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May 21, 2014 6:49 am

Palestinian TV Teaches Kids The Way to ‘Jihad Street’

avatar by Abigail R. Esman

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Palestinian TV programming. Photo: MEMRI Screenshot.

Every day, hundreds of millions of children in more than 120 countries settle in to watch their local versions of “Sesame Street” or similar shows inspired by the Muppet model. They learn to read, to write, to count. They learn about things like “sharing,” and “friendship,” and how to be kind to others. They learn what it is to love.

Except in Palestine, where the lessons from Hamas children’s television are aimed at something else: to kill.

Take, for instance, “Pioneers of Tomorrow,” with its fluffy talking bee who encourages viewers to “throw stones” at Jews, and a pretty young host who, in one episode, praises a little girl for her desire to be a police officer and “shoot Jews.” Or consider the show’s transformation, some years ago, of Mickey Mouse, into an Islamic supremacist character named Farfour. When international protests erupted, producers gave Farfour an honorary farewell: in his final episode, he is “martyred” by Israelis.

For years, reports have emerged of children’s programming in the Palestinian Territories, mostly on Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV, whose shows often teach Palestinian children not just to hate Americans and Jews, but to kill them -preferably through acts of martyrdom, or suicide bombings. As the New York Times reported in 2009, when “Sesame Street” announced plans to broadcast in the region, “The official Hamas channel, Al-Aqsa television, has several children’s shows, and Al-Aqsa’s director of children’s programming, Abu Amr, told me the network is considering starting a station devoted entirely to children. Al-Aqsa TV’s most famous (and infamous) children’s program is ‘Tomorrow’s Pioneers,’ in which Saraa, a Palestinian girl, and several animal characters teach ideological lessons: why it is bad to speak English and good to memorize the whole Koran; how the Danes are infidels who should be killed. Occasionally an animal character will die as a martyr for Palestine.”

Other programs, both for children and for adults, have also included children who speak glowingly of their suicide-bomber fathers and promote violent jihad, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). In one such show, the ADL says, “One of the girls said ‘I want to fire missiles at the Jews and be martyred like my father.’ One of the boys also said that he wants to follow in his father’s path, ‘I want to follow the path of Jihad like daddy and I want to be martyred like daddy.'”

And then there are the programs that don’t just teach hate, as the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported in 2007:

Palestinian children in Hamas-controlled Gaza are being taught to take an active role in terrorist operations against Israel and are thus placed in mortal danger by those who should be responsible for their safety and well-being. The children, too young to fully understand even the meaning of death, are taught to aspire to such “martyrdom” in children’s television shows produced by the Hamas.

Every Monday afternoon Al-Aqsa TV, the Hamas’ main television station, broadcasts a children’s program called “The Gifted”. In a special episode marking the beginning of the school year, a two-year old toddler named “Ahmad” was featured. Ahmad was praised for his expertise in the area of “holy war” (jihad).

Interestingly, many of the recent Al-Aqsa programs, including the “Pioneers of Tomorrow” episode praising the little girl who hopes to grow up and shoot Jews, are in fact reruns of shows first broadcast as long as nine years ago – an effort, it would seem, to reach a new generation of impressionable minds.

Unsurprisingly, such programming is not unique to Palestine: Iranian children’s shows have also been known to glorify suicide bombings, while Al Aqsa programming continues to be broadcast in other countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia.

But more significantly, Al-Aqsa programming now reaches into Europe, thanks not only to satellite access, but to European mosques, which serve as broadcasting centers.

The result? “It is hard to overlook how hatred imported from Beirut and Gaza resurfaces in the form of daily acts of anti-Semitism in schools and athletic clubs, on streets and in the subway,” German magazine Der Spiegel reported as far back as 2008. “Young children raised to be anti-Semitic are already using the phrase ‘You Jew!’ as a derogatory expression in kindergartens and on playgrounds. Schoolchildren berate their teachers, calling them Jew dogs, for not offering Sharia-compatible instruction, and Jewish schoolchildren are attacked and feel compelled to switch to Berlin’s Jewish high school and to hide the insignia of their Jewish faith — the yarmulke and the Star of David — when in public.”

That a government anywhere would actively advocate murder, genocide, and terrorist activity, training children as young as four years old to hate and kill, is almost inconceivable. But it seems equally unfathomable that the international community now seeks to legitimize such a government. And it’s not just about the astonishing lack of outrage in much of the mainstream media (this, while one can scarcely imagine the same shoulder-shrugging if such programs were instead aimed at killing Muslims – or anyone else, for that matter; can you imagine the outrage, the lawsuits, the threats we would hear from the Hamas-affiliated Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR]?).

Nor is it just about upgrading the status of the Palestinian territories in the United Nations, an organization that defines itself as “committed to maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.” It is about continuing to support the notion that the Palestinian government is simply seeking the “freedom” of its people.

Because the fact is that Hamas’s Al Aqsa, and the spread of its hate-filled programming, puts the lie to the (naïve) notion that this is all simply about Israel and Palestine, that it’s all about human rights and justice and a pursuit of some kind of peace. And yet despite this, the West’s ongoing faith in a Palestinian state, in “unity,” continues to ignore the basic foundations of its politics and values – values that aim to contaminate, like a plague, the entire next generation – and not just of Palestinians, but of Muslims everywhere.

