Home      |      Weblog      |      Articles      |      Satire      |      Links      |      About      |      Contact

Militant Islam Monitor > Articles > Khalil Gibran School Arabic public school with clerical advisory board must be shut down as religious school

Khalil Gibran School Arabic public school with clerical advisory board must be shut down as religious school

May 8, 2007

Khalil Gibran Joel Klein Must Keep Promise And Shut Down Religious School


By Beila Rabinowitz and William A. Mayer

May 7, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In response to mounting evidence that the proposed Khalil Gibran International Academy [KGIA] will become a madrassah, Joel Klein, Chancellor of the New York Department of Education made the following statement at a press conference held early last week:

"If any school became a religious school, as some people say Khalil Gibran would be, or it became a national school, in the sense that it really wasn't an American public school, I would shut it down," said Klein. "I promise you that." [source http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=9&aid=69409]

Spokeswoman Melanie Meyer echoed her boss' comments:

"This school is not a tool for political or religious ideology...and we'll close it if it shows any indication that that's what it will become." [source http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/06/news/letter.php]

Pending such "proof," the NY Department of Education is looking for a new home for KGIA since parents raised objections to its presence in P.S. 282.

With an Islamist principal, terror tied Imams on its advisory board and an Arabist agenda KGIA is the definition of a madrassah. Scrapping the school immediately seems the prudent course of action rather than allowing such a misguided, dangerous and publicly funded project to go forward.

KGIA's students will be instructed in Arabic and those chiefly responsible for promoting the school are hard core Islamists - who along with their leftist sympathizers - have constructed a business model based upon addressing exaggerated claims of discrimination against Arab/Muslim Americans accompanied by demands for entitlements.

The school's principal designate is Dhabah Almontaser.

Almontaser is a 9/11 denier, speaking to a group of sixth graders in Brooklyn's PS 51 Almontaser stated, "I don't recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims."

She also believes that American foreign policy was responsible for the 2001 attacks:

"Today I believe that the terrorist attacks can have been triggered by the way the USA breaks its promises with countries across the world, especially in the Middle East and the fact that it has not been a fair mediator with its foreign policy." [source http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=almontaser41907%2Ehtm]

In an interview with National Public Radio on July 13, 2006 she likened the American response to 9/11 to that of totalitarian excess:

"right here in this community...we stated to see people literally disappearing....the police came and took them in the middle of the night and we were like what is going on..."

This confrontational mindset - "us against them" - breeds separatism, not integration and produces an environment in which radicalism will flourish.

Imam Shamsi [Syamsi] Ali is member of the KGIA advisory board. He cynically stated that "People are very much excited-very much encouraged by the school...After Sept. 11, Arab communities felt misunderstood . Such a school I think will show our good intentions."

Ali's idea of good intentions involves promoting jihad by groups like the al-Qaeda linked Islamic Circle of North America [ICNA] at whose conferences and youth camps [referred to, pre-9/11 as "jihad camps"] he lectures.

In 2006 Ali was one of the speakers at a Muslim Youth camp near Philadelphia together with Mazen Mokhtar of the masjid Al-Huda of New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Mokhtar, was accused of helping British al-Qaeda operative Babar Ahmad to create backup copies of the jihadist Azzam.com website. Court papers stated that the administrators of that website aimed to "solicit funds for blocked organizations, namely the Taliban and the Chechen Mujahideen, in an effort to support their goals."

The summer before the terrorist attacks of 9/11 ICNA held a Jihad Camp in Pennsylvania which one leader explained was "intended to "help them (the youth) understand what the concept of jihad really is."

At a 2000 ICNA event ICNA director Tayyab Yunus pleaded with the audience:

"The youth is very important...And we all want to see our youth succeed and become engineers, but how many of you can actually say you want to send your sons to Jihad-to Chechnya? [Takbir-Allua Akhbar] How many of you can actually say that you want to send your youth to fight in jihad…or to send them to these Islamic institutions to be educated? I'm sorry .Other than that, I honestly believe in my heart that this is the time, right now is the time." [source http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/2090]

The presence of Imam Ali on the KGIA advisory board is further proof that the school's agenda will have more in common with the type of "Islamic institutions" which ICNA director Tayyab Yunus urged Muslim parents to send their children to in preparation for jihad.

