The principal of New York’s first Arab charter school defended the sale of T-shirts that say “Intifada NYC.”
Dhabah Almontaser, principal of the soon-to-open Khalil Gibran School in Brooklyn, defended the sale of the shirts, produced by a company that shares office with an organization for which Almontaser serves as spokeswoman.
Sale of the T-shirts, which prompted a critical news story in the New York Post on Monday, was condemned by New York state assemblyman Dov Hikind, an Orthodox Jew from Brooklyn.
In a letter to the New York schools chancellor, Joel Klein, Hikind said it is “outrageous” that Almontaser would “support and hail” the T-shirts.
“It is grossly insensitive,” Hikind said. “I have had personal friends killed in the recent intifada. What is Ms. Almontaser thinking? If this is her mindset, a radicalized vision of Islam, she poses a danger to New York City students and she should be removed immediately. She has disqualified herself from being a principal in any New York City school.”
Almontaser told the Post that while she understands the “negative connotation” the word “intifada” carries from its association with Palestinian violence, she doesn’t believe the T-shirt’s producers intended to promote 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,” Almontaser said.
A spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League called the T-shirts “disturbing.”