Jewish Week: Advocacy Against Themselves

Jewish Week ran an article today which was more advocacy than journalism, in the reporting methods, the subject matter and the editorializing. David Yerushalmi, legal counsel to the Stop The Madrassa Community Coalition, has published a detailed response including a letter to the editor.

We also introduce today a couple new features at this site – the “Nationwide” page at the top menu, and the Advisory Boards and Advisory Board Biographies pages.

The Nationwide page is our start at tracking Madrassa-type Islamist curricula in U.S. public schools across the country. We have created a national Advisory Board, and a NY Metropolitan Area Advisory Board, to help guide those research efforts nationally and locally. We will keep adding new members over the next couple weeks to both Boards. The first schools listed are primarily from Daniel Pipes’ resource page on this same topic (“Other American Madrassas“). Just as the Stop The Madrassa Community Coalition grew from readers of his first post ( “A Madrassa Grows in Brooklyn“), this new national expanded effort has grown from his pioneering efforts to track public school imposed madrassas across America. We have also received a number of emails from people around the country who were concerned about their own school systems’ vulnerability to state-established Islamic religion in curricula, and ideological Islamist curricula. We are now in planning stages for a methodical national investigation to determine the facts of individual cases, some of which may not yet be public. An example published just this morning – a case in Ohio – can be found at Front Page magazine: “CAIR goes back to school” by Patrick Poole.

Pipeline News: “Khalil Gibran Mosque Meeting Proves The School Will Be A Madrassah”

Khalil Gibran Mosque Meeting Proves The School Will Be A Madrassah

By William Mayer and Beila Rabinowitz

August 21, 2007 – San Francisco, CA – PipeLineNews.org –

Brooklyn’s Muslim community is up in arms over last week’s resignation of Dhabah Almontaser the principal designate of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, and has vowed to retaliate against the individuals and institutions it sees as being responsible. Toward that end, on the evening of August 13 a community meeting was held at the Islamic Center of Bay Ridge, in Brooklyn by supporters of the besieged Arabic school.

PipeLineNews.org has managed to obtain an exclusive recording of the “off-the-record” meeting documenting the Islamist action plan going forward, which might well include a Ramadan boycott of the New York Post and the New York Sun – which have been editorially critical of the school – demands to Mayor Bloomberg and education Chancellor Klein to reinstate Almontaser, as well as the creation of a media watch group.

Examples of paranoia and conspiratorial thinking were continually on display as the evening progressed, with one speaker claiming that Almontaser had been the victim of a massive “right-wing” conspiracy led by the Stop the Madrassa Coalition.

“The other important point I think, is to go back, as was mentioned, to this Stop the Madrassa Coalition, and see whose behind that. It’s not just a few bigoted individuals, it’s some right, extreme right-wing organizations, who have a national agenda…They include groups like New York ICE [a reference to New York Immigration and Control, a grassroots group dealing with immigration issues ] which is a violently anti-immigrant organization. It’s no coincidence that these same groups are part of this coalition. So that has to be exposed fully. There not just community members who are nervous about the school. They are extremely organized right-wing organizations, with a political agenda” [source, transcript, produced in its entirety below].

Those most directly involved with the school – whose pronouncements and actions have only further damaged KGIA’s already tattered reputation – are lying low because any additional public airing of their radicalism and agenda might end the school once and for all.

“We’re at a point right now, where we feel we have to take action. People who are involved in this school are not here today, because they don’t want to jeopardize the school, but that doesn’t mean they don’t support us” [source, transcript].

To those who continue to insist that KGIA will be a school merely devoted to Arabic language instruction along with some elements of Arabic culture and not a madrassah – an Islamist indoctrination facility catering to Muslims only – the atmosphere of recrimination and accusations of bigotry which dominated the event, the setting in which it was held and those who participated, all should be of great concern.

The fact that this strategy session was held at a mosque rather than a secular location is only the most obvious red-flag regarding the event and it is a clear indication of the undeniable co-linking of Islam and KGIA.

It’s important to note that the Bay Ridge Islamic Center is not just any mosque; it has a long history serving as a hotbed of jihadist activity; a key indicator of the radical forces which will control the KGIA if it is allowed to open in September……

Read the Entire Article


Transcript – Community Meeting on Khalil Gibran International Academy at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, August 13, 2007

Windows media audio file available here – audio file

NY Sun: KGIA Advisory Council “effectively absolved,” Rabbi Claims It Never Met

The foundation of the Khalil Gibran International Academy project is beginning to crack.

