Hamas Sympathizers Tied To Khalil Gibran International Academy?

By Beila Rabinowitz and William Mayer

July 17, 2007 - San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - In previous articles the writers have documented why Dhabah aka "Debbie" Almontaser, the Yemeni born principal designate of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, does not belong in the public school system.

She promotes an Islamist agenda, operates in an environment populated by radical Muslim organizations and individuals, holds extreme leftist political views and aims to use the KGIA as a tool of indoctrination. [see Khalil Gibran Jihad School - Indoctrination Not Education]

Almontaser has a close working relationship with Linda Sarsour, a radical Islamist activist with a power base in Brooklyn's Bay Ridge district. Sarsour is the director of the Arab American Association of New York, a provider of social services including immigration assistance and legal aid to Arab community. She along with Almontaser are board member of the AAA's Dialogue Project and Sarsour is the Co-Chair of the Dialogue Project's Interfaith Events program.

Sarsour's association with Almontaser provides an alarming insight into the forces that will drive KGIA if the school becomes a reality in September.

This relationship poses a serious challenge to those who blindly maintain that KGIA is just another New York City charter school, because Linda Sarsour is tied to the terrorist organization Hamas as well as other radical causes. Deepening the concern, the community from which Sarsour operates shares her views as well as her support for Islamism.

In a 2004 piece by Sarmad S. Ali, "Kerry Drew Disenchanted Arabs in Bay Ridge" published in the Columbia Journalism Review, Linda Sarsour matter-of-factly documents her family's ties to Hamas as depicted in the Arab language terrorist newspaper that she is reading while being interviewed:

"As the presidential election grew near, Linda Sarsour sat in her small office at the Arab-American Association in , Brooklyn, looking at the photos of two thickly bearded young Arabs on the front page of an Arabic-language newspaper.

The paper carried fervent slogans calling on young people to become martyrs in the conflict with Israel.

Sarsour, a 24-year-old Palestinian-American, sighed. One of the men, she said, was a cousin who has been in Israeli jails for 25 years. The other man, she said, was a family friend serving a 99-year prison sentence in Israel. Her brother-in-law, she said, is also serving a 12-year sentence, accused of being an activist in the Hamas, the religious militant group, though, she said, he was secular in his beliefs."[source http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentwork/election/2004/minority_ali01.asp]

She continued, as if the deportation proceedings against her Palestinian husband whose brother was a jailed Hamas member had no wider implications.

"Despite those concerns, she said, she was more worried these days about her own future in America, She said she had been questioned by U.S. authorities, and her Palestinian husband, after seven years in America, faced deportation proceedings…"

Brooklyn harbors one of the largest concentrations of Islamic extremists in the United States, having become radicalized, like many other New York Muslim enclaves, over the past few decades.

For example, in a March 5, 2003 piece, NY Times reporter Eric Lichtblau detailed how Sheik Muhammad Ali Hassan al-Mouyad, the imam of Brooklyn's Al Farooq mosque [whose congregation has a large Yemeni presence] had been arrested in Germany for raising $20 million for al-Qaeda.

[Ali Hassan] "boasted that he had personally delivered $20 million to Osama bin Laden, federal officials said Tuesday...The arrests in Frankfurt, Germany, following a yearlong undercover operation that took federal agents from Brooklyn to Frankfurt, represent one of the most important terrorist financing cases that authorities have built since the Sept. 11 attacks in terms of both the amount of money involved and the direct connection alleged to bin Laden himself, officials said." [source, Cleric boasted of supporting al-Qaida, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4196/is_20030305/ai_n10850062]

In 2005 Almontaser co-founded the Yemeni American Association [YAA] and imam Hisham from the Al Farooq mosque presided at the organization's opening. Almontaser's husband, Sa'ad Almontaser, serves as the vice president of the YAA.

In 2006 Shahawar Matin Siraj a Bay Ridge resident, was convicted and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in a plot to bomb the Herald Square subway station in Manhattan.

The case was largely built on evidence gathered by Arabic speaking informants.

