Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Steve Quester on UFT Role in Debbie Almontaser Resignation


"I write as a White, Jewish anti-racist educator who is heartsick over the role his union played in this sordid affair." - Steve Quester

The resignation of Debbie Almontaser as principal of the proposed Arab language school in Brooklyn has caused a great deal of controversy. The DOE replaced her with Danielle Salzberg. (That ought to inspire the Arabic community to register their kids for the new school.) There's so much stuff flying it is hard to keep track of it all. An interesting interview by Amy Goodman posted on Democracy Now can be found here. Also this piece written by Almontaser, not long after 9/11. http://www.gothamgazette.com/commentary/107.almontaser.shtml

Steve Quester, a UFT chapter leader, comments on the role the UFT President played.

Imagine...
A veteran Latina educator, with a years-long record of service supporting Latino/a youth and building bridges between Latino/a and non-Latino/a communities, is slated to be principal of a new middle school with a focus on Hispano-Caribbean studies and Spanish language. She endures months of vitriolic attacks from right-wing hate websites and blogs, and from the Murdoch news organizations. Finally, the Murdoch media uncover that she’s on the board of an organization that shares an office with a Latina girls’ empowerment organization. The organization has produced a T-shirt with the image of Che Guevara and the words “Hasta la victoria siempre.” The Murdoch media point out (rightly) that the “victoria” to which Che referred was the violent overthrow of all capitalist governments, including the U.S. The media demand that the educator condemn the T-shirt, but instead she says that the girls’ intention was to point to the victory of tolerance and coexistence over anti-Latino/a bias in New York. The media howl. The educator quickly apologizes, admitting that she did not take into account the effect that the image of Che has on Cuban-American refugees of Castro’s oppression.

After the apology, the UFT president, who had been supportive of the new middle school and its principal, is quoted condemning the educator’s initial defense of the T-shirt. The president makes no mention of the educator’s exemplary record, or the racist context in which the controversy about the T-shirt has taken place. The UFT president says, "maybe, ultimately, she should not be a principal." The print, broadcast, and Internet media trumpet the UFT president’s condemnation far and wide, and the next day, the educator resigns from the principalship.

Now imagine that the educator is a respected African-American, and the new middle school will have an Afrocentric focus. The T-shirt has an image of Malcolm X holding a rifle and the words “By any means necessary.” The media point out (rightly) that the “means” to which Malcolm X referred included armed struggle. The educator says that the girls’ intention was to point towards non-violent African-American empowerment, not armed struggle. When the educator apologizes, she admits that she did not take into account the effect that the image of Malcolm X holding a weapon might have on efforts to combat gun crimes in New York City. The UFT president is quoted saying, "maybe, ultimately, she should not be a principal." The next day, the educator resigns from the principalship.

In reality, it’s unlikely that these T-shirts would have prompted sustained media attacks, or that the UFT president would have ever taken such an extreme public reaction. And if the president had taken such action, there would have been an outcry from the rank and file, and not just Latino/a or African-American members. In New York City, T-shirts of Che Guevara, Malcolm X, Mumia Abu-Jamal, or Leonard Peltier do not instill fear, provoke tabloid campaigns or result in demands for any person to make a wholesale repudiation of other members of their community.

Now imagine that the veteran educator is an Arab-American and a Muslim, with a years-long record of service supporting Arab-American and Muslim youth and building bridges between Arab-American, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. The new middle school will focus on Arab studies and Arabic language. After months of vitriolic attacks from right-wing hate websites and blogs, the Murdoch news organizations uncover that she’s on the board of an organization that shares an office with an Arab-American girls’ empowerment organization. The collective has produced a T-shirt with the words “Intifada NYC.” The Murdoch media point out (rightly) that for most New Yorkers “intifada” connotes terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians.

When the media demand that the educator condemn the T-shirt, she says, “The word [intifada] basically means 'shaking off.' That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic. 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. I think it's pretty much an opportunity for girls to express that they are part of New York City society… and shaking off oppression."

The media howl. The educator quickly apologizes, saying, “The word 'intifada' is completely inappropriate as a T-shirt slogan. I regret suggesting otherwise. By minimizing the word's historical associations, I implied that I condone violence and threats of violence. That view is anathema to me.”