An early supporter – in fact, one of the much-vaunted members of that all-cleric Advisory Council – is now claiming the Council “never met” to discuss the school, according to Elizabeth Green, N.Y. Sun, reporting on our investigation of Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid below.

Daniel Pipes and Beila Rabinowitz, members of the rapidly growing Stop The Madrassa Community Coalition, disclosed yesterday that Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid’s mosque, the Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood, prominently displays the pledge of the Muslim Brotherhood on its “About” page:

Allah is our goal
The Prophet Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah is our leader
The Qu’ran is our constitution
Jihad is our way
And death in the way of Allah is our promised end.

logo MIB

Within hours of our exposure of Abdur-Rashid’s association with this radical profession of Islamist belief, Rabbi Andrew Bachman, another member of the much-publicized KGIA Advisory Council, is now claiming that the Advisory Council never met and is “effectively absolved,” according to Green’s article. Rabbi Bachman also claims that the new principal has not talked to the Advisory Council since she was hurriedly substituted for ex-principal Dhabah Almontaser, proponent of the “Intifada NYC” t-shirt.

The words displayed at the KGIA advisor’s Mosque website – ” The Qu’ran is our constitution, Jihad is our way, And death in the way of Allah is our promised end” – are particular chilling in light of the recent NYPD Report “Radicalization in the West – a Home Grown Threat (page 43)”

STAGE 4: JIHADIZATION. This is the phase in which members of the cluster accept their individual duty to participate in jihad and self-designate themselves as holy warriors or mujahedeen. Ultimately, the group will begin operational planning for jihad or a terrorist attack. These “acts in furtherance” will include planning, preparation and execution.
By the jihadization phase, small group dynamics play a much more prominent role. While during the earlier stages, the group members may have been only acquaintances, meeting each other in Salafi chat rooms, at university or simply by being friends, by the jihadization phase the group has solidified and hardened. Individuals see themselves as part a movement and group loyalty becomes paramount above all other relationships.

“Group-think” now becomes a force multiplier for radicalization and invariably paves the way for action. As action becomes a group objective, each member of the cluster is challenged to accept jihad as an individual obligation-anointing themselves as holy warriors or mujahedeen.

Group Demands Firing of Arabic School Adviser

By ELIZABETH GREEN
Staff Reporter of the Sun
August 20, 2007 updated 5:28 pm EDT

A group that has been campaigning to close the Arabic-language public school set to open in Brooklyn next month called today for the firing of an adviser to the school, Imam Al-Hajj Talib Abdur-Rashid, a cleric at a Harlem mosque.

The group, the Stop the Madrassa Coalition, accuses Mr. Abdur-Rashid of distorting history to favor Islamic contributions in his teachings. A spokeswoman for the group, Pamela Hall, described them as “indoctrination in which they make everything Muslim- and Islamic-centric, at the expense of the rest of the world’s contribution to history.”

Mr. Abdur-Rashid was one of several people to serve on an advisory council of the Khalil Gibran International Academy selected by its original principal, Dhaba Almontaser. A call to Mr. Abdur-Rashid seeking comment was not immediately returned.

A member of the advisory council, Rabbi Andrew Bachman, today said the board never actually met and has been effectively absolved since Ms. Almontaser resigned earlier this month. Rabbi Bachman said he has not heard from Khalil Gibran’s new principal, Danielle Salzberg, since she took over last week.

The Stop the Madrassa Coalition, includes about 70 community members, some of them public school parents, according to the group. Supporters include a group that opposes illegal immigration, New Yorkers for Immigration Control and Enforcement, and a group that describes itself as a watchdog against domestic terrorism, the United American Committee, according to the group’s website.

The organization’s demand appears timed to coincide with a rally in support of the school, scheduled for 6 p.m. this evening at the Department of Education headquarters downtown. The rally is being sponsored by religious and political groups, including Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, an immigrant rights group, the Center for Immigrant Families, and an Arab cultural group, the Arab Women Active in Art and Media.

The women’s group created T-shirts that read “Intifada NYC,” which were publicized by the Stop the Madrassa Coalition as evidence of what they describe as the hidden extremism of Ms. Almontaser, who had defended the T-shirts.

Ms. Almontaser has worked for 11 years in the city schools, where she focused on teaching inter-group communication and tolerance.

