Sisters in Solidarity, Almontaser and O’Malley

     There is an interesting alliance between the left wing and those that promote Islamic values despite their severe ideological differences.  The end result is that we as Americans are told that America is an unkind country.  We are patronizingly informed that the U.S., the country of opportunity for all, the country that has brought freedom and prosperity to so many, must become multicultural in order to better ourselves.

     This scenario is playing out in Universities across the country and has filtered down to the K-12 public school system.  The following article explains this alliance as seen between members of the City University of New York (CUNY) and the supporters of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, New York.

 

Fantasizing “The New McCarthyism”

By Phil Orenstein
FrontPageMagazine.com | 5/26/2008

[http://frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/Printable.aspx?GUID=E0DE76AC-4424-4C76-8E88-2AEA34FF77D9]

After the lengthy front page tribute in the New York Times treating Deborah Almontaser, founder and former principle of the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), as the later day Mother Theresa, I thought the public forum she would be addressing later that evening, alongside her embattled sister in solidarity, City University of New York (CUNY) faculty union official Susan O’Malley, would be thronged by numerous admirers and reporters. But there were no such crowds or media. Wandering the endless corridors of the CUNY Graduate Center in Manhattan, I bumped into the panelists Susan O’Malley and Ms. Almontaser, who were just as lost as I was, looking for the classroom where the public forum, “Academic Freedom and the Attack on Diversity at CUNY,” was to be held.

A little more than 20 people including CUNY faculty, students as well as the speakers showed up. The poor attendance may be due to the fact that the CUNY Senate Forum email list received the announcement on Sunday after 10 PM, the day before the event.  I was the only person at this “public” forum sponsored by the Middle East Student’s Association (MESO), who attempted to speak up to dispute the cunning agenda and break through the monolithic conformity of the group. 

Billed as an important forum to address the issues of Islamophobia at CUNY, the email announcement stated:  “Around the country, Islamophobic and Anti-Arab attacks on professors have increased, most notably at Columbia and Barnard.  This movement to attack and discredit dissent has been called “the New McCarthyism” – shutting down reasoned debate on important issues….. Ms. Almontaser will appear on this panel along with CUNY Professor Susan O’ Malley and others working to expose the attack on academic freedom across the nation…There is some urgency here as these attacks are one tip of a vast ideological iceberg that is also threatening to impact the current election campaign.”

Although the issue of the “anti-Arab attacks” at Columbia and Barnard was not broached in the forum they were most likely referring to the recent public uproar of Columbia and Barnard alumni over the ill-advised tenure decision of Professor Nadia Abu El-Haj granted by virtue of her unimpressive scholarship of one book Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society based on flimsy evidence and hearsay, which purports that the historical origins of the State of Israel are fictitious.

What I witnessed was a closed forum dedicated to a veiled radical agenda, riddled by hysterical paranoia, name-calling, slanderous accusations against prominent scholars and city officials, and strategies for their ouster, where the panelists professed that “attacks” against Arabs and professors are a coordinated right wing smear campaign launched by Daniel Pipes, CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld and their ilk, which they dubbed the “New McCarthyism.” But Mr. Pipes and company whom they demonized with such venom, have simply exercised their First Amendment rights of critical journalism and free speech, civilly exchanging opinions and information in online magazine articles, speeches, op-eds and blogs, where all sides of the issues were often given a fair hearing in the media.

I was confused as to the reasons for their excessive paranoia. How are Pipes and company threatening their academic freedom?  The so-called “New McCarthyites” have been vociferous, no doubt, but they demonstrated nothing resembling the violent student mob attacks at Columbia University on Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist, because he expressed disagreeable views. Mr. Pipes and a few opinionated bloggers, including myself, are not U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy.  What is this “vast ideological iceberg” that is “threatening to impact the current election campaign” of which the so-called attacks on academic freedom are only the tip? Here now are the panelists, their background, some of their words and the answers to these questions.

Mona Eldahry: Founder and Director of AWAAM

One of the panelists, Mona Eldahry was a recent focus of the contentious media debate over the Arabic language public school in Brooklyn, the KGIA, and her relationship with its founder and former principle, Deborah Almontaser. KGIA is a dual-language public school focusing on Arabic language, culture and history that opened last fall in a storm of controversy and protests from parents and Brooklyn residents. Ms. Eldahry is the founding director of Arab Women Active in Arts and Media (AWAAM), who’s sponsoring organization, Yemeni American Association was founded and directed by Almontaser.

AWAAM is the Arab young women’s leadership group that marketed the inflammatory T-shirts with the slogan “Intifada NYC” that ultimately led to the resignation of Almontaser. Awaam is written on the T-shirts as quwwam in Arabic script which translates as rebel or insurgent.  Ms. Eldahry is active in the pro-Palestinian group, al-Awda. According to the Anti-Defamation League, al-Awda, whose T-shirt slogan is “Intifada! Palestine Will Be Free From the River to the Sea,” actively supports the terrorist groups, Hezbollah and Hamas, opposes Israel’s right to exist and openly demonstrates to promote boycott, divestment and the destruction of Israel in street rallies and academic conferences.

Ms. Eldahry described AWAAM’s initial activities protesting the unjust profiling, detentions and hate crimes against Arabs and Muslims in solidarity with Almontaser who joined together in demonstrations every Saturday at a detention center in Brooklyn. She vividly described the numerous “attacks” on AWAAM by tabloids and rightwing blogs. AWAAM was organized to give a voice to the voiceless in the Arab community. After 9/11 Arabs and Muslims had to hide their identities since they were the victims of numerous “attacks” for who they were. “Muslim haters” like Daniel Pipes and company now have the microphone and use the media as a tools. Arabs need to speak out louder than Pipes and his ilk who have the ear of Mayor Bloomberg which is why he and the Department of Education forced Deborah Almontaser out. She maligned Pipes and the Stop The Madrassa (STM) coalition as racist, anti-Muslim, anti-women, anti-black and anti-gay. He initiated the campaign of intolerance and anti-Muslim hatred aimed at closing KGIA.

I questioned her on the accuracy of her accusations, since Daniel Pipes is an Islamic scholar well known for his respect and defense of the majority of peaceful Muslims, often asserting that while radical Islam is the problem, moderate Muslims are the solution. She claimed Pipes wrote that the enfranchisement of the Muslim community in America is a serious problem for the Jewish people. When I tried asking for the source of such statements, I was curtly interrupted, and told “we have to move on now.”

Nevertheless, the cries of widespread Islamophobia are false alarms according to FBI data  which shows that hate crimes against Muslims have plummeted since 2001 and account for a fraction of overall religious hate crimes. In fact, in 2006, there were six times as many religiously motivated attacks on Jews as there were against Muslims in America, although Jewish and Muslim populations are about the same size. While American citizens are showing more tolerance and respect toward Muslims than any other religious group, Eldahry, Almontaser and other self-proclaimed champions of diversity are crying “Islamophobia” in response to reasonable questions and concerns about the spread and infiltration of radical Islam in our public schools and colleges. Meanwhile they hide their true agenda under the cloak of multiculturalism and diversity allowing intolerance and disrespect toward America and Israel to prevail in the classroom. As one panelist put it, “we don’t want to talk about Israel – the elephant in the middle of the room.”

Deborah Almontaser: Founder and Former Principle of KGIA

One of the featured panelists was Deborah Almontaser, who resigned as principle of KGIA after she stirred up controversy over her misleading explanation of the term “intifada” as “shaking off of oppression” in response to a reporter’s question about the inflammatory “Intifada NYC” slogan on the AWAAM organization’s T-shirts. She recently filed a lawsuit against the New York Department of Education and Mayor Bloomberg, charging that her First Amendment rights were violated when she was wrongfully forced to resign. A federal appeals court ruled that she will not be reinstated as principle and she is now appealing. In the words of a sympathetic anti-bigotry activist present at the forum, Almontaser is “a traditionalist-leaning Muslim and as such, has ties to the more fundamentalist Muslim groups,” thus apparently not a moderate Muslim as many supporters claim. Almontaser and the KGIA public school are enthusiastically supported by a number of radical individuals and Islamic groups such as AWAAM, CAIR — currently under federal investigation as an unindicted co-conspirator for terrorist financing, the American Muslim Association of Lawyers (AMAL) – which defended the notorious “6 imams” who threatened to sue passengers for profiling, cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, unrepentant former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, anti-Israel Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi, and others. Three radical Imams are on KGIA’s board of advisors composed of 12 Islamic, Jewish and Christian religious leaders. Almontaser has expressed virulent blame America attitudes in the past making statements in interviews such as: “I have realized that our foreign policy is racist; in the ‘war against terror’ people of color are the target….the terrorist attacks have been triggered by the way the USA breaks its promises with countries across the world, especially in the Middle East.”

