You know what this whole Middle East conflict needs? Well, yes, American baseball to be imported to Israel. But beyond that, what the world needs now is a Ministry of Muppets. Toward that end, My Urban Kvetch, whose proprietress actually learned to read from Sesame Street and whose nephew loves The Count, Big Bird, and Rubber Duckie, is pleased to announce the return of "Rehov Sumsum" and the first Israeli-Arab Muppet, Mahboub, who speaks both Hebrew and Arabic:
"It's really about respect and tolerance," said Gary Knell, president of Sesame Workshop, the New York-based nonprofit group behind Sesame Street programming worldwide. "We know that television teaches — the question is, 'What does it teach?'" Knell said the goal is to counter negative influence of society, because children as young as 3 can begin to demonstrate prejudice. "They're not born with this," he said. "They're learning it from their parents, from the community, from friends."
My question is not whether TV can have a positive influence and serve as an educational tool. My question is whether what TV teaches can overcome negative messages in the home, from the community and in social contexts. In other words, if a child sees a world on TV where there is peace but lives in a world where there is conflict, which message does he or she believe and adopt as personal attitude?