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The Muppets Try To Make Friends In Ramallah

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This season's episodes of "Shara'a Simsim," the Palestinian version of the global "Sesame Street" franchise, were filmed in a satellite campus of Al-Quds University, a ramshackle four-story concrete structure that houses the school's media department and a small local television station. The building sits in an upscale neighborhood on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah, not far from the edge of the Israeli settlement Psagot. Like many structures on the West Bank, the Al-Quds building seems to be simultaneously under construction and decaying into a ruin. Some walls are pocked with bullet holes, from when the Israeli Army occupied the building for 19 days in 2001, during the second intifada. In another life, the building was a hotel, and the balconies out front where TV crews and students take smoking breaks overlook the crumbling shell of its swimming pool.

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