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  • Max Hyman

Tomorrow's "Pioneers"

"Tomorrow's Pioneers" was a children's television program on Al-Aqsa TV, a Hamas-affiliated television, airing 17 hour-long episodes between 2007 and 2009. This program, internationally known as propaganda, featured costumed animals, performing skits and discussing Palestinian life with call-ins from children usually 9-13, but as young as 3. In a format similar to Sesame Street or Barney in the US, this show attempted to ingrain themes of antisemitism, Islamism, anti-Americanism, and various types of extremism in the minds of the young. Farfour the Mouse (known as a Mickey mouse look alike) and Nahoul the bee used children's terms and analogies to promote "hatred of Israel and preach about world Islamic supremacy". Characters were martyred (explicitly killed by Jews), proving the powerful statement one can make by dedicating one's life to Allah and contributing toward a new worldwide Islamic regime.

The original host, Hazim Al-Sha'arawi, wanted a focal point of the show to sen a message fitting his belief of "the reality of Palestinian life". In a mindset, shared by all of Hamas, that Israel is temporarily occupying the Palestinian state, which must be restored. Those in charge wanted Palestinian kids expressive their feelings about what they witness...although, what ended up being expressed was not exactly that. Some skits of the show showed costumed characters making substantial and, sometimes, violent statements.

Farfour the Mouse is often the face of such statements (i.e. 'You are I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists' and 'We will...liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers'). Episode 102 sees Farfour's intense anti-American ideology in statements like "We will win Bush! We will win Sharon. Ah, Sharon's dead...We will win, Condoleeza!" Here, Farfour refers, respectively, to the American president, the recently dead Israeli PM, and the US Secretary of State. In episode 103, Farfour simulates shooting an AK-47 and throwing grenades at Jews, while in 105, he is killed in an interrogation from an Israeli. Soon replaced by Nahoul, the show's propaganda intensifies in season 2. Nahoul state such things as "We will liberate Al-Aqsa from the filth of the criminal Jews" and "We will go on Jihad when we grow up" - essentially, implanting within children a hatred of other and, subsequently, encouraging them to turn to terrorist behavior.

In a territory, the Gaza Strip, where >50% of the population is under 18, children are growing up with these social norms. Hatred of Jews, of Israel, and of America is part of daily life, and is expected of Palestinians watching such a show. We see cartoon characters as introducing different life lessons with no political implications in our shows. Those in Gaza grew up not on Disney Channel, but on values of hate. This show, and corruption of the youth as a whole, is just one of the ways the conflict continues to evolve. Fortunately, this particular show is over. But it should never have been allowed to continue past the 1st episode. To break down barriers is to attack hatred, and that starts with the youth. Both formal education in Palestine, as well as social norms implicated in ways like this, need serious restructuring. Now.

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