After the apology, the UFT president, who had been supportive of the new middle school and its principal, is quoted in the media condemning the educator’s initial defense of the T-shirt. The president makes no mention of the educator’s exemplary record, or the racist context in which the controversy about the T-shirt has taken place. The UFT president says, "maybe, ultimately, she should not be a principal." The print, broadcast, and Internet media trumpet the UFT president’s condemnation far and wide, and the next day, the educator resigns from the principalship.

The third scenario happened, in August of 2007. Our union could have stood with Arab-American and Muslim students and educators against the onslaught they have endured since 9-11, but instead we joined the chorus of racists, led by the teacher-hating, Arab-hating New York Post and Fox News, who hounded veteran educator Debbie Almontaser out of her job as principal of the Gibran Academy.

In writing all of this, I do not claim to speak for the members of my chapter. I did not consult them. I do not claim to speak for a UFT caucus. I do not belong to one. I certainly do not claim to speak for Debbie Almontaser. Although, as a District 15 educator, I am acquainted with Debbie and her work, I have not seen or spoken with her since long before the Gibran Academy controversy erupted at P.S. 282. In presenting the imaginary scenarios, I do not claim to speak for the political views of anyone in the Latino/a or African-American communities.

I write as a White, Jewish anti-racist educator who is heartsick over the role his union played in this sordid affair.

Peace,
Steve Quester
UFT chapter leader
P.S. 372/418K The Children’s School

24 comments:

  1. I think Steve Quester is right on. I live in a neighborhood that we share with many Muslims, among other groups. Right after 9/11, Debbie Almontaser and her husband came to our neighborhood association to talk about efforts we could make to show unity in the face of the disaster. She helped set up an interdenominational candlelight rally in the neighborhood that was healing even for those of us who do not subscribe to religion. I know this was only one of her efforts for interdenominational understanding. I think Randy, Klein, et al were acting politically when they axed her--they couldn't afford the fallout.

    On the other hand, whether an Arab culture school or a Jewish culture school is an appropriate focus for a public school is definitely a tough question. It makes me uncomfortable to have a school devoted to one culture, rather than, say, individual courses or a theme. And I have to agree somewhat with the mother in the article about the Hebrew-focused school who said that "concerns have been valid, but have ignored the fact that religion already has a place in public schools. ''If I were to send her to any other public school, you better believe that come December, she'd be learning Christmas carols,'' she said.

    There's still a lot of room for growth in understanding that there is a dominant religious culture in this country, and it's not particularly tolerant of being challenged.

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  2. Actually, the children from my congregation who attend public school no longer learn Christmas carols in public school. They do get holiday songs, but these holiday songs are emptied of any spiritual value. And children's music composers are writing music nowadays that is acceptable for public schools, and the words and music are cheesy and insipid.

    As a Christian believer, I'd rather that public schools taught no "carols" at all.

    Thanks for this posting, Mr. Quester. You have a conscience.

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  3. I am also a Jewish, anti-racist educator and I am against the Khalil Gibran school or any such school.

    Steve Quester has an agenda far to the left of most New Yorkers. He is quite anti-Israel (google him and see). This, of course, is his right, but his view is quite skewed against Israel and his bias shows throughout this diatribe.

    Mr. Quester is a member of the International Solidarity Movemet which is very anti-Israel.

    Here is a quote from Mr. Quester:
    “[W]hen the suicide bombings started one after the other, I was like, ‘Okay, now everyone’s got to understand how horrible the Israeli behavior is.’”

    And in another quote:
    Steve Quester wonders if Israelis are“going to build gas chambers and kill them all (Palestinians)”

    Should there be a Khalil Gibran school? I think that it is a bad idea because rather than promote diversity and harmony, it has the chance to segregate society more.

    I think that we need to bring people together and not create little bantustas for those with agendas.

    I am sorry that you published Mr. Quester's diatribe. His agenda is decidely anti-Israel his opinion adds little to the discussion because it is so tainted with hatred for Israel. Mr. Quester states he is a white, Jewish (but non-practicing) anti-racist educator...but he is quite "racist" against all things Israeli.

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  4. Why doesn't the previous writer leave his or her name so we can google it for "evidence" of an agenda not deemed worthy of existence.

