Khalil Gibran Academy Principal Dhabah Almontaser Resigns
The much-criticized principal of Khalil Gibran Academy, the Arabic language school set to open in NYC next month, Dhabah "Debbie" Almontaser, has resigned. And many are saying good riddance.
Beyond the controversy surrounding the school itself, which some feared would become a madrassa in the heart of Brooklyn, it was Almontaser's lame attempt to defend the T-shirts with the term "Intifada NYC" emblazened proudly across the front that appear to have done her in. The T-shirts, which were spotted on sale at an Arab Fair in Prospect Park last month, carried the logo of AWAAM.org, Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media. AWAAM is sponsored by and shares office space with the Yemeni American Association, of which Almontaser is the founder and a board member.
The fact that the term "intifada," which everyone knows is directly associated with the Palestinian/Arab war of extermination against Israel (otherwise known as the "uprising") had entered the mainstream lexicon in such a startling fashion was not lost on the public. Facing mounting criticism, particularly from United Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, Almontaser eventually condemned the T-shirt's message. But not before telling the New York Post that "intifada" just means "shaking off" and that the shirts somehow represented women "shaking off" oppression. And if you believe that, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn (literally) to sell you.
While some are reporting that it was the New York Post (which has covered the story extensively) that broke the T-shirts story, to the best of my knowledge, it first came to light via the Stop the Madrassa Coalition (STMC). The tireless activism of STMC spokeswoman and local parent Pamela Hall, who has been all over the media in recent weeks trying to call attention to the story, as well as the related information made available at the STMC website, turned out to be invaluable. Almontaser's resignation is a testament to the importance of citizens taking an active role in their children's education, not to mention being vigilant about potential Islamist encroachments.
The next challenge will be the fate of Khalil Gibran Academy itself and STMC is not letting up on the pressure. Stay tuned.
Update: Atlas Shrugs, who has been covering the story for months, blogged on Almontaser's resignation earlier today. Lots of useful links and info. Check it out.