The real challenge is for Muslims and Arab Americans to fight for their rights. This is part of the American tradition that African Americans, Irish, Poles, Jews and other groups had to go through to establish their rightful place in this society. I doubt it will be any different for Muslims and Arabs.

Samana S.
Chicago, Illinois

The writer's full name has been withheld.


Thanks for a long overdue article about the sad situation at Borough of Manhattan Community College ["A Tale of Two Schools," Lisa Marie Williams and Katie Worth, December 25]. I'm a BMCC adjunct instructor whose class started the fall semester in the beautiful classrooms of newly renovated Fiterman Hall [which was destroyed as a result of the World Trade Center collapse]. We finished in a poorly ventilated trailer on West Street across from the barge port where trucks dump the World Trade Center debris.

While Stuyvesant High School got tons of publicity, BMCC suffered in its shadow. Like many on campus, I experienced headaches and labored breathing from the bad air; I think the union collected over 200 health-related complaints. It's no wonder BMCC students feel like stepchildren of the city. Not one elected official visited this wounded campus until December. Many students saw the attack from close range; some ran for their lives. The school was closed for weeks, and we lost a building.

The idea of budget cuts under these circumstances is outrageous. As did my colleagues, I put on my false bravado and taught my class overenthusiastically, as if it were my patriotic duty, not just my job. I asked my students to write about 9-11, reminding them to save their journals. Faculty counseled shaken students, going beyond normal tasks. Everyone at BMCC should be recognized and rewarded for courage under fire. It's an understatement to say it adds insult to injury to cut our budget.

Kate Walter

Thank you for having the guts to print the article about Stuyvesant High School and Borough of Manhattan Community College. Sadly, schools that are primarily minority populated have been passed up for funding in favor of "elite" schools for far too long.

I graduated from the excellent High School for Telecommunication Arts and Technology (class of '97). Everything about HSTAT, including the fact that it has an ethnically diverse student body and some of the best teachers in New York, made it worth my choosing over the preferred Brooklyn schools, Midwood and Murrow. Yet, while I sat for four years in a school surrounded by scaffolds, Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech were showered with monetary gifts. Recently, New York magazine included HSTAT in a feature on "Top Public High Schools" in New York. Isn't that nice?

Now, District 15 in Brooklyn is "saving" the notoriously low-performing John Jay High School. It will be converted into a grades 6-12 school. No doubt, this delights the Park Slope yuppies who always want more options for their kids and have seen John Jay as a blemish on good ol' Park Slope. In essence, this is the final stage of a Park Slope gentrification project 30-plus years in the making.

The colonization and hostile takeover of schools that can only dream to be Stuyvesant is not a solution. It will ultimately displace miseducated minority students who are already having a hard time adapting to more rigid testing standards. One question: Where will all of these minority students go when they have no schools left to attend?

Ryan McKenzie Connor

As a 1962 graduate of Stuyvesant High School and a former member of the school's alumni board, I would like to respond to Lisa Marie Williams and Katie Worth's article about the plight of Borough of Manhattan Community College in relation to the attention given to Stuyvesant High School following the World Trade Center tragedy. In pointing out the demographics of the two schools, Williams and Worth neglect to point out that about 50 percent of Stuyvesant's students are Asian American, many of them from poor families. To suggest that racism is the reason behind BMCC's situation is misguided.

Harry Malakoff


Jason Vest's article on alleged Jewish "terrorism" ["Oy McVey," December 25] fails to make the distinction between acts of violence that are directed against soldiers or governments and acts of violence against noncombatant civilians. It is the latter behavior that is the defining signature of terrorism. The former, while bearing superficial similarity to modern terrorism, can be construed as armed struggle against an occupying army by an opposition that does not (yet) have the means for an open frontal assault.

If the Palestinians limited their targets to the Israeli military (particularly in the West Bank and Gaza) and Israeli government offices, even though I and many others would deplore it, there would be some logic and even justification (from their point of view). They would be struggling against what they see as an occupying force. But to target and attack civilians is abhorrent and utterly without redeeming ideological value.

Emanuel Goldman
Newark, New Jersey

Thank you for printing Jason Vest's wonderful exposé of Israeli hypocrisy on the subject of terrorism. After making a documentary in the Gaza Strip for three months at the start of 2001, I can attest that Israeli state terrorism against Palestinian civilians continues to this day, not to mention Israeli army attacks on journalists and aid workers, and numerous, well-documented violations of international law. It is correct to condemn terrorism, and Israel's ongoing state terrorism should not be excluded from condemnation.

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