When New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly met with local Muslims to hear their "concerns about issues of public safety," as the New York Times reported, "Only after several questions did anyone mention the trial. Debbie Almontaser, a board member of a Muslim women's organization, told Mr. Kelly that she was saddened that the police had resorted to "F.B.I. tactics," and that she thought this was polarizing the Muslim community. Applause swept the room." [source http://www.nytimes.com:80/2006/05/27/nyregion/27muslim.html?ei=5088&en=e1d9ae090b6a75db&ex=1306382400&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print]

As these writers noted in New York Jihad School Principal Almontaser Decried "FBI" Tactics Towards Convicted Terrorist, "Only in Almontaser's insular world, preventing a crime that could have killed hundreds is viewed as "polarizing."

A majority of Bay Ridges' Muslims believe that 9/11 was staged by the U.S. government.

"At the trial of subway bomber Matin Siraj his defense lawyers said their client's belief that 9/11 was staged by the United States was the common view held by the majority of Muslims in . April 2007 Siraj's defense maintained that his views that the United States government was involved in the 9-11 attacks were "community-based notions" held among many muslims."

"In fact, in that entire Muslim community...the thought that the American government was responsible for bringing down the towers on 9-11 was common," said one of Siraj's attorneys, Martin Stolar. [source http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/29/21/29_21guilty.html]

In a disturbing piece ["Zionist Organization Supports Gibran School Principal, ADL Support Could Affect School's Success!"] published in Aramica, an Arab newspaper headquartered in Bay Ridge, publisher Antoine Faisal essentially charges Dhabah Almontaser with collaborating with the "enemy."

"What could she [Almontaser] possibly have done to anger members of her own community? How about betray them by working with a Zionist organization?" [source http://www.viewda.com/webpaper/aramica]

That enemy, the "Zionists" here, takes the form of the Jewish organization, the Anti Defamation League which Faisal equates with the Ku Klux Klan.

"Imagine a NYC charter school for African Americans called the Rosa Parks Academy with an emphasis on Back History and culture whose principal was found to have a long standing relationship with the KKK." [source http://www.viewda.com/webpaper/aramica]

KGIA backer Linda Sarsour is in full agreement:

"I don't work with the ADL and I don't wish to, I will never do it. They are absolutely the most racist organization in the United States..." [source http://www.viewda.com/webpaper/aramica]

The pastor of the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, Khader N. El-Yateem, a KGIA board member, seems to be indicating the fraudulence of the façade of moderation surrounding the school and the community in general, stating in the piece that for the ADL "to interfere in our business, and the way in which we are trying to conduct business to make us look good in front of the American media..."

Almontaser's only personal involvement with the ADL is that they made the claim in a letter to the New York Sun that she had participated in the groups' workshops featuring an anti-bias program called, "A World of Difference" and is reported to be considering using some of this material in KGIA's curriculum. A pose which appears contrived.

The Aramica article is a testament to the seething anti-Jewish hate that exists within Brooklyn's Muslim community, a feeling that is shared by powerful backers of KGIA. It also alludes to Almontaser's ruthless nature, saying anything to achieve her goals.

"given her [Almontaser's] knowledge of the overwhelming feeling in the Arab American community towards Israel...There are also members of this community who have worked with Almontaser on various projects and have experienced her Machiavellan methods of getting things done…imagine father Al-Yateem's surprise when he found out Almontaser had put in on the KGIA Board of Trustees without consulting him."

A further exploration of Linda Sarsour's connections reveals that she sits on the board of the National Council of Arab Americans which is chaired by [source http://www.arab-american.net/] Elias Rashmawi. Rashmawi, in addition to being a founding member of the NCA, is part of the national steering committee of International ANSWER a Marxist, pro-Hamas/Hezbollah organization responsible for coordinating the majority of street demonstrations against the Iraq war in the United States and Western Europe.

Rashmawi was deported from Israel in 1997, and in America has only sharpened his radical pro-Palestinian activism with outright incitement which has led to violence.