In her talk, she described her activities for tolerance and understanding in the wake of the terrorist attacks on September 11th. She visited synagogues, churches and mosques lecturing on religious and cultural sensitivity, spreading the message that Islam is a religion of peace. In a post 9/11 world of anti-Muslim backlash and discrimination, she described the lack of understanding of what her people were faced with and her contributions to a “September 11th Curriculum Project” to alleviate the backlash and discrimination in the New York public school system, training teachers and students in cultural sensitivity. She spoke of the weekly protest efforts together with Mona Eldahry seeking justice for Arab and Muslim detainees some of whom “suffered abuses in the name of our country.”

She described how people lobbied and a movement was mobilized against the KGIA. Almontaser was the unfortunate victim of a movement by a “loud minority of voices” which she dubbed “McCarthyism of 2008.” One writer to the New York Times called this movement of Daniel Pipes, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld and company, “the thought police.” The moderator asked why this is happening to you, why are you so under attack? In answer, she described the role played by cultural tolerance and understanding in bridging the gap between East and West and opening doors to peace, so you don’t need war anymore. The purpose of KGIA is to create “ambassadors of peace and hope,” as the New York Times article mentioned. She said “the school is aiming to humanize the enemy” we’re supposed to be at war with. This is a threat to many people who claim that “we’re at war” and “we need to keep the war going” in order to thrive. “If you don’t have an enemy, you can’t keep Lockheed in business.” She clarified.

She further characterized her “attackers” as those who feel “we need to have an enemy, a bad guy.” What they find threatening is the whole notion of “learning the language and culture of people that we should be hating because we’re at war with them.” Members of the audience contributed to the theme that “this country is engaged in an imperial war and needs to build up an enemy.” Someone elaborated that conservatives, by the same token need to build an enemy on a smaller scale so they target local Muslims, Arabs and the KGIA, and Wiesenfeld lashes out at CUNY and public education, to fulfill their need for an enemy and someone to hate, in order to ultimately support the imperial war.

A little latter someone in the audience continued on this theme, mentioning that anyone who visits the Stop the Madrassa website will notice that they “subscribe to an extreme version of the ‘Clash of Civilizations,’” and they see the battle to close the KGIA as “one local fight in a broad national battle against Islam” and what they call the “Islamization of America.” They see the same Islamic colonizing phenomena that produced “Eurabia” slowly happening here and “they are drawing battle lines wherever they can.” They see themselves as “great crusaders or heroes protecting Christendom and Western Civilization” against barbarians. They will “lie, distort, smear and destroy careers and people themselves,” and they will do “anything and everything to further their cause. “They are not a civil debating society.” They are not interested in ideas. That’s why you can’t sit down and talk to them or have a civil debate.

Although I witnessed a paranoia which reached astonishing new levels of hysteria, I would imagine that the morning New York Times article must have taken some of the wind out of their sails, for how could they complain about intolerance and anti-Muslim “attacks” when such a display of sympathy and veneration in pictures and words on page one of the newspaper of record limits their outrage to just a handful of critics like myself who disagree with their outlandish premises and challenge their dubious motives?

Later during the question and answer session, I tried to challenge their outlandish premises and dubious motives. I said that we recently witnessed the obliteration of 3000 fellow New Yorkers murdered in the worst attack in our country’s history and we see Muslim terrorist attacks throughout the world targeting men women and children in the name of your religion. But I haven’t heard anyone condemning them. All I have heard is everyone here sniping at Daniel Pipes and Jeffrey Wiesenfeld for being anti-Muslim, as if they were the enemy. When will you identify the real enemy who wants to kill all of us and condemn the radical Islamic groups like Hamas and Hezbollah who murder innocent people in the name of Islam?

I also asked why they seem to embrace every type of diversity under the sun, including racial, gender, ethnic, sexual, except for intellectual diversity. Why do you often shun a diversity of viewpoints and decline to share a public forum with conservatives? Why not invite staunch conservatives like Dr. Karkhanis or Jeff Wiesenfeld to a CUNY forum to present their side of the issues? The moderator said that this was not a Left vs. Right debate, he would consider it in the future but only if they would act civilly, stop “repeating lies” or carrying on a “witch hunt” like STM is doing, but not if they continue to act like “bulldozers.” One person in the room said that once he did indeed condemn terrorists as mass murderers at a CUNY anti-war teach-in sponsored by the PSC, but he claimed the New York Post reported that he called them freedom fighters. Other responses as well blamed the media and Daniel Pipes for distorting their remarks to appear as if they support terrorism or 9/11 conspiracy theories.

I tried to continue to speak up further and raise my hand, but to no avail. At that point everyone in the room was glaring at me, so in order not to appear like a bulldozer, I held my tongue. I waited until the end of the forum and approached Ms. Almontaser civilly and asked her a number of questions.

I said to her that I am opposed to the KGIA, because public schools in the U.S. funded by the taxpayers, should not teach students in Arabic or in any one particular language other than English. She answered that there are dual language public schools that focus on Spanish language, or Chinese so there ought to be a school which immerses the student in Arabic language study, especially since there is such an urgent need for Arabic translators and diplomats. I replied that public schools should offer Arabic, Spanish, French and other languages as electives, but only English should be the standard in American schools. But she countered that the elective program is not good enough. We need a more comprehensive language program.

I asked her why she placed Muslim imams on the school’s advisory board and why was everyone involved so secretive. The difficulty of obtaining inside information to keep the academy transparent to the public was naturally a cause for concern. The names of the clerics, on the advisory board for instance, were only later revealed in a letter to the New York Sun. She blamed the Department of Education for the lack of transparency and claimed she was always forthcoming about the curriculum, the books, and the teachers, but DOE never put it on their website. However, sources from STM claim that queries submitted to the DOE suggest that there was no indication on Almontaser’s part that she was seeking transparency concerning the curriculum.

Regarding the imams on her board, she answered that when she was designing the school she was seeking advice from her friends in the community and these imams were eager to offer help. Anyway, as Almontaser declared, the board has already been disbanded by the Department of Education. But Imam Abdur-Rashid, a board member who has written in a radical vein “on the way white Americans “robbed” Africans and Muslims of their heritage,” hasn’t heard the news of the board’s demise according to Andrea Peyser of the New York Post. A bystander listening to our conversation interjected that rabbis and reverends were on the board as well as imams – all the major beliefs were represented. I replied that I am opposed to having any religious clerics, of any faith sit on a public school’s advisory board. It’s illegal, unconstitutional and breaks the separation of church and state. It’s fine for a private Yeshiva, Christian or Islamic school to employ religious figures, but not in a public school. I asked Ms. Almontaser why not launch a private school to immerse the student in Arabic language and culture, or a public school with a better Arabic elective program? She answered that she was no longer a principle and cannot make decisions. I thanked her for her open and honest answers and mentioned that I would investigate further.

What was most disturbing about the whole issue of the Arabic themed school, was the total lack of any American themed plans for a school where pride in country, patriotism and respect for our flag would be instilled in our youth. Instead of focusing on cultural immersion into balkanized entities of Arabic, Chinese or Spanish traditions and languages, the most pressing need today is teaching our children about the greatness of our common American heritage. The focus of education should be imparting a first-class knowledge of United States history. The history of America is the history of all people, all races, ethnicities and religions. The people of numerous cultures and national origins that immigrate to our shores in order to share in the bounties of the great American experiment must assimilate to American culture first, rather than the other way around. The moral rot of multiculturalism dictates that the assimilation process should proceed the other way around. They want to tear apart our country into disconnected identity groups, which will ultimately bring our nation to ruin. Instead of using the classroom to teach minority students and new immigrants that Western Civilization is the villain and they are its victims, teachers should be imparting the basic principles of assimilation into the fabric of American society.  Teach the core values and ideals of America – courage, honor, honesty, religious freedom, individual rights, civics education, free enterprise, work ethic, etc. It is imperative for teachers to respect the flag, respect our country and be proud Americans. The heart of the problem in education today that is poisoning our next generation is that too many teachers and academics are just the opposite. That travesty was demonstrated in every spoken word at the forum and that is why the KGIA is such a dangerous idea that must be stopped.

Susan O’Malley: CUNY Trustee Ex-officio and PSC Executive Committee Official

The third and final panelist was CUNY faculty union official Susan O’Malley, who has filed an ongoing $2 million defamation lawsuit against Professor Emeritus Sharad Karkhanis, for his audacity to state that it’s not appropriate to place convicted terrorists, Mohamed Yousry and Susan Rosenberg on the CUNY payroll. In his introduction, the moderator stated O’Malley has been “attacked” as a “so-called terrorist sympathizer” as he listed her credentials. She defended herself with the same cries of Islamophobia and racism as Almontaser but only O’Malley’s persecution came from a “crazy man” and his conservative allies. She cried that in her case, for at least 13 years she has been “attacked by a crazy man named Sharad Karkhanis.”  

To explain the methods Karkhanis and his friends used to “attack” her, she expounded on the “craziness” of guilt by association that was used to smear KGIA and its founder, Ms. Almontaser. The same strategy is being used to attack Senator Obama, by associating him with controversial figures, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers, the unrepentant former leader of the Weather Underground. The method is to take something irrelevant out of context and repeat it over and over again until it is cited as established fact. This leads to the “establishment of lies” which inadvertently appear in everyday conversation, as people rehash them as household words. That is how she was smeared by Karkhanis and she proceeded to tell her tale of anguish.

