And it’s about time too as Haaretz reports:
U.S. Rabbi Michael Feinberg defended a planned Arab school in New York on Monday…
Addressing a rally in front of the New York Department of Education, Rabbi Feinberg called on elected officials to come forward in support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, which is scheduled to open on September 4.
Rabbi Feinberg called the virulent Internet campaign against the school “the lowest of McCarthyite tactics.”
Yesterday, I wrote about Larry Cohler Esses terrific reportage on the Debbie Almontaser ‘witch-burning’ incident instigated by Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch gang. I said yesterday that it was a shande that the Jewish community has let anti-Arab demagogues like Campus Watch take the lead on this issue. Despite the fact that Almontaser was a committed ally of the ADL, having gone through inter-faith training with them, no one from that group came to her aid during the Intifada incident. They let her twist in the wind.
To be fair, Cohler-Esses notes that Rabbi Michael Paley, Judaic consultant at the Jewish Federation (and someone I knew when he was a college student at Brandeis) has also come to the school’s defense (his daughter is an intern there). But why is he the only Federation official speaking out in support?
And the politicians were equally callow. Mayor Bloomberg expressed tepid support and said she made the right decision in resigning. Joel Klein, schools chancellor said barely anything. The teachers union president, to which Almontaser had belonged when she as a teacher before she was named principal, betrayed her and sealed her fate by denouncing her.
We must remember what happens when good people stand by and do nothing as victims’ reputations and careers are trashed. We may be judged as a society by what we did and what we refused to do in situations like this.
A local journalist tells me that left anti-Semitic elements may have entered the fray on behalf of the school. I replied to him:
When a community’s leaders leave the field of battle to the right-wing crazies, well then crazy things will happen. When people see the mayor, chancellor & teachers union president abandon someone like Almontaser, then the left extremist fruitcakes see their chance to fill the vacuum. The ADL & Federation are also to blame for taking a powder on this.
Leaders are meant to lead. When they don’t, others who are less worthy will.