The Stop the Madrassa Coalition today also called for an increase in Arabic-language classes in the city and announced plans to start a library of patriotic American books. “Think of it as America’s Back-To-School resistance to radical Islam in our schools,” the group said in a statement.

Stop The Madrassa Press Release: Three Back-To-School Initiatives

For Immediate Release:
Contact: Pamela Hall
info@stopthemadrassa.org

COALITION DEMANDS THE RESIGNATION OF IMAM TALIB ABDUR-RASHID, CALLS FOR MORE ARABIC CLASSES IN 2008-2009, AND ANNOUNCES THE AMERICAN PATRIOT YOUTH LIBRARY FOR KGIA

The Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition announces three Back-to-School Initiatives.

First, the Stop the Madrassa Coalition demands the resignation from the KGIA Advisory Council of Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Harlem. The Imam is unfit to serve in any capacity in a public school system, since he insists on teaching that Muslims came to America before other explorers and derides any other history as “European imperialistic notions of history rooted in White Supremacy,” as well as opposing celebrating Thanksgiving as “European colonial misguidance.”The Imam’s mosque, the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Harlem has a logo that is a sword with the words “There is no deity but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” The Mosque’s slogan on the “About” page at their website is, verbatim, the Muslim Brotherhood slogan: “Allah is our goal, The Prophet Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah is our leader, The Qu’ran is our constitution, Jihad is our way, And death in the way of Allah is our promised end.”

This radical Imam’s participation in the design and governance of the KGIA is yet another proof that this school should be stopped before it opens. The Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition speaks for Americans across the country who oppose the use of taxpayer funds for what would amount to dangerous Islamist schools in New York City or their own neighborhoods. To ensure that does not happen in Brooklyn, the Coalition calls upon Mayor Bloomberg and New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein not to open the Khalil Gibran International Academy.

Second, the Stop The Madrassa Community Coalition calls on the New York City Department of Education to begin the planning process now for the 2008-2009 school year, to increase by at least 300% the number of secular high school Arabic language instruction classes from the number now available in the 2007-2008 school year. Only two high schools – Stuyvesant and Fort Hamilton – now offer classes in Arabic language instruction, according to a May 7, 2007 letter from New Schools Executive Garth Harries. Since July 27, 2007, we have urged the NYC Department of Education to provide more Arabic classes. The Department of Education can move on from the debacle they have created with the KGIA fiasco, by developing a specific plan for increasing the number of elective, non-religious, non-Islamic, non-ideological Arabic classes, to be taught according to college preparatory standards and by background-checked teachers, with additional curricula criteria to be determined by experts in the field.

Third, we are launching today the American Patriot Youth Library (APYL). We want the students currently scheduled to attend KGIA to have a special library of books about America, to counteract the kinds of Islamist propaganda KGIA Advisory Council Imam Al-Hājj Tālib ‘Abdur-Rashīd teaches. We hope that when KGIA is closed – and it will be, sooner or later – the books can go with the children to their new and better schools, or home for them to keep. Think of it as America’s Back-To-School resistance to radical Islam in our schools.

We want them to have the kind of books we would buy our own children and grandchildren, especially if we thought they were at risk of being exposed to this kind of propaganda. Books about American History, Biography and Geography that aren’t filtered through the philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood (on the website of KGIA adviser Abdur-Rashid) and CAIR-NY (a founder of the American Muslim Association of Lawyers, KGIA partners listed in the “KGIA Executive Summary”).

So today we invite New York City’s parents and grandparents – as well as families across America – to help us with the purchase of a book for Khalil Gibran International Academy, from the online American Patriot Youth Library (APYL) . We’ve selected an Amazon.com wish list of 76 books (to commemorate that great date 1776) in American History, Biography and Geography. You can help by purchasing one book or several, to give the kids at KGIA a view of America that reflects our history, our pride in our country and our ideals.

We’ll deliver the books before school starts. These students deserve the best education New York City and America can provide, and they won’t get it at KGIA. Here’s the direct link to the American Patriot Youth Library website at Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/39YBRT9MWSGGU/.