Karkhanis put out a newsletter, The Patriot Returns, which he distributes to 13,000 CUNY faculty, in which she’s been “red-baited, lesbian-baited and everything-baited,” called “a terrorist” and a “friend of terrorists,” and even declared that she was “at an al-Qaeda training camp.” She claimed to have endured “about 50 attacks” from the various issues of the newsletter.  He doesn’t do it alone, she explained. It’s an effort of a group of rightwing conservatives, probably including Daniel Pipes, from whom she’s received emails. Jeffrey Wiesenfeld was also closely “connected with these attacks.”

O’Malley continued, saying he put out these “attacks” over and over, for such a long period of time that everywhere she went, even up in Albany, “people knew her as the butt of this person’s attacks” and were afraid to associate with her. The attacks became such a nightmare and she “started really freaking out.” She feared boarding an airplane one day and being turned away because she’s a terrorist. She said she would have loved to respond to his accusations, but it was just impossible, so she had her lawyer friend send a letter to Karkhanis asking him to “please stop attacking her, and he said he would not.” She wanted it to stop, she wanted quiet and since she was no longer head of the CUNY University Faculty Senate (UFS), she filed a libel suit against him.  

She continued in defense of her actions to try to hire Mohamed Yousry and Susan Rosenberg. She explained that the “attacks” on her became most virulent after 9/11 when Yousry, an adjunct at York College was removed from the classroom without discussion or due process rights, after he was convicted for aiding terrorism. As UFS chair she was in a position to protect faculty, especially adjuncts whose “academic freedom and right to due process were limited.” After calling her UFS office in desperation since he couldn’t find work, she tried to find a teaching position for him since his academic career and his life were destroyed after his dismissal.  She knew Yousry to be “very fine teacher” and a “man of stature.” She rationalized that he should be considered “innocent until proven guilty which is part of the law in this country.”

Essentially, Ms. O’Malley is either unfamiliar with the U.S. legal system or is feigning ignorance as a cover for her actions in her capacity as CUNY union official. Yousry was convicted along with co-conspirator Lynne Stewart in federal court and found guilty as charged for providing material support for terrorism and defrauding the government. How could a man with a terrorist conviction be “a man of stature?”

O’Malley conveniently forgot to mention a few things about Mohamed Yousry. He was removed from his adjunct position only after he was indicted, but was paid salary for the entire semester.  O’Malley should also be grateful that Yousry did indeed receive contractual and legal rights of due process as his grievance followed all the proper channels from “step one” at the college level all the way up to arbitration with all expenses paid by dues paying union members. Mr. Yousry lost his case. This was all spelled out in plain English in The Patriot Returns 35.4.  What makes her think that “the CUNY administration was going to roll out a welcome mat in CUNY for this terrorist and put him back on the payroll after his conviction in Federal Court and after CUNY prevailed in arbitration?”

She has yet to answer the following question raised in the same issue of The Patriot Returns: “Has Queen O’Malley ever made a “Job Wanted” announcement like this for a non-convicted, non-violent, peace loving American educator for a job in CUNY? There are hundreds of qualified people looking for teaching jobs. Why does she prefer convicted terrorists who are bent on harming our people and our nation, over peace-loving Americans?”

In a similar fashion, O’Malley sought to help find employment for former John Jay College adjunct Susan Rosenberg who was a Weather Underground terrorist convicted as an accomplice in the murder of two police officers and a security guard and for her role in the 1983 bombing of the United States Capitol and was imprisoned for a 58 year sentence for the possession of 700 pounds of dynamite and weapons. She served 16 years of her sentence until she was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.

However, the fact is that out of a total of 40 issues of The Patriot Returns, Karkhanis published over a 15 year span, only nine actually mentioned Susan O’Malley by name, and nowhere did Karkhanis state that she was a “terrorist” or that she was “at an al-Qaeda training camp.” He simply reported the facts and voiced his objections, often satirically, regarding her compulsive efforts to find teaching jobs for convicted terrorists, in her capacity as UFS/CUNY chair, Trustee ex-officio and PSC Executive Committee member. He exposed O’Malley’s letters to the New York Post and the Daily News  defending Rosenberg’s right to teach, her postings on the CUNY /UFS Discussion Forum  seeking teaching opportunities at CUNY for Yousry and Rosenberg, her appeals to the staff at a UFS Plenary Session for CUNY to hire Yousry, and other indications of her obsession to employ convicted terrorists.  In their defense she downplayed the gravity of their convictions arguing in Yousry’s case, “it’s becoming increasingly clear that he really did just about nothing.”  In Rosenberg’s defense she argued in her letters from the standpoint that rehabilitation is one of the goals of the U.S. criminal justice system. Susan Rosenberg, having served her time, and having been “evaluated satisfactorily by her department,” should now “be integrated back into society” with a suitable teaching assignment as planned by John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The Patriot Returns focused on numerous CUNY union officials who had a penchant for idolizing criminals and terrorists, of whom O’Malley was a mere lightweight. The few times Karkhanis wrote about O’Malley, he would typically engage in collegial satire referring to her as the “Queen of Released Time” for seeking way too many CUNY leadership positions in lieu of teaching assignments. In the “Rumor Column,” he wondered whether the “Queen” would abdicate her throne to take the Harvard presidency after Larry Summers resigned. Typically, The Patriot Returns expends the most ink excoriating the PSC leadership for spending the faculty member’s union dues on inappropriate political causes while they repeatedly failed to deliver a beneficial contract. While they were actively mobilizing the CUNY membership to march against the Republican Party, organizing anti-war campus teach-ins after 9/11, donating the member’s dues money to support the legal defense of imprisoned terrorists Lori Berenson and Sami al-Arian and a host of other radical causes too numerous to mention here, the member’s health and welfare fund of $15 million dwindled to just about nothing. PSC/CUNY, of which O’Malley is an Executive Committee member, issued a Delegate Assembly Resolution donating $5000 and demanding the immediate release of Lori Berenson, currently serving a 20 year prison term in Peru on terrorism charges.

O’Malley had plenty of opportunities to take on Dr. Karkhanis and refute his accusations. She could have responded in the Clarion, the CUNY faculty union newspaper or the UFS faculty newsletter, which at one point she was an editor. Instead she chose to hire a lawyer and sue Karkhanis in New York State Supreme Court in order to silence his critical tongue and shut down The Patriot Returns.  The poor retired professor, Dr. Karkhanis’s First Amendment rights have been threatened more than anyone of the fakers in the room.

Meanwhile, Prof. O’Malley continued to lecture on the “New McCarthyism,” the vast movement targeting her and her comrades through email harassment, blogs and other forms of “bullying through the internet.” This vast movement holds an ideology that seeks to destroy rather than talk. She then directed her venom toward CUNY trustee Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, a STM advisor whom she described as so anti-Muslim that it’s a contradiction for him to be on the CUNY board. She mentioned her discovery in the New York Times article that he worked for the FBI. While she knew that “he has been very, very conservative,” this was the “hole in his career” that she didn’t know about, in trying to “piece together his life.” She had spent a number of years as the faculty representative on the CUNY Board of Trustees and debated with him constantly.  A number of panelists and people in the audience broke into an emotional discussion about the CUNY board and why they should remove Wiesenfeld. One person said Wiesenfeld was behind the “attacks” on KGIA and as part of “a vigilante squad, a hate group” agreeing with O’Malley that his anti-Muslim credentials make it a contradiction for him to be on the board.  Another described the makeup of the board as mostly conservative, having been appointed by a Republican administration, and therefore doesn’t care too much about the students. Naturally, Wiesenfeld is the loudest. They continued to demonize Wiesenfeld, reciting a laundry list of character faults and random insults without an intelligible word about the substance of what he had to say. His “devious personal attacks make any kind of constructive debate impossible,” as he “screams louder than you,” to show he is “more powerful than you.”

Later on the discussion came back to Wiesenfeld, as someone in the room requested that they return to their favorite topic, how to get him off the CUNY board.  This person said she wrote to the CUNY board about Wiesenfeld regarding a “vile interaction” she observed between him and someone else in what was a “major, major attack,” that was “really outrageous.” They basically denied it saying “he didn’t do it in his capacity on the Board of Trustees.” She described being “shocked” meeting him. “He walked by me, pushed me, and cursed me out.” She questioned “if it is so difficult to get him off the board” and “what more is there for us to do,” to speak out as a community, that “we won’t stand for it.” The room then launched into a brainstorming session for Wiesenfeld’s ouster. Some suggested writing letters, a good article in Inside Higher Ed, or local press. One said that the only way would be through the chair, Benno Schmidt since Wiesenfeld was appointed by the governor and has to finish out his term. O’Malley added that Wiesenfeld and the rest of his coordinated movement have been making the rounds of the Republican political circuit, speaking out against Muslims and the KGIA, honoring Dr. Karkhanis as Educator of the Year, and controlling the microphone and media. As they strategized how to take back the microphone and the press, they conveniently forgot to mention the sympathetic article in the morning New York Times, and the knee-jerk reaction of eight million New Yorkers to venerate anyone who paints themselves as a victim of intolerance and hatred. Hopefully, as one person mentioned, the new governor David Paterson could remove CUNY chairman Benno Schmidt and their group could become more active in the vetting process for trustees. Perhaps Paterson would help their cause and bring back CUNY to its original mission, returning to the policies of open admissions and affirmative action to serve all New Yorkers regardless of their racial status or aptitude. This last comment received a generous round of applause.

