Every election cycle we see stories about how those heartless Republicans want to kill Big Bird by privatizing PBS. But did you know we’re also picking up the tab for the Palestinian version of Sesame Street?
With its colourful band of Muppets preaching tolerance and neighbourly love, the Palestinian version of the children’s television programme Sesame Street had become a beacon of hope for children in a region ravaged by decades of unrest.
But the cast of peace-loving characters have now found themselves in the crossfire of a political dispute between Palestinian leaders and the US Congress, and episodes have been axed for 2012.
Sesame Street – known as Shara’a Simsim in Arabic – is one of many US-funded Palestinian shows suffering after Congress froze the transfer of nearly £130m to the US Agency for International Development in October. The suspension aimed to punish the Palestinians for appealing to the United Nations for membership.
The funding suspension has affected a broad range of services in Palestine relying on American aid, including hospitals, education, government ministries and communications.
This week, the Ramallah offices of Shara’a Simsim, the writing workshop room was empty and the set was closed.
“If we had funding, we would be writing scripts, we would be reviewing scripts, we would be hiring film-makers to produce the videos,” said executive producer Daoud Kuttab.
Probably just a Jewish plot.