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.I feel really sad. If only we put the children first, what a wonderful world this might be.
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.
Philip Weiss links this story with another which shows where our priorities are. U.S. continues to fund Israeli military but not Palestinian ‘Sesame Street.