focused on the intersection of religion and politics in Israel and Palestine in hopes to creating understanding that would lead to peace.

During that address Cauce was asked what the University would do about pro-Hamas fliers that had been circulating around the school.

“We can have debates about the Palestine conflict for the last 75 years but there is no question that these Hamas attacks on civilians were absolutely reprehensible, and no one should be celebrating these atrocities. This event is not condoned by the university in any way,” said Cauce. in reference to the protests

Cauce closed by saying the focus of the University is to focus on its students and those who have been affected by the Hamas attacks.

Randy Kessler, Regional Director at Stand with Us Northwest, an Israel education group, informed the Lynnwood Times he has noticed a rise in antisemitism in the region.

John Michael Graves, High School Regional Manager at Stand with Us Northwest, chimed in to note anti-Jewish racism has skyrocketed in high schools, particularly, more in the last month than ever before since taking his position.

“We live in a country that protects free speech rights,” Kessler said about the rise in Pro-Palestinian protests in the area. “Our job is to shed light on the facts and help people understand what they’re seeing in the news today.”

Kessler continued that he believes that high school and college students are standing with Palestine because of social media’s influence and lack of education.

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John Michael Graves, High School Regional Manager at Stand with Us Northwest (left) and Randy Kessler, Regional Director at Stand with Us Northwest (right) at Pursuit Church on November 5, 2023. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

“Many of these people are probably progressive individuals who may have seen one thing sympathetic to Palestine, they interact with it and it takes them down an entire rabbit hole without seeing the whole picture,” said Graves.  “Social media antisemitism is a dehumanization of Israelis, it’s a dehumanization of Jews. Because Jews or Israelis fit a certain narrative to them, anything goes, and we see this taken in spades on social media.”

“I think a lot of us can look back on our high school years and remember how foolish we were in middle school. Everyone can look back and remember the things they did and you ask them why and they say ‘I don’t know, I just wasn’t thinking about it’,” Kessler added. “Our goal is when we hear kids use anti-Semitic slurs – it’s not to cancel them, it’s not to destine them to a lifetime of being labeled an antisemite, it’s to educate and show them they made a mistake.”

On November 14, Congress held a committee on the rise of antisemitism, particularly at college campuses.

“It has been over a month since Hamas’ terrorist attack on innocent civilians in Israel and the start of a brutal, ongoing war in Gaza.  This conflict has directly devastated thousands of people—Israelis and Palestinians alike and countless families and friends across the world and in the United States,” Ranking Democratic member Robert C. Scott (VA-03) said in his opening remarks. “Tragically, but not surprisingly, this conflict has also been marked by a rise in both antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents on America’s colleges and universities…My colleagues would do well to recall this country’s centuries-long history of racism and antisemitism.”

Lynnwood protests in support of Palestine, Kirkland protests in support of Israel

On Sunday, November 19, protests in support of Palestine broke out in Lynnwood on 188th Street and 44th Avenue. The gathering had approximately 30 people and was organized by an unknown person local to the area, Maren McKay, Lynnwood PD Public Information Office, informed the Lynnwood Times. The group marched up and down 44th avenue from the Lynnwood Recreation Center to the fire department spanning about 2 hours. There were no incidents.

On the same day a protest calling for the release of the, estimated, 240 Israeli hostages Hamas took after its attack on Israel on October 7, including at least 33 children, took place in Kirkland on 3rd and Central Way, right in front of Peter Kirk Park. About 200 attendees flew Israel flags, extended picket signs with the faces of “kidnapped children”, and chanted “bring them home” from megaphones while cars honked their horns as they drove passed. There were also no incidents.

“They need to bring all of the kidnapped children home soon, not yesterday, not a week ago – now,” a protester told Lynnwood Times reporters. “This is not a Jewish thing or a Palestine thing, this us just to call for the release of the abducted children.”

Silencing the crowd from its chants, a Jewish woman and a man picked up a megaphone to sing Hatikvah, Israel’s National Anthem, the crowd quickly joined in.

“As jews we have a special sense for antisemitism and it is looming and it is here, so we need to stand together as a community and that’s why I’m here today,” David, another protester told the Lynnwood Times.

David shared that he has been attending pro-Israel rallies every week which he said is “so important to combat those who have been standing with Hamas which he said “is so unfathomable.” A week prior, David attended a pro-Israel rally which was held at Bellevue Square on November 2.

Background of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict

Israel is the world’s only official Jewish state. The capital of Israel, Jerusalem, is one the world’s oldest cities where Christians, Jews, and Muslims lay claim to the land, both culturally and religiously, based on their respective texts.

In the Torah—also known as the Old Testament in Christianity—Jerusalem is commonly featured, most notably as the site where Abraham, the first patriarch of Judaism, nearly sacrificed his son Isaac to God in a trial of devotion. According to scripture, Jerusalem was a site chosen by God established in his name and those who could not make the pilgrimage to pray here during biblical times were supposed to pray in the direction of it.

