Khaleej Times: 25 teachers from US to visit Saudi Arabia

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticleNew.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2007/September/middleeast_September379.xml&section=middleeast&col=

By Habib Shaikh

29 September 2007

JEDDAH – A group of 25 teachers from the United States is to visit Saudi Arabia from November 21 to December 3 as part of the Educators in Saudi Arabia programme. The trip is sponsored by Saudi Aramco, and is administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE).

The visiting group of teachers will meet area experts in education, industry, history and culture, and global relations in the Kingdom. They also will tour schools, cultural and historical sites and industrial facilities in Dhahran, Riyadh and Jeddah.

“American middle school students have many questions about the Middle East,” Terry Christiansen, a West Branch Middle School teacher, in Iowa City, who is part of the group, said in information made available to Khaleej Times here. “I hope to answer some of those questions after returns from Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Christiansen, who teaches a seventh-grade social science review and an eighth-grade American history course, said he always is challenging his students. He said he first learned of the programme from West Branch Middle School principal Sara Oswald, who had e-mailed the staff about the Institute. He decided to apply for the programme “to live what you teach.” “I thought, what better way to challenge myself (than to go to Saudi Arabia),” said Christiansen, the first Iowan to be selected for the programme.

He said he hopes to relate a different perspective of Saudi Arabia than one of oil and extremism. He hopes to understand better the people’s devotion to Islam and the country’s work to balance traditions with the present.

“It should help us appreciate the perspective of Saudi Arabia. I hope I can eliminate some of the poor perception we as Americans have. I want to demystify some of the perceptions we have,” he added.

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Chicago Sun Times: First Jell-0, Now Santa

OAK LAWN | School district considers banning traditions seen as offensive to Muslims

September 28, 2007
BY ANGELA CAPUTO Daily Southtown
So long, Halloween parade. Farewell, Santa’s gift shop.

The holiday traditions are facing elimination in some Oak Lawn schools this year after complaints that the activities are offensive, particularly to Muslim students.

Final decisions on which of the festivities will be axed will fall to the principals at each of Ridgeland School District 122’s five schools, Supt. Tom Smyth said.

Parents expect that the announcement is going to add to the tension that has been building since officials agreed earlier this month to change the lunch menu to exclude items containing pork to accommodate Muslim students. News that Jell-O was struck from the menu caused such a stir that officials have agreed to bring it back. Gelatin is often made with tissue or bones of pigs or other animals.

That controversy now appears to have been been dwarfed by the holiday debate, which became so acrimonious Wednesday that police were called to Columbus Manor School to intervene in a shouting match among parents.

“It’s difficult when you change the school’s culture,” said Columbus Manor Principal Sandy Robertson.

Elizabeth Zahdan, a mother of three District 122 students, says she took her concerns to the school board this month, not because she wanted to do away with the traditions, but rather to make them more inclusive. “I only wanted them modified to represent everyone,” she said.

Nixing them isn’t the response she was looking for. “Now the kids are not being educated about other people,” she said.

There’s just not time in the six-hour school day to celebrate every holiday, said Smyth, who sent the message to principals that they need to “tone down” the activities that he sees as eating too much into instructional time. “We have to think about our purpose,” Smyth said. “Are we about teaching reading, writing and math or for parties or fund-raising during the day?”

Robertson is hoping to strike compromises that will keep traditions alive and be culturally acceptable to all students — nearly half of whom are of Arab descent at Columbus Manor, she says. Fewer than a third of students districtwide are of Arab descent, according to Smyth.

Following the example of Lieb Elementary School, Columbus Manor School will exchange the annual Halloween parade for a fall festival next month. The holiday gift bazaars at both schools also will remain, but they’ll likely be moved to the PTA-sponsored after-school winter festival. And Santa’s annual visit probably will be on a Saturday.

