This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3097
August 15, 2007
By William A. Mayer and Beila Rabinowitz
August 14, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In the wreckage of Dhabah Almontaser's forced resignation from the Khalil Gibran International Academy last Friday, a development which these writers had no small role in bringing about, serious questions remain.
Chief among them is that despite the departure of the institution's figurehead, the school's Executive Summary, a template for ideological jihad authored by Almontaser, guarantees that her influence will prevail as long as KGIA exists.
Lena Alhusseini, director of KGIA's lead partnering organization, the American Arab Family Support Center [AAFSC] is an Islamist in the mold of Almontaser, and it is this group that will be a continuous presence "on site" at the Boerum Hills School location where KGIA is scheduled to be housed, thus providing ideological continuity.
This substantiates allegations by critics that KGIA was designed from the ground-up to function as a madrassah. In large measure, Almontaser's resignation was forced by a public recognition of that fact.
Of note, despite KGIA's former principal's dissembling over and apparent initial endorsement of violent jihad, she remains on the DOE payroll, in what capacity remains unclear, since the DOE refuses to return phone calls and email inquiries from journalists. Given Mr. Klein's less than forthright actions regarding the school, the possibility that Almontaser will carry on a stealth advisory role to KGIA is not beyond possibility
Almontaser's resignation letter displays the same self-righteous sense of victimhood and persecution that has marked her public statements since 9/11. That this document is also infused with rage is obvious.
"...Unfortunately, a small group of highly misguided individuals has launched a relentless attack on me because of my religion. They have used my religion as the pretext to undermine the Academy and have taken my words out of context to distort my record and portray me as something that I am not. They have not succeeded, of course. The Academy will open as scheduled...in the face of these unprecedented attacks, and the love of my family, they did not bother me. However, their intolerant and hateful tone has come to frighten some of the parents and incoming students. I have grown increasingly concerned that these few outsiders will disrupt the community of learning when the Academy opens its doors on September 4th...The small group of fear mongers who used hate and prejudice to try to derail the Academy are on the wrong side of history. New York is bigger than that; America is fairer than that."
These parting shots, characterizing opponents of KGIA as being "intolerant" and "hateful" are typical of the way that Islamists brand critics as enemies and Islamophobes, as is her outlandish and unsupportable allegation that the parents of incoming students have something to fear from its critics.
By employing the politics of personal destruction and vilification, Almontaser allies herself with groups such as CAIR, [the Saudi funded Hamas front group, named by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Hamas funding trial] which mounts similar campaigns of vilification, usually accompanied by legal intimidation. The goal in these attacks is to force dhimmitude on the part of critics.
How Almontaser dealt with KGIA's critics raises more questions about the nature of the school and in her absence, KGIA will still promote an ideology identical to that of its creator:
Teaching Arab supremacism and preaching a sense of victimhood brought on by the "racist" nature of American attitudes towards Muslims and Arabs. Denying that the 9/11 attacks were planned and carried out by Arab Muslims. Discouraging newly trained Arabic speakers from working with national security and counter-terrorism professionals; equating the use of Arabic speakers in breaking up domestic terror plots as "reeking" of "FBI tactics." Denying that Intifada means the killing of innocent Israeli civilians and refusing to deal honestly with jihad and Islamic terrorism. Presenting terror friendly groups as student role models and mandating that students enter internship programs with same.
In a recent interview with New York City University Trustee [and formerly employed in the FBI's foreign counter-intelligence division] Jeffrey Wiesenfeld spoke pointedly as to the disingenuousness of the Islamists public statements and highlighted the need to hold all members of society to the same standard.
"It points to the larger issue, the disingenuousness, sadly of so many Muslims who try to represent their cause in public...they would argue for different definitions of Intifada, different definitions of jihad, much in the same way that Arafat used to do" [source http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=wiesenfeld81007%2Ehtm]
Intifada and its more all-encompassing theological partner - jihad - means exactly what we all think it does, a religious countenancing of the wholesale slaughter of those deemed unbelievers by adherents of a virulent ideology called radical Islam.
