Congress vs. the Internet and Palestinian Sesame Street

If it were not enough that the US Congress is moving to censor most every internet service for the very possibility of copyright infringement (SOPA – House Bill 3261), then surely the fact that Congress is freezing the funding of Shari’ Simsim–the Palestinian version of Sesame Street–should tip you over the edge, or me at least. One cannot deny that foreign funding from the US, UN, Europe, Arab states and elsewhere is a much needed and welcome resource to the ailing and oppressed children of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. But now Congress is punishing innocent Palestinian children by depriving them of positive, educational (and quite colorful!) kids programming. Why? Because their government sought recognition from the United Nations. The punishment does not appear to fit the crime (in so far as talking to the UN and using international diplomacy can constitute a crime). And to my knowledge the muppets never visited an al-Qaeda training camp nor made a music video with Bin Laden!

This only goes to show the depths at which the US is involved in the Arab World and the extent to which it will go to defend its dinosaur-age policies vis. a vis. the Arab-Israeli conflict. Children suffering in the Arab World as a result of harmful US policies is nothing new. Now children in the US are beginning to suffer the consequences of school budget cuts and–soon?–censorship of the internet (which I believe is practically impossible). The dinosaurs of Congress (neither ethical nor tech-savvy) hearken–as they always have–the call of powerful lobbies and corporations who abuse their right to “petition” yet think hard before fixing the economy, healthcare, and education for the average citizen. It also makes one wonder–in the larger scheme of things–whether US policy makers have learned anything at all post-Occupy Wall Street/Arab Spring. What was it that Martin Luther King said about “business as usual?”


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