San Francisco, CA - PipeLineNews.org - Jeffrey S. Wiesenfeld a long time member of the City University of New York's Board of Trustees, who also spent four years serving in the FBI's foreign counter-intelligence division, today blasted both the Khalil Gibran International Academy and its Yemeni born principal designate, Dhabah Almontaser.
This represents somewhat of an epiphany for Mr. Wiesenfeld who had previously accepted assurances that the proposed institution - which is scheduled to open in a few weeks - would not become problematic, as critics have been charging.
In an interview with PipeLineNews.org, he stated:
"...based on what I had heard from other people and the Chancellor's public assurance that any polemics or infections if you will that would be a potential for this school would be exorcised or avoided, I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt, despite all my skepticism."
However all of this changed with it becoming public knowledge that at a recent Arab street fair, an organization closely allied to Almontaser - the Arab Women Active in Arts and Media [AWAAM] - was spotted selling t-shirts with "Intifada NYC" and "Future Palestinian Activist" emblazoned on them.
Almontaser initially denied that Intifada referred to the terrorist campaign of violence against Israeli civilians, claiming that it "basically means 'shaking off oppression.'"
Reacting to Almontaser's obvious disingenuousness, Mr. Wiesenfeld quickly made the transition from lukewarm supporter of KGIA to serious opponent.
"But when this comment about the innocuousness of Intifada tee shirts came about, I said to myself that I was really an idiot and I'm tired of the duplicity which some would argue which is itself a patronizing racist comment, that there is something so artful about Arabic culture and thought that they express themselves in this type of flowery language that can be interpreted in different ways. I don't buy any of it, I don't buy that she didn't get it. I don't buy that that she saw there was some other meaning…literal meaning that was more apt to Intifada, than what we know it to be."
About the rampant atmosphere of multiculturalism which has allowed KGIA and Almontaser to escape a reasonable level of public scrutiny, he stated:
"I'm tired of having a different standard for the Arab/Muslim world where for instance Arafat spoke one way to his adherents and then another way to the diplomats…where Asad does the same thing and in a smaller way we have this confusion...that Almontaser...she knew exactly what it meant...she knew exactly the consequences of this language."
Though chagrined that he didn't follow through on initial concerns over the school, Wiesenfeld was quick to credit Michael Meyers, President and Executive Director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition, as having had the vision to oppose the creation of sectarian public schools from the inception of the idea.
"[Though] "I was uneasy with the concept...I think that Michael Meyers here from the New York Civil Rights Coalition, who has been the most consistent and adamant against this concept of these sectarian schools. I have to bow to him. He was correct and I was wrong."
Indeed Mr. Wiesenfeld is now committed to actively opposing the creation of the Khalil Gibran International Academy saying, "I will fight it in every way that I can...the concept is bad, it's dangerous...It's a national security concern."
Concluding his thoughts on the controversy he stated:
"I think we have to get really serious about demanding that people say what they mean and mean what they say...especially in this era, this kind of duplicity has gone on for too long...She's [Almontaser] very smooth...there are a lot of these smoothies, they are all very good at this...we are just being sold a bill of goods."
Other influential members of the community are also expressing similar outrage over KGIA and Almontaser's repeated duplicity, extremist beliefs and troubling ties.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind yesterday said, "It is an absolute outrage that she doesn't know what intifada is all about. This is not about shaking off - this is about carnage represented by blowing up pizza stores in Israel, blowing up buses."
When asked if he had come out against the Khalil Gibran school, Assemblyman Hikind clarified his position, stating that he supported "the removal of Almontaser."
"This woman should not be principal of any school" said New York City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. Vallone quipped,"This shirt should read, 'I promote terror and hate on a daily basis, and all I got for it is this lousy T-shirt."
When contacted by these writers, the Councilman's office said that they had not seen the Executive Summary and were interested in reviewing it. A spokesman for Vallone stated that they were "watching" the situation.
Additional resources regarding KGIA.
Go here for a summary of information regarding the Khalil Gibran International Academy
Go here for a summary of information regarding the Stop The Madrassah Coalition