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Saturday Jan. 7, 2012 12:30 PM (EST+7)
Sesame Street one casualty of US funding freeze for Palestinians


Read more: Sesame Street, children, culture, US policy, US foreign policy, funding, Palestinian Authority, donor aid, USAID, donor funding. foreign aid

RAMALLAH, January 7 (JMCC) - The Palestinian version of Sesame Street, Sharaa Simsim, is one of numerous programs on hold due to a freeze on US funding, reports the Associated Press.

Congress halted approximately $200 million in funding to Palestinians in October to punish the Palestinian Authority for seeking statehood at the United Nations.. While some money has since been released, the popular children's program has not been able to recommence filming.

The funding suspension — affecting hospitals, education, and government ministries that all rely on American aid — is breeding resentment and frustration in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, even among the most progressive organizations.

In the Ramallah offices of Sharaa Simsim on Thursday, 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 filmmakers to produce the videos," said executive producer Daoud Kuttab.

Even as the freeze put Palestinian Sesame Street on hold, the State Department is investing $750,000 (£486,000) in the Israeli version of the show, which is now filming its newest season with an emphasis on teaching children the value of fairness.

Danny Labin, an executive at the Israeli TV channel that co-produces Israeli Sesame Street, call the funding halt to the Palestinian show "extremely unfortunate."

"Young children, whether Israeli or Palestinian, who are in need of educational tools to foster diversity appreciation and to prepare for life in a pluralistic society, should not be penalized or held accountable to the politics and political leadership, over which they have no control," Labin said.




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