Sun-Times News Group

New York Sun: The Islamist Trojan Horse

The Islamist Trojan HorseBY YOUSSEF IBRAHIM
September 20, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/63064

“We’re fighting them there, so we don’t have to fight them here” has become a hymn for the American right and an abominable lie to the left. But drowned out by all the noise is the fact that “they” are here already, having landed a long time ago and gotten very busy indeed constructing the American wing of jihad.Have you watched the Arabic Channel, also known as TAC, which serves the New York region? Probably not, as most New Yorkers neither understand nor speak Arabic. But if you are among the estimated 1 million viewers – legal and illegal, new and old Arabic-speaking immigrants to the tri-state area – who tune in daily to Channel 507 on Time Warner Cable, this is what you can get:

• A daily dose of Islamic jurisprudence from an Egyptian sheik, Amr Khaled, who comes direct from Cairo as TAC’s prime advocate of “peaceful jihad,” on how the duty of every Arab-American is to become first, second, and only a member of the Muslim Ummah.

• A nightly helping of Syria’s CNN-style digest of the world, sent fresh from a Damascus studio where the Iraq war is nothing but an American butchery of Arabs, and the Zionist regime in Jerusalem is just biding its time until it gets what it deserves.

• A sprinkling of Egyptian and Syrian soap operas (though TAC completely avoids footage of “Oriental” dancing and other “infidel” joys of life).

On its Web site, TAC says it is now 14 years old and serves the “Greater New York City Metropolitan area, including Jersey City, Bergen County, N.J., and Mt. Vernon, N.Y.” through cable and satellite transmission.

TAC’s ownership and funding are, to put it mildly, ambiguous. What is clear is that someone is funding this Islamist Trojan Horse already anchored inside the American fortress.

Another Islamist Trojan vehicle that was once quietly thriving in America – until it was shut down by presidential order in 2001 – is the now infamous Holy Land Foundation, whose recent prosecution by the American government is in its final phase.

At the Holy Land Foundation’s trial in U.S. District Court in Dallas, the foundation and its many chapters stand accused of allegedly collecting some $57 million for radical Islamic causes and using the money as direct or indirect donations to the Palestinian Arab terrorist organization Hamas. Among other things, Holy Land is accused of allegedly organizing conferences and festivals with Hamas officials at which anti-Israel skits were performed as small children danced and waved flags. But the process was going on long before the Holy Land termination order and trial. It is naïve to not recognize the fusion between such militant proselytizing and the message spread by TAC.

Seemingly separate but unquestionably part of the same process of spreading militancy among immigrant Arab communities was the Debbie Almontaser episode of the Khalil Gibran School saga, in which what she saw as a benign use of the word “intifada” led to her being forced to quit as the school’s principal. Neither Ms. Almontaser’s project nor her unstated intention to create a Muslim school in Brooklyn under the guise of multiculturalism took place in a void. The common task among all these organizations and individuals is to instill the notion there are no Arab-Americans, only Muslim Americans.

What follows next, of course, is the “community’s” eventual embrace of jihad against the values and policies of the majority infidel. This is what has taken place in Britain among native British subjects of Muslim origin.

For those who do not understand Arabic, of course, there is the new Al-Jazeera in English, whose slick, transplanted British broadcasters and directors are dedicated to expanding the notion that America and Israel are always aggressive and morally wrong.

Al-Jazeera in English is accessible via the Internet and gains greater access every day to satellite dishes and bigger audiences, all of it sponsored by our ally, the government of the tiny emirate Qatar.

While American law enforcement is getting pretty good at spotting violence that emerges in the style of another paramilitary attack, a friend in the national security community in Washington told me that there “are no vehicles nor a body of laws” to stop or monitor that other kind of slow implantation.

Yaroslav Trofimov, a Wall Street Journal correspondent and the author of two impressive books, “Faith at War” and “The Siege of Mecca,” travels extensively across the Muslim world and has concluded, among other things: “Often, those with the most bloodthirsty ideas were the well-to-do and the privileged who have had some experience with the West, not the downtrodden and ignorant masses.”