Actually, trustee Wiesenfeld is a hero to many New Yorkers for his efforts in bringing higher academic standards to CUNY. As a result of abolishing the failed policies of open admissions and remedial education that turned the once great academic institution into a worthless “diploma mill,” CUNY now is experiencing a wonderful renaissance, where even minority enrollment is up and their diplomas have real value.

At one point in the discussion the true condescending nature toward “people of color” slipped out accidentally. Almontaser described the KGIA as a school that caters to children of Arab descent immersed in their own culture, but welcomes students of all backgrounds and ethnicities as well. But only a dozen of the 60 students presently enrolled are Arab. Her dream that this school would function as a home to Arabs and Muslims was shattered, and now regrettably the school caters mostly to non-Arabs. One person in the audience said that mostly African Americans and Puerto Ricans enrolled their kids at KGIA because they think it would lead to a great job as a translator, as others in the room seemed to agree and chuckle quietly. How telling that they should look down their noses at the very people they claim to protect and defend, for attempting to rise above their surroundings and strive to build valuable marketable skills.

While posing as the paragons of diversity and multiculturalism, Ms. Almontaser and Prof. O’Malley betray a patronizing nature that they try to conceal. They demonize their critics in order to bully them into silence, while posturing as hapless victims of a hateful “vigilant squad” of anti-Muslim “attacks.” The same type of scrutiny that they christen “guilt by association” that is used to vet politicians running for the highest offices must be utilized to examine the actions of lesser public officials.

No one who chooses a leadership role is immune from scrutiny. Echoing the sentiments of President Harry Truman, Hillary Clinton admonished Senator Obama: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” If a public official were to associate with David Duke, participate in Stormfront rallies and condone the message of “White Pride” T-shirts, there would be universal condemnation and justified public outrage. Whether this person was a public school principle, a CUNY union official or Barack Obama, he or she would summarily be toast. Any teacher will tell you that a student caught hanging out with troublemakers would be severely reprimanded. These lesser public officials likewise should continue to be rigorously vetted and judged by virtue of the troublemakers they associate with and recruit. Any attempt to thwart the process of freedom of criticism via the courts or any other forms of intimidation or censorship, will be viewed as a direct threat to the First Amendment rights of all and a danger to our national security at a time of global crisis and Islamic terrorism.

 


Phil Orenstein is a manufacturing systems manager at Orics Industries Inc. based in Queens, NY, and formerly an adjunct lecturer of Computer Aided Manufacturing at Queensborough Community College and Farmingdale State University.

Caution to the Wind….

Alan Brodsky, in a NY Post op-ed writes,
   
 
-“When the consequences are great, as when creating a school, officials must act with an over-abundance of prudence. They must have unassailable faith in school leaders.”
 
-“But would kids come away less committed to US values and traditions than their peers? How would the school present 9/11, Islam, Israel, the Mideast – America?”

-
“Yes, in theory, such a school can be useful. More Americans need to speak Arabic – not just to bridge cultural gaps, but to spy on the enemy and expose his plots. We need to know how Islamists think and act – not to understand their “grievances,” but to help predict and foil their next attack.”

The article speaks for itself and we couldn’t agree more.

Read the entire op-ed:

                                

                 Almontaser: Ties to dubious groups

 

WHO NEEDS VIGILANCE?

THE NY TIMES & ‘INTIFADA HIGH’

By ADAM BRODSKY

May 2, 2008 — SOMEONE should tell The New York Times what happened on 9/11 – it ap parently has no clue. If it did, it never would’ve run that 4,500-word, front-page tearjerker Monday on Brooklyn’s Khalil Gibran International Academy and its ex-principal, Debbie Almontaser.

 What happened back then (as everyone but, it seems, the Times knows) is that Arab Islamists, disguised as harmless civilians, murdered 3,000 people and leveled the World Trade Center. In so doing, they awoke America to their war, which relies heavily on deception and targets unsuspecting, open-minded, tolerant Westerners. Gullible fools, that is.
Since then, Americans got wise. One response to the sneak attack: vigilance. If you see something, say something. Be careful whom you trust.
The Times sees no need for vigilance, as if 9/11 never happened. But caution underlies resistance to the city’s first Arab-themed public school.
No, no one feared the school would train kid bombers. But would kids come away less committed to US values and traditions than their peers? How would the school present 9/11, Islam, Israel, the Mideast – America?
Surely, if Americans had flattened the Riyadh Tower (Saudi Arabia’s tallest building), the idea of opening a public school in the Kingdom to promote US-Arab understanding would occur to no one. No wonder jaws dropped over plans for a taxpayer-funded, Arabic-themed school in the city, in response to attacks here by Arab terrorists.
Yes, in theory, such a school can be useful. More Americans need to speak Arabic – not just to bridge cultural gaps, but to spy on the enemy and expose his plots. We need to know how Islamists think and act – not to understand their “grievances,” but to help predict and foil their next attack.
When the consequences are great, as when creating a school, officials must act with an over-abundance of prudence. They must have unassailable faith in school leaders.
Once a school opens, it’s hard to reverse decisions. Almontaser’s lawsuit against Mayor Mike and the city – she cites her First Amendment rights in claiming she was wrongly forced to quit – shows that.
Folks can debate if Almontaser, a Yemeni-American, is a well-meaning Muslim moderate railroaded out of her dream to create “ambassadors of peace and hope” – as she, and the Times, insist.
They can weigh the paper’s suggestion that she was fired in large part because of a Post story, which a judge said “misleadingly” reported her comments on the term “intifada.”
Or they may decide that anti-Islamist experts like Daniel Pipes, who labeled her an “extremist,” had her pegged better. And that the Gibran school really is “the kind of radicalizing effort it was said to be,” as Stephen Schwartz put it.
That debate might answer questions like: Why did Almontaser feel compelled to defend teen girls whose group sported t-shirts with the incendiary words “Intifada NYC”? What’s with her ties to groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terror-funding case with links to Hamas?
Certainly, there was enough to raise real concerns, in an era of necessarily heightened distrust. And that should have been sufficient to disqualify her, if not to kill the school entirely – however qualified and well-meaning she may be.
As they respond to terror with vigilance, Americans will no doubt sometimes go overboard. But you can be sure mistakes will be fewer here than they’d be anywhere else.
Meanwhile, too much caution is surely better than too little.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

Setting the Record Straight with the NY Times

 
In general we are being accused of the school’s failure given Almontaser resigned due to her statements about the NYC Intifada t-shirts. By the time Almontaser resigned mid-August the curriculum had been chosen, the teachers hired, and she had completed her personal recruitment of students for the school.  She worked with a Design Team for a year prior to KGIA’s opening.  Ostensibly the school should have been ready to go.  Whether or not she was there should not matter.  A public school should be able to function well with any Principal.Evidently the school’s students are experiencing behavioral problems.  Almontaser recruited them personally and elementary schools forward the student’s records so she had to know her student body.  If provisions were not made then the responsibility rests with her.Following are quotes from the NY Times article with my response-

 

 

 

“NY TIMES: But Ms. Almontaser’s downfall was not merely the result of a spontaneous outcry by concerned parents and neighborhood activists.  It was also the work of a growing and organized movement to stop Muslim citizens who are seeking an expanded role in American public life.”
SPRINGER RESPONDS: Outrageous assertion. We have been extraordinarily careful in documenting every statement linking Almontaser to radical Islamist groups such as CAIR, American Muslim Lawyers Association (AMLA), Muslim Consultive Network, Muslim American Society, Adalah, and Al Awda.  This statement is prejudicial to the extent that it infers we are opposed to Muslims participating in American life.  We have absolutely no issue with this.  Our concern is with the “soft jihad” that is infiltrating our schools with the intent of bringing Shari’s law into our society by indoctrinating our children.  Ibrihim Hooper spokesman for CAIR told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in a 1993 interview “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future.  But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education.”NY TIMES: “Muslim leaders, academics and others see the drive against the school as the latest in a series of discriminatory attacks intended to distort the truth and play on American’s fear of terrorism. They say the campaign is also part of a wider effort to silence critics of Washington’s policy on Israel and the Middle East.”

 

SPRINGER: Our concern is based on the people and organizations that Almontaser has hand-picked to work with the school and students.  Truth has not been distorted.  Again, we have carefully documented our statements and have pursued our right to legally seek  transparency from the Department of Education.

