|Jews for Racial and Economic Justice wants Debbie Almontaser reinstated as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, an Arabic-themed small school.|
Jewish activists are defending the city’s first Arabic-themed school and its embattled former principal.
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), an organization fighting for equal opportunities for the city’s poor, immigrants, and minorities, issued a statement in defense of the Khalil Gibran International Academy and Debbie Almontaser, who designed the school but stepped down as principal.
The organization says the city Department of Education (DOE) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg should have done more to defend Almontaser when news outlets and politicians demanded her firing after she made controversial remarks about the meaning of the word “intifada” – she cited the Arabic translation, “shaking off” oppression, rather than the uprising of Palestinian Arabs.
Echoing earlier comments by Almontaser’s supporters, JFREJ maintains that Almontaser, an educator who Bloomberg called “not all that media-savvy,” was a victim of racism by those who wanted to put the kibosh on an Arabic-themed school.
The group asserted, “As parents, students, teachers, New Yorkers, and Jews, we are outraged by the series of events that have culminated in Debbie Almontaser’s resignation as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy. We are particularly disturbed that Mayor Bloomberg, Joel Klein, the chancellor of the Department of Education, and Randi Weingarten, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, bowed to right-wing pressure and did not strenuously resist and condemn the unjustified attacks on Ms. Almontaser, which fed on and fostered anti-Arab and anti-Muslim prejudice.” More…