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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

But will Hamas run it?

Writing in today's Jerusalem Post, Arab columnist Daoud Kuttab calls for 'fine-tuning' Arab television for children:
Original children's programming in the Arab world is abysmally meager. The programming that is available is largely dubbed - and often violent - cartoon strips. Not only are our children constantly bombarded by such programming, almost all of it is dubbed into classical Arabic, which enables it to be sold to all 23 Arab countries. Preschool children are thus left with almost no quality programs they can understand.

For a Jordanian or Palestinian child to watch a program in classical Arabic is like asking an English-speaking child today to listen to a TV program using Shakespearean English.

Last week Gary Knell, the president of Sesame Workshop in New York, made a high-profile tour of the region, visiting Cairo, Riyadh, Amman and Ramallah.

Knell met with first ladies and senior officials to discuss how the longest-running American television show for children can be useful in this region.

Already Sesame co-productions in the Arab world have enjoyed great success.

Programs such as Iftah Ya Simsim, Al Manahel, Alam Simsim, Hikyat Simsim and Sharaa Simsim represent quality Sesame programs being co-produced with creative Arab producers and talent.

THESE SHOWS feature extremely popular muppets who speak local Arabic dialects and are produced with educational goals customized to the needs of specific children.
Kuttab decries the state of programming for boys in the 'Palestinian Authority':
This season's theme aims to provide positive role models for Palestinian boys. The theme was chosen after research showed a dangerous trend among Palestinian boys, who often feel helpless in dealing with the difficult situation of living under occupation.
Someone needs to tell Mr. Kuttab that - unfortunately - there is plenty of original programming in Arabic and that none of it provides positive role models for 'Palestinian' boys. In fact, that programming, which glorifies becoming 'martyrs' for Islam undoubtedly has more to do with the boys' feelings of helplessness than the 'occupation.' Here are two recent examples:

Will Hamas allow a non-violent Sesame Street to replace this type of programming? I doubt it.

'Palestinian' children's television needs a much greater overhaul than 'fine tuning.'


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