 

NY TIMES: “(The advisory council never met and has since been dismantled, and the school does not offer halal food, Education Department officials said).” 

 
 
 
SPRINGER: According to KGIA’s Executive summary the plan and intent was to offer Halal food in the school cafeteria. The school does not offer halal food because the DOE refused the request.  KGIA was supposed to officially disband the advisory board through a public statement but this was never done. 
NY TIMES: Although Ms. Almontaser said she never spoke to the reporter about the t-shirt, she defended the girls in the organization because she believed that the reporter was set on “vilifying innocent teenagers.” 
 
SPRINGER: Mona Eldhary, a co-founder of AWAAM, the organization that designed, produced, and distributed the NYC Intifada t-shirts is an active member of Al Awda (she is listed as such on their website).  Al Awda (the Return in Arabic) is …..a political advocacy organization that calls not for a peaceful settlement with Israel, but “peace” through the replacement of Israel by an Arab dominated state called Palestine.” [go here for more].  Its website clearly states its mission, “Al-Awda supports the struggle for the liberation of Palestine.”

“NY TIMES: During the Post interview, Ms. Almontaser said, she told the reporter Chuck Bennett that the Arab women’s organization was not connected to her or the school, and that she would never be affiliated with any group that condoned violence.”
 
  SPRINGER: 

The NYC Intifada T-shirt was produced and distributed by AWAAM, a group closely affiliated with Almontaser.  They are the lead organization supporting her reinstatement.  

 

Almontaser’s connection to the AWAAM group is not tenuous; she is both a founder and board member of the Yemeni American Association (SABA – YAA), and the AWAAM website (before it was quickly revised after the t-shirt exposé) directed “Contact Us” information to the YAA. The AAFSC, primary sponsors of KGIA, also sponsored the event where the t-shirts were sold.

“NY TIMES: A department spokeswoman said that a list of textbooks selected for the school was sent to the lawyer last fall.”  
 
 

SPRINGER: The documents given to the Stop the Madrassa Coalition pursuant to an Article 78 demanding the information since 4 FOIL’s were not adequately responded to did not contain textbooks, lesson plans, or worksheets regarding the teaching of Arabic language and culture.
Donna Nevel in her interview liked to the article said that the opponents of the school don’t like Arabic language dual education.  We at the Stop the Madrassa Coalition have always maintained that many languages including Arabic should be taught as an elective in schools across the city.

NY TIMES: “Ms. Almontaser never considered herself unenthusiastic about America, she said.”

 

· Almontaser has called America a racist country.
· She has said that the U.S. brought the 9/11 attack upon itself.
· She opposes the War on Terror
· She supports numerous radical organizations, including the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Trial for terrorist financing, where CAIR’s relationship to Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, has been repeatedly argued by the prosecution 
· She accepted an annual award from CAIR in 2005.
· She is on the board of the Muslim Consultative Network, whose members include unindicted co-conspirator CAIR and the radical Islamic Circle of North America. The Muslim Consultative Network is a major sponsor of the Almontaser Reinstatement Effort.
· Has been a spokesperson for the Muslim American Society for a NYC 9/11 event.
· Refused to answer a NY Sun reporter as to whether or not Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations
· Refused to say that the Intifada was a Palestinian terror campaign against innocent Israeli civilians, children, women, and men.
· Dabah has appointed radical Imams to her schools Board of Advisors. 

 

 
Background on organizations partnering with KGIA

1. The American Muslim Association of Lawyers (AMAL) offers internships, and helps with a course in human rights (in 6th grade…) (P. 7, p. 18). The AMAL website appears to be inactive (http://www.theamal.org/index.shtml) but the group (or at least their website) was founded by Omar Mohammedi, President of the New York Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and lawyer for the infamous “6 imams” who have threatened to sue airline personnel and passengers for “profiling.” CAIR is currently under investigation in the Holy Land Terror-financing trial, as an unindicted co-conspirator.
2. The American Mideast Leadership Network will participate with the school as an important partner (pages 16-18). According to the Executive Summary, the AMLN will provide trips to “ stabilized” Middle Eastern countries, create internships, provide an after-school leadership program and provide intensive language opportunities. According to our research, they may do all this while acting as Hezbollah apologists, if their leader’s statements are representative. On July 31, 2006 Rami Nuseir, the President of the AMLN, stated on CNN that:
“A lot of people look at Hezbollah as a social service agency that provides a lot of help for the Lebanese people. And that’s where the sympathy comes from.”
3. A main partner listed in the Executive Summary, the Columbia University Teachers College Department of International and Transcultural Studies teacher training in fact teaches about one religion and one only – Islam. KGIA only recognizes the teaching of a single religion in this ostensibly public school (page 8):
4.  Arab Culture will be taught, however no where is there mention of Sephardic Jews, Ba hai’s, Coptic Christians, Druze, Lebanese Christians, or any other Arab culture except Islamic culture.  
5. The DOE website for the KGIA lists as its first  partner the Arab-American Ant-Discrimination Committee. Its founder and President is none other than the former Democratic Senator James Abourezk who recently appeared on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar Television. Al-Manar is banned in the U.S. because Hezbollah is designated by the government as a terrorist organization. Azbourezk stated that the Arabs involved in 9/11 co-operated with Zionists, the Israel Lobby controls the U.S. Congress, Hamas and Hezbollah are “resistance” fighters, not terrorist organizations! Lastly Abourezk said that all Americans are racist.
Note that the ADC website provides biased educational instruction and curricula for middle and high schools and is overtly Islamic in its ideology. Not only is the ADC the first name on KGIA’s DOE website as the main partnering organization, this name was the first on the petition to reinstate Dhabah Almontaser as Principal.
6. The Arabic-American Family Suport Center located in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is another key partner working with KGIA. Their website links to the Council on Islamic Education’s lesson plans. Why are NYC public school students being taught the nuances of Jihad?
· Define Jihad in its literal and applied meanings, as a principal and as an institution.
·  Describe legitimate conduct of war according to Islamic Law.
· Differentiate between rebellion and terrorism according to Muslim jurists.
This is what middle school children will be learning in a public school. The Executive Summary specifically states that the school will teach Islam and there were teacher training retreats held this past summer so that all teachers would be on the same wavelength.

 

 

As for school performance? It”s an abject failure.
KGIA, enthusiastically supported by, among others, convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, former Weather Underground leader and bombing justifier William Ayers, former SDS and Communist Party organizer Michael Klonsky, and Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party (created by the late Nation of Islam racist Khalid Muhammed), and a local imam who proudly posted the Muslim Brotherhood slogan and symbol on his website, has been the focus of numerous media reports, including one published in today’s New York Times by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Andrea Elliott.
Ms. Elliott reports that shorly after KGIA’s opening day, “Chaos soon erupted inside. Students cut classes and got into fights with little consequence, said staff members, parents and students. At least 12 of the 60 students showed signs of behavioral problems or learning disabilities, said Leslie Kahn, a licensed social worker and counselor who was employed at the school until January. (Education Department officials, who denied repeated requests by The Times to visit the school, said there are currently six special-needs students there.)
“ ‘Something is flying through the air, every class, every day,’ Sean R. Grogan, a science teacher at the school, said in an interview. ‘Kids bang on the partitions, yell and scream, curse and swear. It’s out of control.’ The New York Times account continues, “Physical altercations are frequent, Mr. Grogan and others said, with Arab students and teachers the target of ethnic slurs. “I just don’t feel safe,” said an Arab-American student, 11, who will not return to the school next year.
Stop the Madrassa also is speaking out about the relationship between KGIA’s founding principal, Ms. Almontaser, and a deeply troubling “community statement” that was recently addressed to New York City Policy Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
According to journalist and author Stephen Suleiman Schwartz, who is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, on November 23, 2007, in response to the above-mentioned community statement, a statement was issued “in the name of the ‘Muslim community,’ ” protesting the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) release last year of its vital report on terrorism. Among other demands, the community statement called on the NYPD to stop distributing the report to other jurisdictions’ law enforcement agencies, and, as Schwartz put it, “arrogated to themselves the right to decide what the city’s police should do in response to the challenge of radical Islam. “
Schwartz, writing in The Weekly Standard, also reports that in a March 3, 2008 meeting in New York, CAIR officials Faiza Ali, Aliya Latif, and Omar Mohammadi “were joined by Islamist agitator Syed Z. Sayeed, religious adviser to the Saudi-backed Muslim Students Association at Columbia University . They noted that the NYPD had asked for a detailed reply to the report. The participants at the March 3 get-together also observed that while they would prepare such a response, CAIR itself has financed and is working on a more thorough text designated its ‘long-term analysis/alternative model of radicalization.’ “
Almontaser was also,as Schwartz reports, involved in CAIR’s counter-attack against the NYPD as evidenced by that fact that her “assignment in dealing with NYPD was to organize an online discussion group for input into the Community Statement.”
Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition notes Mr. Schwartz’s assessment that “…Almontaser should quit her masquerade as a moderate and her non-Muslim enablers should end their naïve defense of her alleged mainstream outlook. “ The coalition further points out that Ms. Almontaser has been a financial supporter of controversial Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and adds that the time is long overdue for a full city and state investigation into the creation of KGIA and the possible role of Islamist organizations in any aspect of the school’s establishment or operation.
And there was this incredible admission  from a teacher made in the comment section of the article:
As a teacher at KGIA I have to say things have barely improved since Holly Reichert’s appointment. This week alone we have 6 students out on Suspension, one for carrying a knife to school. We have a teacher on a medical leave of absence after a student threatened to beat her, this caused her blood pressure to spike to a very unhealthy level.
For more and updates please go to Atlasshrugs-

NY TIMES: CHAOS AT KGIA!

