"There are, according to the Department of Education, 65 dual-language academies, featuring programs in Haitian Creole, Russian, Spanish and Mandarin, among others." (New York, source)
The Kahlil Gibran school was to be a dual-language academy, Arabic and English. A campaign against opening the school began immediately when the parents of the elementary school where it was first planned to be placed mounted a protest which resulted in moving the planned academy to the site of Brooklyn High School of the Arts. Score one for the protesters. The following is an example of letters of protest written:
The New York Sun ran two harsh columns criticizing the school, including one by Alicia Colon that invoked the specter of 9-11.
Colon charged that the city was “bending over backwards to appease those sympathetic to individuals who would destroy us again.” She asked, “During World War II, did we open a German public school to explain the Third Reich?”
“How delighted Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda must have been to hear the news — that New York City, the site of the worst terrorist attack in our history, is bowing down in homage to accommodate and perhaps groom future radicals,” Colon added.Of course, Daniel Pipes got in on the action also and just five days ago wrote this:
Stop the NYC Madrassa
When Dhabah "Debbie" Almontaser resigned as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy on August 10, her action culminated a remarkable grassroots campaign in which concerned citizens successfully criticized the New York City establishment. But the fight goes on. The next step is to get the academy itself canceled.........To reiterate my initial assessment in March, the KGIA is in principle a great idea, as America needs more Arabic speakers. In practice, however, Arabic-language instruction needs special scrutiny.
OK Mr. Pipes, you are saying that an Arabic-language school needs "special scrutiny". Everyone knows who you are Mr. Pipes, a Zionist racist bigot. Here is some information on Debbie Almontaser which needs to be told in light of your slander against her and the school itself:
Debbie Almontaser Debbie is a violence prevention and diversity consultant, who specializes in educating youth and adults about multicultural issues and conflict resolution. Presently, she is the New York City Department of Education's Coordinator of External Programs for Brooklyn public schools. Debbie designs and facilitates teacher and public workshops on conflict resolution, cultural diversity, and Islamic Arab culture at public schools, community organizations, Universities, and faith-based organizations throughout New York City. She presents regularly at local and national conferences.
Debbie has co-designed and developed a curriculum for Columbia University entitled Re-Embracing Diversity in NYC Public Schools: Educational Outreach for Muslim Sensitivity that engages students to develop interpersonal and intercultural understanding based on respect for ethnic and religious diversity. As with her workshops, Debbie's curricula help students to become more culturally sensitive and aware of bias and bigotry and how to combat such behaviors.
Debbie serves as chief consultant and advisor for Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. "Muslim American" Series, and the Independent Production Fund on the Islam Project (producers of Muslims and Legacy of a Man: Prophet Muhammad PBS Productions) She was also a member of the steering committee for A Community of Many Worlds: Arab-Americans at the Museum of the City of New York. Debbie is a board member of The Dialogue Project, a board advisor for the Same Difference Interfaith Alliance, and a cofounder of Brooklyn Bridges and the September 11th Curriculum Project.
Now Debbie has submitted her resignation and Mr. Pipes and others are out to make sure this school, a school I might add, if it were in my own neighborhood, I would have PROUDLY sent my own Arab/American daughter to. And who replaced Ms. Almontaser? A NON-ARABIC speaking Jewish woman who is a well-known Zionist. As Sabbah asks, is this some kind of joke?
ISLAM PROF IS ‘ZION’-HEARTED
By CHUCK BENNETT and JOHN MAZOR
New York Post - August 15, 2007
The new principal of the city’s controversial Arabic-themed school is an ardent Zionist who considered moving to Israel, according to her former Jerusalem roommate.
Today I received in my inbox the following request, PLEASE if you have a blog of your own, further this information:
Subj: RAWI Statement on Debbie Almontaser
Date: Sunday, August 19, 2007 7:31:00 PM
Please distribute and consider posting on your blogs.
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.
And from Sabbah's blog also:
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:
Phone: (001) 718-643-8000
This is just OUTRAGEOUS!