-30-

KGIA Imam: “Jihad is our way, And death in the way of Allah is our promised end”

From Daniel Pipes’ definitive series of posts on KGIA:

Aug. 18, 2007 update: Beila Rabinowitz alerts me to another Islamist feature of the KGIA’s advisory board: Imam Talib Abdul-Rashid, about whom I have previously written (noting that he “belongs to the ‘National Committee to Free Imam Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin’,” a convicted cop-killer), turns out to be the “resident imam” of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, Harlem. The MIB’s logo shows a sword with the words “There is no deity but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” Yet more alarming, however, is the Muslim Brethren slogan, devised by Hasan al-Banna himself, printed right on the “About us” page:

Allah is our goal
The Prophet Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah is our leader
The Qu’ran is our constitution
Jihad is our way
And death in the way of Allah is our promised end.

Abdul-Rashid’s bio also lists that he is a member of the “N.Y.C. Dept. of Education Chancellor’s Interfaith Advisory Committee to the NYC Dept. of Education,” pointing to the deeper state of rot in the whole of the DOE when it comes to Islam. That this man is on the KGIA board offers further confirmation of the school’s Islamist quality.

Here is the Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood’s Logo:
logo MIB

Aug. 19, 2007 update: In a mailing today, CAIR not only urges “Muslim New Yorkers and other people of conscience” to sign an AWAAM petition supporting KGIA, but it also announces its co-sponsorship of a rally tomorrow at the NYC Department of Education with the same end of showing solidarity with KGIA. Talk about the school being wrapped in the mantle of Islamists!

History Lesson from KGIA Advisory Imam – Muslims Discovered America!

16 Days until KGIA opens. Time to get into that back-to-school spirit, so we’ll be posting new KGIA “Likely Lessons” . Today’s history lesson, from KGIA Board of advisors member Imām Al-Hājj Tālib ‘Abdur-Rashīd: Muslims discovered America!

KGIA acting interim principal Danielle Salzberg, advised by KGIA designer and founder Dhaba Almontaser, chose Abdur-Rashid for the KGIA Advisory Board. Chancellor Klein and the entire New Visions school office either 1) knew and approved of this history lesson from their chosen advisor, or 2) did zero due diligence on KGIA’s advisors and potential curricula. Either way it explains their refusal to disclose any lesson plans or handouts other than the Executive Summary. Whether their cover-up is meant to hide their approved lesson plans or their apparent negligence, it’s still a cover-up. And we’re just getting started exposing it.

Remember to take notes. Principal Danielle Salzberg might give a quiz. Correct answers are important. Politically correct, that is.

P.S. – Note the last paragraph in the excerpts below – the Imam doesn’t approve of Thanksgiving either. Will KGIA kids be allowed to celebrate Thanksgiving? That’s an open question – and they just keep coming.

You can also view this webpage as a pdf (Imām Al-Hājj Tālib ‘Abdur-Rashīd History Lesson), and also screenshots saved as a pdf file on August 18, 2007 (Imām Al-Hājj Tālib ‘Abdur-Rashīd History Lesson Screenshots). Excerpts below…the emphasis is ours.

From the Imam’s article posted December 1, 2005

“The Pre-Columbian Presence of Muslim-Africans in America is No Myth!”

[Below are excerpts – the original article is long, but we urge you to read it in entirety.]

“The misguided activist obviously thinks more of his own unlearned opinion than he does of the oral traditions, scholarly writings, and academic research of experts ranging from centuries ago in the ancient world, to the present. The truth is that there is such a constantly growing, extensive body of cultural, archaeological, anthropological, and linguistic evidence of Western and Northern African Muslim pre-Columbian American (and Caribbean) presence, that those who study the evidence and continue to deny the obvious, reveal themselves to be rooted in old, racist, European renditions of American history.

It is one thing to read about towering figures in the ancient Muslim world like Al-Idrisi, Al-Biruni, Al-Mas’udi and many, many others whose contributions laid the foundations of the modern sciences of history, geography, cartography, and sea navigation. It is another to actually study their work. Both Idrisi and Mas’udi wrote of Muslim African trans-Atlantic excursions to the Western world. Al-Idrisi did so around 956 C.E. Al-Mas’udi wrote in the 12th century. These accounts were written centuries before Columbus’ voyages!”

…..

“These references and more all point to what the non-expert activist dismissed as “wish-fulfillment”. On the contrary, ancient Arabic language maps, Native American tribes with African names and words clearly embedded in their languages, statues, diaries, artifacts, etc. destroy European imperialistic notions of history rooted in White Supremacy. One such notion is that African peoples’ history in America begins with slavery. ..These works compliment references in the writings of Christopher Columbus, Balboa, and other European explorers, to those very same Muslim African explorers (specifically The Mandinka -the people of Kunta Kinte, ancestor of Alex Haley, author of Roots, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X) who were already present in the Carribean and North America, before the bearers of the Cross arrived (e.g. Narrative of the Third Voyage, The Voyages of Christopher Columbus, Lionel Cecil Jane).