AS NY TIMES REPORTS ARABIC SCHOOL CHAOS, VIOLENCE AND DISORDER, KGIA FOUNDER ALMONTASER HELPS CAIR ATTACK NYPD REPORT ON TERRORISM;
STOP THE MADRASSA REITERATES CALL FOR PROMPT KGIA CLOSURE
New York, New York April 28, 2008 — The Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition (STM) is again reiterating its call to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYC Schools Chancellor Klein for immediate closure of the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) as more reports surface not only of chaos and violence breaking out at the controversial Arabic school, but also accounts of Ms. Almontaser’s close ties to CAIR.

KGIA, enthusiastically supported by, among others, convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, former Weather Underground leader and bombing justifier William Ayers, former SDS and Communist Party organizer Michael Klonsky, and Malik Zulu Shabazz of the New Black Panther Party (created by the late Nation of Islam racist Khalid Muhammed), and a local imam who proudly posted the Muslim Brotherhood slogan and symbol on his website, has been the focus of numerous media reports, including one published in today’s New York Times by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Andrea Elliott.

Ms. Elliott reports that shorly after KGIA’s opening day, “Chaos soon erupted inside. Students cut classes and got into fights with little consequence, said staff members, parents and students. At least 12 of the 60 students showed signs of behavioral problems or learning disabilities, said Leslie Kahn, a licensed social worker and counselor who was employed at the school until January. (Education Department officials, who denied repeated requests by The Times to visit the school, said there are currently six special-needs students there.)

“ ‘Something is flying through the air, every class, every day,’ Sean R. Grogan, a science teacher at the school, said in an interview. ‘Kids bang on the partitions, yell and scream, curse and swear. It’s out of control.’ The New York Times account continues, “Physical altercations are frequent, Mr. Grogan and others said, with Arab students and teachers the target of ethnic slurs. “I just don’t feel safe,” said an Arab-American student, 11, who will not return to the school next year.

Stop the Madrassa also is speaking out about the relationship between KGIA’s founding principal, Ms. Almontaser, and a deeply troubling “community statement” that was recently addressed to New York City Policy Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

According to journalist and author Stephen Suleiman Schwartz, who is executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, on November 23, 2007, in response to the above-mentioned community statement, a statement was issued “in the name of the ‘Muslim community,’ ” protesting the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) release last year of its vital report on terrorism. Among other demands, the community statement called on the NYPD to stop distributing the report to other jurisdictions’ law enforcement agencies, and, as Schwartz put it, “arrogated to themselves the right to decide what the city’s police should do in response to the challenge of radical Islam. “

Schwartz, writing in The Weekly Standard, also reports that in a March 3, 2008 meeting in New York, CAIR officials Faiza Ali, Aliya Latif, and Omar Mohammadi “were joined by Islamist agitator Syed Z. Sayeed, religious adviser to the Saudi-backed Muslim Students Association at Columbia University . They noted that the NYPD had asked for a detailed reply to the report. The participants at the March 3 get-together also observed that while they would prepare such a response, CAIR itself has financed and is working on a more thorough text designated its ‘long-term analysis/alternative model of radicalization.’ “

Almontaser was also, as Schwartz reports, involved in CAIR’s counter-attack against the NYPD as evidenced by that fact that her “assignment in dealing with NYPD was to organize an online discussion group for input into the Community Statement.”

Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition notes Mr. Schwartz’s assessment that “…Almontaser should quit her masquerade as a moderate and her non-Muslim enablers should end their naïve defense of her alleged mainstream outlook. “ The coalition further points out that Ms. Almontaser has been a financial supporter of controversial Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, and adds that the time is long overdue for a full city and state investigation into the creation of KGIA and the possible role of Islamist organizations in any aspect of the school’s establishment or operation.

Faced with KGIA and NY Department of Education secrecy and stonewalling, STM has been compelled to file Freedom of Information Law requests to obtain complete information concerning textbooks, lesson plans and design documents to be used at KGIA. In recent months STM has stepped up its calls for immediate closure of KGIA, and expanded its fight nationwide to halt the imposition of radical Islamist agendas in curricula, Arab language programs, history classes, textbooks, teacher training, and charter schools. STM is in favor of teaching of Arabic language or Arabic culture in a balanced public school curriculum offering several languages and covering a variety of cultures.

# # #
Links to full texts of the above-referenced articles:

Her Dream Branded A Threat By Andrea Elliott, The New York Times 4/28/08 http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/nyregion/28school.html?hp

The Wahhabi lobby attacks. by Stephen Schwartz The Weekly Standard 04/11/2008 http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/968cekhc.asp

Stop the Madrassa is addressing the issue of Islamization in American public schools nationwide. It is a grassroots coalition working to help parents and teachers investigate, expose and eliminate Islamist and other ideological influence on textbooks, curricula and courses. . For more information please visit www.stopthemadrassa.wordpress.com.

Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy- A response to a comment

 

We do not respond to comments in our blog posts.  However, given the allegations of Islamic religious education openly practiced in the public charter school, Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, we felt it merited a response.  The comment can be found below.

First I would like to respond to the writer’s question regarding the “madrassa issue”.  A madrassa is a school that teaches the Arabic language and culture.  The Kalil Gibran International Academy’s  stated purpose is to teach Arabic language and culture.  The purpose of a public school in the United States is to teach the core subjects: American values, civics and the Constitution.  History classes cover all cultures.  Languages are offered as electives. In the U.S. we have an American culture.  Immigrants come here because of the freedom and opportunity our culture and values provide.  We are a “melting pot” into which all assimilate to become Americans first.  The glory of our culture is that each of us is free to practice our own religion and cultural values privately while being an American without imposing our personal preferences on others. When a public school becomes a vehicle for teaching about one specific culture and language it is no longer a public school that serves the entire community.  This is known as a private school. KGIA, TIZ and any other public or charter school teaching Arabic language and culture is,in effect, a madrassa; hence the name of our coalition, “Stop the Madrassa”.  If madrassas have the reputation of being hotbeds of radical jihadist instruction then that is a question you must address with those indoctrinating young children to violence and hate.

As for the Muslim American Society’s association with the school, the FBI says MAS, based in Washington, D.C., was founded by members of the radical Muslim Brotherhood.  In addition the school is sponsored by Islamic Relief, a Muslim charity identified by the U.S. Treasury as an al-Qaida front group.  Churches are not advocating for jihad or death to the infidels.  Some Mosques and Islamic organizations however are calling for Shari’a law to supercede  the United States Constitution.  I call your attention to the statement of one of CAIR’s founders and spokesmen, Ibrihim Hooper, “I wouldn’t want to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in a 1993 interview. “But I’m not going to do anything violent to promote that. I’m going to do it through education. [http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=2136]

In response to your statement, “You wouldn’t complain at all if a church held conventions about making a Christian community in Minnesota”  I will leave it to Robert Spencer who explains it well-” But [Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy] it has been drawing objections from a number of people, including Robert Spencer, the expert who monitors such developments at Jihad Watch. 

“Can you imagine a  public school founded by two Christian ministers and housed in the same building as a church? Add to that – in the same building – a prominent chapel. And let’s say the students are required to fast during Lent and attend Bible studies right after school. All with your tax dollars,” he wrote. “Inconceivable? Sure. If such a place existed, the ACLU lawyers would descend on it like locusts. It would be shut down before you could say ‘separation of church and state’ to the accompaniment of New York Times and Washington Post editorials; full of indignant foreboding, warning darkly about the growing influence of the Religious Right in America.” [http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=58967]

It was very apparent to Amanda Getz, the teacher that was substituting in TIZA, that Islam was practiced during the school day. “There’s overwhelming evidence the public school’s endorsing the Islamic faith, including:

• Daily scheduled prayer led by an imam.

• Classroom instruction in the Quran.

• Compulsory “after-school” Islamic Studies classes (buses don’t leave the school until after Islamic Studies is over).

• Halal cafeteria food.

• Observance of Islamic holidays.

• Early release for Friday mosque.”
[http://www.ibdeditorials.com/IBDArticles.aspx?id=292720073560464]

The only explanation for this not being blatantly evident to you when you visited the campuses is that you were given the typical tour given to visitors in which the school is “cleaned-up”. This deception is practiced in order to cover-up what is really going on. Following the writer’s comment is the second article published in the Minnesota Star Tribune, April 9, 2008,  regarding the evidence of Islamic religious practice in the Tarek Ibn Ziyad Academy.

