August 10, 2007
By Julie Bosman
The principal of a new Arabic-themed public school in Brooklyn resigned under pressure today, days after she was quoted defending the use of the word “intifada” as a T-shirt slogan.
Debbie Almontaser, a veteran public school teacher, was hired to lead the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a middle school that was scheduled to open this fall. An immediate replacement was not announced, and Ms. Almontaser’s abrupt exit left the future of the school in question.
The remarks that made her the focus of criticism were in response to questions from The New York Post over the phrase “Intifada NYC,” which was printed on T-shirts sold by Arab Women Active in Art and Media, a Brooklyn-based organization that the Anti-Defamation League asserts is linked to Hamas. The Post reported that Ms. Almontaser is a board member of the Saba Association of American Yemenis, which shares office space with the women’s group.
Ms. Almontaser is a well-known Muslim activist in New York City and a member of a prominent Yemeni-American family in Brooklyn. She helped to educate children in interfaith understanding after 9/11. Her son Yousif has served in the Army National Guard. Five of her nephews have served in Iraq as marines; Andrea Elliott of The Times wrote about the nephews’ service in an article published last August. Read more…