Maybe Congress should find a way to legislate asking such well placed outfits as TAC, Holy Land, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations a question: Who, pray tell, are you working for, gentlemen?

Stop the Madrassa to NYC: Almontaser No, Investigations Yes

The “Communities in Support of KGIA,” a collection of far-left radical and Islamist individuals and organizations, is calling for Dhabah Almontaser’s reinstatement as principal at KGIA and for an investigation:

We, the undersigned, who stand together in support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy and its founding principal, Debbie Almontaser, call upon New York City Council to immediately establish a committee or task force to investigate the sequence of events leading up to Ms Almontaser’s resignation from her position and to make public the results of this investigation by October 15, 2007.

We disagree with that proposal in part. Almontaser should not have any positions, given her radicalism, in public education. But we absolutely agree that an investigation – with public exposure of all internal memoranda, related emails, drafts of statements and related documents – would greatly benefit the public discussion. The New York City Department of Education, through its refusal to release important KGIA planning documentation and instructional materials (actual curricula materials, lesson plans, hand-outs) has failed to comply with our Freedom of Information Law requests.

Albany may be more effective than the NY City Council in ending the DOE cover-up. And our legal initiative will go into the next stage in a few days – watch this space for the update.

Why should the NYC DOE not rehire Almontaser?

Here are three simple reasons.

[We expect the NYC DOE response on September 21 to our Freedom of Information Law request will provide many more reasons, unless the DOE continues their cover-up of the Mayor’s and DOE’s past and ongoing relationships with Almontaser.)

Reason #1: She supported t-shirts saying “Intifada NYC”: Her 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. Her own words defending the “Intifada NYC” slogan were the greatest evidence against her being in charge of any institution, as quoted in the New York Post :

“The word [intifada] basically means ‘shaking off.’ That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic,” she said.

“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.”

Reason #2: She opposes the War on Terror and she blames the US for the 9-11 attacks : Shortly after 9-11, she gave an interview in 2002 to Amnesty International’s Norwegian office in which she stated:

…I would love to see a peace-loving country as Norway calling the USA to the carpet, telling that enough is enough. I would like to see Norway taking the risk demanding that USA stops the killings, spreading suffering, emergency and fear in countries as Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela and Sudan, she says. – I would like to see Norway show its guts in the Security Council and protest against unfair and racist policies. Stop the sanctions against Iraq; can’t you see that it is the civil population that suffers? …..

…. Earlier you could be arrested for being black and driving a car, now it has become a crime to fly when you are brown. I believe a lot of Arab Americans have realized that we are in the same boat as the black Americans; we must learn from their experiences and struggle against racism. I have realized that our foreign policy is racist; in the “war against terror” people of color are the target….

…Today I believe that the terrorist attacks can have been triggered by the way the USA breaks its promises with countries across the world, especially in the Middle East and the fact that it has not been a fair mediator with its foreign policy. It is not true that the people in the Middle East and Southeast Asia hate our lifestyle, our freedom and our democracy. What disturbs them is that we in order to secure our own well being, deprive them of the possibility of achieving the same high living standard and freedom of choice that we have in the western world….

…The American people believes that everything is all right and that the USA lives by its ideals of democracy, individual freedom and the American dream out there as well. So did I, until 11 September 2001. But I have experienced that when you talk to people and explain what is going on, then they are as strongly against the “war against terror” as I. That gives me hope for the future.

Reason #3: 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 Recall Effort being announced in today’s press conference.

She also supports and is supported by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, whose founder and chairman emeritus, former U.S. Senator James Abourezk, is the first name on the petition to recall her as KGIA principal. Abourezk stated on August 31, 2007 to al Manar Television that Hezbollah and Hamas are “resistance fighters” and not terrorist organizations. The ADC is listed as a primary partner of KGIA at the DOE school website, and the ADC provides biased instructional materials for middle schools and high schools with an overt ideological slant.

