With a long history of abandoned negotiations and failed peace plans behind them, Middle East peace advocates now have a new tool at their disposal: Sesame Street.
A recent study conducted by Tel Aviv University and the University of Maryland has revealed that Jewish and Arab Israeli kindergartners were more likely to reject negative stereotypes and adopt constructive problem-solving methods after repeated viewings of Sesame Stories, an Israeli offshoot of the popular educational children's series.
The study examined 250 Israeli kindergartners and found that, after watching the program, Jewish students were 20 percent more likely to adopt constructive and "ethical" solutions when confronted with conflicts involving children from other backgrounds. Sesame Stories had an even bigger impact on Arab Israeli children, with approximately one-third more Arab kindergartners choosing cooperative solutions to the situations presented. In response to the study, the HOP! Channel and the producers of Sesame Stories are distributing a free package of games and other interactive activities to Arab and Jewish kindergartens across the country. The channel and the Sesame Workshop are currently at work on the next season of Sesame Stories, which will start airing next year.