Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) today appealed to House members to unfreeze Palestinian aid and continue funding for Palestinian Sesame Street. Ellison, in remarks delivered on the House floor, spoke of the benefits of funding Palestinian Sesame Street and the dangerous television shows competing for children’s attention in the West Bank and Gaza.
Holding an Elmo doll, Ellison argued for continuing U.S. funding of the popular children’s show:
This guy taught us our 123’s, but he also taught us tolerance and understanding.
For the past several years, he’s been doing the same for children in the Palestinian Territories. Because of Sesame Street in Palestine, Palestinian kids grow up with the same positive role models that we did.
But with the freeze on Palestinian aid funds, Sesame Street went off the air and Hamas children’s programming faces less competition. Ellison warned:
Now, Palestinian kids are left watching Farfour – this mouse – who is the main character on a Hamas TV show for children. Instead of tolerance and understanding, Farfour promotes violence and anti-Semitism.
Since October, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) has held up $190 million in Palestinian aid. The decision to freeze aid came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas sought U.N. recognition for an independent Palestinian state. “By providing the Palestinians with $2.5 billion over the last 5 years, the U.S. has only rewarded and reinforced their bad behavior,” Ros-Lehtinen said.
J Street, the “Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace” organization, supports unfreezing Palestinian aid, issued a statement last week calling on Ros-Lehtinen to “Lift the remaining holds on Palestinian aid — don’t punish Palestinian children with political posturing.”