In the United States and other western democracies, children’s educational TV largely features shows like Sesame Street and Barney that are focused on teaching the alphabet, numbers, colors and even basic social skills.
Palestinian educational TV, however, has a somewhat different focus. The comparison to Jewish-American offerings, such as Shalom Sesame, a spin off of Sesame Street for Jewish children, is instructive. Hamas-approved equivalents, such as Pioneers of Tomorrow, claim to focus on Arabic culture. Pioneers of Tomorrow, though, offers instruction in hate.
The show features a girl named Saraa and a series of co-hosts. One of the show’s co-hosts is a Mickey Mouse look-alike named Farfur, who teaches children about the importance of martyrdom for Palestine. There is another co-host, a teddy bear named Nassur, who also preaches martyrdom. One song that Nassur sings ends by saying, “I am willing to sacrifice my blood for my country. Without Palestine our childhood means nothing.“ Lyrics like these direct the young audience to an indifference to loss of human life.
Other Hamas television shows often depict racist cartoons, costumed characters, or relatable children who tell children that Israelis, whom they all regard as Jews despite the number of Arab-Israelis, have stolen Palestine from them. They teach that Jews must be punished, alongside Americans. Children who watch these shows demonstrate an increased desire to grow up to be a Shahada (a martyr) and die for “Palestine.”
These programs brainwash children into believing lies that they will preach, and act on, as adults. The problem with these types of programs is that they contribute to not only ignorant children, but ignorant adults. While we teach our children how to sing their ABCs, Hamas teaches their children to kill. Children absorb this information like a sponge in water, and just like a sponge, all the water (or hate) must eventually be let out. Unfortunately, when they let this hate out it is often in the form of violence.
Rachel Wolf is an intern at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). This piece was originally published in the CAMERA on Campus Blog In Focus. She is a rising sophomore at American University in and currently starting a CAMERA Campus Action Group on her own campus.