Imam Ali comes by his affinity for madrassah's naturally, he runs one:

"At the Muslim Center of New York, in Queens, boys aged from seven to 14 rock back and forth as they memorise the Koran. It is a scene from thousands of mosques in the Pakistan many of their families left - except this is the US, with a very American attitude at the top. The imam, Syamsi Ali..." [source http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5277732.stm]

Regarding the practice of instructing students in Arabic, Dr. Daniel Pipes explains:

"Evidence from Algeria also points to the impact of Arabic instruction, as documented in James Coffman's breakthrough 1995 article "Does the Arabic Language Encourage Radical Islam?" He compared Algerian students taught in French versus those taught in Arabic and found that 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." [source http://www.danielpipes.org/]

Dhabah Almontaser is also on the board of the Muslim Consultative Network along with Ali. Other members include Wissam Nasr, the former CAIR New York director who now runs the oxymoronically named Islamic Institute of Human Rights and Adem [aka Adam] Carroll of ICNA who is the MCN board chairman.

The MCN works in tandem with radical Islamist groups with terrorism ties such as ICNA/MAS, ISNA, CAIR and the MSA and will doubtless wield their influence on KGIA.

Mohammad Razvi [also an MCN board member] sensing an opportunity to promote Islamism, has become a vocal defender of KGIA, predictably he has announced that his 11 year-old son will be in attendance.

Razvi heads COPO [Council of Pakistan Organization/Council of People's Organization] which recently championed the case of an illegal alien taxi driver who is being deported after stating his opinion of President Bush, "he's an asshole. If I had a gun I'd shoot him."

On the criticism of KGIA and Almontaser Razvi states, "It's just outrageous…It is not fair for anyone to make such negative remarks because the school is going to be teaching Arabic as a language. She's a person who brings communities together and makes them understand and works on peace."

Presumably, Razvi's explanation that Almontaser "makes them understand" is a reference to her da'wa efforts. His statement to a reporter, that he thinks his group is under surveillance because of its activities, should come as no surprise.

By its very organizing principles KGIA will promote an Arab centric, separatist viewpoint and an Islamist religious agenda, the two criteria by which Mr. Klein and Ms. Meyer have stated should result in the proposed institution's demise.

Additionally a "public" school with an advisory board consisting of nine clerics out of ten would in more normal times raise a public outcry against the mixing of church and state matters.

Everything about KGIA screams madrassah because the political and religious agendas of its members indicate that the institution will be about indoctrination not education. Instead of looking for a new location for the school, Mr. Klein should keep his promise and "shut it down."


MIM: Shamsi Ali's Queens madrassa was profiled by the BBC in an article about Muslims in the U.S. post 9/11. For Ali 9/11 provided many new opportunities for spreading Islam and recruiting converts.


Community's role Just as individual Muslims have re-examined their lives, so have communities. At the Muslim Center of New York, in Queens, boys aged from seven to 14 rock back and forth as they memorise the Koran.
Imam Shamsi Ali Imam Syamsi Ali believes Muslims have opened up since 9/11

It is a scene from thousands of mosques in the Pakistan many of their families left - except this is the US, with a very American attitude at the top. The imam, Syamsi Ali, says he wants to bind people to the US, training young people who he hopes will become leaders in the law, medicine or engineering. Since 11 September, Muslims in New York have become much more outgoing, he thinks. "I used to attend meetings of the imams' council and I used to find many imams who were very, very unfriendly towards others. But after 11 September, they started realising that we need to open ourselves," he said. "Before 11 September it was not easy to receive interfaith leaders in the mosques because of the perceptions - some Middle Eastern perception - that mosques are for Muslims only. "But after 11 September, that changed. The mosque was opened, we organised many interfaith seminars, meetings where we reached out to the people."