Whereas jihad is global, Intifada is local and because of that it's mistaken to see it as simply a war against the Jews or against Israel because it is part of a larger movement whose ultimate target is the entire Western world "Jews and Crusaders" in al-Qaeda's many declarations of war.
With Almontaser gone KGIA's "lead partner," the Arab American Family Support Center [AAFSC] will step to the fore, a private organization with ties to radical Islamic groups and individuals. AAFSC's head, Lena Alhusseini a Palestinian activist who holds the same controversial views as those of Almontaser, and who has similar associations with the same radical Islamists as does the former principal, see MilitantIslamMonitor.org - Dhabah Almontaser & Lena Alhusseini, Arab American Family Support Center Joins with Khalil Gibran School to Promote Islamism
Those views will be represented in the classroom via KGIA's internship partner the American Muslim Association of Lawyers [AMAL] whose relationship with New York chapter of CAIR [above described] Executive Director Omar Mohammedi is so close that Mohammedi owns AMAL's web domain. [see PipeLineNews.org - Brooklyn's Khalil Gibran Madrassah Will Function As Jihad Recruitment Center]
Because of the way Almontaser designed KGIA's pedagogy it no longer requires her presence to fulfill its mission.
According to the KGIA Executive Summary - A Day in the life of a KGIA student written by Dhabah Almontaser:
"Although KGIA offers a wide variety of enrichment elective in the arts, sports and technology beginning at 3:30 Fatin [the fictitious Arabic speaking Yemeni student] has chosen an elective on Human Rights. This class is being taught by one of the school's full time teachers along with an Arab American lawyer. She can't wait till the end of the semester , when one of the collaborationg organizations ,the American Muslim Association of Lawyers will offer students internships at their members law offices for a semester." [source p 19 of KGIA Executive Summary]
Besides having radical Muslim lawyers teaching Islamist activism, questions arise over how Arabic will be taught in the school, we do note that AAFSC will be providing Arab language teachers of possibly questionable merit for at least two years until the DOE can take this function over.
It seems an unreasonable proposition to assume that the AAFSC, an Islamist organization will refrain from selecting Arab language teachers with a similar agenda involving historical revisionism.
According to Middle East expert Daniel Pipes, the teaching of Arabic is fraught with political and religious overtones.
Arabized students show decidedly greater support for the Islamist movement and greater mistrust of the West. Arabized students tend to repeat the same simplistic stories and rumors that abound in the Arabic-language press, particularly Al-Munqidh, the newspaper of the Islamic Salvation Front. They tell about sightings of the word "Allah" written in the afternoon sky, the infiltration into Algeria of Israeli women spies infected with AIDS, the "disproving" of Christianity on a local religious program, and the mass conversion to Islam by millions of Americans. I was not the only one to notice this distinction. When asked if the new, Arabized students differed from the other students, many students and faculty answered an emphatic yes.
Coffman also find a similar trend in other Arabic-speaking countries: because Arabs draw so close a connection between classical Arabic and the faith of Islam, Arabization invariably leads to an identification with the (supranational) Islamic religious tradition. Even the most secular Arab nationalists (such as the Ba'thist variants in Syria and Iraq) must appeal to Islamic symbolism to bolster sagging legitimacy and to mobilize the masses (as Saddam Husayn did in his wars against Iran and the U.S.-led coalition). Hence, Arab nationalism has, however inadvertently, contributed to the rise of Islamism. Indeed, today's Islamist surge is the natural, perhaps inevitable consequence of the Arab nationalist policies of thirty years ago." http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/731
Of continued concern, all three of the Muslim clerics on KGIA's advisory board desire to see the imposition of shari'a, Islamic law.
