I own a cassette tape of five-year-old me reciting an Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party chant I learned at school in Baghdad. Roughly translated, it begins: “Ba’athi Ba’athi, this is my manifesto…”
This children’s ditty goes on to celebrate the nationalization of oil, and the July revolution of 1958 when Abd al-Karim Qasim and cohort executed a coup d’état against the British backed monarchy of King Faisel II, overthrowing him for a “republic” whose goal was to advance pan-Arabism. In another segment, taped when I was in second grade, my father asks me what I was learning in school. I answer with the tripartite “Wahda, hurriyya, u ishteeraqkia”—oneness, freedom, and socialism.
The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party propaganda taught that these ideals were: the oneness of all Arab countries—regardless of their cultural difference—uniting under one foundational national government against imperialism; freedom, which lies in liberating Arabs from oppression by foreign powers; and socialism, which is transferring the means of production in the Arab economy from being privately held to being government-controlled.
This childhood experience of mine came to mind recently when I watched a video of Palestinian children (particularly a little girl at the end) regurgitating vile hatred and violence toward Israelis. The surreal horror of anti-Semitism instilled in Arab children came home to me. The girl—who looks no older than five years old—shouts “Stab! Stab! Stab!” while slashing the air with a knife.
Read the rest of the essay at The Federalist