PEACE AND DIVERSITY VIA SESAME STREET

Looks like what isn’t being done in reality will be tried on children’s television in Israel/Palestine.
‘Positive role models’ the producers say…for boys in the West Bank and Gaza…. What about positive role models for the dregs of zionist settlers in the Occupied Territories…. Hebron specifically.

I’m game for anything that can lead to peace and understanding…. but it’s got to come from both sides… and it’s got to start for real…. not just on Sesame Street.

The following Associated Press report just appeared on HaAretz’s site…

After decade off the air, Sesame Street returns to Israel, PA By The Associated Press
New Israeli version includes first bilingual Israeli Arab puppet; Palestinian version to offer positive role models for boys in West Bank, Gaza.

Years after the original version of Israel’s Sesame Street went off the air, new episodes are about to be broadcast in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, producers announced Sunday.

Puppet regimes are back in the Middle East and once again, they’re promoting peace, diversity and the importance of brushing your teeth.

As with the popular United States program, designed to enhance basic educational content for youngsters, producers tailored the Mideast casts and story lines to fit the audiences.

Rechov Sumsum, Israel’s version of the show, for the first time includes a Muppet of Arab origin. Its Palestinian counterpart, Shara’s Simsim, seeks to offer positive role models to boys in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“It’s really about respect and tolerance,” said Gary Knell, president of Sesame Workshop, the New York-based nonprofit group behind Sesame Street programming worldwide. “We know that television teaches – the question is, ‘What does it teach?'”

Knell said the goal is to counter negative influence of society, because children as young as three can begin to demonstrate prejudice.

“They’re not born with this, he said. They’re learning it from their parents, from the community, from friends,” he said.

In coordination with the re-launching of the shows, officials announced the distribution of Muppet-themed educational kits to children throughout Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.

“It opens up a new way to deal with issues of conflict,” Education Minister Yuli Tamir said at a ceremony in a Jerusalem kindergarten, “just teaching children how to live together, how to work together with each other despite their differences.”

The ceremony followed more than a week of meetings Knell had with top political figures in the region, seeking funding and support for local Sesame Street productions.

Earlier Sunday, he met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s wife Aliza. On Saturday, while in Ramallah to mark the upcoming broadcast of 15 new episodes there, he met with Saeb Erekat, a top aide to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and a longtime negotiator with the Israeli government.

Last week, Knell met with Queen Rania of Jordan and Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

“There’s a desire of the political leaders to change the endless debate that seems to be passed down from generation to generation,” he said.

Launched in the United States in the late 1960s, Sesame Street is currently broadcast in more than 120 countries, Knell said.

The Israeli version enjoyed wide success when first aired in the early 1980s. A lack of funds stopped production of new episodes for more than a decade, but producers relaunched the show last winter.

The new version features the show’s first Israeli-Arab muppet, Mahboub, who speaks both Hebrew and Arabic.

Human actors on the new version include Jewish immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia.

2 Comments

  1. I love Munich said,

    April 30, 2007 at 04:13

    I met the founder and creator of PALESTINIAN Sesame Street, Daoud Kuttab, in Ramallah some 8 years ago!
    It is wonderful these dolls can show how it COULD be and teach problem-resolution at the level of little kids but yet worth to watch for adults! WAY TO GO!!!

  2. DesertPeace said,

    April 30, 2007 at 05:37

    Yes, I agree Karin… these dolls do a great job… but there should also be programmes for adults to teach them NOT TO TEACH THEIR CHILDREN HATRED>
    It must start in the home to be 100% successful.


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