Larry Cohler-Esses proves once again in Jewish Week why he is one of the best Jewish journalism investigative reporters in America with his expose of what I call the Jewish Jihad against Debbie Almontaser. She was the founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, scheduled to open this fall as the first New York public school emphasizing Arabic language and culture. You may recall a New York Times article a few weeks ago describing her self-immolation after a New York Post interview in which she did not sufficiently denounce a T-shirt a reporter had asked her about which contained the phrase “Intifada-NYC.” Here is how Larry describes the interview:
At the very end of the interview, Almontaser told one of these sources [Cohler-Esses’ informant], [New York Post reporter] Bennett, without bringing up the t-shirts, asked her almost incidentally what the word “intifada” meant. She consulted an Arabic dictionary and told him:
‘The word basically means ‘shaking off.’ That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic.”
Bennett then told her about the t-shirts, adding that they were produced by a group that shares space with another group on whose board she sits. She replied: ‘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.’
This is a perfect Frontpagemagazine-style guilt by association ploy. Almontaser is responsible in some way and must explain to the reporter why a group with which she has no direct association (it merely rented space with another non-profit on whose board she sits) has a T-shirt using the word “intifada.” She should’ve told the guy to shine it on. Instead, she attempted to actually tell him the meaning of the word and place it into some social context. For this she’s given the auto da fe by the forces of hate.
Who do you think in our community is behind this jihad? If you’ve been following my reporting on Nadia Abu El-Haj you’ll recognize the sleazy MO. It’s Daniel Pipes, of course:
Almontaser had by then withstood months of attacks from prominent Jews on the right in New York and nationally. Pipes, executive director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum, joined with others to support a local group called Stop the Madrassa, the term for an Islamic seminary.
According to Education Department plans and curricula, the school is set up as a purely secular project. Two Arabic teachers will teach math and social studies. Science and other courses will be in English. But Stop the Madrassa, led by Brooklyn resident Pam Hall, assailed the school as an Islamist undertaking crafted to promote extremism and sectarianism with taxpayer money.
In pressing their attack Hall’s group received crucial research assistance from Pipes, a Web site called PipeLineNews.org and another called Militant Islamic Monitor. In articles and editorials, The New York Post and New York Sun also pursued the story relentlessly.
Many of the research pieces, authored by Beila Rabinowitz and William A. Mayer, attacked Almontaser for her associates — or her associates’ associates. One piece pointed to the presence of Imam Shamsi Ali on the school’s advisory board. Ali, the writers said, promoted “Jihad by groups like the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Circle of North America.” The article offered no evidence of ICNA’a links to al Qaeda…
Another piece claimed that Almontaser was a “9/11 denier.” The piece quoted her saying, “I don’t recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims.”
The full quote, given to young students asking her questions about Muslim involvement in 9/11, as reported in a Columbia University publication, was: “I don’t recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims. … Those people who did it have stolen my identity as an Arab and have stolen my religion.”
People, this is how low we can go as a Jewish people. We’ve let swine like this take the lead when it comes to our relations with the Arab American community. We let them steal the spotlight with their headline-grabbing, but intellectually dishonest, charges. No one calls them out. This is work the ADL would be rebutting if it itself was doing the job it should be doing. But of course, the ADL under Foxman’s leadership is hopelessly attenuated by its own search for anti-Semites, Arab and otherwise, under every bed.
Larry’s research and my own have proven that Jewish journalists should no longer accept anything Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum, Campus Watch or Frontpagemagazine say at face value unless it can be unassailably corroborated. Ben Harris in his JTA story about Nadia Abu El-Haj fell into this trap. I hope no other Jewish journalists will do so.
And for the Pipes coup de grace. Let’s read as he hangs himself on his own anti-Muslim petard in an interview with Cohler-Esses:
Pipes, in a piece published in both the New York Post and Jerusalem Post, argued that “learning Arabic in itself promotes an Islamic outlook.” He said he supported such a school in principle because the country needs native-born Arabic speakers. But Pipes warned that in practice, “Arabic language instruction is inevitably laden with pan-Arabist and Islamist baggage…”
The very notion is utterly preposterous. Does learning Latin predispose someone to becoming a radical supporter of Opus Dei? Does learning Hebrew predispose someone to becoming a Kahanist or extremist settler? Their response would be–of course not–because western religions don’t contain elements of extremism inextricably woven into the religions themselves as Islam allegedly does. Again a preposterous, intellectually bankrupt notion.
The interview continues with Pipes pontificating:
The Arab-American community right now — and any Arabic language and culture school — should be subject to “special scrutiny,” he said. “I believe such a school requires scrutiny beyond that of any other group’s school, he said.
“It fits into a larger pattern in which Muslim officials require greater scrutiny, whether they be chaplains [or] law enforcement officers. There is a tendency to sympathize with Islamism that we ignore at our peril. … When law enforcement is looking for a rapist, it looks at men, not men and women. If you’re looking for terrorism you must give special scrutiny to this community.”
Well, that must be because the only terrorists in the world are Muslim, right?
And this is the part of the interview where Pipes calls Mayor Bloomberg and Joel Klein leftists (I kid you not):
Asked how Khalil Gibran and Almontaser had garnered such substantial Jewish support, Pipes replied, “Jews are generally on the liberal side of things. There is a softness on Islamism the more you go on the left.”
Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel Klein were part of this pattern, he said. “They’re modestly to the left. It’s just such an established pattern.
“What I am arguing for — special scrutiny — is often done,” he said. “But it’s done in an unofficial, underhanded way. It’s lying basically. It’s a disservice to Muslims who don’t believe law enforcement when they say you’re not being singled out.
“Let’s make it overt. Let’s say there is a difference. It would be healthy to have a debate about it.”
Yeah, let’s make our national racism overt. Let’s admit that we suspect all Muslims of being terrorists. Let’s admit that Daniel Pipes’ agenda of hate is the agenda of the American Jewish community and America as a whole.
And in case all of the above didn’t persuade you that Pipes’ is a disingenuous charlatan take a look at the following and tell me who he thinks he’s fooling:
Asked if he would have favored “special scrutiny” of the immigrant Jewish community teeming with socialists, communists and anarchists on the Lower East Side in the early 20th century to deal with terrorist bombings by some anarchists during that period, Pipes replied, “I’m happy to apply this wherever it’s useful.”
Either Pipes is serious and he would’ve been among the Jews serving as informants against his fellow Jews to the Justice Department during the infamous Palmer Raids of the 1920s (in which case he would’ve been a miserable snitch); or else he’s a liar. Can you imagine any Jew who would accept the singling out of his own religious compatriots for suspicion of disloyalty AS A GROUP? Again, the idea is preposterous and only shows Pipes for the intellectual double-dealer he is.