Friday, October 23, 2009

Sesame Street seeks Gaza access - talk to Gaza kids about peaceful conflict resolution

(AFP).Big Bird and his pals are trying hard to get access to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip to talk about peaceful conflict resolution and carry out some Muppet Diplomacy, Sesame Street announced on Wednesday.

"We know that it's an extremely volatile area, but we also feel that it's really important that we take these step forward to promote self esteem for Palestinians," said Gary Knell, president of the Sesame Workshop, the educational organisation behind the popular children's series.

A Palestinian version of the series - Sharaa Simsim - is already shown in the West Bank, but the signal does not reach Gaza.

"We are going into production with new programmes now based in Ramallah that will focus a lot on peaceful conflict resolution," Knell said at a news conference in Jerusalem

He said he is particularly keen to send the famous Muppets to Gaza, where the station run by Hamas has stirred international outrage with its cartoon characters seen as glorifying violence against Israel.

"We have felt it important to broadcast (Sharaa Simsin) in Gaza. We feel the children there are in need of positive programming in light of the circumstances over the past couple years," Knell said.

"We're going to work with the ministry of education in the Palestinian territories, the prime minister and others to build a really strong Sharaa Simsim, and it is our goal to have this broadcast in Gaza," he said.