One would think that Carroll, being an American of European descent, would at least check his facts and do some substantive research, allowing that academic work to inform his opinion and sensitize his tongue, before offering his non-professional reflections as a Muslim (White) American, about the professional works of Muslim African and African American people, who are writing, after all, about their own history! It seems that there are Muslim “White Liberals”, who, like their non-Muslim counterparts, think they know more about black people and other people of color, than those people know about themselves.

The activist declares, “Afrocentric Muslims might be surprised that many Native Americans consider the diffusionist views of pre-Columbian Muslims to be essentially racist”. First all of all, to state that a relative handful of Muslim explorers came to the land of the Original Americans, met them, peacefully interacted with them, traded with them (see the above depiction of such a meeting by the African American artist, Earl Sweeting), inter-married with them, and perhaps even gave another relative handful of them da’wa is hardly diffusionist.

America is the land of those indigenous inhabitants, called “Indians”. It was their God-given custodial land – the land of the “Red Man”, before the “White Man” stole it, committed genocide against its true people, stole the “Black Man” from Africa and brought him to the stolen land against his will, and it was he, “The White Man”, who populated the land from Europe. To this day “he” grants reluctant access to “his” country, to the “Brown and Yellow Man” of Asia, and all other peoples, Muslim and Non-Muslim. That is the historical fact. To cite the history of Muslim Africans’ pre-imperial, pre-colonial, pre-genocidal presence amongst the Native Americans, is not to diffuse the history of the original “People of the Land”. It is to add to it!”

…..

“Further, each year at our mosque for more than a decade, when many other Muslim Americans are celebrating so-called Thanksgiving (Where’s the daleel for that?), many members of our congregation, who are aware of and openly acknowledge our African and/or Native American heritage, gather in order to listen to talks and lectures, eat food, and get to know each other. We have done this for a more than a decade, as an act of cultural affirmation of our true history, beyond European colonial misguidance.”

…..

“Imām Al-Hājj Tālib ‘Abdur-Rashīd (third from the right, rear) is the spiritual leader of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood Inc., and the author of the forthcoming work, Reclaimed Legacy: The True History of Al-Islam in America”

Imām Al-Hājj Tālib ‘Abdur-Rashīd is close to Chancellor Klein. According to his biography at the Muslim Consultative Network, which he founded before he helped found KGIA, he also serves on “the N.Y.C. Dept. of Education Chancellor’s Interfaith Advisory Committee to the NYC Dept. of Education.

So Chancellor Klein has known of his views for some time.

New York Post: PRINCIPAL NOT KOSHER: MUSLIM

PRINCIPAL NOT KOSHER: MUSLIMBy CHUCK BENNETT

August 16, 2007 — The Department of Education “spit” in the face of Arabs with the appointment of a Jewish woman as principal of the city’s new Arabic-themed school, a Muslim activist said yesterday.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Zein Rimawi said of the appointment of Danielle Salzberg.

“It’s like somebody spit in our face as Arabs,” said Rimawi, a founder of the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and an organizer with the Arab Muslim American Federation.

“They didn’t hire an Arab principal [for] a Chinese school. It doesn’t make any sense.

“This is no respect to our community. Where is the respect?” he asked.

Salzberg is an Orthodox Jew who had worked to develop the curriculum at the Khalil Gibran International Academy.

Her predecessor, Debbie Almontaser, a devout Muslim and fluent Arabic speaker, quit under pressure last Friday after a furor over her comments to The Post defending “Intifada NYC” T-shirts to which her organization was linked.

Glen Beck: “Salzberg…the new leader of a fatally flawed institution”

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0708/15/gb.01.html

BECK: Coming up, the new report by the NYPD`s intelligence arm. It seems to indicate that home-grown terror clusters are an active threat to us here in America. Who would have known? You know, the crazy conspiracy guy, or just a thinker? I`m just saying. That`s tonight`s “Real Story” in just a bit.But first, ding dong, the witch is dead. After an incredible grass roots campaign by concerned parents and New York City taxpayers, the controversial principal of an Arab language school has been forced to resign. But a lot of people, including me, are wondering if that`s enough.

