Farfour, a leading figure of the Palestinian entertainment industry, died on June 29 at an unidentified Israeli interrogation complex. His age was not known.
According to a report by Saraa, his assistant and spokesperson, Farfour was killed by the government of Israel. “He was martyred at the hand of the criminals, the murderers, the murderers of innocent children,” Saraa explained. While the precise cause of death is still under investigation, video evidence suggests that the human-sized, tuxedo-clad mouse succumbed to injuries incurred during a severe beating.
Farfour, who bore an uncanny resemblance to Mickey, was best known for his work on Tomorrow’s Pioneers, a popular hour-long children’s program that airs on Al Aqsa TV, the official television station of Hamas. Like its counterparts in the West, the show seeks not only to entertain youngsters, but to instill values and habits that form the basis of a successful life. Indeed, many episodes featured the furry star urging Palestinian boys and girls to say their prayers, do their homework, and eat healthy foods.
Yet Tomorrow’s Pioneers has also broken new ground during its short run, moving beyond the narrow educational regimen that typifies such American standards as Sesame Street or Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. Pundits have attributed much of this innovation to Farfour himself, noting that his skillful delivery and keen grasp of societal trends helped expose children to topics that had once been deemed too traumatic for young viewers.
Farfour’s unique approach to kids’ programming was evident early on. “We are setting with you the cornerstone for world leadership under Islamic leadership,” he told his audience in an episode that aired in mid-April of this year. “We, tomorrow’s pioneers, will restore to this nation its glory, and we will liberate Al Aqsa, with Allah’s will, and we will liberate Iraq, with Allah’s will, and we will liberate the Muslim countries, invaded by murderers.” Such cutting-edge instruction would win the show legions of adoring fans and a prime slot in the channel’s lineup.
The sophisticated message of Tomorrow’s Pioneers was facilitated by Farfour’s undeniable rapport with children. The program’s frequent phone-in segments provided an excellent platform for these talents. In one memorable sequence, a young viewer was quizzed about her commitment to the Palestinian cause. “Sanabel, what should we do if we want to liberate [Palestine]?” asked Farfour, in his endearingly squeaky voice. “We want to fight,” Sanabel responded. “What else?” prompted the host. “We will annihilate the Jews,” she affirmed. “I will commit martyrdom.”
Critics and enthusiasts alike acknowledge Farfour’s ability to illuminate complex geopolitical issues through both humor and art. Fans will not soon forget the interlude in which Farfour playfully mimed the throwing of grenades and the firing of a machine gun as an 11-year-old caller recited “Rafah sings ‘oh, oh.’ Its answer is an AK-47. We who do not know fear, we are the predators of the forest.” Shortly afterward, he danced to a catchy tune that featured the line “Oh Jerusalem, we are coming. Oh Jerusalem, it is the time of death.” This seamless mix of education and entertainment was Farfour’s calling card and the centerpiece of his inspired strategy for molding young minds.
Little known outside of Gaza and the West Bank for much of his career, Farfour rocketed to international fame in the wake of a report by Palestinian Media Watch on May 6. The PMW investigation accused Tomorrow’s Pioneers of “taking 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.”
This rush of notoriety would ultimately lead to his downfall, as Farfour quickly became the target of worldwide condemnation, with even the Palestinian Authority distancing itself from the show. Moreover, in what seemed a microcosm of his mounting burdens, Farfour’s home was destroyed by “Jews” in the episode that aired on May 11. Having lost his notebooks in the rubble, he was reduced to cheating on an exam.
The June 29 installment of Tomorrow’s Pioneers proved to be Farfour’s last. The episode explored the passing of his grandfather, who had entrusted Farfour with land — specifically, the Israeli city of Tel Aviv — that must be “liberated” from the “filth of the criminal, plundering Jews.” After refusing to turn over the deed in exchange for a paycheck, the host was pummeled by his Israeli interrogator. Saraa soberly announced his martyrdom shortly thereafter, adding that “the Jews are criminals and enemies. We must expel them.”
Memorial plans have not yet been detailed, though a number of dignitaries are expected to pay homage to the Palestinians’ most famous rodent. In the meantime, several colleagues have stepped forward to reflect on his tormented life and premature demise. One close associate lamented that Farfour had passed from this earth without having seen his beloved land freed from the Zionists and crusaders. Another noted that in the previous decade, someone of Farfour’s stature could have expected to enjoy regular invitations to peace conferences and White House chats.
Farfour is survived by his school-age apprentice Saraa, his “uncle” Hazem, and thousands of impressionable young Palestinians who may one day commit mass murder — of Jews, Christians, and fellow Muslims — in the name of the Islamist ideology that Farfour so vigorously promoted.
David J. Rusin holds a Ph.D. in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Pennsylvania. His interests include foreign affairs and security policy. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.