Friday, December 3, 2010

Palestinian/Israeli Sesame Street!

Something that really I found interesting in the presentation of the second group Yesterday, is the Sesame Street collaborated versions. Specially the one for Palestine Jordan and Israel. at first I thought it is very good and would have been very successful in creating a new generation of children who hold less anger and hatred. Then I gave it another thought, especially among Palestinian desperate children, and i thought it is actually not working. Children in Palestine, who live in a non stop war condition, poverty, and deprivation, can not overcome the negative feelings for the ones who dumped them in this misery. The children who have lost their family members with the Israeli bullets, who have missed their friends at schools because they throw stones at Israeli tanks, and who see Israeli soldiers and bulldozers destroying their homes and their family properties to live in camps! The children who coop and adapt to their pathetic reality because of Israel. I dont think these children can overcome their negative feelings towards Israel. In fact, I think a human would accept to even forgive or forget their suffrage.
In fact, when I thought more about it, I think the sesame street collaboration was actually to normalize the situation for Israeli children to live and be around Palestinian ones. Children in Israel also live in fear from palestinians to certain limit, that the children program would want to overcome. But their fear is incomparable with the fear that Palestinian children live in. The WALL that sieges Palestinians in Gaza makes the children of Israel to live in peace, but on the other side it imprison the Palestinian ones, it sets them apart of their schools, families and lives. I actually think that this collaboration is very prejudice and very in humane, to frame the enemy as friend, to embody false thoughts in children who see disasters in their realities, it is just ridiculous and absurd ! its a mere failure. Above all that, the fact that the studios of the Sesame street were destroyed hampers down the whole story.

I think collaborative TV shows must be mutual and need to work at the same page and same agenda, in order to achieve its goals successfully .


  1. Hatred breeds more hatred, and if it’s possible that a children’s television program can help to foster less hatred in the world, I would not define it as inhumane.

    Perhaps I’m too much of an idealist or optimist, but I am inclined to believe that there can be a solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and part of that solution will be the need for people to overcome hatred and have an understanding about their enemies.

    That people can learn to forgive and move civilization forward. I think that it is easier for children to forgive than it is for adults. The actions of the military or government does not always reflect the desires and wishes of the people.

    One of the positive points of the Sesame Workshop, is its mission to work with local writers and producers so that the show reflects local beliefs, cultures and norms – localization of this format is the only way it can be successful.

    As a collaborative effort, the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian productions of Sesame Street had the same agenda: to promote literacy, numeracy and fostering an understanding of each other. By including each of these three productions in the collaboration, they were each able to explain their viewpoints and beliefs. They weren’t conjecturing about what others believed. After the shows restarted, they shared segments of their individual shows, creating further dialogue.

    I’m not saying that Sesame Street is going to create world peace, but it does provide a communication medium through which diplomacy and shared values can be realized.

  2. I was thinking about this too and it really does seem like the situation might be bigger than Sesame Street. The rawness of the situation is opening wounds that will take several generations beyond peace to heal. I agree both that the more constructive communication mediums there are, the better-and Sesame Street can play that role. But I also agree with Noor's assertion that the conflict provides too much painful stimuli to be solved by a children's show. Children in Palestine are undoubtedly being enculturated to distrust and even hate Israelis. Their understanding of the situation comes from their parents who are a much more personal and trustworthy source than television shows.

    In Korea, although Japanese colonization ended 70 years ago, its legacy lives on in the elder population which does not try and hide its distrust and hatred of Japan. This feeling is epitomized in the territorial dispute over an island in the sea between the two nations. Children have learned through institutionalized education and their familial environment to resent Japan, and there are really not many counter-efforts to combat the popular anti-Japanese rhetoric.

    In conflicts such as these, the tension becomes personal and deeply embedded. Sesame Street and other vehicles of cross cultural understanding are positive steps, but their effectiveness is questionable in historical and ongoing regional conflicts.

  3. During a speech from the VP of Content of the Sesame Workshop he brought up good argument for this discussion. When Sesame Street began in the US 40 years ago blacks and whites hanging out together was so controversial that it was banned in Mississippi. The dream of its creators was to see a day when African Americans, Latinos and whites could work together. He believes that the show played a part in the inauguration of politicians like Obama, Condalisa Rice and Sonya Sotomayor.
    Its true, that Muppets do not have the capacity alone to make Palestinian and Israelis kids accept each other, but it can only help the situation. Perhaps it will take another forty years from now, but I do think that early exposure to other cultures on both sides of the conflict is crucial. I think its equally important for Israeli children to see Palestinians in a positive light.

  4. Yes, Christina-good point! I didn't realize the origin of Sesame Street came from a conflict that was as personal and close as race issues in the US... I guess it's kind of hard to quantify how the positive effects of such exposure are balanced by other environmental factors. But, I do believe in Muppet power! Just, in the case of Korea-Japan I wonder if the distance prevents them from reconciling, they are separated by a sea and don't really have the chance to interact and break down misconceptions perpetuated in their respective media systems. Unlike in the US where integration was institutionalized.

    Maybe the value of Sesame Street is creating a more empathetic population of young people, in general.. From there, positive changes can take place.