MIM: KGIA advisory board member Khader El- Yateem is the reverend of the Salam Lutheran Church in Brooklyn. In 2002 he incurred the ire of the ADL's director Abe Foxman for his comments in a PBS program about Arabs in America. Foxman was so appalled by El -Khateem's anti Israel diatribe that he demanded his segment be pulled. In 2007 ADL head Joel Levy wrote a letter to the New York Sun expressing support for KGIA and Dhabah Almontaser.


Letters to the Editor
The New York Sun
May 7, 2007

To the Editor:

The recent controversy over the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, set up to teach Arabic language and culture in addition to the usual courses, has unleashed unfounded attacks against the NYC Department of Education's new high school, accusing it of being a madrassa and a haven for Islamic extremism ("A Madrassa Grows in Brooklyn," April 24 and "Madrassa Plan Is Monstrosity," May 1).

These attacks have also been personally directed at KGIA's principal, Debbie Almontaser. The Anti-Defamation League has a long history of working with Ms. Almontaser through our anti-bias workshops.

Through joint coalition work in Brooklyn against hate crimes, she has demonstrated her support for the civil liberties of all people. She is deeply committed to creating an inclusive learning environment that embraces the unparalleled diversity in New York City.

To help support this goal, we are in discussion with Ms. Almontaser about implementing our A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute anti-bias training in KGIA.

The school's Arabic language requirement, combined with conflict resolution and international diplomacy training, opens the possibility of creating a well informed generation of leaders.

The Khalil Gibran International Academy is just one of several in the New York City school system devoted to teaching a specific language and culture; the others include Russian, French, Spanish, and Japanese.

These schools are open to all students and those who choose to attend can be enriched by the added dimension.


Joel J. Levy
New York Regional Office

MIM response to ADL letter:

To the Editor, In his letter to the Sun "In Defense of Brooklyn School" [5/7/07] Joel Levy, head of the ADL's New York office, voices support for the Khalil Gibran International Academy and its principal, Dhabah Almontaser. But Almontaser has stated that she wears Islamist garb to be "a role model for young women across the city." Given the ADL's guidelines regarding "religious neutrality" [BJ add link] in public schools, one wonders if Mr Levy is not a tad inconsistent here. To be more precise, those guidelines state that "If a teacher's religious views become the subject of discussion, the teacher must make it clear that she is in no way encouraging students to adopt those views." Also the KGIA has an advisory board made up of 12 clerics - and this too violates the ADL's own rules. "Public schools must maintain religious neutrality … To this end, teachers may not participate in religious activities or advocate particular religious views when they are teaching or counseling students or acting as representatives of the school" Finally, Mr. Levy appears to have forgotten that one of the KGIA's advisory board members, Rev. Khader N. El Yateem, was the subject of a protest by ADL national director Abe Foxman, who demanded that El Yateem's segment in a PBS documentary be pulled due to his Israel bashing. "The profile of Minister Khader El-Yateem, who considers his homeland Palestine, was nothing more than a diatribe against Israel …we were shocked, outraged and felt misled by PBS. Caught in the Crossfire is not what it claims to be and, therefore, we urge you not to replay it." Mr. Levy has asserted that the ADL plans to implement its "anti bias" training at the KGIA. If so, will their first order of business be to remove Khader N. El Yateem from the school's advisory board? -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Aramica website with ADL cover story and Almontaser "Zionist Organisation supports Gibran School Principal"ADL support could affect school's success" (pages 4 and 6) which quotes Khader Al Yateem on the ADL


Quote from Khader El Yateem

"The pastor of the Salam church and a KGIA board member responded:
"I am not sure what kind of relationship they have (Almontaser and the ADL) and how that relationship is defined.If that relationship is friendship that's one thing. But to interfere in our business, and the way in which we are trying to conduct business to make us look good in front of the American meida. I don't think that it is fair to our community. My experience with the Anti -Defamation League is a bad experience".

