Indoctrination at an end of the year kindergarten party
1. On May 31, 2007, Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV satellite channel broadcast the end of the year party held for the 29 th class of kindergartens belonging to the Al-Mujamma’ al-Islami Islamic society, a part of Hamas’ social infrastructure ( da’wah ) in the Gaza Strip. 1 The children, dressed in camouflage suits and wearing green headbands inscribed â€œThere is no God but Allah,â€ put on a show. They carried plastic rifles and waved flags bearing the insignia of the Muslim Brotherhood (the movement which founded Hamas).Â
2. As part of the show, children, some of them masked, marched in a kind of military formation and demonstrated martial exercises such as summersaults, jumps, crawling as if under fire and sword-waving, while in the background a song of praise for Hamas was played. Some of the lyrics were â€œa Hamas [member] does not fear death,â€ â€œa Hamas [member operates] for the sake of [Islam],â€ â€œthe name of Hamas is exalted,â€ and â€œAhmad Yassin shook Israel from his [wheel] chair and his firm stance never faltered.â€
The end of the year kindergarten party (Al-Aqsa TV, May 31).
3. As the song ended, two children raised crossed swords while a third child held a Qur’an aloft behind them, forming a tableau of the Muslim Brotherhood’s emblem. Then one of the children called out, â€œLet me hear you shout â€˜Allahu akbar,’â€ [Allah is greatest] and the others shouted â€œAllahu Akbar.â€ A series of questions and shouted answers followed, led by the same child:
â€œWho is your model?â€â€¦ â€œThe prophet [Muhammad]!â€
â€œWhat is your path?â€â€¦ â€œ Jihad! â€ [holy war]
â€œWhat is your greatest aspiration?â€â€¦ â€œ To die for the sake of Allah! â€
â€œWhat is your movement?â€â€¦ â€œ Hamas! â€
The final question: â€œWhat is your army,â€ and the answer was: â€œ Qassam â€ [i.e., Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ terrorist-operative wing].
Kindergarten children as an important target audience for Hamas ideology
4. Kindergarten children, and the Palestinian younger generation in general, are an important target audience for Hamas , which strives to indoctrinate them with radical Islamic ideology and the culture of the campaign of violence and terrorism against Israel , both part of its battle for hearts and minds. 2 Alongside its military-terrorist infrastructure, Hamas has a broad civilian infrastructure called the da’wah , which operates a network of educational institutions, among them kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools, and summer camps. Hamas’ â€œeducationalâ€ network in fact competes with the Palestinian Authority educational system. 3
5. The next generation of Hamas operatives is being brought up in the kindergartens and other institutions in Hamas’ network. Children and adolescents brainwashed by Hamas ideology are often exploited by Hamas (and the other terrorist organizations) for active participation in the violent campaign against Israel , even at the risk of their lives. They have participated in terrorism-supporting activities such as violent demonstrations , clashes with IDF soldiers, smuggling, conducting observations and digging tunnels. Sometimes they have even been involved in terrorist activities against Israel . 4 In the past severe criticism was voiced by Palestinians of exploiting children to carry out terrorist attacks.
Hamas refuses to stop broadcasting programs of incitement on Al-Aqsa TV
6. Hamas uses its media to inculcate children and adolescents with its ideology. An important role is played by its new satellite channel ( Al-Aqsa TV) , its Websites, including its online children’s paper, Al-Fatah .
7. The issue of child-directed propaganda on Al-Aqsa TV was recently put on the internal Palestinian agenda after a program called Tomorrow’s Pioneers was broadcast and was widely criticized by Israel and Western countries. The program, broadcast during the first half of May, used the figure of Mickey Mouse (called â€œFarfurâ€ 5) to preach Hamas ideology to children: the Islamic takeover of the world, the continuation of violence and terrorism (â€œresistanceâ€) against Israel until its destruction, â€œthe liberation of Al-Aqsa mosque,â€ fostering hatred for Israel, and the â€œliberationâ€ of Iraq and other Arab-Muslim countries â€œinvaded by murderers.â€ 6
Using Mickey Mouse to indoctrinate children with Hamas propaganda
8. Tomorrow’s Pioneers was openly criticized by Palestinian information minister, Mustafa Barghouti . He said that the images were â€œlamentable and primitiveâ€ and that â€œthe government is determined to prevent children from being exposed to political propaganda,â€ and that the government’s position was â€œ that education should be separated from ideology .â€ He also stated that the government had contacted Al-Aqsa TV, which promised to make radical changes in the program’s content (Ramattan TV, May 8, 2007 ).
9. Fathi Hamad , a senior Hamas official who is also chairman of the board of the Al-Aqsa Communications Network (the corporation to which Hamas’s radio station and TV channels belong), said in response that Al-Aqsa TV would continue broadcasting Tomorrow’s Pioneers. He noted that the program was broadcast within a clearly-defined policy whose objective was to â€œraise a generation of Palestinians which cling to their land and countryâ€ (Filistin Mubasher, May 10).
10. The broadcasting of the end of the year kindergarten party illustrates the fact that Al-Aqsa TV continues broadcasting programs intended to foster a generation of children and adolescents with a radical Islamic world perception, filled with hatred for Israel and the West and ready to participate in Hamas’ strategy of violence and terrorism .