The Green Prince (2014) is the fantastical story of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of Hassan Yousef one of the founders of Hamas; who was an informant for the Israeli internal secret service Shin Bet for more than 10 years until his escape to America and a conversion to Christianity. Here lies an intriguing story that calls to mind John Le Carre at his murky best, yet what we are given is the self justification and propaganda of a trio of ideologues: Mosab Hassan Yousef, his handler Gonen Ben-Itzhak (a man who was fired from the Shin Bet years ago for lying and financial mismanagement, a topic conveniently not alluded to in the film) and lastly the Israeli filmmaker Nadav Schirman.
The Green Prince’s aim is focused on America and unsurprisingly the film has gone down very well there. Built around a simplistic narrative of no historical contextualisation and set within a fantasy land where the heroes are the oppressive occupiers and the enemy are the oppressed individuals, Schirman’s film is a highly problematic depiction of the Israel-Palestine conflict. This is director Nadav Schirman’s third feature, following 2007’s The Champagne Spy, about a son and his Mossad agent father, and In the Dark Room (2013), about celebrity terrorist Carlos the Jackal and his wife and daughter. Once again Schirman chooses a route that brings to the forefront the personal relationship of its protagonists while skimming over the contextual positions of those characters in their real situations.
Schirman hides behind the portrayal tabloid answers to the Israel-Palestine conflict without any honesty of his true position, which is as the perpetrator of falsehoods and ethical deception which attempt to deceive the audience of a situation many will know very little about. It soon becomes apparent that The Green Prince is not a work of ‘cinema’ but another in a long line of actions in a psychological war being waged in the media. It’s a piece of blatant propaganda that never once attempts to contextualise the struggle in the region. One of the first pieces of text on the screen tells us: “Hamas targets Israeli military and civilians” as a stand alone fact. This alone makes The Green Prince a troubling piece of work. Throughout the film we are constantly told how Israelis are heroic, Palestinians are the opposite and how Shin Bet were able to turn Mosab Hassan Yousef because of their human treatment of Palestinian prisoners. This flagrant falsification becomes more disgusting after researching the reported practises of Shin Bet – a subject covered in great depth in Dror Moreh’s excellent documentary The Gatekeepers (2012) that utilises facts and hard evidence to proffer the inverse of what we are told in The Green Prince.
The Green Prince amount to nothing more than the self justification of a Palestinian Kapo, or as the SS used to call them: Funktionshäftling. A Kapo, or prisoner functionary was a Jewish prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp who was assigned by the SS guards to supervise forced labor or carry out administrative tasks in the camp. Listening to some of Mosab Hassan Yousef comments now he is firmly ensconced in America tells its own story. He claims he wants to return to Israel, he denounces Palestinian state- building as nothing more than a “fantasy” and attacks governments pushing for a Palestinian state as “playing with fire”
D. W. Mault | @D_W_Mault