Guardian

A proposal for the Palestinian Authority to pay for Sesame Street the Guardian likely never considered


A Guardian report by Damean Pearse, “Palestinian Sesame Street falls victim to US Congress“, Jan. 7, contained all the patented journalistic devices meant to evoke sympathy for Palestinians, including this photo.

Shara'a Simsim's Kareem held by actor Rajai Sandouka at the programme's offices in Ramallah

Pearse’s report begins:

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.

As I noted in a post in Oct., the Palestinians are one of the largest recipients of foreign aid per capita in the world, receiving around $2.3 billion in annual aid – with the U.S. accounting for the largest share of that budget ($667 million).  

Pearse later notes:

From 2008-2011, USAid gave £1.6m to developing the programme [Sesame Street] in Palestine, covering nearly the entire budget…USAid was scheduled to issue another £1.6m grant to Shara’a Simsim to last until 2014, but in early October the funding was cut.

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.

Of course, that would be the same Daoud Kuttab who contributes to ‘Comment is Free’.

Kuttab recently penned a piece for The Huffington Post (America’s answer to the Guardian) expressing empathy for the jailed terrorist mastermind, Ahmed Saadat, whose group, PFLP, has been responsible for hundreds of terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, including the assassination of Israel’s Tourism minister Rechavam Ze’evi. 

Indeed, such Palestinian support for terrorism, and empathy (even celebration) of terrorists and their families, actually brings me to my humble suggestion for finding the $1.6 million in funds necessary to keep Palestinian Sesame Street on the air.

Palestinian Media Watch recently reported on the salaries paid by the PA to terrorists and their families – which, in total, is the equivalent of over $51 million per year, $4.3 million per month, and $788 per month per prisoner.  PMW noted that this salary is greater than what the PA pays to civil servants and military personal. (It truly does pay in Palestinian society to be a terrorist).

So, doing the math (admittedly not my strong suit), all the PA would have to do to pay for the entire budget of Sesame Street is to slash the pay disbursed to Palestinian terrorists and their families by a measly 3% – which would free up the $1.6 million needed. 

But, then again, perhaps I’m being a bit unfair, and certainly unrealistic, to ask such heroic Palestinian terrorists – who sacrificed their livelihoods (and the, you know, actual lives of innocent Jewish civilians they targeted) in acts of “resistance” in the service of defeating the Zionist entity – to take a pay cut.

After all, when the battle for precious resources in Palestinian society pits the “colourful band of Sesame Street Muppets, preaching tolerance and neighbourly love” against such “heroic resistance fighters” is there really any question which side will win out?

3 replies »

  1. Excellent commentary, Adam.

    But why should they give up a chance to appeal to the Guardian readership’s deep sense of the power of the Jewish lobby etc. etc. rather than simply coming up with the cash from the bucket loads poured into the bottomless pit known as Palestine?

  2. Just a bit of constructive criticism of an otherwise excellent piece: the Guardian is estimating the annual cost of producing Sha’ara Simsim in pounds, not dollars. Therefore the PLO would need to cut their martyrdom payments by a little more than 3% to pay for Sha’ara Simsim.

    The PLO could also do what cash strapped public television networks in the United States do: hold a telethon!

    • I think the answer to your question is that the Palestinians have been conditioned by UNRWA and the Western countries that endlessly pour in “aid” to believe that someone else should always be paying for them. The idea that they should pay for things themselves has been taken off the table.

      They are the only would-be state this is actually a welfare state!