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Jihadist mouse and the dove of the Middle East

Al-Aqsa, Hamas' official television station, began airing a children's television program this summer featuring an unlicensed Mickey Mouse lookalike encouraging children to engage in suicide bombings and other acts of terror.
The program, Tomorrow's Pioneers, sparked an outcry after the jihadist mouse, Farfur, and his young co-host, Saraa, began glorifying the killing of Jews and explaining the importance of establishing Islamic rule over the world through the conquest and domination of non-Muslims.
The show's "kiddy propaganda" appeared among segments encouraging Palestinian children to drink plenty of milk, obey their parents and pray five times daily in accordance with Muslim practice.
The Western nations that donate most of the Palestinian territories' meager budget objected to the program and insisted that the station discontinue it. Bowing to this diplomatic and economic pressure (as well as threatened legal action by Disney), the station agreed to pull the mouse from the show.
Thus, in a subsequent episode, the station depicted a Jewish official (described by Palestinian Media Watch as an "Israeli interrogator") beating the mouse after he refused to sell Palestinian land to Israelis.
After Farfur's death, a stricken Saraa explained the loss to her young audience. "Yes, our children friends, we lost our dearest friend, Farfur," she intoned.
"Farfur turned to a martyr at the hands of the criminals and murderers. The murderers of innocent children."
Palestinian children reacted strongly to the program, writing and calling the station to protest Farfur's fate. The station has broadcast some of their calls, amplifying the emotions stirred by the show.
One call aired was from a 3-year-old girl, who told the show's host: "We don't like the Jews because they are dogs. We will fight them!"
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has begun a series of trips to the Middle East to organize a peace conference involving Israel, the Palestinians and various Arab nations with the hope of fostering peaceful relations between Israel, the Palestinians and their neighbors. An unofficial purpose of the meeting is to make formal the de facto Palestinian state established along the West Bank of the Jordan River.
Among those with whom Rice hopes to encourage an atmosphere of tranquility are the residents of the Gaza Strip, a small finger of territory that extends into Israel north of Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea.
A few months ago, the Islamist forces that live there declared it independent of the elected Palestinian government that sits in the West Bank, expelling the government's ministers and publicly beating and executing their fellow Palestinians accused of being "collaborators" -- generally for such offenses as refusing to permit their homes to become meeting places and staging grounds for terrorist incidents in Israel.
Rice also hopes to bring Syria to the peace table. That nation has never rescinded its declaration of war against Israel, issued in 1948.
Several weeks ago, Israeli military forces destroyed what has been described as a nuclear facility in Syria. Public information remains scarce, and the Israeli press is under a gag order on the attack.
But ABC News reported Oct. 19 that Israeli officials believe, based on detailed photographs, that the target was a nuclear facility.
ABC quoted a senior U.S. official as saying that the facility was "a North Korean design in its construction, the technology present and the ability to put it all together."
I wish Rice and her boss in the White House much luck in their stated objectives. Peace in the Middle East would benefit everyone.
But how to begin such a daunting task in this environment?
Even those who will appear at the peace conference on behalf of the Palestinians and the Arab nations that choose to attend -- like the young viewers of Tomorrow's Pioneers -- cannot help but be affected by the lessons they learned as children.
In fairness to Rice, what chance is there of fostering peace in a region so intent on teaching hate?
Dan Blumberg is a member of the Star-Telegram Community Columnist Panel.