We’ll be profiling the members of the KGIA Advisory board this week, so come back daily.
You can read about the three Imams on the Advisory board here (Klein and Bloomberg couldn’t find any secular Muslims in New York City apparently for the board, so it was all Imams, all the time for the KGIA advisors).
Today’s KGIA Advisory Board Profile: Reverend Khader El-Yateem.
Yateem is the only Christian Arab on the advisory Board, a Palestinian born in the West Bank, and a reverend with the Salam Arabic Church. He is on the Honorary board of the Arab American Justice project, where his biography states:
Reverend Khader El-Yateem was born in the West Bank town of Beit Jala in 1968. With a Diploma in Theology from the Bethlehem Bible College, he studied at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cairo, Egypt, and then worked for a year at the Bethlehem Bible College and the Reformation Lutheran Church in Beit Jala. Reverend Khader was later invited to the United States by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to work as a Mission Developer in the Arab community. He obtained his Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and was asked by the Division for Outreach to start the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York, the first Arabic Lutheran Church in North America. Reverend El-Yateem serves on many Boards in the US and aboard, including the Board of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Shortly after 9/11 he was featured in a PBS documentary, Caught in the Cross Fire. Arab Americans in War Time. Reverend El-Yateem also works tirelessly for justice and peace on behalf of the Palestinian people.
His personal narrative, as publicized by that PBS documentary, is a one-sided presentation of Middle East history, and it provokes the question of whether this will be the way the “Arabic culture” of KGIA curricula will be taught in history lessons:
When he was 20 years old, Israeli soldiers surrounded the house where he lived with his parents and took him to prison despite the fact that he was never accused nor charged with any crimes. He was detained, interrogated and tortured several times that year. In 1989, after being held captive for 55 days, Khader spent months recuperating from his wounds.
In 1992, Khader met Grace, an Arab American woman, at the beach of the Dead Sea. He left Israel for the United States that year and they married in December 1992. A year later, his daughter Rowan was born.
Khader finished his theological studies in 1996, earning his Master’s degree in Divinity and was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. His second daughter, Janette, was born several months later. In 1998, the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church was founded. His son Naim was born in 1999. Since 9/11, Khader’s church has become a haven for Brooklyn Arabs, Christian and Muslim alike. They turn to him for help after losing relatives at the World Trade Center, after being harassed, after losing their jobs … And all the while, the minister is carrying his own burden. Each day he phones to Palestine and turns on the TV to talk to his family as he watches Israeli forces bombard their-that is, his- village. To complicate matters, his parents, who have been visiting, want to return home to Beit Jala, which is occupied by Israel. Khader thinks it’s unsafe for them to go back, and realizes that the financial burden will be greater on him if they return home.
“My sister, her house was destroyed during the Israeli shelling. She lives in their house. If they go home she has to move out and go find somewhere she can live. I’m worrying about my four sisters and my brother and my grandmother and those of the extended family. So if they go there I have to worry about them and that means I have to send more money to support everybody to live.”
At least we know the kind of “Arabic” point of view the Reverend Yateem will be advising for curricula at KGIA. Since no actual curricula has been revealed in spite of three FOIL requests, the power of the advisory board to influence the school curricula is important in assessing the real agenda behind this school.
We ask once again: why is the public school KGIA advisory board, created by Klein, Bloomberg and Almontaser, made up of all religious clerics, no professional educators, and no certified teachers of Arabic?
Tomorrow’s Profile (and it’s highly revealing…) – Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, Abyssinian Baptist Church
The Advisory Council of Khalil Gibran International Academy
Rev. Dr. Daniel Meeter, Old First Reformed Church
Rev. Dr. Calvin Butts, Abyssinian Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Charles H. Straut Jr., The Riverside Church
Rev. Khader N. El-Yateem, Salem Arabic Lutheran Church
Rabbi Andy Backman, Congregation Beth Elohim
Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, Rabbis for Human Rights
Rabbi Micah Kelber, The Bay Ridge Jewish Center
Lisel Burns, Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture
Imam Talib Abdul-Rashid, Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Harlem
Imam Shamsi Ali, 96th St. Mosque, Manhattan
Imam Khalid Latif, Chaplain, NYPD