Imam Shamsi Ali: Runs the Muslim Center of New York in Queens madrassah in which young students forego regular schooling to study only Koran recitation. Because of this he is likely violating state laws governing truancy. [source http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/16/nyregion/16koran.html?ex=1313380800&en=bfd66b91de7a7870&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss] Imam Al Hajj Talib Abdur Rashid is the Deputy Amir of the Majlis Ash Shura Council [the Muslim religious council which governs according to shari'a] and is a member of the National Committee to Free Imam Jamil Abdullah Al Amin aka "H. Rap Brown," a convicted cop killer. [source http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3049] Imam Khalid Latif: NYU and NYPD chaplain who wrote a letter to the head of the university which was a demand for religiously based censorship accompanied by a thinly disguised threat of violence over the planned showing of the controversial Danish cartoons. [source http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2910]
Now that Almontaser is gone, the educational architecture she created at KGIA looms menacingly, no longer obscured by the controversy surrounding her extremism and her doublespeak.
Sectarian schools of this type are problematic at best, however when they are combined with such a clear infrastructure - in this case an Intifada-structure - designed to supplant education with indoctrination they become threats, a clear and present danger.
In a parallel development, members of Brooklyn's radical Muslim community met last evening at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge organizing a boycott demanding censorship of the New York Post and the Sun because for their criticism of the school.
[Note: Aaron "Ari" Halberstam, a 16-year-old rabbinical student was gunned down on the Brooklyn Bridge on March 1, 1994 by Rashid Baz, a congregant at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge.
On that day, Baz went to the mosque with a friend where they heard delivered an inflammatory sermon by the then imam Moufaq, who claimed during his sermon that "this takes the mask off of the Jews. It shows them to be racist and fascist as bad as the Nazis. Palestinians are suffering from the occupation and it's time to end it." After the sermon Baz, "took two of the guns that he usually kept in the trunk of his car and moved them to the front seat of his car. The two guns were the weapons that he used in the shooting." [source New York Sun, For Ari Halberstam, http://www.nysun.com/article/28767]
Monday evening's meeting at the Bay Ridge mosque was reported by www.arabisto.com to have been organized by the Arab American Yemeni Association [on whose board sits Dhabah Almontaser and whose VP is Almontaser's husband, Naji], Arab Women Active in Arts and Media [AWAAM, the group which sold the "Intifada NYC" t-shirts] and the Arab American Association. [As noted by Dr. Daniel Pipes, the association between the shirt slogans and violent rebellion is overwhelming, "Awaam is the colloquial Arabic pronunciation for qawwam, which translates as rebels or insurgents. And the word qawwam is written in Arabic script on the T-shirt." [source, http://www.danielpipes.org/blog/731]
Almontaser has a close working relationship with Linda Sarsour, a radical Islamist activist and Hamas sympathizer, with a power base in Bay Ridge. Sarsour is the director of the Arab American Association of New York and she along with Almontaser are board member of the AAA's Dialogue Project and Sarsour is the Co-Chair of the Dialogue Project's Interfaith Events program.
Informed sources tell us that an atmosphere of rage over Almontaser's ouster permeated the meeting, which was dominated by Muslim as opposed to Arab, political interests.
Many of the participants were extremely upset over the actions of Mayor Bloomberg. They also took exception to KGIA's just appointed interim principal, Danielle Salzberg an Orthodox Jew, apparently solely on the basis of her religious affiliation.
At one point during the meeting, the editor of a local Muslim publication ranted against "Zionists."
This is the type of intolerance that will be KGIA's stock-in-trade, an agendized "social activism" that will gestate into militant thuggery, taught by elements of the community whose primary loyalty is to shari'a, who reject even such basic American ideas as freedom of the press.
Joel Klein's appointment of Ms. Salzberg should be seen as an affront to anyone concerned about the opening of this Arab-centric public school, which already has a notorious reputation. Salzberg's appointment must be seen is a blatant effort to deceptively manipulate the public debate in this matter, using Judaism as if it were nothing but an emotion laden public relations device.
The DOE's actions in this case have been disingenuous in the extreme and along with Chancellor Klein's extremely poor judgment, add another powerful reason as to why KGIA must never be allowed to open. http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=kgia81307.htm
MIM: More proof of the radical support behind KGIA and Almontaser: The pro Saddam Al Qaeda linked website uruk.net put out an Action Alert about the KGIA and reprinted an open letter by RAWI-the Radius of Arab American Writers.