    Is this no longer a free country or is it just free as long as you don't dare criticize Israel?

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  5. Letter CIF sent to UFT President Randi Weingarten:

    Dear Randi,

    We are deeply disappointed and upset by your statements in opposition to Debbie Almontaser. We believe your statements have played a role in furthering the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism that pervades and infects our City.

    Aside from everything else that points to the racist nature of this
    whole incident, do you not know that in most parts of the world, the word intifada connotes resistance to an unethical and illegal and brutal occupation? It is not the word intifada that promotes violence or that should be denounced; rather, what should be denounced is an occupation that promotes violence and that made the intifada necessary.

    And do you also not know that if principals were forced to resign for making a statement that someone thought was insensitive or
    inappropriate or stupid (which this was not), we'd likely have almost
    no principals left in NYC?

    Finally, as you know, New York City has one of the most inequitable
    and discriminatory school systems in the country--one that has grossly under-served low income and families of color. It is our view that we should be doing everything possible to support, not destroy efforts to strengthen schools that promote critical thinking and a concern for the world around us and that reflect, respect, and serve our many different communities.

    You are certainly entitled to your personal views on this matter, but
    you represent the teachers of this city and need to be held accountable for your public statements and positions. For the sake of the children of our city and for a commitment to fighting racism and injustice, we urge you to make a public apology for your comments that helped lead to the resignation of Debbie Almontaser.

    Sincerely,

    Center for Immigrant Families

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  6. Criticizing Israel is not a problem. I criticize it all the time. I am also of Arab (my mother is from Morocco) Jewish origin. There is diversity in the Arab world and as evidenced by the horrible attack on the Yazidis today (I mention the Yazidis because it was previously a rarely mentioned group), few people are aware that there is not one Arab culture, but many Arab cultures.

    Mr. Quester associates with the International Solidarity Movement, an organization that is anti-Israel. Anti-Israel means that it calls for the destruction of Israel. He has publicly stated that Israel deserved the suicide bombings. He stated, "W]hen the suicide bombings started one after the other, I was like,' Okay, now everyone's got to understand how horrible the Israeli behavior is'. "

    In other words, he was justifying the suicide bombings against Israeli citizens. That is insidious. That is racist!

    This is not the forum to debate the Middle East, but since the reason that Ms. Almontasar is no longer the principal is due to her explanation about the intifada, then it is worth mentioning.

    Mr. Quester hates Israel with a vengeance. He hates everything about it and finds no good in it. He is sadly mistaken if he believes that it is the world's most evil nation. It has problems and it causes problems, but it is a great nation with great diversity and a great creative spirit. As an out gay man, he should know that outside of Israel, his butt is toast. He might be welcomed in Gaza now, but it is as a useful idiot.

    I choose to be anonymous for personal reasons, but I have no agenda. I am a person of peace and against racism, homophobia, misogyny, etc.

    Khalil Gibran, who, by the way, was Christian and not Muslim, deserves better than to have this school named after him and to have his name involved in this imbroglio.

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  7. To: Ms Randi Weingarten, President UFT, Local 3, AFT
    From: Sean Ahern, Teacher
    Re: Kahlil Gibran School controversy
    Date: August 15, 2007

    Dear Sister Weingarten,

    I am a UFT member and I am writing to register my criticism of your role in the forced resignation of Debbie Ammontaser, former Principal of the Kahlil Gibran School. ("Randi Rips Intifada Principal" Yoav Gonen, NY Post 8/9/07).

    Why have you followed the lead of Daniel Pipes, the NY Post and the Sun on this matter? Is Labor to lay down with the Likud in New York as well as Tel Aviv? This is a self defeating proposition for us in New York and a recipe for perpetual war and occupation in the Middle East. The issue at the center of this controversy is the defense of civil liberties for all. Free speech is the 'canary in the mine' in this time of creeping totalitarianism at home and abroad. What are you thinking?

    Who but a soul mate to Torquemada and Stalin demands a recantation and then deems their victim's own self abnegation inadequate? Defend free speech in the face of these budding Inquisitors! Lamentably, your remarks as reported by the NY Post have lent support to a witch hunt which you could have stopped.

