ISRAEL

Media coverage is predictably cozy

In his March 15 “Great Decisions” commentary (“ ‘Special relationship’ owes much to history, shared values”) Steve Hunegs, of the local Jewish Community Relations Council, proposes that America’s support for Israel goes back to the Pilgrims and Abe Lincoln — predating Zionism, a late-19th-century European nationalist movement. Hunegs ignores America’s founding fathers, who believed in separation of religion and state, and he conveniently skips George Washington’s warning about foreign entanglements. Nor does he mention that Truman’s recognition of Israel in 1948 was in large part driven by pressure to win a close presidential election. To this day, it is the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that continues to promote the “special relationship” through effectively buying and controlling our elected officials in Washington.

And those “values” we supposedly share with Israel? Do we Americans really approve of Israel’s unequal treatment of its Arab citizens — of torture, home demolitions and ever-expanding settlements on illegally occupied Palestinian land? The majority of Americans are ignorant of these Israeli “values” because too often U.S. news media conform to AIPAC talking points.

Mary C. Bader, Wayzata

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In Israel itself there is more self-examination of Israeli injustice to the Palestinians than here in America. There are many examples of Jewish voices speaking out for justice (Miko Peled, Max Blumenthal, Ilan Pappe), but our press ignores them. John Rash’s March 15 column glorifying Ari Shavit (a so-called liberal Zionist — an oxymoron of the highest degree) is a prime example of this bias.

Shavit writes of “shared democratic values” and “dynamic immigrant societies.” Of course, he fails to mention that this vibrant democracy does not extend to Palestinians and that the only immigrants allowed are Jews.

Shavit claims that those of us who boycott Israeli products produced in illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian land are morally wrong. Is conquering and occupying Palestinian land for 47 years not immoral? According to international law, it is also illegal.

Melly Ailabouni, Farmington

 

THE ENVIRONMENT

Our stewardship is sorely challenged

I’m glad the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made an enlightened decision on the toxic PolyMet mine (“PolyMet mine gets cautious EPA approval,” March 14). It’s great to know that a group of fallible, short-lived human beings are certain that if we destroy wetlands and national forest lands, pollute waters for centuries and throw trillions of devaluing dollars at it over 500 years, that all will be fixed.

It would be cheaper in the long run to give the 200 workers of the proposed mine welfare for its supposed 20-year life span. I’m sure the 25 generations of humans to follow us would agree. In case you’re wondering how long 25 generations is — it would be your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren. Do we really think we can make rational decisions so far into the future?

Lawrence Morgan, Montgomery, Minn.

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It’s spring, and soon the trumpeter swans will return to my area, along with the great blue herons, Canada geese, loons, wood ducks, buffleheads, hooded mergansers and red-winged blackbirds, in addition to a host of other birds that depend on Hay Creek for food, shelter, mating and raising their young. The turtles and frogs will crawl out of their long hibernation along the banks of the creek. The walleye and northern pike will be moving from Island Lake to Hay Creek to spawn. The beavers, otters and muskrats will soon be spotted swimming in the creek, looking for a log or a frozen sheet of ice where they can bask in the warm sunshine. And all summer long, and into the fall, as I do my part to take care of Hay Creek, these animals surround me with their calls, noises and sightings, as if in gratitude for protecting their environment.

Underground oil pipelines, crisscrossing our creeks, rivers and streams, don’t stay safe forever. In time, there will be an “accident.” I am against the Enbridge-proposed Sandpiper pipeline that would be built alongside Itasca State Park, and under Hay Creek, the Straight River, the Shell River and the Fish Hook River. I am speaking up as a steward of my beautiful environment.

Carol Schellack, Park Rapids, Minn.

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I sympathize with the residents of northern Minnesota (“Oil pipelines cause a rural rebellion,” March 15) who feel their area is turning into a “freeway for pipelines.” The BNSF main line cuts through my Minneapolis residential neighborhood 50 yards from my front porch. My estimate is that the oil tank car traffic on this line has increased a hundredfold in the time I have owned my home.

Not only is this track through the city an oil tank car “freeway,” it’s a freeway at rush hour jammed with traffic. Amtrak and the North Star trains are delayed and canceled. Shipments of agricultural supplies are far behind schedule. Locomotives idle outside my window at all hours. They grumble and stink, sound their bells and horns, and bang cars up and down the line as they wait their turn to get through the Northtown yards. The chance that an oil train will crash and burn in my front yard is infinitesimal, but the effects of this congestion are all day, every day — and we’re all affected.

Robert Borchert, Minneapolis