ACTION ALERT: A Zionist to head the first Arabic School in NY
August 17, 2007
This must be the one of the worst jokes I've heard, ever… [Hat tip: Akram Awad]
NY's 1st Arabic School Occupied by a Zionist Principal!
1 - Write to Joel Klein, the NYC Department of Education Chancellor, expressing your disgust at his department's decision
Use this link http://schools.nyc.gov/webforms/chancellormessage.aspx
(FYI, Klein is the same person who banned the director of Columbia University's Middle East Institute, Professor Rashid Khalidi, from participating in a NYC school teachers' training on the Middle East because of his criticism of Israel, and the one who approved a curriculum that grants graduate credit to NYC teachers who take a 30-hour course of study on Israel, written by the Israeli Consulate.
2- Call the NYC Department of Education and speak to the Chancellor about it
Tel No. (718) 935-2000
3- Most importantly, EMAIL & CALL DEBBIE ALMONTASER AND SHOW HER YOUR SUPPORT
Debbie contacts are:
:: Article nr. 35433 sent on 17-aug-2007 22:28 ECT
August 20, 2007
The Radius of Arab American Writers Inc. (RAWI) has just issued the following statement regarding the FORCED resignation of a Muslim school principal of New York City's first Islamic High School.... and replaced by a zionist.
Please read it and circulate it on your blogs.
RAWI Statement on Debbie Almontaser
Written by RAWI
RAWI Urges the City of New York to Reinstate Debbie Almontaser RAWI, the Radius of Arab American Writers, is concerned by the recent "resignation" of Debbie Almontaser from New York City's Khalil Gibran International Academy, a public school devoted to Arabic language and culture.
Almontaser generated public controversy when she was spotted by a reporter wearing a tee-shirt with the phrase "Intifada NYC" at an event sponsored by Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media. Both the event and the organization are unrelated to the Gibran Academy. As Almontaser attempted to explain repeatedly, the shirt is not in any way an endorsement of violence; "the word basically means 'shaking off,'" she noted.
Almontaser was subjected to vicious and factually unsubstantiated attacks by neoconservative media and commentators such as Daniel Pipes, who published sensationalistic articles entitled "A Madrassa Grows in Brooklyn" and "Stop the NYC Madrassa." ("Madrassa" merely means "school" in Arabic.) Rupert Murdoch's New York Post dubbed Almontaser "the Initifada Principal" and ran an editorial under the title "What's Arabic for Shut It Down?" Amid the brouhaha, Randi Weingarten, the president of Almontaser's union, The United Federation of Teachers, took a public stand in opposition to Almontaser.
Almontaser, an Arabic-speaking Yemeni immigrant, is the founding principal of the school and is a veteran public school teacher. Because of the intense pressure, she was advised to resign as principal of the Academy; Mayor Michael Bloomberg accepted her resignation and swiftly replaced her with Danielle Salzberg, a non-Arabic-speaking American Jew; according to The Post, Salzberg is "an ardent Zionist who considered moving to Israel."
RAWI views this intense pressure and Almontaser's subsequent resignation as symptoms of pervasive anti-Arab racism in the United States through which nonviolent, workaday Arabic terms have been stigmatized with sinister, albeit nonsensical, connotations. We correspondingly view New York City's move to replace Almontaser with a non-Arab Zionist as a profound insult to the Arab American community. The clear message to the Arab American community is that we cannot undertake any of our own affairs without continuous public scrutiny and external bureaucratic supervision.
We have also learned that in moments of crisis the fear and loathing of Arabs will supersede the commonsensical need to exercise basic civil responsibility.
As a community of writers, scholars, and artists, RAWI is concerned about the consequences of the Almontaser imbroglio to the freedom of intellectual and cultural expression. If the City of New York can be cowed into taking action against a decorated principal who had done nothing other than wear a tee-shirt emblazoned with a cultural slogan, then groups whose purpose is to restrict public freedom will be inexcusably empowered. The effect of such groups on the Arab American community has already been substantial and has the potential to become pernicious.