    The remarks attributed to you effectively damn "Intifada" as a new "politically incorrect" word. Step by step, inch by inch... When do we damn the politically incorrect books and their authors? When do we burn them? You have turned a word into a leper's shroud and draped it over human suffering. What's to become of empathy and solidarity if inquiry is pre empted by fear?
    Literally translated from the Arabic, we are told that "intifada" refers to a tremor or a shaking off. I suggest that our own term "Movement" ( as it is commonly appended to Labor, Women's, Civil Rights, Black Liberation, Black Consciousness, Zionist, Populist, Gay and Lesbian, Fascist, Communist, Socialist, Anarchist, Nationalist, etc) captures the contextual and is pretty close to the literal meaning. My concern is that educators should not rest content when a "Movement", "uprising", "rebellion" or "Intifada" of Palestinian youth is proscribed and thereby removed as a topic for rational discourse and inquiry.

    One's views on the term "intifada" or more specifically, the civil resistance to Israeli occupation to which it refers, are matters to be openly studied, considered and discussed both outside and inside the classroom in an age appropriate and balanced fashion. No understanding or resolution of the conflict in the Middle East and our own role there is possible without such a discourse.

    In closing I request that you provide a suitable forum in the pages of the NY Teacher to allow for a open exchange on this matter by members so inclined. Ms Ammontaser seems to be viewed by all but her inquisitors at the Post and Sun as a bridge builder, peace maker and dedicated pedagogue. Unwarranted notoriety and political cowardice on the part of those who should be her advocates has interrupted her career and disrupted the Kahlil Gibran school community. I urge you to seek out Ms Ammontaser and use the weight of your office to heal this breech. and repair the harm done to this school.

    Peace,


    Sean Ahern

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  8. I really don't want to go on a personal attack against Debbie Almontaser, but she lacked both the political wisdom to manage such a controversial school and some of her views are very controversial at that.

    She has stated publicly again and again, "I don't recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims."

    Well, they were Arabs and they were Muslims. You cannot deny that. You canot rewrite history. She did. Is this the type of educator we need running a school that is controversial (and controversial for whatever reason)? She brought the attention on herself with her outrageous statements that the attackers were not Muslims or Arabs. What were they? Martians? A dear friend of mine was killed on 9/11. Killed by Muslim Arab terrorists.

    That doesn't mean that because the terrorists were Muslim and Arabs that all Muslims or Arabs are terrorist and she should know that....the response of the American people after 9/11 was wonderful. There were few if any attacks on Muslims or Arabs (although some people mistook a Sikh man in Arizona and killed him).

    I have read a lot about Ms. Almontaser and she seems like a decent, lovely person. I just think that when she makes comments like the ones aforementioned (and I am sure I could google up a ton more), she is provoking the attention that ultimately destroyed her principalship.

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  9. Sigh....

    Debbie Almontaser resigned. Why? For being criticized for supporting a politically hot T-shirt.

    But with all the criticism they receive for far more rserious transgressions has Bush resigned? (I wish) did Clinton? Spitzer? Bloomberg? Klein? Weingarten? (Again, I say, I wish!)

    Did she resigned because she is principled, caring, pragmatic or frightened? Did she even have a real choice?

    I find the information about her temporary replacement ... let's say, amusing.

    I find Bloomberg's comments about the out going and incoming principals amusing too -

    "You don’t have to speak Arabic in order to run a a school [related in Islamic culture]." Funny!

    "We don’t look at anybody’s ethnicity in anything else and we’re not going to start here. This is a school we should do, we’re going to do, and I’m sorry the last woman didn’t work out, but I think we’re better off going out and attacking the problem again, and I think we’ve got the right person.”

    Isn't he just hilarious? No he's a damn idiot!

    But as summer break is quickly coming to an end let's stop spinning our wheels and getting distracted. Let's get focused and get back to basics:

    1. Vouchers are a bad idea. They funnel money away from public education.

    2. Charters and their variants are a bad idea. Because by their very nature they are selective and quasi-private. Becuase they are selective and quasi-private they tend to create many types of unfairness to students, to teachers and to the community. Somebody should have fought Shanker on the idea as soon as he began promoting it.

    3. Schools dedicated to specific languages and / or cultures are a bad idea. Such themed schools do not belong in a public school system. Among other things they tend to promote separatism and then racism.

