Last Sunday the New York Times Magazine published an article by Samantha Shapiro entitled “Can the Muppets Make Friends in Ramallah?” Well, sure they can. But will their influence blunt that of the current predominant hate-filled children’s programming aired on stations such as Palestinian Authority TV and Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV? Unlikely.
The Palestinian version of Sesame Street entitled “Shara’a Simsim,” in which the Muppets star, is filmed and broadcast via Al-Quds University’s television studio located in one of the schools several satellite campuses.
Al-Quds became the center of controversy in 2006 when it was awarded a $2.3 million grant by USAID amid reports that the Islamic university hosted student groups affiliated with designated terrorist organizations, namely Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In 2007, Al-Quds University held a weeklong celebration honoring Yahya Ayyash, better known as “the shahid (martyr) engineer” and the man credited with designing and building the first suicide belts as well as with training the next generation of suicide bomb-makers. After Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch alerted Congress to the ties the university has with designated terrorist groups, the US government passed a law making it illegal for any US funding to continue to go to the school.
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