Arab-American experience painted in broad strokes: I was drawn to read the latest issue of Scene by the joyful photograph of a young Palestinian woman. The story by Rebecca Meiser ["Destination Lakewood," November 29] was informative, with a few exceptions.
Palestinian women do not traditionally wear a burqa. As one can see in the picture of women and girls at a Beit Hanina Social Club event, many of the women are wearing a plain haircover, called a mendeel ("kerchief"). Others have uncovered hair, while a number are wearing flowing hair shawls with the particular embroidery pattern and colors associated with villages and towns of Palestine. These headdresses are largely a mark of pride of community origin and artistic skill.
I have lived, volunteered with a women's organization, and done research in Beit Hanina, which was occupied by the Israelis following the 1967 war. I have also done research on Arab-American communities. I caution against overdrawing Palestinian town or clan identities, as class, educational, and political/ideological locations are probably more important as sources of identity and division, and these divisions are often magnified in Palestinian-American communities.
I understand the distrust, anger, and fear indicated by some of the event's attendees in response to the presence of the Scene photographer, given that U.S. federal and local officials have since the 1980s secretly attended social events to gather information on Palestinian communities in various parts of the U.S.
Moreover, the disfranchisement of Palestinians and occupation of Palestine is, unfortunately, related to the self-ascribed Jewishness of Zionism as a settler-colonial movement. It is also unfortunate, though, that the participants quoted did not recognize the possibility that Jewish individuals come in all varieties and may be sympathetic, progressive, or not Zionist.
Finally, while every community has its share of sexist men, the issue of looking someone in the eye has more to do with age and the high status accorded to teachers than with gender -- children demonstrate respect by looking down when an adult, particularly a teacher, is speaking with them. But this will differ by child and whether he or she is a recent immigrant.
Dr. Frances Hasso
The riffraff conspiracy: Read your story "Destination Lakewood": Immigration experts say people tend to go where there are other people like themselves. If this were directed at whites, it would be called "racism." Why is it OK for one group of people, but not for another?
Letters have been written in response to "New Black City" [November 8]. Wish we had a councilman like that. I've lived in West Park for 45 years, and the neighborhood has changed so much, you think you live in a foreign country.
Busing drove people out of Cleveland, and now it's HUD asking people to sign up for Section Eight housing. Over 200 more properties are being given to renters who won't keep them up.
The Plain Dealer used to put the names of home buyers in the Sunday paper, then stopped because of "privacy," when anyone can go online and find out who owns properties. I believe they just don't want the public knowing about all the low-income people moving in. Is it any wonder people are leaving Cleveland?
The westward migration continues: Great article about the changing demographics in Lakewood. I hope people in North Olmsted read the article as well. We have a fast-growing Middle Eastern population here. It is an exciting time. I hope your article helps people realize that others are here for opportunity. And you can't blame them for that.
Federal Mall Cops?
Alternative ways to fight terrorism: This is in reference to Denise Grollmus' article "Insecurity" [November 22].
According to Richard A. Clarke in his book Against All Enemies, the original airport security-guard system would have had 50,000 federal employees. At a base salary of $50,000 a year, plus fringe benefits and administrative costs, that would easily run $10 billion a year. My experience is that the increase in quality levels of security over the use of food cops would have been negligible.
Further, there are huge holes in the system that Ms. Grollmus has not mentioned. There are no guards assigned to each plane to check cleaning staff and food carts for bombs and knives, nor are baggage handlers or food-court cops subjected to a serious background check. The amount of federal budget money involved here would be huge if we were to do that.
There are similar problems in securing the border and seaports, lake ports, river ports, chemical plants, nuclear plants, and refineries. Realistically, to try to secure everything would probably eat up the entire budget. I believe the Federal Food-Court Police (FFCP) are there mostly for public reassurance and to catch the more lamebrained terrorists.
In terms of using limited resources, the better thing would be to monitor phone calls, e-mails, internet messages, cablegrams, letters, and money flows, analyze these intercepts, and then act accordingly.
It would be possible to have a more secure system, but we'd have to declare war, close the borders, stop trade, draft a lot of kids as Federal Food-Court Police guards, mobilize industry, focus all resources on both the war and security, and ignore public and private building repairs, severely ration clothing sales, restrict families to one car each, ration gas to five gallons a week, and the other things we did in World War II.