January 7, 2012`
It’s quiet time on Palestinian Sesame Street. The iconic children’s program, known as “Sharaa Simsim” in Arabic, has been put on hold for the 2012 season because of a funding freeze by the US Congress.
Sharaa Simsim is one of many US-funded Palestinian programmes suffering after Congress froze the transfer of nearly $200 million (£130m) to the US Agency for International Development in October. The suspension aimed to punish the Palestinians for appealing to the United Nations for statehood.
The funding suspension — affecting hospitals, education, and government ministries that all rely on American aid — is breeding resentment and frustration in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, even among the most progressive organizations.
In the Ramallah offices of Sharaa Simsim on Thursday, the writing workshop room was empty and the set was closed.