Almontaser was the victim of a sensationalistic and premeditated media attack. She was then the victim of cowardice by her union and employers. RAWI urges the City of New York to reinstate her forthwith as principal of the Gibran Academy, a position from which she had no legitimate reason to resign.
MIM:AWAAM the makers of the "INTIFADA NYC" T-shirts printed this letter from the Center for Immigrant Families which justified the intifada.
Letter Writing Anyone?
Letter CIF sent to UFT President Randi Weingarten
We are deeply disappointed and upset by your statements in opposition
to Debbie Almontaser. We believe your statements have played a role
in furthering the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism that pervades and infects
Aside from everything else that points to the racist nature of this
whole incident, do you not know that in most parts of the world, the
word intifada connotes resistance to an unethical and illegal and brutal
occupation? It is not the word intifada that promotes violence or that
should be denounced; rather, what should be denounced is an occupation
that promotes violence and that made the intifada necessary.
And do you also not know that if principals were forced to resign for
making a statement that someone thought was insensitive or
inappropriate or stupid (which this was not), we'd likely have almost
no principals left in NYC?
Finally, as you know, New York City has one of the most inequitable
and discriminatory school systems in the country--one that has grossly
under-served low income and families of color. It is our view that we
should be doing everything possible to support, not destroy efforts to
strengthen schools that promote critical thinking and a concern for
the world around us and that reflect, respect, and serve our many
You are certainly entitled to your personal views on this matter, but
you represent the teachers of this city and need to be held
accountable for your public statements and positions. For the sake of
the children of our city and for a commitment to fighting racism and
injustice, we urge you to make a public apology for your comments that
helped lead to the resignation of Debbie
Center for Immigrant Families
New York City
MIM: Adem Carroll a spokesman for ICNA (an Al Qaeda linked group which also funds Hamas) is head of the Muslim Consultative Network where Almontaser sits on the board. He threatens violence if Arab demands are not met.
To the editor,
It is truly deplorable that the Department of Education has forced out Debbie Almontaser from the Gibran Academy, a project she helped to initiate. Sadly, Debbie was smeared in the media and hounded from her job because she defined the meaning of "intifada" accurately as "throwing off oppression," while also clearly indicating that she opposes violence. Apparently that is not good enough for the powers that be here in New York City.
Almontaser's statement was hardly incorrect — defining the Arabic meaning of "intifada" is what educators do. Moreover, Debbie was clear in her condemnation of violence. The city has completely failed in objectivity in this matter. Instead, schools Chancellor Joel Klein blamed the victim, who is clearly Almontaser.
The extreme right has consistently attacked the Gibran Academy. By giving in to such negative forces, the city has taught a terrible lesson to the students and families.
As a colleague active with Debbie in interfaith dialogue, I know I am not alone in currently reassessing the merits of dialogue and civic engagement. Debbie is very well known for her interfaith work on the grassroots level in Brooklyn.
If New York is remain an open, tolerant and vital city, we cannot allow leaders to be harassed and hounded. You will find yourself with a deeply alienated generation of Arabs and Muslims, a dangerous situation not easily remedied.
Adem Carroll, The Bronx
The writer is head of the Muslim Consultative Network
MIM: In 2002 CAIR and Michael Feinberg a KGIA supporter participated a "peace" event which included Lynn Stewart the lawyer of Omar Abdul Rahman who had been indicted for smuggling out fatwas from the terror leader calling for the killing of Jews and to deadly attacks on non Muslim tourists in Egypt.
