Israeli puppet show ban draws Muppet protest

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 3:09am


Puppeteers from the Israeli version of Sesame Street have protested against Israel's closure of a Palestinian children's puppet festival, arguing that puppetry poses no threat to Israeli security.

Ariel Doron, the voice of Elmo on the Israeli version of the popular children's television show, and Yousef Sweid, who plays an Arab Muppet on the show, created a Facebook group named Puppets4All calling on Israel to permit the festival. Two other Israeli Sesame Street puppeteers, along with some fellow Israeli actors, uploaded photos to the Facebook group holding puppets and signs protesting the closure.

"I think every boy and girl deserves to see puppet theatre," Doron said. "There is no sense to this."

Miri Yanai Meir of Israel's Sesame Street said the show had nothing to do with the puppeteers' initiative.

Israel's Ministry of Public Security last week ordered the temporary closure of the Hakawati Theatre, the Palestinian national theatre in East Jerusalem, cancelling a children's festival set to feature puppet shows and plays. Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said organisers of the theatre illegally received funds from the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank.

Israel prohibits Palestinian government activity in Israeli-controlled East Jerusalem, which Palestinians seek as the capital of a future state. Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its capital, including the eastern section of the city seized in the 1967 Mideast war.