I`ve been telling you about this story from the beginning. This Kahlil Gibran International Academy is an all-Arab language school, and it seems beyond reasonable to point out the numerous glaring and obvious political and religious problems with such a publicly funded institution. We`re talking New York tax dollars here.

The former principal and devout Islamist, Debbie Almontaser, sealed her fate when she supported and sanctioned the sale of T-shirts to young girls that read “Intifada New York”. Interesting choice of school uniforms, I guess.

The zealot`s (ph) replacement is Danielle Salzberg. She is a non-Arab speaker who grew up in an orthodox Jewish home. And while that may seem like a radical about-face from her predecessor, it`s important to understand that Salzberg has been involved in the school`s development from the very beginning.

She is a past colleague of the woman who defended the sale of the T- shirts to children, emblazoned with hate speech. How can she be any better? Will the new leader of a fatally flawed institution make any real difference at all?

Even though the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, supports the existence of this school, it seems that, thankfully, the public has finally waken up and thinking straight. Common sense isn`t dead yet in America, it seems.

As of right now the school only has five teachers. It`s 25 percent undersubscribed by students. And an America Online poll, which is highly unscientific, found that over 80 percent of the public unsympathetic to this school. We can only hope that the New York City Board of Education eventually does the right thing and pulls the plug on this fundamentally bad idea.

Pamela Hall is the lead organizer of Stop the Madrasah Coalition, and Elizabeth Green is a reporter for the “New York City Sun”.

Pamela, let me start with you. Tell me about the T-shirts. You were the person that actually took a picture of the T-shirts. What is the connection to the T-shirts, to the principal and what was her explanation?

PAMELA HALL, STOP THE MADRASAH COALITION: Well, her explanation was unacceptable, and that`s why she`s gone, which was that it just, Intifada just means shaking off. There`s no violence connected to the word and that we should all learn to understand the word differently and nothing to do with murdering of children in Israel.

And that outrageous explanation revealed what we know about her, that she`s apologist and an Islamist. And we must understand more about what they intend to teach at that school, since they will not reveal the curricula. And that still stays a problem.

BECK: OK. All right. Now you have an Orthodox Jew that is replacing her. What is your problem with her?

HALL: Exactly what you said. She was an associate of Almontaser. She has been with her all along, developing this curricula, hiring the teachers, working with the community that is the Muslim Arab community.

Where is the representation for the Coptic and Maronite and the Sephardic Arab speakers of that region? How are they going to teach about those people? The region is not just Arab speakers who are Muslim.

There`s a lot that has not been answered. And we want it answered.

BECK: Elizabeth, I`ve been following your writing for a while in the “Sun”, and I think the “Sun” is just a fantastic newspaper that is doing a great service to this community.

ELIZABETH GREEN, “NEW YORK CITY SUN”: Thanks.

BECK: What is the biggest threat that you see from this school? Why should people pay attention to this? Why is this not just another school?

GREEN: The interesting public policy question, I think, is about whether — about culturally themed schools in general. And this is not the first culturally themed public school in New York City. There`s several others that teach in both Chinese and English, their classes, or another is opening up this year with a Caribbean cultural theme.

So the public policy question is really about whether it`s appropriate for an American public school to focus closely on one specific culture.

BECK: But you haven`t been able to see any of the textbooks. Have you ever had heard anything from the Department of Education? Have they explained what`s going to be taught here?

GREEN: They have. The school is going to have a standard curriculum, just like other schools, except for a few different electives.

I looked at a document, a proposal for the school. It lists the only differences from a regular public school are Arabic language classes.

BECK: OK.

GREEN: And cultural classes like Arab dance, Arab music.

BECK: OK. So, Pam, besides the cultural aspect, which I don`t think they should — we`re in America. Let`s unite, instead of — stop separating — you know, and stop separating ourselves. But besides that argument, Elizabeth just says that she has seen the curricula. What`s missing here?

HALL: Because she hasn`t seen the curricula. We filed our Freedom of Information legal briefs, and they still have not revealed the real legal documents that tell us what they`re actually teaching.

What she read was a document that was released to Stop the Madrasah, which was an executive summary, which was a proposal that was given, and a hypothetical type of instruction that would happen at the school.

They have yet to reveal the real curricula. They just keep telling us it`s a public school, and they will teach according to those guidelines.

