Implied in last Monday’s lengthy article in the NY Times on the controversy surrounding Debbie Almontaser, the Yemini-born and US-raised educator who lost her job as the founding principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy (a New York City public high school dedicated to the study of Arab language and culture), is that she has been hounded and unfairly targeted by extremists organized or encouraged by Daniel Pipes. Dr. Pipes is a right-wing ideologue whose activities profit from his status as a Harvard-credentialed scholar of the Middle East.
I don’t know if a public school of this nature was such a good idea, but Pipes’ efforts against “soft Jihadism” seem dangerously intolerant and paranoid. Almontaser appears to represent exactly the kind of Islamic voice we should be encouraging rather than pushing away.
One egregious example of Pipes’ MO disclosed in this Times article was his distortion of a quotation of Ms. Almontaser regarding the terror attacks of 9/11: He just quotes the first part of her statement that she didn’t see Arabs or Muslims as carrying out the 9/11 attacks while omitting her concluding point that she saw these attackers as betraying their Arab identities and Muslim faith. He is a McCarthyite; he’s out to destroy people’s reputations because he has this malicious notion that moderate Muslims are really “soft jihadis.”