    We need to support public education with such basic things
    - adequate funding
    - qualified administrators dedicated to Public Education
    - small class size (which does means more buidlings and teaching positions (an immediate end to the ATR problem and other problems like poor performance and discipline))
    - proper books, equipment and supplies.

    Also, we need to break out of the unthinking trend to corporatize and quantiy the administration of education. (Like overly focuing on test scores, considering human resources fungible is just a really supid idea. At the administrative level only dedicated people with industry experience can propely manage a given business in that industry (Klein lame attempts at reorganization has proven this for us three times already.) As for educators only proper pay,benefits, and working conditions for teachers including teacher empowerment can give our City's children the kind of teachers they need. They same applies the the rest of the staff (guidance, paras, secretaries, etc.)

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  10. Email sent to Sean from Randi:

    Sean-
    We disagree on many matters,so I am not suprised to get your letter in
    this regard.
    In your zeal to mischaracterize me as an Israeli conservative- you ignore the fact that I criticized the principal's statements but never withdrew the Union or my support for the school, and I never called for the principal to resign.
    I respectfully disagree with you on the issue at hand-I strongly believe educators should be denouncing and renouncing violence- not simply condoning or explaining it.
    Randi

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  11. From NYC Education News listserve:

    All,

    I have no opinion about the leadership of the KG School, past or present.

    However, I think it is a huge mistake--contrary to the philosophy of American public education--to establish schools that have an ethnic or religious focus. The purpose of public education is to prepare young people to participate fully in American society. As part of that purpose, the public schools introduce students on a regular basis to others who are different from themselves and their families. In this way, the public schools have a special role as a unifying element in our very diverse society. They help newcomers to assimilate, to learn American ways, and to learn how to act in a democratic society so as to improve their lot and to live within our system of laws.

    From my vantage point as a historian of education, I think the city Department of Education is wrong to create schools that segregate children into cultural enclaves--be they Arabic, Korean, Chinese, or French--and other school districts that do the same are equally in error. (A Hebrew charter school is a terrible idea.) Going down that path will narrow the children's horizons and ultimately do incalculable damage to public education by strengthening the voices of those who advocate various forms of separatism. Of course, our regular public schools should teach children languages and cultures different from their own; that is part of the mission of public education.

    Diane Ravitch


    On 8/14/07, Leonie Haimson wrote:

    Lots of stories over the weekend about the resignation of the principal and founder of the the Khalil Gibran school.

    In a related story, a Florida charter school will open this fall which is run by a rabbi, will have kosher food and will teach Hebrew, all funded with public tax dollars . Though it supposedly will not teach religion, it will use a Hebrew textbook that contains the following phrases:

    "Our Holy Torah is dear to us." "God created man on Friday." "Man is redeemed from his sins through repentance."

    See http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Hebrew-Charter-School.html and

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/columnists/sfl-flbmayocol0726nbjul26,0,5750240.column

    How do people feel about this? Does this cross the line? How hard is it to distinguish culture from religion, and do we risk opening a Pandora's box?

    Leonie Haimson

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  12. The Hebrew charter school sounds like a publicly funded yeshiva.

    It should be funded privately and not one dime of taxpayers' dollars should be used for the school.

    A school like the Hebrew language one shows why charter schools are such bad ideas.

    As Diane Ravitch wrote, these small charter schools (or whatever type of small schools they are) that focus on one culture, religion or language are a bad idea...

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  13. Thank you for writing about this, Steve Quester.
    Randi should call for the reinstatement of Ms Almontaser...admit culpability, and takes steps to put things right.

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  14. The statement to which critics of the UFT take offense did not express opposition to Debbie Almontaser as a person or as an observer of a faith that most people, including RW, deeply respect.It sounds like RW's objection was strictly limited to Ms. Almontaser's use and defense of a term which, regardless of what may be its original dictionary definition, today carries inevitable and understandable associations that are inflammatory to many people of all political viewpoints and religious and national affiliations. This is not in keeping with the vision of the Khalil Gibran International Academy.Fighting racism and inequality in all quarters is a core and guiding principal of our union and has always been an inspiration and mandate to her personally. Let's please reaffirm our dedication to our common goal as we stand and serve steadfastly together for the peace of mind of our human family.

