Imagine your kid is watching Sesame Street and he sees Big Bird and Cookie Monster get into a vicious argument, which ends when the demented chocolate-chip addict bashes Big Bird’s brains out with a baseball bat. Or imagine an episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood in which Mr. Rogers dispatches Mr. McFeely with a sock full of pennies. Or Mr. Dressup suffocates Finnegan in the Tickle Trunk. What sort of effect would that have on your five-year-old?
Palestinian parents may have a clue. On Friday, Hamas-affiliated Al-Aksa TV broadcast the finale of a children’s show starring a big cuddly rodent mascot called “Farfour” – a dead-ringer for Mickey Mouse except that he preaches jihad instead of wooing Minnie. When Farfour’s show, The Pioneers of Tomorrow, premiered earlier this year, he declared that he and his audience were “placing together the cornerstone for the ruling of the world by an Islamic leadership.”
Last week, The Pioneers of Tomorrow ended its run in style. In Friday’s final episode, we see Farfour’s dying grandfather (who is human, for some reason) entrust the mouse with the deed to his pre-1948 land holdings in Tel Aviv. When Farfour tries to reclaim his land from the “filth of the criminal, plundering Jews,” an Israeli government worker pummels him to death with his fists – at which point the show’s teenage presenter informs the audience that Farfour had been “martyred” by “the killers of children.” Farfour is now presumably being pleasured by 72 heavenly rodent virgins.
It sounds like something out of The Onion. But I’m not making it up. (You can watch the five-minute death-of-Farfour clip, complete with English subtitles, at www.memritv.org.) The mouse’s martyrdom represents the surreal culmination of a propaganda campaign that began in the early 1990s, when Yasser Arafat took over the Palestinian education system under the terms of Oslo, and immediately began filling the curriculum with Jew hatred. Thus did the schoolchildren who threw rocks at Israeli soldiers in the first Intifadah grow up to become suicide bombers in the second.
This death cult is something that critics of the international community’s “boycott” of Gaza’s Hamas-led government conveniently gloss over. Hamas’ founding 1988 charter makes its goal very clear: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it.” Though Hamas has superficially made itself over as a political party, it has consistently refused to renounce its goal of destroying the Jewish state through jihad. Any money that the West turns over to a Hamas-led government in Gaza is cash earmarked, in one form or another, for holy war.
With Hamas and Fatah at war with one another, the political position of Palestinians is as weak as it’s been since the pre-Oslo years. Even the traditional Palestinian trump card, mass terrorism, has been taken away thanks to the security fence, Israel’s effective intelligence gathering, and its aggressive assassination campaign against terrorist bomb-makers and recruiters. Every rational Arab observer knows that the only way forward for the Palestinians now is to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and put themselves at the financial mercy of a dependably generous international community.
For all his faults and Arafat-era legacy, West bank President Mahmoud Abbas understands all this – which is why Israel and the West are justified in bankrolling him and propping him up diplomatically. Abbas may not have the natural inclination – or even the political ability, at this point – to cut a lasting peace deal with Israel. But at least the man’s inborn pragmatism has led him to see the writing on the wall.
Hamas will soon find that its Gaza victory was a defeat in disguise. With the Palestinian territories now divided into two mutually antagonistic entities, Israel and other civilized nations can now set up a political bidding war among Hamas and Fatah to see which will act the most civilized. The West won’t be particularly choosy: As in other parts of the Arab world, we’ll settle for the least bad option. Compared to the lunatics in Gaza producing tributes to a martyred mouse, Mahmoud Abbas will be the easy winner.