Interestingly, CAIR-NY sponsored the earlier statement supporting Almontaser, but has taken its name off the current one, indicating a growing weakness and disunity among these “Communities in Support of KGIA.” CAIR’s removal of their name from today’s statement calling for the “investigation” may also be a result of CAIR’s political strength waning, as their membership numbers shrink nationwide and their role is more widely known as an unindicted co-conspirator named in the Holy Land Foundation trial on terrorist financing.

Bottom line?

Almontaser, No. No way, no how.

Investigations?

You bet.

BBC teaches kids about 9-11: BLAME THE U.S. – will this be KGIA curricula?

To commemorate 9-11, the BBC Television network has put up a website with lessons for children that blames the United States for being the target of terrorist attacks.

The Department of Education and KGIA continue to refuse to disclose any instructional materials, other than the standard K-8 course of studies – which KGIA is designed to use as little as possible, creating its own instructional materials.

So we are compiling a repository of likely curricula and instructional materials that KGIA will used, based on the substance and intent of KGIA and DOE public statements in the press, and the clear statements from the KGIA Executive Summary.

As noted in the KGIA Executive Summary, they define the correct “end result” for indoctrination, and make the curricula fit that political goal:

Pedagogical Approach
We believe that people learn best by interacting with the social and material world and that the best vehicle for learning is to engage students collaboratively in solving real world problems. Therefore, in each unit of the school’s articulated 6th to 12th grade curriculum, students will focus on critical thinking and real world issues, past and present (i.e., global warming, poverty, and intractable conflicts), in an interdisciplinary approach.
The administration and staff of KGIA are committed to developing curricula and selecting instructional materials that will provide students with the tools to learn effectively. Backward planning will be the process we take when developing our curricula. It will be driven first by identifying the desired results and essential understandings (big ideas that can be transferred and applied in different situations). Then, it will be based on what students need to know and be able to do to achieve the desired results.

Here is today’s lesson from the BBC-TV, designed to provide the “desired results and essential understandings” referred to by the KGIA Executive Summary   Those “essential understandings” mean imputing no blame to al-Qaeda for the terrorist attacks that killed over 3,000 people.  Instead, this is what the BBC-TV presents as an “essential understanding” about 9-11:

Why did they do it?

The way America has got involved in conflicts in regions like the Middle East has made some people very angry, including a group called al-Qaeda – who are widely thought to have been behind the attacks.

In the past, al-Qaeda leaders have declared a holy war – called a jihad – against the US. As part of this jihad, al-Qaeda members believe attacking US targets is something they should do.

When the attacks happened in 2001, there were a number of US troops in a country called Saudi Arabia, and the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, said he wanted them to leave.

The presentation on al-Qaeda makes them sound a bit like the local Rotary Club – just another volunteer opportunity, since the word “volunteer” is used three times…

How did al-Qaeda start?Al-Qaeda, means ‘the base’.

The organisation was set up by a man called Osama Bin Laden in 1988.

Many volunteers from Arab countries had gone to Afghanistan during the 1980s. They wanted to help the Afghans fight in a conflict against a place called the Soviet Union.

The volunteers supported the Afghans as they were also followers of Islam. For them, the battle was a Jihad or holy war .

When the conflict was over, al-Qaeda was set up to continue the jihad against people the volunteers thought were enemies of Islam.

Al-Qaeda is thought to operate in 40 to 50 countries around the world.

Remember  that the designer and founder of KGIA, Dhabah Almontaser, taught this lesson about 9-11 a few months after it happened – from her interview with Amnesty International in Europe in January 2002, where she did not think it would be monitored….

 – I would love to see a peace-loving country as Norway calling the USA to the carpet, telling that enough is enough. I would like to see Norway taking the risk demanding that USA stops the killings, spreading suffering, emergency and fear in countries as Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela and Sudan, she says. – I would like to see Norway show its guts in the Security Council and protest against unfair and racist policies. Stop the sanctions against Iraq; can’t you see that it is the civil population that suffers?