June 6, 2002
New York City ReportThe event was moved indoors because of the threat of rain - and did it pour, with thunder and lightning!!! Out in Washington Square Park (our original location), soaked but dedicated stilt walkers from Circus Amok and others on the ground waving globe flags got out the Not In Our Name message, talked to people and directed them to Judson Memorial Church nearby, a church with a long history of being at the center of progressive activity. The event was well publicized thanks to WBAI (the local Pacifica radio station) and a dedicated outreach crew, so when the doors opened at 5:30, people poured in. More then 400 people participated in the kick-off event. There was a great feeling of a growing community of resistance against this war, and people were moved and inspired by a powerful program. A beautiful 9-foot banner with a globe and the words "War on the World? Not In Our Name!" decorated the stage. The crowd was welcomed by Rev. Peter Laarman, Senior Minister, Judson Memorial Church. The program, MC'd by Not In Our Name organizers Reecha and Miles, was divided into two sections: vivid exposures about the war & repression, and a concluding section where the Pledge was recited by everyone followed by short statements from a diverse group of people about why they had taken the Pledge. Speakers included Tom Koutsoukos from the International Solidarity Movement, who was recently deported from Israel for attempting to bring food into the Church of the Nativity during the recent siege; Paul Rehm, a volunteer with Voices in the Wilderness, who talked about his trip to Iraq and the human cost of sanctions; Arshad Majid from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), NY spoke about how the Muslim community in America has been affected by 9/11; Robina Niaz, Not In Our Name organizer and a Pakistani Muslim, spoke about her fears regarding the threat of war between India and Pakistan and how " the U.S. government's war on terrorism has unleashed terror around the world." Jeremy Glick, editor of the book, Another World is Possible and whose father was killed in the 9/11 attacks, spoke out against the government's use of his father's memory to wage war on the world; women from South Asians Against Police Brutality and Racism did a powerful performance based on testimonies from people who are being detained; Syed Ali, a Pakistani man with a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice and a U.S. resident for 20 years, described his 105 days as a detainee at Riker's Island. Mary Lou Greenberg, a national organizer for Not In Our Name, talked about the history of the Not In Our Name project; Molly Klopot from Women's International League for Peace & Freedom and a Not In Our Name organizer, put the need to resist in a historical context and stressed "the patriotic duty to dissent." Leslie Cagen, interim head of Pacifica Network, expressed her confidence that "we can learn from our own history and we can learn from our sisters and brothers all around the world and actually we can stop this madness." Lynne Stewart, people's attorney, spoke out against her recent indictment by John Ashcroft. D'Lo, Brian Buño and Fawzia A. Khan also performed, and DJ Flood provided beats throughout the evening. A statement was read from Michael Ratner, Vice President of The Center for Constitutional Rights. The program culminated in a moving Pledge ceremony as representatives of organizations, religious figures, Lynne Stewart, Jeremy Glick, and others took the stage together. Kamal Taha, a 12-year-old Palestinian, introduced the need for the Pledge by speaking "for the children of the world" who also suffer from U.S. policies and about the hurt he feels being Arab in this country right now. He recited sections of the Pledge and told the crowd that he also feels that he can look to a different future, that another world is possible. Laura from the Kent State Anti-War Committee (and who came to NYC to help with national Not In Our Name coordination leading up to June 6) was fired up as she proclaimed: "All right! Is it all right? No it's not all right; people are dying and suffering around the world, but we're all here and this is a great start!" She led the auditorium in a recitation of the Pledge, which was followed by a chorus of voices each giving their personal reasons for having taken the Pledge. These voices included Rev. Earl Kooperkamp from St. Mary's Episcopal Church; Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater NY Labor-Religion Coalition; Juanita Young, whose son Malcolm Ferguson was killed by the NYPD; Arshad Majid from CAIR-NY, Lynne Stewart; representatives from Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Direct Action Network (DAN), the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, Women in Islam, South Asians Against Police Brutality & Racism, and New Yorkers Say No to War. Joe Urgo, of Vietnam Veterans Against the War - Anti-Imperialist read a statement from Plowshares peace activist Phillip Berrigan. Hearing all the diverse reasons why