Sowing the seeds of hate: The Hamas satellite station Al-Aqsa recently used a Mickey Mouse clone to teach Muslim children -- in Gaza and Europe -- to hate Jews.
"Sanabel, what do you want to do to help the Al-Aqsa Mosque?" Farfur asks on the children's program of Hamas's Al-Aqsa television station. "We want to fight." "And what else?" "Wipe out the Jews." Now Farfur, the cartoon character on Hamas's children's television program, is satisfied. Farfur is a carbon copy of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, but the Hamas version does something that Mickey would never do: He entertains children while propagating the murder of Jews.
Farfur's appearances are typical of Hamas's anti-Semitic propaganda, which the organization also exports to Germany via satellite, hoping to breed new generations of fanatical anti-Semites and suicide bombers.
The Hamas station, founded in 2006, is modeled on the Hezbollah station in neighboring Lebanon, al-Manar. Al-Manar's children's program shows children wearing explosive belts and images of dying Israeli soldiers, with triumphant chants as background music. Cartoons depict scenes like that of a child blowing himself up near Israeli soldiers, or of a smiling boy flying toward Israel on a missile. Adult viewers can enjoy video clips that use inspirational graphics and rousing music to glorify the act of committing a suicide bombing, while the evening lineup offers family entertainment with a series of films based on the classic anti-Semitic forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
In late 2004, France banned the broadcasting of al-Manar through the European Eutelsat satellite system, citing the station's anti-Semitic content. Nevertheless, messages of hate were still being broadcast into the living rooms of Muslims in Germany via satellites controlled by Saudi Arabia and Egypt, ArabSat and NileSat. Exposure to this programming was apparently not without consequences.
Rabbi Zalman Gurevitch was wearing a traditional black robe when he left his synagogue in Frankfurt's Westend neighborhood on Sept. 7, 2007. It was the Sabbath. According to the police report, he encountered a 22-year-old German of Afghan descent "spontaneously and coincidentally" a short time later. It was early evening and the man, shouting "You shit Jew, I'm going to kill you," plunged a knife into the rabbi's abdomen. Gurevitch was recognizable as a Jew. He survived, thanks to luck and emergency surgery.
Although this attack was an isolated incident, 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. 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.
Neo-Nazi sentiments were behind the majority of anti-Semitic incidents reported in 2006. At the same time, however, the number of anti-Semitic criminal offences committed by Muslims jumped from 33 to 88.
In 2007 the German Interior Ministry published a study on the worldviews of "Muslims in Germany," the most comprehensive of its kind to date, which confirmed this trend. According to the study, "anti-Semitic attitudes were found among young Muslims far more often than among non-Muslim immigrants or domestic non-Muslims." The study cited examples of Muslim students to illustrate that this anti-Semitism cannot be dismissed as the product of an underdog attitude within marginalized social groups, but instead represents an ideological way of thinking. "The pervasiveness of sweeping anti-Semitic prejudices among Muslim students was also noticeable," the study pointed out. "Such prejudices, expressed indirectly by slightly more than one-third and in extreme form by about 10 percent of students, are significantly more common than anti-Christian sentiments."
What is the source of this profound hatred, which stations like al-Aqsa and al-Manar are spreading and one in 10 of the Muslim students surveyed embraces? The Middle East conflict is often cited as a reason, but this is too simplistic. Hostility toward Jews has existed since Islam came into being. In its charter, Hamas quotes the Prophet Muhammad as saying: "The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him." Through the use of such language, the hatred of Jews is given a religious justification.
Nazi Germany entered the picture in the 20th century. The Nazis, hoping to use early Islamic hostility toward Jews for their own ends, paid substantial sums of money to support the Muslim Brotherhood's anti-Jewish campaigns in Egypt. And just as they had radicalized widespread Christian anti-Semitism in Europe, the Nazis did their utmost to radicalize the latent anti-Judaism that had originated in early Islam.
While everything Jewish was considered evil in early Islam, everything evil was now being labeled as Jewish, from wars and revolutions to the drug trade and the decline of moral values. Between 1938 and 1945, the Nazis' radio station broadcast its lies about a supposed Jewish world conspiracy into the Islamic world every evening. The professionally produced programs were broadcast in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, and were very popular. Thus, it comes as no surprise that the Hamas charter has also adopted this legacy.
The Jews, we read in Article 22, "stood behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the revolutions we hear about... They stood behind World War I ... There is no war going on anywhere without them having their finger in it."
Whether in the case of Muhammad or here, in both cases Hamas used sources to justify its hatred of the Jews that are older than Israel. But once someone has fallen for this demonizing delusion, he will find his anti-Jewish concept of the enemy confirmed in everything that an Israeli government does or fails to do. What is more, those who hold Jews responsible for all the world's ills will paint the Jewish state as the root of all evil. Following Hamas's example, they will celebrate or deny the Holocaust, even in Berlin.
Teachers in the German capital are sometimes confronted with Muslim students who expressly use the Holocaust to justify their sympathies for the Nazis ("I like Hitler; he did the right thing with the Jews"), refusing to take part in school trips to concentration camp memorials. During one excursion to the German Historical Museum, a group of Muslim youth gathered in front of a replica of a gas chamber in Auschwitz and applauded.
Can we blame Israel for the mindset that leads to such activities? Perhaps it would be more apt to conclude that the waves of hatred that the Nazis' shortwave radio transmitter once broadcast into the Arab world are now returning in the form of a delayed echo.
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