– Fundamentalist Muslims were blamed for the terror attacks, because of that I felt an urge to go out and tell people who the Muslims are and what Islam really stands for. Islam is a religion for everybody; it is about peace and love, not about war and blood revenge. Only by knowing Muslims and having knowledge of Islam can we have any hope of creating a harmonious multi cultural society.

he harassment has decreased. – The tendency in New York is that people embrace their Muslim and Arab neighbors. However, the same cannot be said about the American government’s policy, that fuels up under prejudice and mistrust towards every person with origin in the Middle East or Southeast Asia, Debbie thinks.

– Earlier you could be arrested for being black and driving a car, now it has become a crime to fly when you are brown. I believe a lot of Arab Americans have realized that we are in the same boat as the black Americans; we must learn from their experiences and struggle against racism. I have realized that our foreign policy is racist; in the “war against terror” people of color are the target.

-Why do you think terrorists attacked the USA?…Today I believe that the terrorist attacks can have been triggered by the way the USA breaks its promises with countries across the world, especially in the Middle East and the fact that it has not been a fair mediator with its foreign policy. It is not true that the people in the Middle East and Southeast Asia hate our lifestyle, our freedom and our democracy. What disturbs them is that we in order to secure our own well being, deprive them of the possibility of achieving the same high living standard and freedom of choice that we have in the western world.  – How do you think terror can be combated?

– At least not by bombing a country into pieces! We did not bomb the hometown of Timothy McVeigh to combat terror when he exploded the Oklahoma bomb in 1995. Great Britain does not bomb North Ireland to fight down the IRA, and Spain does not kill hundreds of civilians in their search for ETA terrorists. So which right do we have to kill Afghan women and children, old and young in the search for Al Qaeda?

– I have not seen the terror threat decrease by Bush’ “war against terror.” He is fighting a war against a ghost, a ghost called Osama bin Laden. What is the real and underlying motivations for the “war against terror” remains to see, but control over oil resources in the region and a shift in regime in Iraq is probably among Bush’s underlying goals.- Does the American people support president Bush’ “war against terror”?

– Many are protesting, but many more support him. But most people do not know what is going on. It is you Europeans who know about such things. The American people believes that everything is all right and that the USA lives by its ideals of democracy, individual freedom and the American dream out there as well. So did I, until 11 September 2001. But I have experienced that when you talk to people and explain what is going on, then they are as strongly against the “war against terror” as I. That gives me hope for the future.

Almontasar’s curricula and instructional materials were developed hand-in-glove with current interim-acting-principal Salzberg, who was her senior program officer throughout the months before KGIA opened.

Do you  think the KGIA teachers will teach anything different than the original undisclosed curricula that Almontaser and AAFSC created?

What do you think the children at KGIA were taught today about 9-11?

Le Monde: KGIA said to be “a seedbed of leftists and Islamists”

From Le Monde, on the opposition to Khalil Gibran International Academy:

Depuis des mois, l’ouverture de cette nouvelle école publique, la première où l’enseignement sera bilingue, en anglais et en arabe, fait l’objet d’une vive polémique. Divers groupes, emmenés par Daniel Pipes, ex-conseiller du président George Bush, et soutenus par le quotidien populaire New York Post (groupe Murdoch), ont demandé son interdiction.

Son encadrement, ont-ils plaidé, serait “une pépinière de gauchistes et d’islamistes”. Cette “madrasa”, ont expliqué William Mayer et Beila Rabinowitz sur PipeLineNews.org, “fonctionnera comme un centre de recrutement pour le djihad”. Elu démocrate de l’Etat de New York, Dov Hikind a jugé “l’idée d’ouvrir une école en arabe dangereuse”.