people were compelled to take the Pledge was incredibly powerful and raised everyone's sights about the potential for "Not In Our Name" to spread far and wide and become a powerful force in society against the war and repression. Much later Thursday night, some Not In Our Name organizers led a reading of the pledge on the subway on the way home. Everyone on the train seemed receptive and as they were passing out the pledge flyer, an Arab man looked up from his paper briefly and said, "Thanks for doing this." We all know that there are a great many people in this country who feel as we do, and we are determined to reach out to them. Endorsers included: Philip Berrigan, Ploughshares activist; Rev. Elizabeth A. Braddon, Park Slope United Methodist Church (Brooklyn); Brooklyn Parents for Peace; Brooklyn Heights Peace Action; DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving); Ethical Action Committee of the Brooklyn Ethical Culture Society; CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) – New York; Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Executive Director, Greater NY Labor-Religion Coalition*; Rev. Dr. James Fitzgerald, Minister for Mission and Social Justice, the Riverside Church*; Mary Lou Greenberg, Revolutionary Communist Party, NY Branch; Islamic Center of Long Island (Domestic Harmony Committee); Rev. Dr. Earl Kooperkamp, Pastor, St. Mary's Episcopal Church, West Harlem*; Rev. Peter Laarman, Senior Minister, Judson Memorial Church*; Ray Laforest, Organizer DC 1707, AFSCME, Haitian community activist;MADRE; National Lawyers Guild (National Office; New York City Direct Action Network (DAN); New York Coalition for Peace and Justice; New York Fellowship of Reconciliation; New York Taxi Workers Alliance); New Yorkers Say No to War; Network in Solidarity with the People of the Philippines (NISPOP); Pax Christi Metro New York; Peace Action of New York State; Refuse & Resist!; SAKHI for South Asian Women; Monica Santana, Latino Worker Center, National Coalition for Dignity and Amnesty for the Undocumented*; South Asians Against Police Brutality and Racism; Starhawk; Rev. Ian B. Straker, Member NY Annual Conference, The United Methodist Church*; SALAAM (South Asians League of Artists in America); Starhawk; Theater of the Oppressed Laboratory; Vieques Support Campaign; David Wildman, Exec Secretary, Human Rights & Racial Justice, Mission Contexts & Relationships, Genrl Bd of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church*; Women in Islam; Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, NY Metropolitan Branch (*for identification only)
-----------------------------------For Immediate Release August 23, 2007
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) on Debbie Almontaser's Resignation and the targeting of the Kahlil Gibran International Academy
As parents, students, teachers, New Yorkers, and Jews, we are outraged by the series of events that have culminated in Debbie Almontaser's resignation as principal of the Kahlil Gibran International Academy. We are particularly disturbed that Mayor Bloomberg, Joel Klein, the Chancellor of the Department of Education, and Randi Weingarten, the President of the United Federation of Teachers, bowed to right-wing pressure and did not strenuously resist and condemn the unjustified attacks on Ms. Almontaser, which fed on and fostered anti-Arab and anti-Muslim prejudice. We call for Debbie Almontaser to be reinstated to her position as principal if that is what she wishes, and for full support for the Kahlil Gibran International Academy.
After 9/11, Ms. Almontaser was a key partner with JFREJ on a series of community-building events to build greater understanding between Muslims and the broader community. She stood out to us in her fervent desire to learn about other communities and put forward a clear vision of a Muslim commitment to peace and justice for everyone.
In failing to strongly defend Ms. Almontaser, Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, and Ms. Weingarten have helped to undermine the Kahlil Gibran International Academy?s mission before it even opens and have contributed to the very problems it seeks to address. These actions also contributed to an atmosphere of fear among educators that weakens their ability to serve the children of New York City.
The Kahlil Gibran International Academy was created to teach Arab culture, Arabic, and Middle Eastern history. Since the announcement of the school?s opening in March of 2007, it has been repeatedly targeted by right-wing media outlets for scrutiny and criticism. Ms. Almontaser's ostensible offense, in responding to a question about the phrase "Intifada NYC" on a T-shirt made by Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media (AWAAM), was to seek to educate. This was a trick question posed by the New York Post. Ms. Almontaser responded honestly and thoughtfully, trying to keep the focus on the school that she and many others hope will increase mutual understanding within our diverse city. She should not have felt compelled to resign.
