Education is a basic human right that is often taken for granted in the western world. The South African Constitution which is arguably one of the most democratic in the world, states that every child is entitled to receive an education. Educating our children is an investment in our future. How do we build a strong and sustainable country without proper education?

Last week, Israeli children started the new school year safe in the knowledge that the education that they are receiving has their future and their career aspirations at heart.

Not so in the West Bank and Gaza strip, however. One of the conditions stipulated by the 1995 Oslo Agreements was that Palestinians must educate their children for peace. This has yet to be fulfilled.

Propaganda has always been the fuel that drives the Arab world's perceptions of Israel and Jews. Since the 2001 intifada, propaganda has been the most effective tool in the battle for public opinions. Why is the Arab world winning the support of the street? To a large extent because of clever public relations that paints Israel as the aggressor holding Palestinians hostage in a perpetual state of occupation. Palestinian militants are never held accountable for the violence they perpetuate on Israeli citizens.

Terrorist leaders know that early education will entrench their ideologies and allow them to flourish. So now children as young as three years old in kindergartens are being taught that Jews are "pigs" and "apes" and that Islam will triumph and destroy them and the "great satan" that is the USA. Evidence of this can be found on the following websites Palestinian Media Watch (www.pmw.org.il)and the Middle Eastern Media Research Institute (www.memri.org). Children in the disputed territories are continually being exploited as public relations tools in the propaganda war against the west.

School textbooks are mysteriously devoid of historical facts. Palestinian Media Watch submitted a report to New York Senator and United States Presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton, on the status of education in the disputed territories. Mrs Clinton commented: "There is a portrayal of the region in both maps and text in which Israel does not exist. There is the denial of the Holocaust by the omission of historical facts connecting Nazi ideology and actions with the persecution and murder of Jews. For example, the report states, "The textbook teaches the military and the political events of WWII in significant detail including sections on Nazi racist ideology, yet neither the persecution of Jews or the Holocaust is even mentioned."

School is not the only environment where children are pawns in the propaganda war. Television is the medium of choice when it comes to the indoctrination of curious young minds. The most recent example that has caused an international outcry, is the bastardization of iconic children's character, Mickey Mouse, into Farfur. Dubbed the Terror Mouse or Jihadi Mickey, Farfur instructs Palestinian children to "remind you that we are the ones who will carry the concerns of this Islamic nation, and we will lead this world, and I remind you that Al-Aqsa and the prisoners are a responsibility on our shoulders, and Allah will ask us on Resurrection Day what we gave for their sake."

The hostess explains to Farfur that one must aspire to memorize the entire Quran "Because we want to lead the world, so therefore we want to memorize the entire Quran."
[A girl Harwa recites a song:]
"We liberated Gaza by force
From your death
The people firmly stand
In their fire is a flame
Rafah sings "oh, oh"
Its answer is an AK-47
We who do not know fear
We are the predators of the forest."

The use of this popular children's character for nefarious means angered both Diane Disney Miller, daughter of Walt Disney who called Hamas pure evil for indoctrinating children like this, and also the western press who gave extensive coverage on how Palestinian children are being incited to hate. As a result of the international outcry, the Palestinian Authority was ordered to take Farfur off the air. MA'AN News Agency, however, gave a different motivation for taking the show off the air. It quoted the same Minister of Information saying that these programs are damaging because when the world is alerted to their content it damages the PR image of the Palestinians:

"Barghouti stressed the need to be cautious when making children's programs so that these programs would not be exploited by bodies that monitor these programs in order to incite international public opinion against the Palestinian people and harm the Palestinian cause."

This echoes the PA condemnation of suicide terror "because it is damaging to the Palestinian image," not because it is wrong.

But there are still reports of Farfur still being flighted on Palestinian television.

Just this past week Hamas condemned attempts by the United Nations to teach Palestinian children about the Holocaust. In a letter to John Ging of UNRWA, Jamlia al-Shanti. A Hamas legislative official wrote: "Talk about the Holocaust and the execution of the Jews contradicts and is against our culture, our principles, our traditions, values, heritage and religion." UNRWA has not commented on whether or not they will continue to teach the Holocaust. Isn't understanding mutual suffering a key element to peace brokering?

What future will generations of Palestinian children have if they are taught that martyrdom and hatred are better alternatives to careers as doctors, lawyers, educators and nation builders? Propaganda is an effective recruitment tool for the school leavers who opt for a career in terrorism or martyrdom. Palestinian martyrs have celebrity status in the disputed territories, their likenesses displayed in posters and memorialized on the Palestinian version on MTV. How will the stereotypes and hatreds that exist be broken down when Palestinian children are bombarded with images of the Israeli aggressor, the evil Jew who wants to kill them?

Indoctrination education in the Palestinian Authority is more than a homeland security worry for Israel. It is also fast becoming a issue of child abuse. The complete corruption of the innocent mind for the most heinous of motivations is an abomination. Education for peace is the only way a Palestinian state will be a sustainable entity moving forward.