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Principal Quits Over 'Intifada NYC T-shirts

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    Principal Resigns Over Intifada T-Shirts AP 2007-08-11 http://news.aol.com/story/ar/_a/principal-resigns-over-intifada-t-shirts/20070810190909990001 NEW YORK
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2007
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      Principal Resigns Over 'Intifada' T-Shirts

      NEW YORK (Aug. 11) - An Arabic-themed public school will still open in
      September, despite the abrupt departure of its embattled principal,
      the city Department of Education said.

      Photo Gallery: Lost in Translation? and Opinion Poll at website

      Diane Bondareff, AP Debbie Almontaser resigned as principal of an
      Arab-themed public school in New York Friday after she was criticized
      for being part of group selling shirts imprinted with the words
      "Intifada NYC."

      So far, 45 students have enrolled in the Khalil Gibran International
      Academy, which is eventually to cover grades 6 to 12. But the Brooklyn
      school and its intended principal, Debbie Almontaser, have faced
      questions and criticism since plans for the academy were announced in

      Almontaser resigned Friday after coming under fire for failing to
      condemn the use of the highly charged word "intifada" on T-shirts.

      "I became convinced yesterday that this week's headlines were
      endangering the viability of Khalil Gibran International Academy, even
      though I apologized," she said in a statement.

      Almontaser's departure comes on the heels of an editorial flaying in
      the New York Post and an article this week that connected Almontaser
      to Arab Women Active in Art and Media.

      That group is selling shirts imprinted with the words "Intifada NYC."
      It shares office space with the Saba Association of American Yemenis,
      which counts Almontaser among its board members.

      The tabloid asserted the shirts had a subversive meaning: "The
      inflammatory tees boldly declare 'Intifada NYC' - apparently a call
      for a Gaza-style uprising in the Big Apple."

      Almontaser, a public school teacher with 15 years of experience, told
      the paper that was a stretch. She said the word, which is most
      commonly associated with the violent Palestinian uprising against the
      Israelis, "basically means 'shaking off."'

      "That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic," she said. "I
      understand it is developing a negative connotation due to the uprising
      in the Palestinian-Israeli areas. I don't believe the intention is to
      have any of that kind of (violence) in New York City."

      She said the shirts provided an "opportunity for girls to express that
      they are part of New York City society ... and shaking off oppression."

      A message left on Almontaser's cell phone was not returned Friday.

      The academy, named after the famed Lebanese-American Christian poet
      who promoted peace, would be one of a few nationwide that incorporate
      the Arabic language and culture.

      It has had a rocky path to its planned opening. Initially supposed to
      share space with an elementary school, the academy was shut out after
      parents complained that there wasn't enough space. City officials
      chose another host school, with middle and high school students, but
      parents there have raised similar concerns.

      Meanwhile, a number of conservative Web sites, blogs and other
      publications have come out against the school. Some have questioned
      Almontaser's character and tried to paint her as a radical Muslim with
      a dangerous agenda.

      She has said the school will teach culture, not religion.

      Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show that Almontaser is
      "certainly not a terrorist" but called her resignation the "right
      thing to do."

      Still, Almontaser's departure appeared unlikely to end opposition to
      the school.

      "The fact that she is gone doesn't mean anything at all. All the
      people behind her are still there," said Hope Winters, a Manhattan
      mother and member of a group that brought the "Intifada NYC" T-shirts
      to public attention.



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