The tactics used to attack Ms. Almontaser have been used against members of every minority and/or oppressed group, including Jews, in one context or another. They bring to mind the way that prominent African-Americans are periodically pressed to respond publicly to remarks and opinions of other Blacks in a way that white public figures are never pressed. The objective is to create a political loyalty test that members of minority or oppressed groups may be required to pass at any moment or be subject to savage attack.
Those who exploit Middle East tensions to create and exacerbate suspicion in our city are enemies of New Yorkers of all ethnicities, nationalities and religions. We reject the effort by The Sun, the New York Post, and their allies to whip up hysteria by attacking Ms. Almontaser and, through her, the Kahlil Gibran International Academy. We reject their attempts to demonize language and limit the political discourse in public life. We are disturbed that the Mayor, Chancellor, and UFT president capitulated to their pressure. When a similar situation of anti-Arab race-baiting arose in the NYC Human Rights Commission, the Mayor stood by Commissioner Omar Mohammedi. We are disappointed that Mayor Bloomberg did not do the same in this situation.
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) urges Chancellor Klein to re-appoint Ms. Almontaser to her position as principal, if she wishes to be reinstated. We call on Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, and Ms. Weingarten to fully support the Kahlil Gibran International Academy and to work with Muslim and Arab communities and all communities in New York that to break down fear and ignorance, and to build bridges, in the manner that Debbie Almontaser and her colleagues are seeking to do.
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice engages Jews to pursue and win racial and economic justice in partnership with Jewish and allied people of color, low-income and immigrant communities in New York City. JFREJ's letter to Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Klein, and UFT President Weingarten is posted at www.jfrej.org.
Immediate Action Requested
1. SIGN Communities in Support of the Khalil Gibran Academy statement by visiting http://www.awaam.org/
Communities in Support of KGIA Statement in full:
As New Yorkers and others in support of quality public education for all of our communities, we stand in solidarity with the Khalil Gibran International Academy, which has sustained hateful and false attacks by anti-Arab media and extremists. In the post-9/11 world, a school educating our children about Arab history, culture, and language is not only crucial for the next generation to become informed leaders for positive change in our communities; it is also an extraordinary place of hope for peace, understanding, and justice for our embattled world. We regret that Debbie Almontaser was unfairly pressured to resign from her position as principal due to the attacks, and we applaud her work to establish this school and promote intercultural exchange in this diverse global city.
Those who seek to equate the study of Arabic language, culture, and history with religious fanaticism and violence are irresponsibly aggravating a present moment of hysteria against Arab and Muslim communities, and are using this moment to promote hatred in a time of war. We urge our public officials to reject these racist and inaccurate attacks, and continue to work towards building a lasting educational institution that promises to bring our communities together, rather than divide and pit them against each other. We call on all communities who want to see peace on our streets and in our world to stand with us in support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
2. PARTICIPATE in a Peaceful Demonstration in support of KGIA.
What: Peaceful Demonstration in Support of KGIA
When: Monday, August 20, 2007 at 6 p.m.
Where: NYC Department of Education, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers Street
Between Broadway & Centre St. in Manhattan
Subways: 4, 5, 6, N, R, W, M, J, 2, 3, A
Sponsors: Arab Resource and Organizing Center, San Francisco, CA; AWAAM: Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media; Brown Memorial Baptist Church Center for Immigrant Families; Council on American-Islamic Relations–NY; Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition; Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ); Muslim Consultative Network; WFD Program Steering Committee at First Unitarian Congregational Society of Brooklyn
Organizational Endorsers: Adalah-NY: Coalition for Justice in the Middle East; The African American Islamic Institute (AAII); Brecht Forum; Brooklyn For Peace (formerly Brooklyn Parents for Peace); Ethical Action Committee of the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture; Independent Commission on Public Education; Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, Brooklyn; Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Oakland Chapter; Peoples MEDIA Center; Sunset Park Alliance of Neighbors; WESPAC Foundation
CAIR, America's largest Islamic civil liberties group, has 33 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
CONTACT: CAIR-NY Civil Rights Coordinator Aliya Latif, Tel: 212-870-2002 or 732-429-4268
This item is available on the Militant Islam Monitor website, at http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/3097