But it isn’t just Hamas’ fault: it’s ours, too. We in the West – including (if not especially) the United Nations – must begin to understand the “war on terror” as a war most of all on propaganda – and arm ourselves accordingly. If there is to be a “Sesame Street, Palestinian Edition,” then such a program must begin to employ the same methods of teaching justice, tolerance, and truth that make it so valued by parents in America and Europe. And other private enterprises, along with government projects, are going to have to do the same – not just in the interest of securing our own world today, but as a promise to the children of tomorrow.

Abigail R. Esman, the author, most recently, of Radical State: How Jihad Is Winning Over Democracy in the West (Praeger, 2010), is a freelance writer based in New York and the Netherlands.

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  • Yale

    Sooner or later, in pursuit of their drive for statehood, the Palestinians will seek admission to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child which explicitly bans essentially everything Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian groups are doing to indoctrinate and train Palestinian children for jihad. Then we’ll see whether the international system, including the UN, takes international law seriously.

    If the Palestinians are allowed to join this treaty without ending these activities, it means the end of International Law as we have known it since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.

  • In Moslem lands anti-Semitism is spread and hatred taught.
    Yet the poison predates Islam. The New Testament contains 450 anti-Semitic verses. I have checked them. In the last 50 years the Vatican has issued conciliatory statements in relation to Judaism. It no longer accuses Jews of Deicide.
    Yet in Catholic countries such as Greece, Spain, Eastern Europe and South America anti-Semitism is still virulent.
    Perhaps the new Vatican message has not yet reached there.

  • Jim42

    Like the Germans taught to hate and kill Jews by Tradition and by NSDAP for 12 years of craziness, we will have to make a crushing war against these intoxicated incurable Muslims. Nolens Volens….It is unavoidable…Alas.
    If you know a way to cure the Coran teaching of murder of “Infidels” and the arab 100 years now old propaganda ….Don’t hesitate to tell everybody !

  • Ephraim

    While the Arabs continue the most disputable child abuse in history, all Jews must stop feeding the worlds BIG lie.
    There is no such place as Palestine and no such people as Palestinians. Never was and never will be.
    The Romans destroyed our holy Temple and butchered over a million Jews almost 2,000 years ago. The Romans outlawed the word Israel and renamed our land Palestine.
    The Arabs realized they can never win military war against Israel. They use the global Jew hating press with the help of ariv Rav to create a fictitious place called Palestine with a fictitious people called Palestinians.
    Jews who love Hashem and Israel need to stop spreading the lie. They are Arabs living in Israel.
    When was the land of Palestine founded?
    What were its original borders?
    Before the evil murdrer afafat who was their leader?
    What was the so called country if Palestinians currency?
    The reason these questions are not answerable is because they don’t exist.
    Let’s have jewish unity and stop spreading the lie.

  • Bart A, Charta

    Forgive the expression, Ms. Esman, but you are (figuratively speaking) just pissing into the wind.

    What Hamas, Gaza and the Al-Aqsa tll-a-lie-avision need, each and all of them, is a 60-minute, with no let-up, carpet bombing.

  • Debra Michels

    This reminds me of the Hitler Youth.

    I want to send this article to Christian magazines so that they will hopefully begin to understand that they need to stand by us this time.

    I wish they would talk to Muslims and tell them of Christian shame and guilt vis-à-vis the Holocaust – tell them how they used to believe in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and they used to have a shadow side of Christianity that made it okay – sometimes even fashionable – to hate Jews. But how looking at the Holocaust in the aftermath has changed Christian attitudes and feelings.

    Even if Christians don’t confront Muslims on it, I feel hopeful because even if the Muslims keep right on going with their hatred and violence, I think Israel will survive and I think the time will come when they will look at their hatred and violence and recognize them as mistakes, forms of blindness, of fear and of ignorance.

  • Muslims are winning the propaganda war, and a generation of young Arab minds has been wasted. This Islamic-driven incitement will continue to imperil Jews and Israel. The hatemongers and their broadcasts must be forcefully shutdown. The fault lies with Hamas and other terrorist entities. Terrorists will not employ the same teaching methods as the West, and they hold Western Civilization in contempt.

    • Debra Michels

      Hi, Marc –
      I think perhaps the Palestinians or the Muslims are not winning the propaganda war any more – I’m hoping this is so – because it is becoming clearer and clearer that Hamas and Fatah and the Arab League are continuing the same attitudes and behaviors towards Israel that they have, since the first decades of the 20th century.

      What I mean to say is that I think their prejudice and hatred are becoming clearer and clearer – and my hope is that they will show their true colors and many in the West will have to go beyond thinking of Palestinians or Muslims as hapless victims, and see that their way of responding to suffering is not a way that leads to greater light, or to healing, or to reconciliation.

      I think their ways of responding (so far, at least) only make things worse – they become perpetrators – and I’m hoping that will become clear as time goes on.

      Well, anyway – just my two cents…