February 4, 2002
It’s a show that won’t make the Saturday morning lineup on any American
network. But it has had a prominent slot on Palestinian TV. The program lacks
the same slick production value of an American children’s show, but it’s just as
influential. It’s called The Children’s Club.
It comes complete with puppet shows, games, songs and a very chilling
message about becoming a suicide bomber. A little girl sings in Arabic about
her ultimate ambition in life.
(Song Translation) “Oh sing my sister constantly about my life as a suicide
Another girl screams about preparing to die.
Teaching to hate
(Song Translation) “I foresee my death, but I march quickly. Am I afraid? Life
has little value because I’m returning to my lord and my people will know I am a
That message is repeated again and again in song and verse.
(Song Translation) “I will come at the time of drought with my best efforts bring
a machine gun, violence anger, anger, anger…”
The children, most of them elementary school age, shout a message of violence.
“I will return with the dawn of tomorrow. It is my conviction of launch a jihad.”
Girl shouting a message of violence
(Song Translation) “When I wander into Jerusalem, I’ll turn into a suicide
warrior in battle dress, in battle dress, in battle dress.”
A teacher cheers them on, “Bravo, bravo, bravo.”
If you’re like most Americans, you had no idea that the show existed, but the
Children’s Club is no secret to Israelis.
“I am still shocked every time I see it,” says Hela Crown-Tamir who lived in
Israel for 19 years.
“Imagine a teacher telling them bravo,” Crown-Tamir says, “because they’re
going to grow up to be a militant Islamic suicide bomber.”
Crown-Tamir moved back to The Tampa Bay area to escape the violence that
ruined her travel business. She says Americans are just now waking up to the
realities Israelis have been facing for years, that children are trained as suicide
bombers. Because it’s so dramatic, some Israeli groups have used excerpts
from The Children’s Club to produce a campaign against Palestinian leader
But are Palestinian children really educated this way? Or is this just an Israeli
propaganda tool? We contacted several Islamic groups in the Tampa Bay area,
but no one from any of those organizations would even agree to watch the
Professor Abdelwahab Hachiche
But University of South Florida professor Abdelwahab Hachiche did agree to
“I always keep a reasonable degree of scepticism about anything I see or
anything I read.”
Hachiche is an internationally recognized expert on Mideast terrorism. He’s also
an Arab and a Moslem. Until we gave him the tape, he’d never heard of the
show. And while he says he has no idea who produced it, he says the
translations are accurate and the problem is real.
“And the indoctrination and the danger of indoctrination is very, very serious.”
Dr. Hachiche calls this kind of teaching nothing short of infanticide. But he
hopes children growing up in today’s Islamic world will ultimately reject these
messages of hatred.
“On both sides the younger generation are looking for true leaders who will
have the courage to overcome this passion that is leading to mutual
Still, in the mid-east the violence continues. And now even in America we’re
looking terrorism right in the face — listening and wondering if this is the voice
of the future.