In the Quran, the main scripture of Islam, Jerusalem was the last place the prophet Muhammad visited before ascending to the heavens. Because of this Jerusalem was the first Qibla, or direction which Muslims should pray. Today that direction is Mecca. Islamic tradition also predicts Jerusalem will play an important role in the future and will be the site of the end of the world.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims have all controlled Jerusalem at some point in history with King David establishing Jewish control of the city back in 1000 BCE, Christians seizing control during the Crusades, and the Ottoman Empire – whose official religion was Islam – ruled the city from 1517 until 1917, renaming the region Palestine.

During these transitions of control Jewish people were displaced from the land with many of them fleeing to Europe where they also faced oppression, but in the 1800’s many of them began returning and by 1914 there were more than 75,000 Jews living in what, at that time, was still called Palestine.

The British took control of modern-day Israel, Palestine, and Jordan after World War I, from the Ottoman Empire. This was a direct result of the Great Arab Revolt led by Hussein bin Ali of the Kingdom of Hejaz that started in Mecca on June 10, 1916. In exchange for a successful revolt within the Ottoman Empire, Henry McMahon representing the British Empire, agreed to a unified Arab state stretching from Aleppo to the north in modern day Syria to Aden in the south which is in modern day Yemen.

The British reneged on their agreement with Hussein, unknown to him at the time, with the secret signing of the Sykes-Picot Agreement in 1916. This treaty between the British and France was a mutual understanding between the two powers of dividing the Middle East after the fall of the Ottoman Empire between the two powers. Both the Russian Empire, led by Czar Nicholas II, and the Kingdom of Italy blessed the treaty.

The treaty allocated British control of what is today Israel, Gaza, West Bank, Jordan and southern Iraq. France was to control southeastern Turkey, the Kurdistan Region, Syria, and Lebanon. Russia was to get Western Armenia in addition to Constantinople and the Turkish Straits already promised under the 1915 Constantinople Agreement. Italy was promised Anatolia.

However, Russia fell victim to the communist Bolshevik Revolution from March 8, 1917, to June 16, 1923, which resulted in the execution of Czar Nicholas II and his entire lineage and the rise of the Soviet Union. Shortly after the Moscow Bolshevik Uprising that ended in November of 1917 resulted in the communist seizing control of Moscow, the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, disclosed the Sykes-Picot Agreement which double-crossed Hussein. World War I ended on November 11, 1918, with partitioning of the Ottoman Empire leading to the domination of Western Europe in the Middle East.

The League of Nations approved, in 1922, to establish a national home for the Jews but this would not come into fruition until after World War II and the genocide of over 6 million Jews and millions more displaced.

The state of Israel was created on May 14, 1948, which divided British-mandated Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. The United Nations passed Resolution 181 (otherwise known as the Partition plan) a year before as a way to assist the Jewish people after facing persecution during the second World War. The Jewish people agreed with sharing the land, but many Muslims thought the partition unfavorably favored the Jews sparking years of violent conflict almost immediately.

Israel won the first Arab-Israeli war dividing the territory in three parts: the State of Israel, the West Bank of the Jordan River (controlled by Jordan or Transjordan at that time), and the Gaza Strip (controlled by Egypt). The division resulted in the displacement of about 750,000 Palestinians. The Jews considered this war to be a war of independence while the Muslims considered it to be catastrophic, seeking refuge in the Gaza strip and West Bank.

Arab nations continued to wage war against Israel for decades. Israel won the Six Day War in 1967, gaining control of significant portions of territory. In 1987 the First Intifada — a series of riots and protests by Palestinian militia — responded to Israeli military occupying parts of Gaza and the West Bank.

As a result of this violent uprising, Israel, and the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) created a peace treaty called the Oslo Accords in the 1990’s, which carried into the 2000’s. However, both Israelis and Palestinians could not agree to terms such as the status of Jerusalem, the rights of refugees, and Israeli occupation of certain lands.

In the year 2000 the Second Intifada commenced following Ariel Sharon’s, who later became Israel’s Prime Minister, visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Sharon paid a visit to the mosque to prove to the Jewish people that Jews have a right to visit the Temple Mount, he said however, many Muslims considered this act to be offensive sparking the Second Intifada severing all peace that the Oslo Accords hoped to establish. This conflict ended in 2005 when Israel withdrew its troops from Gaza.

In 2006, Hamas — a militant Islamic group designated a terrorist organization in 1997 by the U.S. State Department — won the parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza. In 2017 Hamas called for the formation of a Palestinian state. Israel did not accept this proposal because in it, Israel was not formally recognized as a sovereign state.

Many countries have attempted to establish a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians suggesting a two-state division of land.

On December 6, 2017, President Donald J Trump announced the U.S. formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, effectively endorsing Israel’s control of the city.

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