Tuesday, August 28, 2007

NYC=free speech? Fagetaboutit! with 3 updates

Head of City’s Arabic School Steps Down Under Pressure - New York Times

"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.”

Fear of Arabic as discussed in Democracy Now.

Former Mayor Ed Koch:

“I believe there is nothing wrong with having a school related in Islamic culture,” said former Mayor Edward I. Koch. “ I don’t think there is anything wrong with the idea at all.” He added, referring to Ms. Almontaser: “They were too quick to fire her though. I thought she apologized and gave what she thought was an adequate response and is believable.”

The former principal of NYC's new Arabic-focused school has been replaced by a veteran teacher who speaks no Arabic at all. Koch hits it on the head:

“To put a principal totally unimmersed in the culture seems like spitting in their eye,” he said.

"The next step is to get the academy itself canceled," Pipes wrote in the Aug. 15 New York Sun.

Balanced NYT article about the controversy.

"“There’s zero correspondence between the caricature and the actual person,” said Rabbi Andy Bachman of Beth Elohim, a Reform Jewish congregation in Park Slope, who was on the Gibran school’s advisory board. “The words that were used to describe her, the fears that were evoked, are absolutely unrelated to her and her life’s work. Not in any way, shape or form.”

"Another rabbi who has worked with Ms. Almontaser on interfaith efforts, Michael Feinberg of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition, said: “It’s all about insinuation and innuendo and this formula of Arab equals Muslim equals terrorist. The viciousness and the vileness of this case surpass anything I’ve seen before.”

"That vileness also did no favors to the responsible critics of the Gibran school, whether they were parents worried about school overcrowding or scholars like Diane Ravitch and Richard Kahlenberg, who believe that public schools should reinforce a common American culture rather than promote ethnic identity. Their worthy voices got lost in all the bile.

"For now at least, Ms. Almontaser remains employed by the Department of Education. What she requires, though, is something harder to obtain than another job. As another victim of a different smear campaign put it once: “Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?”"

1 comment:

João said...

Dear August,

My name is João Batista Jr., I am a brazilian journalism student who is doing a project about Hezbbolah and the lebaneses that adopted Brazil as a nation.

I read the book Hezbollah whose you are the author, the best one so far during my reseach - that´s why I decided to write you.

The project that I am workink on is academic based and has the pourpose of become a book.

The aspects that I am focused is the way the group obtain money to opperate.

I had interviwed people here in Brazil that assumed sending money to H - wicht is not accepted to them as a terrorist inclination. They trully believe the group has an important role in Lebanon as an social agent.

I sent you 2 e.mails in order to ask if you can give a short interview about this theme. It would be very important for my studies.

Can I send you some questions? If so, in which e.mail?

Thanks very much,
João Batista Jr.