Public schools and private lives

Readers respond to stories about class size and a gay relationship between a Palestinian and an Israeli.

By Salon Staff

Published February 28, 2002 8:01PM (EST)

Read "Money Also Matters"

Again, no one is willing to say out loud that parents, not teachers or administrators, are the biggest problem for the schools. Why are so many children being sent to school ill-prepared, ill-fed, ill-dressed? Why do so many children misbehave in class and/or vandalize school property? Why are so many children sent to school unable to speak, read or write in English? Why do so many parents refuse to learn English in order to teach their children and understand teachers and school administrators?

In Los Angeles this is a huge issue because the L.A. Unified School District is now 70 percent Hispanic. Stop crying poverty as an excuse for failure -- poverty doesn't cause parents to not take responsibility for teaching their children to sit down, shut up, behave, try their best and learn. Ms. Rodrigues admits that many are sent to school ill-prepared, and she can't figure out why a teacher would rather teach children who are prepared and encouraged to achieve. She basically suggests "screw the middle class" (buzzword for "white") kids, and let's pander to those who won't help themselves. Until we are willing to address the deficiencies of parents, it will only get worse.

-- Zelda

Read "Sleeping With the Enemy"

I would like to thank you for presenting Ezra and Selim's relationship in the light that you did. It shows the ability of the human heart to overcome cultural, religious and linguistic barriers.

Many people would probably object that you chose to talk of this gay couple's relationship, but they're still part of their community, whether homophobes like it or not. The story allows many of us here in the United States to view things on a more human, personal level than just the general assertions about Jews hating Palestinians and vice versa.

-- Zeferino Macedo

Thanks for publishing "Sleeping With the Enemy." As a Palestinian, I think it's great to see stories that bring out our humanity as we face a racist system bent on denying us our identity. As a gay man, I am also thrilled about the story, for in our lives we have to deal with two layers of closeted life: one as a Palestinian and the other as gay. Visibility of our issues such as the one in "Sleeping With the Enemy" encourages and inspires many of us to continue speaking out for our rights.

-- Ramzi Zakharia, president, Gay and Lesbian Arab Society

Thursday's top story -- and the fact that it was selected as the top story -- is ridiculous. The subhead reads: "Two men -- an Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Muslim -- risk harassment, jail and death for their love." Nothing in this nonstory validates that overcharged text. According to the article, the men's families accept both their homosexuality and their "mixed" relationship. The only harassment or threat of jail time (I saw no mention of death threats) is against the Palestinian, who is admittedly residing illegally in Israel. This happens often, whether such a Palestinian is in a relationship with a man, a woman or no one at all. But that fact, no matter what one's opinion of it, is not news.

-- David Waghalter

What a heart-wrenching story. Please keep us updated with the lives of Ezra and Selim. I wish them both courage and luck.

-- Christine

The difficulties faced by Selim and Ezra certainly point out imperfections in human society. Openly gay partners, let alone a couple consisting of peoples and faiths in conflict, do not find easy acceptance in the majority of the world. However, it is the very existence of Israel that allows Ezra and Selim the freedom to live as openly and securely as they do. Even in a secular Arab government like Egypt, they would face severe penalties for being homosexuals. Of course, Ezra, as a Jew, would be barred from living in most of the Arab world anyway. While I hope this couple can find a more peaceful and secure existence, I give thanks that there is a country in their region where they can be together in the first place.

-- Michael Bernstein

In reading "Sleeping With the Enemy," I am brought to tears that such a selfless love can exist in such harsh conditions. Here we have two people, who happen to be men, in a loving relationship, which in the year 2002 should be accepted as the norm. It just places perspective on how conservative, militant and scared these governments are of the unknown.

It's a relationship such as this one that makes me stop and wonder what we as human beings are so afraid of. Why must the hatred be so much greater than the love and fellowship?

-- Jennifer-Noel Dennis

Thank you for the article on the couple Selim and Ezra. In the Middle East there can be peace only if all people, no matter who and what they are, are willing to compromise, willing to sympathize with the other party and opinion, willing to forgive and willing to love. Selim and Ezra, unconventional as their love may seem, are the best example, the best model for both normal people and institutions to finally acquire something that can be called a worthy life. Selim and Ezra, go for it!

-- Juliet Najjar, Austria

Salon Staff

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