In response to an Aug. 11 letter, readers should know that local Israel divestment activists have been unsuccessful in their endless campaign to delegitimize and demonize Israel in Minnesota. The Minnesota Legislature and the State Board of Investment have rejected the efforts of these activists, and the activists’ legal claims have been repudiated in Ramsey County District Court, a decision affirmed by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Judging by recent opinion polls, the American people also are standing with Israel, and Minnesota’s bipartisan support for Israel extends back even before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. Indeed, the purchase of Israel Bonds has been supported by governors from Arne Carlson to Mark Dayton.

Israel has an unblemished record for meeting its bond obligations, underscoring the fact that Israel’s economy is vibrant, a per capita international leader in medicine, technology and agriculture — much like Minnesota. Moreover, the road to peace in the Middle East lies in creating economic opportunities for Israelis and Palestinians and not by importing the conflict to Minnesota with futile and counterproductive gestures.

Steve Hunegs, Minneapolis

 

The writer is executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

BACK-YARD FIRES

People must look at the bigger picture

The lead letter on Aug. 15 (“Ban the back-yard burn instead of trying to sell it”) failed to look at the big picture of global climate change and the main causes behind it. It also used false correlations.

First, it is fairly undisputed that wood smoke can be harmful to people’s lungs; however, to state that child asthma levels are correlated to an increase in the use of wood burning is very weak and unsupported. Furthermore, wood smoke from back-yard fires is such a tiny percentage of global climate change that it is almost a rounding error. We need to be focusing on reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas in power plants, and gasoline burned in cars. These account for 60 percent of carbon dioxide emissions.

Another fallacy in the letter was the statement that back-yard fires create divisions among neighbors. Back-yard fires are a part of summer, and banning them would take away something that is not all that harmful, but is enjoyable and relaxing and has been happening for as long as humans have been around on this planet, with very few adverse effects to the environment.

Sam Carlen, St. Paul

• • •

The Aug. 15 letter writer was on the mark. During the summer, we always hope for favorable winds to drift the smoke and smell some other direction. And then there’s the acrid smell of starter fluid on charcoal grills somewhere in the neighborhood.

But — what about those dryer sheets? You step outside hoping for a nose full of fresh air, and all you smell is Bounce or some other synthetic floral aroma. By the way, check the Web on toxicity of ingredients used in dryer sheets.

We are bound together as a community, living cheek by jowl, and should be aware of how our habits impact our neighbors.

Harald Eriksen, Brooklyn Park

• • •

The Aug. 15 letter writer correctly cited some of the harmful particles that can be produced by fire pits; however, I would like to submit that such pollution is minuscule compared with the approximately 36,000 aircraft takeoffs and landings each month at MSP, right over our heads. I tried for years to get some comment from many state and federal agencies regarding these dispersants from jet engines, but no one wanted to touch it. “Bad for business,” I was told.

Joe Kinard, Eagan

 

MINNEAPOLIS SCHOOLS

Really? We’re going to do all those things?

By 2020, I’d like to be a Formula 1 race car driver. I’d like to win the lottery. I’d like to see the Gophers play in the Rose Bowl. Any of these has a better chance of happening than the absurd, recently set goals of the Minneapolis public schools regarding achievement improvement (Opinion Exchange, Aug. 15).

Nice to set goals, but probably not a bad idea to have them be, even remotely, in the realm of possibility.

Richard Hughes, Crystal

• • •

Regarding Bernadeia Johnson’s commentary “Big plan for Minneapolis public schools,” I have read from several different sources that reading ability by grade three is the single best predictor of lifetime success. If that is indeed true, might not a specific priority there be worthy of broad deployment to help achieve the superintendent’s audacious goals? If there were easy means by which to do so, I’d bet that enough community members would contribute an hour maybe once or twice a week to bring lagging children up to speed, one-on-one. Whether through established successful programs like the Parent-Child Home Program, the Minnesota Reading Corps or other tactical ideas, including any being contemplated by the MinneMinds Coalition, I’d bet the Twin Cities’ quite progressive army of baby boomers now heading toward retirement would be among those who would be interested in an “each one teach one” type of contribution if it promised to fuel such a grand success as the super intends. Who knows, it might even become another “Minnesota Miracle.”

Jim Dustrude, Mound

 

FERGUSON, MO.

Broad militarization of police must end

The events in Ferguson, Mo., make it painfully obvious that police forces need to be deprived of the weapons of military invasion. Ferguson is not an enemy nation. (Neither was St. Paul when the Republican National Convention a few years ago produced peaceful protests that were met by militarized police crackdowns.)

The NRA insists that no one can have weapons pried out of the holders’ hands unless the hands are cold and dead. This method is undesirable. But the police must be demilitarized.

Ruth Berman, Minneapolis

• • •

When I was in the military, my unit had a significant number of African-Americans. We worked as a team, and we were taught to give the utmost respect to civilians. Seems to me like the Ferguson Police Department could use a little more of that.

Jeff Moses, Minneapolis

• • •

According to the Ferguson website, there are six City Council members and a mayor. At least four on the council are white. If the Police Department is too white, shouldn’t a city that is 65 percent to 70 percent black be able to wield enough power at the voting booth to get a council that would give it a police force more representative of the community?

Dale E. Vander Linden, Delano