Comment:
My husband and I are both Muslim and are considering Tarek ibn Ziadas one of the many schools for our daughter to attend in 2009.  I’ve been to both campuses and have met with most of the staff.  I will be looking into just how the day is structured and what exactly is taught but from my current understanding of the school, all Islamic activities and lessons take place after school hours.  If I found that they were not doing this I would be a little upset because taxpayers should not have to pay for schools that teach religion.  However I have to wonder what previous reporters and yourself consider to be so Islamic about the school.  It’s mentioned in the article that religion plays a central role.  I’m not sure how one determines that it plays such a central role in the school!  There is nothing upon entering either campus that implies anything about Islam.  Both campuses do have a prayer room in them but as you said schools are required to make accommodations for student
religious needs.  Both campuses have a high percentage of Muslim students.  They need a specific room just for them to pray in.  Otherwise, the halls would be filled with praying children.  The Blaine location has nothing in it that is inherently associated with Islam except it’s prayer room.  The other campus shares a building with MAS-MN.  However, MAS operates out of one portion of the building for the most part and the school operates out of the other.  The schools do teach Arabic language (the main reason my husband and I are considering them).  It’s important to note that the Arabic language does refer to God (Allah) often in every day saying but this does not necessarily imply Islam either.  For example Al-hamdulilla (thanks to God), Insha’allah (God willing), and many more sayings use a name of Allah as a part of common expression.  This is true for both Muslim and Christian Arabs who both use Allah to say God.  I don’t know whether or not the school is slipping in little bit of imposed Islam into anything else but hopefully I will be able to find out as we look into it more.  However I’d also like to address the whole “madrassa” issue.  You say madrassa like it’s a bad thing!  Madrassa is the arabic word for elementary/primary school.  It’s the same word they use to refer to our K-6 schools.  It doesn’t have anything to do with  religion or not.  It is true that in Islamic countries the elementary schools will often have religion classes included in their cirriculum but it is not a requirement that schools teach religion to be a madrassa.  Why is this concept apparently so misunderstood by the media and general public.  Also I’ve never once seen statements such as “Regularly make the intention to go on jihad with the ambition to die as a martyr.” on MAS-MN’s website.  Of course MAS promotes building an Islamic community in Minnesota, you wouldn’t complain at all if a church held conventions about making a Christian community in Minneasota.  We
all deserve to build thriving communities that interact with each other for the mutualbenefit of all community members.  Who speaks at MAS conventions has nothing to do with the school itself.  There are plenty of Christians who think its their God-Given right to beat their wives too.  Beating women is a universal issue that affects women Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and every other religion in the world.  Even so someone can have bad views about one issue and good views about another.  So he spoke of building a community in MN?  And so we should all the sudden worry that Minnesota women will all of the sudden be subject to violent attacks by their husbands?  Brining together a bunch of unrelated facts and meshing them together into an article doesn’t make for all that good of an article.  If your upset about the school focus on the school.

Wall of silence broken at state’s Muslim public school

Last update: April 9, 2008 – 12:45 PM
Recently, I wrote about Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), a K-8 charter school in Inver Grove Heights . Charter schools are public schools and by law must not endorse or promote religion.
Evidence suggests, however, that TIZA is an Islamic school, funded by Minnesota taxpayers.
TIZA has many characteristics that suggest a religious school. It shares the headquarters building of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, whose mission is “establishing Islam in Minnesota.” The building also houses a mosque. TIZA’s executive director, Asad Zaman, is a Muslim imam, or religious leader, and its sponsor is an organization called Islamic Relief.
Students pray daily, the cafeteria serves halal food – permissible under Islamic law — and “Islamic Studies” is offered at the end of the school day.
Zaman maintains that TIZA is not a religious school. He declined, however, to allow me to visit the school to see for myself, “due to the hectic schedule for statewide testing.” But after I e-mailed him that the Minnesota Department of Education had told me that testing would not begin for several weeks, Zaman did not respond — even to urgent calls and e-mails seeking comment before my first column on TIZA.
Now, however, an eyewitness has stepped forward. Amanda Getz of Bloomingtonis a substitute teacher. She worked as a substitute in two fifth-grade classrooms at TIZAon Friday, March 14. Her experience suggests that school-sponsored religious activity plays an integral role at TIZA.
Arriving on a Friday, the Muslim holy day, she says she was told that the day’s schedule included a “school assembly” in the gym after lunch.
Before the assembly, she says she was told, her duties would include taking her fifth-grade students to the bathroom, four at a time, to perform “their ritual washing.”
Afterward, Getz said, “teachers led the kids into the gym, where a man dressed in white with a white cap, who had been at the school all day,” was preparing to lead prayer. Beside him, another man “was prostrating himself in prayer on a carpet as the students entered.”
“The prayer I saw was not voluntary,” Getz said. “The kids were corralled by adults and required to go to the assembly where prayer occurred.”
Islamic Studies was also incorporated into the school day. “When I arrived, I was told ‘after school we have Islamic Studies,’ and I might have to stay for hall duty,” Getzsaid. “The teachers had written assignments on the blackboard for classes like math and social studies. Islamic Studies was the last one — the board said the kids were studying the Qu’ran. The students were told to copy it into their planner, along with everything else. That gave me the impression that Islamic Studies was a subject like any other.”
After school, Getz’s fifth-graders stayed in their classroom and the man in white who had led prayer in the gym came in to teach Islamic Studies. TIZA has in effect extended the school day — buses leave only after Islamic Studies is over. Getz did not see evidence of other extra-curricular activity, except for a group of small children playing outside. Significantly, 77 percent of TIZA parents say that their “main reason for choosing TIZA … was because of after-school programs conducted by various non-profit organizations at the end of the school period in the school building,” according to a TIZA report. TIZA may be the only school in Minnesota with this distinction.
Why does the Minnesota Department of Education allow this sort of religious activity at a public school? According to Zaman, the department inspects TIZA regularly — and has done so “numerous times” — to ensure that it is not a religious school.
But the department’s records document only three site visits to TIZA in five years — two in 2003-04 and one in 2007, according to Assistant Commissioner Morgan Brown. None of the visits focused specifically on religious practices.
The department is set up to operate on a “complaint basis,” and “since 2004, we haven’t gotten a single complaint about TIZA,” Brown said. In 2004, he sent two letters to the school inquiring about religious activity reported by visiting department staffers and in a news article. Brown was satisfied with Zaman’s assurance that prayer is “voluntary” and “student-led,” he said. The department did not attempt to confirm this independently, and did not ask how 5- to 11-year-olds could be initiating prayer. (At the time, TIZA was a K-5 school.)
Zaman agreed to respond by e-mail to concerns raised about the school’s practices. Student “prayer is not mandated by TIZA,” he wrote, and so is legal. On Friday afternoons, “students are released … to either join a parent-led service or for study hall.” Islamic Studies is provided by the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, and other “nonsectarian” after-school options are available, he added.
Yet prayer at TIZA does not appear to be spontaneously initiated by students, but rather scheduled, organized and promoted by school authorities.
Request for volunteers
Until recently, TIZA’s website included a request for volunteers to help with “Friday prayers.” In an e-mail, Zaman explained this as an attempt to ensure that “no TIZA staff members were involved in organizing the Friday prayers.”
But an end run of this kind cannot remove the fact of school sponsorship of prayer services, which take place in the school building during school hours. Zamandoes not deny that “some” Muslim teachers “probably” attend. According to federal guidelines on prayer in schools, teachers at a public school cannot participate in prayer with students.
In addition, schools cannot favor one religion by offering services for only its adherents, or promote after-school religious instruction for only one group. The ACLU of Minnesotahas launched an investigation of TIZA, and the Minnesota Department of Education has also begun a review.
TIZA’s operation as a public, taxpayer-funded school is troubling on several fronts. TIZA is skirting the law by operating what is essentially an Islamic school at taxpayer expense. The Department of Education has failed to provide the oversight necessary to catch these illegalities, and appears to lack the tools to do so. In addition, there’s a double standard at work here — if TIZA were a Christian school, it would likely be gone in a heartbeat.
TIZA is now being held up as a national model for a new kind of charter school. If it passes legal muster, Minnesota taxpayers may soon find themselves footing the bill for a separate system of education for Muslims.

Stop the Madrassa Press Release- “Open Letter from Educators”

Former SDS, Communist Party, and Weather Underground Extremists Defame Critics of Khalil Gibran Academy;
They Join Prior Supporters, Such as Cop-Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal and Rabbi Michael Paley, in Support of Almontaser & KGIA

New York, New York April 4, 2008 . Once again, radical Islamist groups and their enablers are attempting to silence American citizens through boycotts, name-calling, threats of lawsuits, defamatory accusations and other forms of intimidation.