[Approximate translation]

In recent months, the opening of this new public school, the first where teaching will be bilingual, in English and Arabic, is the subject of a sharp polemic. Various groups, influenced by Daniel Pipes, ex-adviser of president George Bush, and supported by the popular daily newspaper New York Post (Murdoch group), have demanded its prohibition.

Its approach, they have argued, would be “a seedbed of leftists and Islamists”. This “madrassa”, explained William Mayer and Beila Rabinowitz on PipeLineNews.org, “will function as a center of recruitment for the jihad”. Democratic elected official of the State of New York, Dov Hikind has judged “the idea to open an Arabic school to be dangerous”.

CNN Live Event/Special with William Donohue, Pres. Catholic League

Excerpt from CNN Live Event Interview with William Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, aired September 4:

SANCHEZ: All right, you know this is going to be controversial. Let’s bring in some of the people now who have raised some questions about the Arabic school. None other than William Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

You know what I like about Bill Donohue? What I like about Bill Donohue is when people try and talk bad about my religion, as a Catholic, when someone tries to pour urine on the Virgin Mother, on the Holy Mother you fight for us. But, here you’re in a situation where you’re criticizing somebody else’s religion. Should you be doing that?

WILLIAM DONOHUE, PRES, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: Oh obviously, no question about it. Look, I got involved with this because Beth Galinsky is a Jewish activist and good friend of mine in New York asked me to look into this situation.

When we looked into it, we made some phone calls to the Department of Education. What do we want to know? The curriculum, the textbook, the handouts, things of that nature. Guess what? We were stonewalled. As recently as last Friday, August the 31st, stonewalled, they were telling us nothing. I spent 20 years in education, I taught everything from second grade through graduate school. You can’t get a course passed never mind a program or a school without having everything laid out there in the first place.

SANCHEZ: Well, let’s be fair. They do this kind of thing in New York. I know it’s different for somebody watching us in Kansas City. They’ve got a couple of French schools, they’ve got a humanity school where they pluck students out and put them in certain specialized interests.

DONOHUE: Do they have clergy as the advisors? Do they have imams associated with extremist versions (ph)? Look, the multicultural argument is pernicious. You know, there’s a big difference. A year ago the pope made speech that some Muslim didn’t like. What did they do? They shot a nun and they killed her. Jews don’t act that way when they’re not happy with the pope.

SANCHEZ: Let’s not go there. Let’s stick with the subject. Essentially what they’re saying they’re going to do, Bill, they’re going to create a school that’s going to be cultural. They’re going to try and bridge that gap between that society and us so we don’t have to kill each other any more and go to wars. Maybe we can work out our problems by understanding each other. Isn’t’ that a great thing?

DONOHUE: It is a great thing. It’s too bad, then, they appointed a principal who defended or refused to condemn, at least, initially, a pro-terrorist t-shirt, and said we didn’t give us any logical decision about the real word and Intifada didn’t mean that, didn’t mean terrorism.

Look, we know what the word Intifada means, Jews know it and I am fed up with the double standard. We got Islamic crescent star in the schools, I can’t put a nativity scene in the schools. What’s going on here?

SANCHEZ: Let’s stop here. OK, fine. But do you have one shred of evidence that you could bring to the table right now that would show that they’re going to be sharing or teaching nefarious things, that they’re going to teach the kids to hate the West or be involved in terrorism?

DONOHUE: I can tell you this much, the burden is on the Department of Education. How come when we called them all summer long they stonewall us. How come the Association of Muslim-American Lawyers, we find out almost none of them? Could you imagine a Latin school staffed by Catholic nuns and priests who were orthodox? People would raise holy hell in church and state.

SANCHEZ: You’re saying until they tell us what they’re going to bring we’ll continue to criticize?

DONOHUE: I’m trying to say is this an Arab school or Muslim school and what kind of Muslims? I want to know.

SANCHEZ: We’re out of time. Bill, thanks for coming.

DONOHUE: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Always a pleasure. Appreciate it. William Donohue with the Catholic League.