Replacing Intifada Debbie Almontaser. Does this mean that suddenly all the troubling aspects of this school will magically disappear? Of course not. Danielle Salzberg is just window dressing.
“Orthodox educator to head controversial NYC Arabic school,” by Michael Lando for the Jerusalem Post (thanks to all who sent this in):
An Arabic language public school set to open in Brooklyn on September 4 is on its second principal before even opening its doors.
Experienced educator Danielle Salzberg, who grew up Orthodox, was appointed as the school’s interim principal late Monday, following last week’s abrupt resignation of the school’s founder, Debbi Almontaser.
Khalil Gibran International Academy, named after a Lebanese-American poet and intended to emphasize Arabic language and culture, has been mired in controversy since it was first announced in February. Critics are concerned the school will become a hotbed for Islamic extremism, despite assurances from the Department of Education that the school will not teach religion….
Criticism of the school, which has three rabbis on its advisory board, reached a high last week over Almontaser’s failure to condemn T-shirts printed by the group Arab Women Active in Art and Media, that read “Intifada NYC.” Almonaster sits on the board of the Saba Association of American Yeminis, which shares office space with the organization that made the T-shirts.
The shirts were first revealed on the Web site of Stop the Madrassa Coalition, an unidentified group that has been campaigning to shut down the school.
Almontaser told the New York Post last week that the shirts were not endorsements of violence, but “an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society.” She later apologized, saying she regretted “minimizing the word’s historical associations.”
Intifada Debbie says she resigned because of those awful Islamophobes:
Almontaser resigned shortly thereafter, saying she was doing so out of concern for the future of the school. The “intolerant and hateful tone” used by critics of the school “has come to frighten some of the parents and incoming parents,” she wrote in a letter of resignation, as reported in the New York Sun. “I have grown increasingly concerned that these few outsiders will disrupt the community of learning when the Academy opens its doors on September 4. Therefore, I have decided to step aside ….”
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who has been at the forefront of the campaign to shut down the school, is not assuaged by the choice of principals. Salzberg’s Orthodox background has not persuaded Hikind, who represents an Orthodox district of Brooklyn, to step back from his criticism.
“Some of our worst enemies are Jews,” said Hikind. “The principal being Jewish hardly gives me comfort.” Learning Arabic is necessary, but can be done within the context of other public schools, said Hikind, who will continue to try to convince the administration to “chuck the whole thing.”