MIM note:According to the Aramica article by editor Antoine Faisal it was the ADL's interfaith poster girl herself Dhabah Almontaser who appointed El Yateem to the KGIA advisory board

"....Imagine father El Yateem's surprise when he found out had put him on the KGIA Board of Trustees before consulting him."

(MIM:If this is true one wonders why El Yateem has not officially repudiated the KGIA advisory board and how Antoine Faisal came to write of a Board of Trustees).

MIM:The ADL vs Khader El Yateem and PBS:

The flap over "Caught in the Crossfire" reversed the traffic pattern between media. Instead of TV steering viewers to the Web, the website controversy drew viewers to the broadcast Sept. 4.

Foxman of the ADL objected to the documentary's profile of Pastor Khader El-Yatteem in a Sept. 4 letter to PBS's John Wilson, co-chief programmer. Foxman described the profile as a "nothing more than a diatribe against Israel" that was irrelevant to its stated objective of examining the impact of Sept. 11. He asked PBS not to broadcast it again.

The producers followed Pastor El-Yatteem as he ministered to his congregation of Arab-American Christians, many of whom lost relatives in the World Trade Center, and counseled his parents, who wanted to return to the West Bank as fighting there escalated. In a written response, producers respectfully disagreed with Foxman, and Wilson backed them in a Sept. 11 letter to the ADL.

". . . 'Caught in the Crossfire' is a sound program, especially as part of our programming that is meant to bring diverse--and sometimes controversial--points of view to broadcast television," Wilson wrote.


Mr. John F. Wilson
Senior VP, Co-Chief Programming Executive
1320 Braddock Place
Alexandria, VA 22314
September 6, 2002
Dear Mr. Wilson:

At the time we communicated our concern about a section on the PBS web page providing background for Caught in the Crossfire, which clearly was flawed and slanted, and was removed from the Web site, we had not seen the program. Last night we did when it aired on New York's public station WNET-13.

We expected to see a program dealing with the impact of 9/11 on three New York Arab Americans, which was how the program was promoted. Only one of the three profiles, that of Police Officer Ahmed Nasser, fit that bill. The other two were profiles on Arab Americans whose stories dealt with their personal lives, with minimal reference to the impact of 9/11.

Indeed, the profile of Minister Khader El-Yateem, who considers his homeland Palestine, was nothing more than a diatribe against Israel and completely out of place in a program purporting to deal with the after effects of 9/11. As were the many viewers who communicated with us, we were shocked, outraged and felt misled by PBS.

Caught in the Crossfire is not what it claims to be and, therefore, we urge you not to replay it.


Abraham H. Foxman
National Director

cc: Laura Nichols
Vice President, Communications


Minister: Khader El-Yateem was born in the West Bank town of Beit Jala in 1968. As a young man he worked as an activist and youth leader at Reformation Lutheran Church and was a student at bible college. When he was 20 years old, Israeli soldiers surrounded his family home and took him to prison despite the fact that he was never accused or charged with any crimes. He was detained, interrogated, and tortured several times that year. In 1989, after being held captive for 55 days, Khader spent months recuperating from his wounds. He married Grace, an Arab American woman, in 1992. In 1996, he finished theological studies and was ordained into the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He's an outsider among outsiders – a Christian Arab. But since September 11 his Salam Arabic Lutheran Church has become a haven for Brooklyn Arabs, Christian and Muslim alike. They turn to him for help after losing relatives at the World Trade Center, after being harassed, after losing their jobs. ... And all the while, the minister is carrying his own burden. Each day he phones to Palestine and turns on the TV to talk to his family as he watches Israeli forces bombard their (his) village. To complicate matters, his parents, who have been visiting, want to return home to Beit Jala, which is occupied by Israel. Khader thinks it's unsafe for them to go back and he realizes that the financial burden will be greater on him if they return home. Khader desperately seeks peace both for his adopted country and his homeland and feels called to serve God in New York.

Printer-friendly version   Email this item to a friend