WASHINGTON (WCCO/AP) – Rep. Keith Ellison brought a special guest with him down to the U.S. House of Representatives floor on Tuesday. And his guest was brought to you by the letter “E.”
That’s “E” for Elmo.
Ellison (D-MN) spoke out against a plan that would bring to an end the Palestinian version of the popular children’s television show “Sesame Street.”
The show “Sharaa Simsim” is funded in part due to the assistance of U.S. government funds. However, the Associated Press reports Congress froze the transfer of nearly $200 million to the U.S. Agency for International Development in October. The suspension aimed to punish the Palestinians for appealing to the United Nations for statehood.
That decision has put production of “Sharaa Simsim” on hold, according to reports. The show debuted in 1996 and has produced five seasons since, with long intermissions for fundraising.
From the House floor on Tuesday, Ellison said Elmo is widely known for his work teaching “tolerance and understanding.”
Ellison argued that taking Elmo off the air for Palestinian children leaves them to learn their lessons from “Farfour,” a Hamas TV character resembling a mouse.
“Instead of tolerance and understanding, Farfour promotes violence and anti-Semitism,” said Ellison. “I’m not the only one who wants Congress to release the funding. The Israeli government also wants us to release it.”
The Associated Press reported that, from 2008-2011, USAID gave $2.5 million to the program, covering nearly the entire budget.
USAID was scheduled to issue another $2.5 million grant to Sharaa Simsim last until 2014, but in early October, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), placed holds on $192 million in funding to USAID for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.