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Mickey Mouse Rip-Off Spreads Hamas Message

An image taken from Al-Aqsa TV, a station run by Hamas, shows a giant black-and-white Mickey Mouse lookalike rodent named "Farfour," or "butterfly," talking on a children's show. Hamas militants have enlisted the iconic Mickey Mouse to broadcast their message of Islamic dominion and armed resistance to their most impressionable audience, little kids. "Farfour" does his high-pitched preaching against the U.S. and Israel on a children's show run each Friday on Al-Aqsa TV.
AP
Hamas militants have enlisted the iconic Mickey Mouse to broadcast their message of Islamic dominion and armed resistance to their most impressionable audience — little kids.

A giant black-and-white rodent — named "Farfour," or "butterfly," but unmistakably a Mickey rip-off — does his high-pitched preaching against the U.S. and Israel on a children's show run each Friday on Al-Aqsa TV, a station run by Hamas. The militant group, sworn to Israel's destruction, shares power in the Palestinian government.

"You and I are laying the foundation for a world led by Islamists," Farfour squeaked on a recent episode of the show, which is titled, "Tomorrow's Pioneers."

"We will return the Islamic community to its former greatness and liberate Jerusalem, God willing, liberate Iraq, God willing, and liberate all the countries of the Muslims invaded by the murderers."

Children call in to the show, many singing Hamas anthems about fighting Israel.

Israel has long complained that the Palestinian airwaves are filled with incitement.

An Israeli organization that monitors Palestinian media, Palestinian Media Watch, said the Mickey Mouse look-alike takes "every opportunity to indoctrinate young viewers with teachings of Islamic supremacy, hatred of Israel and the U.S., and support of 'resistance,' the Palestinian euphemism for terror."

The television station would not comment.

Yehia Moussa, a Hamas leader in the movement's Gaza Strip base, denied inciting children against Jews. "Our problem is not with the Jews. Our problem is with the (Israeli) occupation and the occupiers," Moussa said.

Israeli officials denounced the program. David Baker, an official in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office, said, "There is nothing comic about inciting young generations of Palestinians to hate Israelis."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev called the program "outrageous" and charged that the Palestinians have not carried out their commitments to stop incitement of hatred toward Israel. "Children are taught that killing Jews is a good thing," he said. "Children are taught to hate Jews and to hate nonbelievers."

In strife-ridden Gaza, however, dreams of Islamic dominion and animosity toward the U.S. and Israel are widespread.

A Gaza-based psychologist said the program proved that the culture of glorifying violence had penetrated Palestinian society.

"It's the fault of both (Israel and the Palestinians)," said Samir Zakkout, from the Gaza Community Mental Health Program. "If Palestinians had peace, children wouldn't learn violence."

Children have been traumatized by bloodshed in the course of Israeli attacks and Palestinian infighting, he said.

"There's been a collapse of values," he said. "If I can kill my enemy, I can kill my brother."

Basem Abu Sumaya, head of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corp., said such programming was inappropriate.

"I don't think it's professional or even humane to use children in such harsh political programs," Abu Sumaya said. "Children's nationalist spirit must be developed differently."

The Palestinian Broadcasting Corp. is controlled by Hamas' political rival, the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas loyalists launched the Al Aqsa satellite channel last year. Bearded young men read the news, often offering live news broadcasts. Islamic music is layered over footage of masked militants firing rockets into Israel. But the channel also broadcasts talk shows, programs about the disabled and cartoons.

Hamas loyalists also run at least five news Web sites, one newspaper — launched just last week — and a radio station.