Monday, August 13, 2007

Head of City's Arabic School Steps Down Under Pressure

Head of City's Arabic School Steps Down Under Pressure

The principal of New York City's first public school dedicated to the study of Arabic language and culture resigned under pressure yesterday, days after she was quoted defending the use of the word "intifada" as a T-shirt slogan.

Debbie Almontaser, a veteran public school teacher, stepped down as the principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, a middle school that is to open this fall in Brooklyn.

Ms. Almontaser's remarks, made last weekend, were in response to questions from The Post over the phrase "Intifada NYC," which was printed on T-shirts sold by Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media, a Brooklyn-based organization. The shirts have no relation to her school.

"The word basically means 'shaking off,' " Ms. Almontaser told the paper. "That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic."

Ms. Almontaser may not have been condoning the violence that the Palestinians unleashed in the occupied territories, but her views on the righteousness of their cause were evident.

In her defense, the West has never faced up to the fact that Israel remains the only final solution to a European problem that the Allies imposed on the colonies*. If nothing else, the Arab media will surely seize on the fact that the other people in article, Joel I. Klein, the school commissioner, Michael R. Bloomberg, the mayor, Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, are Jewish.

* Europe settled the better part of its internal accounts in the 20th Century through territorial concessions and what would now be called ethnic cleansing. The post-WW II Soviet takeover glazed over some faults that ruptured when the empire came apart in the nineties.

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