For what it's worth, I'm sure that this isn't the last we have heard of this case. If there was an opportunity for the Supreme Court to weigh in, it would be now.
I understand that the woman is pro-Arab (whether it is funded by public money or not, what else would we expect from an Arabic school? Seriously, if it were a Hebrew school, wouldn't we expect a pro-Jewish principal? Aren't the kids going there because they want a pro-Arab atmosphere--just like kids going to a publicly funded Hebrew school would want a pro-Jewish or pro-Israeli atmosphere???).
I understand she made the unfortunate decision to supporting a group of women who were making "Intifada NYC" T-Shirts (not only in bad taste after 9/11, but also really bad judgement for someone who was taking a very politicized position as principal of the Arabic school).
I also understand that she must think we are all incredibly stupid to argue that "intifada" means "shaking off" and not "I want to kill as many Jews as possible so I can get my 72 virgins."
However, I wonder if the court was listening too closely with their "political" ears and not closely enough with their "constitutional" ears. After all, isn't this the same sort of argument made by the Israeli Supreme court when they convicted David H'ivri in Israel for selling "No Arabs/No Terror" T-Shirts? Didn't we all support him against what we believed to be a really anti-free-speech decision by the Israeli court?
I think this principal is an idiot. I think this principal should go back to college and take a basic political science class, and I think someone needs to get her a newspaper subscription, but I don't agree that, tasteless as it is, an "Intifada NYC" T-Shirt should be censored.
If that is the case, then we are in for a lot of hell in the next few years. The FBI will have to get ready to raid Urban Outfitters and Hot Topic stores from coast to coast in order to confiscate their collections of T-Shirts, and most of us will need to remove one ore more bumper stickers from our cars.
So, as much as I can't stand this Arabic school principal, AND think she is a first-class dingbat, I have to agree that she shouldn't be fired for what she wrote on a T-Shirt. Maybe she should be fired for allowing space for the women's group who sold the shirt, but the T-Shirt message shouldn't be an issue.
US Court: Free Speech Does not Allow 'Intifada T-Shirts
by Avraham Zuroff
(IsraelNN.com) A U.S. federal judge has confirmed that even freedom of speech has its limits. On Tuesday, Judge Sidney H. Stein of Manhattan’s Federal District Court dismissed the case of a founding principal of an Arabic culture public school who was fired for defending “Intifada” t-shirts. Debbie Almontaser, the former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, claimed that her rights were violated.
In August 2007, Almontaser told the New York Post that the T-shirt wording “Intifada NYC” was sold by Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media, a woman’s group that she allowed to use her school facilities. She claimed that the Arabic word intifada means “shaking off”, and had nothing to do with the violent uprisings of Arabs within Israel in the 1980s and 1990s.
“The word basically means 'shaking off.' That is the root word if you look it up in Arabic. 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,” Almontaser said in her interview.
Due to a “shake off” from complaining parents, the New York City Board of Education asked Almontaser to resign.
Shortly after her resignation, Almontaser sued the Department of Education, its chancellor, and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. She claimed that they not only violated her free speech rights, but also prevented her from regaining her job as a principal.
The Khalil Gibran International Academy is a public school in Brooklyn, New York City that opened in September 2007. It was the first public school to emphasize a curriculum of Arabic language and culture.
Daniel Pipes, a Middle East studies expert, objected to the school’s curriculum. “In principle it is a great idea – the United States needs more Arabic-speakers. In practice, however, Arabic instruction is heavy with Islamist and Arabist overtones and demands,” Pipes wrote ahead of the school’s opening.
Pipes later revealed that Almontaser received an award from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and that the school was designed in part by the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC). CAIR is an Islamist group that the FBI has linked to funding the ourlawed Hamas terrorist organization.