Shalom, Arabic School!

Written by Jill Colvin on . Posted in Education, Posts.

What’s the best way to allay fears that your new Arabic school will be a
“jihadi academy” and a breeding ground for hate? How ‘bout hiring a Jew as your
principal? In a move that the Post’s
Andrea Peyser describes as the
worst joke ever to hit Brooklyn,”
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has appointed Danielle Salzberg to
temporarily head the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, which
will open in September as the city’s first Arabic school. Salzberg currently
serves as a senior program officer at New Visions for Public Schools, and according to school officials, has
already done some work to support the Academy. Salzberg also happens to be Jewish.
She was raised in an Orthodox home and doesn’t speak any Arabic, leading many to wonder whether the appointment
has less to do with Salzberg’s teaching credentials than her religious

The appointment comes after former Principal Debbie Almontaser was forced to resign Friday after she
defended the sale of t-shirts bearing the slogan “Intifada NYC,” saying that,
in Arabic, the term “basically means ‘shaking off.’” The ousted educator is now charging that it was not the
controversy, but her religion, that prompted her dismissal: “Unfortunately, a small group of highly
misguided individuals has launched a relentless attack on me because of my
religion," Almontaser reportedly told Klein in a
resignation letter written Friday.

The Arab-American Family Support Center, however, sounded pleased with the decision: “Ms. Salzberg is a seasoned
small school leader and teacher who will ensure that students receive an
exemplary public school education consistent with the highest academic
standards of the
New York City public school system,” they said in a statement issued yesterday.