But Mayor Bloomberg gives the principal autonomy. She is creating, along with Salzberg and the other associates, they are creating a curricula they will not reveal. And we want to know why are they hiding it, since they were supposed to have revealed it.

BECK: Elizabeth, what I — what brought my attention to this story months and months ago in the “Sun” was the fact that the former principal, the one that just resigned, would not go on record saying who was responsible for 9/11. Wouldn`t name Hamas or Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Have you followed up on this new principal? Do you know anything about — about her on these subjects?

GREEN: The new principal is not talking to the press right now. But we do know that she came from the public school system. She worked there for over ten years. She then worked for a nonprofit called New Visions for Public Schools, which was helping the school get set up.

She — there`s a lot of new small schools in New York City. And this is one of many new small schools. She`s helped start several schools in the city. That`s what she`s doing now.

BECK: So…

GREEN: I know that her father told me that her politics are liberal. That`s all I know.

BECK: OK. Pam, the — there`s lots of Muslim clerics that are onboard — on the board of this school. Right or wrong?

HALL: Very wrong. This is a public school. Where are the academic advisers…

BECK: No, I`m asking, are there Muslim clerics on the board?

HALL: Excuse me. Yes, there are. And it is a religious advisory board that has not been changed. So Salzberg will be advised by the imam. It`s a very imam heavy board. And they will be advising her on how to run this school.

BECK: OK. Thank you very much.

Where is the ACLU?

Where Is The ACLU?BY ALICIA COLON
August 15, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/60520
Now that Dhabah aka Debbie Almontaser has resigned as the principal-designate of the Khalil Gibran International Academy and has been replaced by a Jewish woman, Danielle Salzberg, some assume the opposition to the school itself is over. That supposition would be false. Commenting on the new principal, the Stop Madrassa Community Coalition released this statement: “Salzberg is completely implicated in Almontaser’s radical designs for KGIA. She should be permitted to return to New Visions to work on other schools, and KGIA should not open in September.”

The demand for information from the Department of Education continues. The big question is why isn’t the ACLU involved in this issue?

The last I heard, this legal civil liberty organization was seeking removal of a cross in a Louisiana courtroom and threatening a lawsuit in Connecticut because a public school was using a cathedral for its commencement ceremony. Meanwhile New York has created an Arabic public school which has several religious clerics on the advisory board. That’s as incongruous as if the city had established a Gaelic school with Cardinal Egan on the Board.

The New York Sun has been reporting the existence of this school since March 16th when our education columnist Andrew Wolf wrote, “The city’s Department of Education is wrong in establishing any school that focuses exclusively on one culture.” In April, Daniel Pipes warned that a Madrassa was growing in Brooklyn and by the time my May column calling it a monstrous idea appeared, a grassroots community group seeking to end this project was formed. Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition sent a Freedom of Information Law request to the governor and the mayor. One of the representatives, Sara Springer, went on the “Hannity & Colmes” program to explain that the DOE had not responded to requests for information on the proposed curricula or why the school has a religious advisory board. Another panelist on the cable show was Hussein Ibish, executive director of the Hala Salaam Maksoud Foundation for Arab-American Leadership, who supports the school and asserted that the coalition’s Web site, http://www.stopmadrassa.wordpress.com, was filled with bigotry and hatred. In her resignation, Ms. Almontaser said the critics’ “intolerant and hateful tone has come to frighten some of the parents and incoming parents.” It’s so easy to toss that word, “hate” when confronted by opposition to one’s agenda but I found nothing on that Web site or in any of the critics’ (who include Diane Ravitch and Randi Weingarten) statements that compares to the fury of supporters of the school. Once my column was quoted by the New York Times, I received what can only be described as evil correspondence condemning me in vivid detail to the same fate as certain Holocaust victims. It certainly made me wonder what kind of person still reads the New York Times. Reuters also accused me of inflaming Islamophobia. That was a mild curse, but Reuters is hardly a credible news source anymore since they were once again caught using fake photographs to illustrate their news.

All parties agree that we do need more Arab language instruction, if only for our national security. When I was in high school during the Cold War, our school offered Russian as an after-school program. Ms. Springer told me, “Students should take languages as electives. Our American way of life, principles, and Constitution cannot be allowed to dissolve in multiculturalism and sensitivity training.”

The question is, where is the ACLU? If a cross is anywhere to be found on public property, the ACLU will file a case to have it removed. Yet, clearly, this zeal is nonexistent when it involves Islam.