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  15. Let's be honest, guys. If a German school had a t-shirt with "Arbeit Macht Frei" on it, would it be acceptable? After all, the words literally mean "Work Liberates." The fact that those words were on the entry gates to Auschwitz could easily be considered a stretch in terms of interpretation of intent.

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  16. Steve is very brave to speak up the way he did. It is time we white folks took a stand against Arab racism. The union should stand up for the principal of an Arab school. Randi has joined in an attack on that community, and she should apologize. She has clearly sided with reactionary forces in New York City, and time will reveal her true, opportunistic intentions. The people of the United States need an intifada (shedding) against racism and the targetting of immigrant groups. As teachers it is our responsibility to educate people on these matters.

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  17. There is no other country on earth in which all immigrants, legal and illegal, get the benefits and protections that they enjoy here. They are blessed for the privilege of being among us.

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  18. Thanks to Mr. Quester for speaking out against the UFT generally, and specifically Randi Weingarten, for greasing the skids for Almontaser's resignation.

    I have to say that as much as the issue itself and the story disturbed me, I was as troubled to see Almontaser resign without putting up a fight. In merely offering an etemology of the word 'Intifada', Almontaser allowed a group on whose board she sits - Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media - to be vilified and attacked for no good reason. If she was willing to resign, why not defend the shirts and their 'Intifada NYC' slogan? The propaganda campaign led by the Post and extended by proxy, to this blog and elsewhere, by those in agreement with the Post must be challenged.

    One such apologist has tried to shift the terrain, making Mr. Quester's political affiliation an issue. S/he repeatedly denounced the International Solidarity Campaign with vitriolic ad-hominem attacks. S/he echoes the slanderous lies of Dershowitz, Foxman and Lieberman LLC as a means of defending, by proxy, the violent attacks against brave crusaders for justice like Rachel Corrie, the ISM activist run over by a bulldozer bought and paid for by Uncle Sam while defending a Palestinian family's home.

    Unlike Apartheid Israel, ISM doesn't murder civilians. They are an heroic group - composed largely of real anti-racist Jews - who out of their desire for justice and aghast at the oppression of Palestine made the brave decision to stand with them.

    This situation calls for political clarity... especially in the present context.

    For more than 60 years, the people of Palestine have endured a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing at the hands of a racist occupier who has - aided and abetted at every step by Uncle Sam's welfare checks - methodically purged hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, incinrated dunams and dunams of Palestinian land, constructed an Apartheid Wall as a pretext for further expansion and land theft, built dozens of Zionist-only schools, Zionist-only roads, Zionist-only neighborhoods, and imprisoned more than 10,000 Palestinians in their Gulag without charge or trial.

    Just this week, Uncle Sam announced a fresh new $30,000,000,000 package of welfare checks for Apartheid Israel to continue these very policies.

    So that's the context in which the T-shirt appears.

    This fight has nothing to do with the root of the word 'Intifada'. It's much larger than that. In Palestine, as in New York City, the word has taken on a new meaning. The group was well aware of this when printing the shirts.

    So DEFEND the damn word! The Palestinian people have every right in the world to defend themselves against the savage, genocidal behavior of the military dictatorship that occupies, humiliates, and murders them on a daily basis. As one defends the Resistance of Warsaw Jews during WWII, anyone on the planet with a conscience should defend the Palestinian right to resist genocide will everything we can muster.

    The fact that this is even an issue - that New Yorkers can't tolerate the slogan while the rest of the planet is mounting an aggressive anti-Aparteid campaign in defense of Palestine - illuminates the reactionary nature of this 'debate' and this city.

    The logical gymnastics offered by anyone suggesting that Apartheid Israel has a right to ethnically cleanse Palestine because a handful of Palestinians became suicide bombers a couple of years ago lacks credibility and sincerity.

    Incidentally, prioritizing the lives of Vanilla Zionists above Palestinians is, by definition, racist.

    The gross and flagrant hypocrisy by anyone who defends the Post and the board here is palpable. Consider that less than one year ago, the NYC board of education began offering college credit to take classes on the history and nature of Apartheid Israel taught by the Settler Colony's own Ministry of Propaganda.

