Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Big Bird vs Palestinian Bee

To say that children are impressionable is an understatement, to say the least. From a very young age, humans begin to formulate perceptions of the world around them -- perceptions that are not easily changed, even later in life when the children become adults. I've often said that as much as I support the existence of the State of Israel and its right to defend itself, I can sympathize with Palestinian grief. It's not a black-and-white situation anymore; it's much more nuanced than that. Much more complicated.

I can imagine the impression that is made on a young Palestinian boy who watches his father's face as the family's home is bulldozed by Israelis. I can imagine that the boy might vow to avenge his father, and the family's honor, in any way possible. I can imagine this, and sympathize with such a family's plight, in spite of my "pro-Israel" stance.

But I am disturbed on a much deeper level when the malleability of children's minds is knowingly exploited in destructive and underhanded ways. I just happened to see this piece in the IsraelInsider about a Palestinian children's show that features a giant bee who teaches kids to hate Jews. You can watch the clip here, and I have also copied part of the transcript below.

This so never happened on Sesame Street. So much for tolerance.

Nahoul, a giant bee: "My friends, Al-Aqsa awaits you. My dears, Al-Aqsa is very sad. My friends, Al-Aqsa is being held prisoner and is besieged by the criminal murderers of children. We must arise in order to take revenge upon the criminal Jews, the occupying Zionists. We must liberate Al-Aqsa. Do you know how we can liberate it and get hold of its key, just like it was liberated by Saladin?"

Child host Saraa: "How, Nahoul?"

Nahoul: "How? By means of morning prayers, blood, sacrifice, and pain, by means of martyrs, and with endurance. This is the key. I am so sad, Saraa... Allah Willing, We Will Regain the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and Cleanse it of the Impurity of the Zionists"

Saraa: "Don't be sad, Nahoul. I, you, the dear children, even the older ones - the generation of the 'Pioneers of Tomorrow'... Allah willing, we will regain the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and cleanse it of the impurity of the Zionists."

Nahoul: "Allah willing."

Saraa: "On a different subject, Nahoul, let's see what you got up to this week."

Nahoul: "Nothing, Saraa."

Saraa: "Let's see for ourselves."

Nahoul enters the cats' cage at the Gaza Zoo.

Nahoul: "Meow! Meow! I'm opening the door and going in. I opened the door and entered the cage, and the guy didn't see me. I am now standing in the cats' cage. The cats here are asleep - the poor, wretched, imprisoned cats. I feel like abusing them. This cat is asleep. I feel like attacking it."

Nahoul picks up cat by its tail.

"Shoo... Meow..."

Nahoul throws stones and roars at the lions in their cage.

Saraa: "What have you done, Nahoul? Haven't you heard of the hadith of the Prophet..."

Nahoul: "No, Saraa, I haven't heard."

Saraa: "He said that a woman went to Hell because she locked up a cat, without feeding it or letting it eat on its own, Nahoul. Therefore, Allah punished her and sent her to Hell. If you keep doing this, you will have the same fate, Nahoul."

How sweet.

I learned three things from this clip: 1.) Jews are bad and must be destroyed, 2.) Jews must be destroyed, but animals must be cared for, and 3.) If I don't do what Allah wishes (i.e. destroy Jews) I will go to hell.



Adam Shprintzen said...

It really amazes me how this is almost entirely ignored, particularly by folks in the West. Especially, say, academics. Given our understanding of how the media, popular culture, etc...can shape and support hatred (we have our own American examples vis-a-vis all minorities as well as immigrants), it is somewhat criminal that the world stands by such values are inculcated in Palestinian youth (especially considering international funds are often used to fund television and text books in the PA). Perhaps even more depressing is just how expansive this is throughout the Arab world, where text books routinely refer to Jews as apes, pigs and blood thirsty infidels. As you so wisely point out, these issues are never black and white. Yet I really shudder at the thought of how any sort of peace can ever be acheived when such images and notions exist and are so callously ignored.

Casey said...

This is scary... and Adam's point is right on. Good post, Mon.

Insignificant Wrangler said...

Scary was the first word that came to my mind as well.

I only hold out that the internet can have global implications, making us more aware of these things, and increasing cross-cultural contact. I'm still with Levinas, its much more difficult to maintain this kind of hate in the face of the other.


Monica said...

Adam -- you're absolutely right. This is not the first time I've seen something like this, and I too am always amazed that nobody seems to be talking about this. I think also that academics/intellectuals have a moral obligation to speak out against stuff like this . . . but, like you said, it seems to be completely ignored. I hate to cry anti-Semitism at everything, but sometimes I do wonder if such a willful turning away from this situation is motivated by some kind of underlying anti-Semitism. I don't know . . .

Insignificant Wrangler -- I'm with you in terms of hoping the internet will enlighten people about some of these issues. But with regard to Levinas . . . I think that when you are trained from a young age NOT to see the face of the other (via the Palestinian bee), there are some insurmountable problems, i.e., the face no longer resembles a face.

Adam Shprintzen said...


Yeah, definitely. And in addition I think also it is such a betrayal of the legitimate interests and needs of the Palestinian people, that the world at large sits by idley (and helps fund, actually) while a cult of martyrdom has been built based on hatred within generations of Palestinian children (UNRWA, the UN organization in charge of the Palestinian refugees routinely names buildings and such after suicide bombers). How is that not an actual human rights abuse?