The University of Michigan-Dearborn is spending $25,000 to build footbaths for Muslim students. In San Diego, an experimental school, Carver Elementary, has morphed into one with accommodations for Muslim prayers and dietary needs not previously made for Christian and Jewish students. In San Francisco, the Bryon Union School District held a three week “How to be a Muslim” program wherein students prayed to Allah and took Islamic names. When the case was taken to court, the liberal Ninth Circuit ruled for the school.

Perhaps the ACLU requires someone to initiate the complaint and atheists only seem interested in targeting Christian artifacts. Exactly what is it about the religion of peace that makes it immune from litigious nonbelievers?

New Approach Needed for Arab School

New Approach Needed for Arab SchoolBY DANIEL PIPES
August 15, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/60542

When Dhabah “Debbie” Almontaser resigned as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy on August 10, her action culminated a remarkable grassroots campaign in which concerned citizens successfully criticized the New York City establishment. But the fight goes on. The next step is to get the academy itself canceled. The five-month effort to get Almontaser removed began in March with analyses, including one by this writer, pointing out the inherent political and religious problems in an Arabic-language school. By June, a concerned group of New York City residents joined with specialists – among them my colleague, R. John Matthies – to create the Stop the Madrassa Coalition with the goal of preventing an avowed Islamist from heading a taxpayer-funded school.The coalition, made up of some 150 people, energetically did research, attended events, peppered public officials – notably Mayor Bloomberg and the schools chancellor, Joel Klein – with letters, collared journalists, and spoke on radio shows and national television. The odds seemed impossibly long, especially as the city government and most of the city’s press clearly supported the KGIA’s opening and Ms. Almontaser as principal, while denouncing their critics.

Unrelenting efforts by the coalition eventually led to the development in early August that caused Ms. Almontaser to resign. One of its leaders, Pamela Hall, photographed T-shirts bearing the words “Intifada NYC,” which were sold by an organization, Arab Women Active in Art and Media, that shares office space in Brooklyn with the Saba Association of American Yemenis. Ms. Almontaser, it turns out, is both a board member and the spokeswoman for the Saba Association.

The T-shirts’ call for a Palestinian Arab-style uprising in the five boroughs, admittedly, had only the most tenuous connection to Ms. Almontaser. She could have maintained her months-old silence, which was serving her well. But the KGIA principal also has a long history of speaking out about politics, and apparently she could not resist the opportunity to defend the shirts, telling the New York Post that the word intifada “basically means ‘shaking off.’ That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic. I understand it is developing a negative connotation due to the uprising in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don’t believe the intention is to have any of that kind of [violence] in New York City. I think it’s pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society … and shaking off oppression.”

This gratuitous apology for suicide terrorism undid Ms. Almontaser’s months of silence and years of work, prompting scathing editorials and denunciations by politicians. Perhaps most devastating was a harsh letter from the president of the United Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, who previously had supported Ms. Almontaser. Ms. Almontaser submitted an angry resignation letter just four days after the publication of her statement apologizing for intifada.

“I remain committed to the success of Khalil Gibran International Academy,” Mr. Klein insisted after Ms. Almontaser’s resignation. Fine, but KGIA’s prospects for opening on September 4 remain clouded. Count its problems: The school has only an interim, non-Arabic-speaking principal; it has only five teachers; and it is 25% undersubscribed by students. In addition, it faces the outspoken opposition of politicians such as Assemblyman Dov Hikind and is wildly unpopular; an unscientific America Online poll of 180,000 subscribers found that more than four-fifths of the public is unsympathetic to the school.

Ms. Almontaser’s departure, however welcome, does not change the rest of the school’s personnel, much less address the more basic problems implicit in an Arabic-language school – the tendency to Islamist and Arabist content and proselytizing.

To reiterate my initial assessment in March, the KGIA is in principle a great idea, as America needs more Arabic speakers. In practice, however, Arabic-language instruction needs special scrutiny.

The city, in other words, could take steps to make the KGIA acceptable by dispensing with the existing set of goals, fundamentally rethinking its mission, appointing a new advisory board, hiring new staff, and imposing the necessary educational and political controls.

Unfortunately, statements by the mayor and the schools chancellor suggest that such steps are emphatically not under way. Until and unless the city leadership changes its approach to the KGIA, I shall continue to call for the school not to open until it is properly restructured and supervised.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org) is director of the Middle East Forum.