    That's some sick stuff. Do you think they learn about al-Nakba in the class?

    What about Rachel Corrie?

    Where was Weingarten's outcry when this was announced? Where were the NY Post's articles denouncing the move as an effort to ally NYC teachers with anti-Semitic terrorists?

    With that in mind, I hope that all concerned will attend the protest on Monday, August 20 at 6pm in front of the NYC Department of Education - Tweed Courthouse located at 52 Chambers Street.

    FREE PALESTINE!
    DOWN WITH ZIONIST APARTHEID
    LONG LIVE the INTIFADA!!

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  19. Mr. Brown's blog refers to Israel as the "Zionist Squatter Colony".

    He also refers to Ashkenazic Jews as "AshkeNAZIs" He does this repeatedly.

    Lovely.

    He also refers repeatedly to US soldiers as "storm troopers".

    I copied and pasted this stuff from his website. I could copy and paste more, but why bother. My point has been made.

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  20. What point is that, ANONYMOUS? The point that you're unable to discuss issues on their merit.

    In what context did I refer to Zionists as "AshkeNazis"?

    In their refusal attend the same schools as Ethiopian Jews because of their skin color.

    In what context did I refer to Uncle Sam's "Storm-Troopers"?

    In their genocide of Iraq that has, over the last 15+ years, resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500,000 people by conservative estimates.

    Or was it in their operation of Uncle Sam's torture gulags?

    Perhaps you could clarify what behavior in Iraq that I've denounced that you defend?

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  21. John Brown asked:
    In what context did I refer to Zionists as "AshkeNazis"?

    He called Meir Sheetrit an "AshkeNazi." in his blog. Sheetrit is Mizrahi (Sheetrit and its variants are famously Mizrahi/Sephardic names), actually, having been born Morocco.

    Again, any rational person would recognize that the language and name calling Mr. Brown uses reflect that any discourse with him is a waste of time. Thus, as a rational person, I will not respond again.

    I just wanted to point out how hateful his arguments are...

    Using the term AshkeNAZI with the emphasis on Nazi? And to describe any Jew as such? That just reeks of racism.

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  22. I'm shocked that you've chosen to falsify rather than defend the indefensible.

    Rational people don't support genocide or whitewash ethnic cleansing.

    Rational people are concerned more with terrorist actions than words.

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  23. I know Diane Ravitch did not post her comments here herself, but here's a question for her in case she gets to see this .....

    When you say you think the DOE "is wrong to create schools that segregate children into cultural enclaves, be they Arabic, Korean, Chinese, or French..." - you must be against all theme schools, not just the language or nationalistic ones. That's because any kind of theme makes its own cultural enclave, whether it's a school for the Environment, or for Business, Violin, or Urban Tech. Clearly the student who opts for the HS of Aviation will find himself in a different learning situation than than the one who signed up for Performing Arts -- not only in the kind of studying that takes place, but for the kinds of people who teacher there and study there. And several of the best schools in this city (Stuy, Bx Sci, Laguardia, among others ) are not only organized along themes (science and the performing arts) but are "cultural enclaves" of still another kind, catering to the bright and exceptional. Those schools define "separatism" if anything does. Should these also be broken down to avoid making cultural enclaves?

    I haven't read enough of your writings to know whether you condemn all these schools for their narrowness or just the ones that might cause strife on religious lines. In any case, I disagree with you that we have to avoid the kind of immersion I was suggesting by creating language theme schools. I think it would be really refreshing to give at least some of the city's 18-year-olds intensive instruction in a specific area. Maybe not a 4-year school, maybe just immersion academies for juniors and seniors. I was surprised at your across-the-board condemnation of theme schools.

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  24. COLORISM IS DESTROYING OUR WORLD

    I thank you for having the GUTS to stand in a system where most people take their PAY CHECKS, pay their mortgage and ignore morality and ethics.

    As a former Vice Principal and Teacher of the Year, I am extremely disturbed by the double standards in our society, and school system.

    The UFT often discriminates and most of us ignore it.

    So called-racism (colorism) is ignored in American public schools and private schools, period! Further, some religious groups have more clout than others and this also leads to abuses of power, slanted lesson plans, etc.

    Our world is doomed until we stop Racism/Colorism and religious-intollerance!

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