This time,
as the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) finds itself under new fire from angry parents in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn who feel KGIA is being imposed on their elementary school, hard Leftist KGIA supporters are attempting to bolster the failing “multi-cultural” experiment by defaming their critics. In a letter this week to Mayor Bloomberg, KGIA supporters label those who have questioned the creation, purpose, affiliates, management, and other issues regarding the Arabic school “a small group of fear-mongering bigots.”

Among those who signed the letter to Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein were a number of well- known former leaders of extremist Leftist organizations. For example, as reported by the open source Wikipedia, William Ayers, who is now at the
University of Illinois at Chicago, reportedly was “a Weather Underground member…. he became radicalized at the University of Michigan. During his years there, he became involved in the New Left and the SDS. Ayers went underground with several comrades after their co-conspirators’ bomb accidentally exploded on March 6, 1970, destroying a Greenwich Village townhouse and killing three members of the Weather Underground…. They avoided the police and FBI while bombing high-profile government buildings—including the United States Capitol (two bombs on March 1, 1970), The Pentagon (May 19, 1972), and the Harry S Truman Building which houses the United States Department of State (on January 29, 1975)—along with several banks, police department headquarters and precincts, state and federal courthouses, and state prison administrative offices. Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn raised two children, Zayd and Malik, underground before turning themselves in in 1981, when most charges were dropped because of prosecutorial misconduct during the long search for the fugitives…. Ayers published his memoirs in 2001 with the book Fugitive Days. His interview with the New York Times to promote his book was published on September 11, 200…. In this interview, he… was quoted as saying, “I don’t regret setting bombs; I feel we didn’t do enough.”…. In the fall of 2006, Ayers was asked not to attend a progressive educators’ conference on the basis that the organizers did not want to risk an association of their movement with his violent past. ”

Another of those defaming critics of KGIA is Michael Klonsky, of the Small Schools Workshop who, again according to the open source Wikipedia, “…helped organize the first chapter of Students for a Democratic Society in the area. He became active in national SDS early in 1967…. During his community organizing, Klonsky began developing a proto-Marxist ideology which emphasized community and worker organizing…. In late 1969, Klonsky founded the October League, a communist party which in 1977 became the Communist Party, Marxist-Leninist. He was elected the party’s chairman…. Klonsky made several trips to China beginning in July 1977, where he was warmly received by government and Communist Party of China officials and treated to state dinners… “
Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition (STM) has filed Freedom of Information Law requests to obtain complete information concerning textbooks, lesson plans and design documents to be used at KGIA. Because the DOE did not comply STM was forced to file an Article 78 petition in Manhattan Supreme Court. Not surprisingly the documents turned over pursuant to the FOIL requests substantiated STM concerns. To date the school does not have proper textbooks, curricla, or lesson plans for teaching middle and high school Arabic language and culture. What was discovered from FOIL requests is that KGIA was poorly designed and poorly thought-out. In recent months STM has stepped up its calls for immediate closure of KGIA, and expanded its fight nationwide to halt the imposition of radical Islamist agendas in curricula, Arab language programs, history classes, textbooks, teacher training, and charter schools. STM does not oppose the teaching of Arabic language or Arabic culture in a balanced public school curriculum offering several languages and covering all cultures.

We will not be silenced and we stand in solidarity with others who have been defamed or targeted for exposing the dangers of Islamo-fasxism and jihadism.


# # #

Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition is a grassroots organization working to
help parents and teachers investigate, expose and eliminate Islamist and other ideological influence on textbooks, curricula and courses. . For more information please visit www.stopthemadrassa.wordpress.org..

###

Text of Open Letter from Educators in Support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy and Principal Debbie Almontaser to:

Michael Bloomberg Joel Klein
Mayor of New York City Chancellor of New York City Department of Education
Dear Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chancellor Joel Klein,
In 2007 the New York City Public Schools approved the establishment of the first-ever NY public school focusing on Arabic language and culture. This new small dual-language school, Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), addressed a need and dream of many in New York’s Arab communities. Leading the campaign for this specialty academy was Debbie Almontaser, a respected educator and community leader, who was selected to become the school’s founding principal.
Before the school ever opened its doors, Almontaser was forced to resign. When Debbie Almontaser was forced out as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a blow was struck against the rights and academic freedom of educators everywhere. Principal Almontaser was the guiding light and the pioneer behind the founding of the new school, which was envisioned as part of a vibrant small-schools movement fostering personalization, autonomy, and the empowerment of teachers.
A campaign of lies, racial fear, and anti-Arab prejudice, emanating from a conservative media group including the New York Post and supported by Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein, forced Almontaser from her post. Prior to and during the first semester of the school’s existence, Almontaser was replaced by two principals, neither of whom possesses her exceptional academic qualifications, her leadership capabilities, her relationship with the school community, nor her knowledge of Arabic language and culture.
KGIA was attacked by a small group of fear-mongering bigots. It was labeled a “terrorist school” and a “madrassa.” But this campaign of slander has been met by a broad coalition supporting the school and its intended principal, including leading organizations spanning the many diverse communities in New York. This coalition is pursuing every channel to restore Almontaser to her rightful position and to clear her name and her reputation.
Debbie Almontaser did nothing wrong. She committed no crime. She violated no rules nor any terms of her contract. She was forced to resign after doing nothing more than answering a reporter’s question about the root meaning of the word “intifada.”
For those of us working in the field of education, the treatment of Debbie Almontaser represents a threat not only to our rights as educators and citizens in a democratic society; it is also an attack on the small-schools movement and on the push for diversity and equity within our system of public education. Will bigotry be allowed to decide which public schools can exist and who can lead them?
We the undersigned insist that Debbie Almontaser be returned to her post as founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.
Bernadette Anand, Bank Street Graduate School of Education
Gary Anderson, Steinhardt School of Education, N.Y.U.
Rick Ayers, UC Berkeley Graduate School of Education
William Ayers, University of Illinois at Chicago
Carmen Colon, Association of NYC’s Educated Communities
Kathleen Cushman, Education Writer
Lisa Delpit, Center for Urban Education and Innovation, F.I.U.
Michelle Fine, The Graduate Center – City University of New York
Ofelia Garcia, Teachers College, Columbia University
Maxine Greene, Teachers College, Columbia University
Kris D. Gutierrez, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, UCLA
Paula Hajar, Bronx Charter School for Better Learning
Annette Henry, Education Program, University of Washington, Tacoma
Jay P. Heubert, Teachers College, Columbia University
Mike Klonsky, Small Schools Workshop
Susan Klonsky, Small Schools Workshop
Kevin Kumashiro, University of Illinois at Chicago
Gloria Ladson-Billings, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Carol Lee, Northwestern University
Sally Lee, Teachers Unite
Linda Levine, Bank Street Graduate School of Education
Tara Mack, Education for Liberation Network
Edwin Mayorga, New York Collective of Radical Educators
Deborah W. Meier, Steinhardt School of Education, N.Y.U.
Jon Moscow, The Brotherhood/Sister Sol
Arwa Nasser, United Nations International School
Donna Nevel, Center for Immigrant Families
Pedro A. Noguera, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, N.Y.U.
Gary Orfield, Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, UCLA
Granville Leo Stevens, Independent Parents Organizations
*affiliations listed for identification purposes

KGIA: NY PUBLIC SCHOOL Madrassah is Moved for 3RD Time

Reprinted from Atlasshrugs- 
Like pitbulls seized on an unwitting victim the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA), New York’s Public Arabic school, is refusing to release an innocent parent student body from its chokehold. The currently failing school is moving to a top performing school in the Fort Green section. And the parents are not happy about it.
Mark Steyn understands the implications. Mark Steyn said this  of the Arabic public school opening in NY on my show a few months back;
” it shows how we mischaracterized, we willfully misunderstand Islam. Yes, on the face of it yes Arabic is a language in a sense there is would be no difference between opening a foreign language school – a Spanish language school or a french language school – but in fact Arabic is more than a language. It is explicated the language of Islam so in that sense it is part of the Islamic religious imperial project. Radical Islam advances through the Arabic language. And you go all kinds of places that aren’t in the Arab world now like Pakistan, Indonesia, Central Asia, the Balk ins, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Canada and the United States and you will here those Imams preaching in Arabic. Arabic is not just another language like French or Italian, it is the spearhead of an idea logical project that is deeply opposed to the United States
We need a specific amendment declaring seperation of Mosque and state becuase whatever we got now ain’t working.
But Some Parents at P.S. 287 Object To Sharing Space
by Mary Frost
FORT GREENE — The Department of Education has confirmed that the Arabic-themed Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) will be moving from Boerum Hill to a building occupied by P.S. 287, at 50 Navy St., near the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.

Parents also say that there are space issues at the school.

But parents at P.S. 287, who were told about the move at an “emergency” meeting Wednesday evening, say they are outraged.
“They ambushed us,” said Matrice Sherman, mother of two students at P.S. 287. “Garth Harries [DOE’s Chief Portfolio Officer], when he met with us last time, said there would be a dialog, and that they would hear our concerns.
“Who did he speak to? Not to the people at this school.”  Read more…
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