As reported by Front Page magazine:

"Evidence also suggests that through the NCA, Rashamawi is working to radicalize a new generation of Palestinian activists. In a series of inflammatory speeches he gave in May of 2001, Rashamawi incited Palestinian Students in Davis, Calif., to rise up against "Israeli apartheid," and exhorted the University of California at Berkeley to divest millions of dollars in companies that support Israel. The effects of his provocation were immediate and destructive. Within days, Palestinian students stormed a U.C. hall to demand divestment before finally being arrested by police. Shortly thereafter, the director of the campus Hillel, Hillel Damron, received a tip that some Arab students were plotting an attack on the Hillel house.

Sure enough, the next morning the Hillel's roof was in flames--sparked by an Israeli flag that had been set afire. [source, "The "Peace" Movement's Radical Arab-Americans," by Jacob Laksin, http://www.frontpagemagazine.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=14844]

Aramica's "attack" on Almontaser is suspect; it seems a transparent effort to make Almontaser appear "moderate" at least as compared to other KGIA supporters whose virulent and vocal assault on "Zionism" amounts to nothing more that thinly disguised anti-Jewish bigotry.

Despite this minor and possibly contrived dust-up between the institution's backers, support for KGIA runs deep among Arabs in Brooklyn, and if one is to gauge from the comments that "community leaders" in the Aramica piece made, Muslim extremism and intolerance are thriving, with these leaders demanding that KGIA conform to their world view.

"How is an outside influence [the ADL] going to shape the school, and how will it push it from its stated goals…This school is supposed to represent the interests of the community…We need to support this academy, and we need to make sure we do so in the interest of our community."

What is abundantly clear at this point is that Almontaser, despite her documented Islamist/leftist viewpoint is outflanked in her community by those who for whatever reason feel less compelled to engage in the "Machiavellian" double-speak that she so-often reverts to in public forums where her comments can be recorded.

It should be apparent that a school devoted to Arab culture and including extensive course work in Arabic in Brooklyn will reflect the feelings of the surrounding Muslim community and its prevailing viewpoint. With regard to KGIA, the more that viewpoint comes to light the more troubling this proposition appears to be.

These communities in large part have a barely concealed hostility to their host country, they feel put upon, discriminated against and constantly under unwarranted surveillance. They believe that a conspiracy exists in which the American government is so evil that it would perpetrate 9/11 just to frame Islam and they have contributed millions directly to Osama bin-Laden, through at least one local mosque.

They promote outlandish conspiracy theories in which they are victimized by a foreign policy dominated by Zionists and that these same forces are now insinuating themselves into KGIA's curriculum.

This attitude is seemingly endemic, with even self-identified Arab Christians aligning themselves with the Islamists, proving that Arab cultural norms in large part trump even religious affiliation, rendering farcical the claims by the schools supporters that it cannot be Islamist because it is named after a Lebanese Christian poet.

Giving voice to a community which is seemingly united on these core elements, Brooklyn's Arab leaders seem to be in lock-step, making sure that in operation and despite statements to the contrary by Dept. of Education Chancellor Joel Klein, KGIA will reflect this same degree of bias and religious hatred.

As the radical nature of this community's key players such as Dhabah Almontaser and Linda Sarsour are revealed, it becomes ever more apparent that once established, KGIA will become a madrassah not far removed from those in Pakistan, devoted to an agenda of hate-filled Islamist indoctrination, not education.

There is historical precedent for Chancellor Klein if he chooses to shut down the Khalil Gibran International Academy.

In 2005 he dismissed Columbia professor Rashid Khalidi from a DOE teacher's program on Islam with the terse statement, "Considering his past statements, Rashid Khalidi should not have been included in a program that provided professional development for DOE teachers, and he won't be participating in the future."

Mr. Klein and the DOE spokespeople have repeatedly stated that they will close KGIA if it becomes "religious" or "political." It is time he keeps that promise and cancels the planned opening of the KGIA, adding the anti-Semitism of its backers to the long list of reasons why this institution must not be allowed to go forward.

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