Tuesday, May 8, 2007

New York Sun op/ed

Backers of the proposed Khalil Gibran International Academy are insisting that their plan for a middle school that would teach Arabic is still alive, even though the department of education has decided against situating the school at PS 282 in Park Slope. Others suggest it's a fine moment to put the plan to rest for good. Our own view is that it's a good moment to review yet again the whole idea of parental choice in schooling. If there is a logic to the Khalil Gibran school, there's a logic to a lot of other things, too.

We have no apologies for the skepticism and passion with which some of our columnists have reacted to the school. Its principal, Dhabah "Debbie" Almontaser, accepted an award in 2005 from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. When Mayor Bloomberg in 2002 named a CAIR official to the city's human relations commission, it set off a firestorm of complaints. CAIR had cosponsored an event at Brooklyn College where attendees chanted "no to the Jews, descendants of the apes," and the organization posted a letter on its Web site suggesting that Muslims could not have been responsible for the attacks of September 11, 2001.

CAIR is a highly divisive institution in this city and country. It is funded in part by the same Saudi prince, Alwaleed bin Talal, whose $10 million donation Mayor Giuliani rejected after the terrorist attacks of September 11, when the prince called for America to rethink its support for Israel. When one of our reporters asked Ms. Almontaser whether she considers Hamas and Hezbollah to be terrorist organizations and who she thinks was behind the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, she declined to answer, suggesting she shouldn't be singled out for such questions.

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