Sesame Street to return to Israel, PA territories

New episodes of Sesame Street are going on TV in Israel and Palestinian territories, producers said Sunday, years after the original versions signed off. As with the popular US program, designed to enhance basic educational content for youngsters, producers tailored the Mideast casts and story lines to the fit the audiences. A new feature is the first Arab puppet in the Israeli series, "Rechov Sumsum." Its Palestinian counterpart, "Shara'a Simsim," seeks to offer positive role models to boys in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Gary Knell, president of Sesame Workshop, the New York-based nonprofit group behind Sesame Street programming worldwide, said the goal is to counter negative influence of society, because children as young as three can begin to demonstrate prejudice. "It opens up a new way to deal with issues of conflict," Education Minister Yuli Tamir said at a ceremony in a Jerusalem kindergarten, "just teaching children how to live together, how to work together with each other despite their differences."