Monday, August 13, 2007

Quibbling Over Words

One of the serendipitous side effects of the 9-11 attacks and their aftermath was to make all of us ignorant infidels aware of the richness, flexibility, nuance, and — shall we say — ambiguity of the Arabic language.

A well-known example is the word jihad, which most of us thought meant “holy war”. Come to find out that it has other meanings, such as “inner struggle”, “soul-fulfillment”, and even, according to some linguists, “multicultural interfaith peace festival.”

It turns out that intifada is another example. In my ignorance I had assumed that it meant “uprising”, “insurrection”, or “rebellion”. Now I learn that it means “shaking off”, or perhaps even “haircut”, according to certain scholars of Arabic.

It seems that all those Palestinian youths were just “shaking off” those stones, which just happened to land on the heads of the IDF soldiers. Makes sense.

You see, Arabic is such a large language.

That’s according to Paula Hajar, a “longtime educator and activist”, in an interview with Democracy Now!:

You know, the language is a large language. Obviously words can be used any and in many different ways. And “jihad,” for example, “jihad” has an explanation. “Jihad” is a struggle. It’s more relevant to the inner struggle. It’s like your twelve-step program or Al-Anon or Alcoholics Anonymous or Weight Watchers. It’s what you do to get clear, to kind of clean up your own business. That’s what a jihad really is. But people use it always as a holy war. And this “intifada” — I mean, Mona gave a beautiful explanation, and that was what Debbie [Dhabah Almontaser] was referring to. And people cannot just have these knee-jerk reactions. They have no context. They’re not allowing for context either.

Yes. We’ve got to consider these words in their context, just so long as the context doesn’t include murder or beheading or blowing up people. After all, those who call such activities “jihad” or “intifada” are not using the real Arabic language.

Intifada NYCI mention all this because of those notorious AWAAM (Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media) T-shirts that caused the unfortunate downfall of Dhabah Almontaser, the principal of the brand new Khalil Gibran International Academy.

Since she lost her job, Ms. Almontaser and her allies are mounting a full-court press against Stop the Madrassa and all the other racist Islamophobes who are trying to prevent KGIA from opening on time. AWAAM has even started a survey asking respondents to voice their opinions about the “Intifada NYC” T-shirts.

I recommend that readers go over to this survey and let their feelings be known. The questions, as one would expect, are tendentious, but you shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out which responses to choose. As far as I can tell, there is no way to view their survey results, and there probably never will be, unless participants manage to give the politically correct responses.

It’s your job to make sure they deep-six the survey.

Here’s what AWAAM has to say about the whole imbroglio:
- - - - - - - - -
A group of New York teenagers are shocked [shocked! — ed.] to find themselves at the receiving end of attacks by anti-Arab bloggers and press who are using a t-shirt to try to aggravate hysteria against Arab and Muslim communities. These hateful attacks are in response to the opening of an Arabic language public school in Brooklyn this September. In addition to being incorrectly labeled a “Muslim group” and “pro-violence” in the mainstream press, the youth organization has sustained an illegal attack by hackers on its website.

AWAAM: Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media members are now speaking out to address reports about a t-shirt they produced bearing the slogan, “Intifada NYC,” displayed at an Arab heritage festival last month. AWAAM does not have its own office space and runs one of its youth programs out of the office space of Saba: The Association of Yemeni Americans, where the school’s principal is a board member. Although AWAAM is not associated with the school, they are sustaining an onslaught of attacks aimed toward the school.

As for the meaning of the term, “Intifada NYC,” AWAAM’s official statement is:

Intifada is a word that literally means “shaking off.” As AWAAM provides young women with opportunities to become active as community organizers and media producers, “Intifada NYC” is a call for empowerment, service, civic participation and critical thinking in our communities: a ‘shaking off’ of discrimination and prejudice and an embracing of our roles as producers rather than simply objects of the mass media and public discourse.

Right about now, according to Arabisto Media, a “town hall meeting” is going on in New York:

In response to the resignation of Debbie Almontaser as principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, the Arab-American community in New York will be holding an impromptu town hall meeting to be scheduled Monday at the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge at 6:30 p.m.

Ms. Almontaser told me Sunday, “For the record, I have not had any discussion about continuing with the Department of Education with anyone. As for my replacement, the Arab-American Family Support Center can make a recommendation to Chancellor Klein who then decides who to hire.”

Lena Alhusseini, head of the Arab-American Family Support Center, also told me later today, “The DOE decides on hiring a new principal not AAFSC. I also wanted to assure you that Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the NYC Department of Education, New Visions, and AAFSC remain fully committed to the school’s mission and success. We are all dedicated to ensuring that KGIA is an institution of high academic standards. The school is going to open on Sept. 4 to welcome its first students, and I am certain it will be an institution our community will be very proud of.”

The Arab American Yemeni Association, The Arab Women in Arts (AWAAM) and the Arab American Association will be holding the town hall meeting tonight. Discussions will include a city-wide boycott of the New York Post as well as on how the situation has been handled by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the New York Department of Education.

Obviously, Mayor Bloomberg is being put on notice not to pull the plug on KGIA like he did on Ms. Almontaser. AWAAM and its allies are pulling out all the stops to make sure that KGIA opens on schedule.

The boycott threat against The New York Post is just part of the package of standard CAIR tactics. If they follow through on this, y’all know what to do:

  • If you live in the New York metropolitan area, go to the newsstand and buy up extra copies of the Post.
  • If you don’t, go to their website, click on their ads, and buy some stuff.

If it worked for Denmark and Jyllands-Posten, it’ll work for New York and the Post.


Unknown said...

What disgusting cowardly hypocrites..'Intifada New York' does not go in gently as they had thought, and now 'the teenagers' are shocked at the anger they unleashed.
Why don't they go around wearing swastika's, and see what happens?
After all: that's only a harmless symbol for the sun, isn't it?

npabga said...

Or a shirt with a picture of Mohammad with a turbin-bomb. It serves as a symbol of free speach.

Unknown said...

'Madrassa' is another example. Yes, in Arabic, it may refer to any school at all, but that doesn't change the fact that in English the word is used to specifically refer to an Islamic academy.

AWOL Civilization said...

The Islamic Society of Bay Ridge?! God help New York. I lived in Bay Ridge in the late 1980s, and it was a charming, safe, thriving urban community, of the kind you can only dream of.

Profitsbeard said...

It's like watching tumors spread in a loved one.

Talking tumors.

That lie and call themselves "unique cellular developments".

What does Islam have that attracts anyone?

Ugly clothes?

Contempt for women?

Hysteria about symbols?

Anti-intellectual inquiry?

Intolerant theocratic tyranny?

What the hell does anyone see in this metastasizing mass?

Except a tool to annihilate human liberty for the delusion of "Perfect Peace"?

The only perfect peace is found in the graveyard.

Islam's ultimate destination for our species.

No thanks.

History Snark said...

"It’s what you do to get clear..."

Isn't that a scientology term? I hope Paula Hajar (whoever she is) hasn't made a boo-boo.

I'd like to see a debate between those two cults over which is the Truth.

And put her and all her girlfriends in the middle of it.