Opinion editor's note: Several of the letters below also appeared in a special collection about the Iran situation that was posted online Wednesday afternoon.
A Star Tribune photographer pictured Imam Asad Zaman and me as we applauded Gov. Tim Walz during the interfaith rally at Temple Israel on Tuesday night.
What the photographer couldn’t record was my conversation with Imam Zaman. We exchanged business cards, then comments during the event. Remarking on the rise of anti-Semitism, we agreed that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are two sides of the same coin, and that our communities are equally vulnerable when white supremacists are tolerated.
We listened as the most important elected representatives of this state and leaders of organizations in our city declared their unambiguous support for the safety of the Jewish community. We applauded when Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo called us his Jewish family, and when Twin Cities Urban League President Steven Belton said that our communities had much more in common than what divides us.
Walz brought us all to our feet when he declared there is no room for fear or hate in Minnesota. During the extended applause, Imam Zaman and I agreed that this is what makes America great.
The genuine tolerance, even celebration, of different peoples and faiths by elected representatives is not heard everywhere. My family escaped from Communist oppression during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, when I was a boy. Even now, under current Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Jews and other minorities face state-sponsored persecution. Our country also has failed frequently to respect all peoples’ humanity, but when our elected and faith leaders stand together publicly for tolerance, there is room for hope and celebration.
Steven Foldes, St. Louis Park
We need a plan, and we need to stick to it. Trump is known for neither.
We are now embarked on a high-stakes gamble with Iran (“Iranians strike back,” front page, Jan. 8). The commander in chief is privy to more information than any of us, so we must give him the benefit of the doubt as to whether the assassination of Gen. Qassem Soleimani was strategically wise. Having cast the die, however, we now need several things. We need the administration to have a well-thought-out plan, including next steps and contingencies for various responses from Iran; we need disciplined execution of the plan; we need careful messaging and a bit of luck.
Other than luck, these are not notable attributes of the current administration. History will judge if the Artist of the Deal has made a good one this time.
James Watson, Maplewood
• • •
Several recent letters have mentioned the 52 hostages held by Iran in 1979, but none provided the history to place that event in context. As disclosed by CIA documents, the U.S. hired hundreds of thugs and orchestrated a coup in 1953 which overthrew the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mosaddegh had gained the ire of both Britain and the U.S. because of his belief that the Iranian people should benefit financially from the oil beneath their sand. The Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi was put into power at that time and remained there until the Iranian revolution in 1979. The U.S. Embassy was the target for occupation by the protesters because the U.S. was seen as responsible for putting and keeping the unpopular Shah in power and supporting him after he fled.
It is important to note that all 52 hostages were voluntarily released on the day when President Jimmy Carter left office. Although the original overthrow had occurred under President Dwight Eisenhower, it was Carter who took the brunt of the criticism decades later. And all 52 hostages were in good condition when they were released ... which is more than would be said of any cultural sites that Trump could target.
While discussing historical facts, perhaps mention could also be made of the regularly scheduled Iranian airliner that was brought down by a U.S. missile in 1988 with the loss of 290 lives.
Although the possibility of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon has received our endless attention, the U.S. remains the only nation to use that weapon of mass destruction on a civilian population.
Carole Rydberg, Plymouth
• • •
So the president says that Soleimani was planning attacks on American diplomats and military facilities. By all accounts he was a critical cog in Iranian-led terrorism in the Middle East.
If Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama passed on eliminating him, why was it so imperative now? With the neoconservatives in the Bush administration, there had to be a well-reasoned decision not to attack Soleimani. I would think Obama had similar discussions before determining to take a pass on action. Who did President Donald Trump consult? Did he discuss this with the intelligence community, other administration leaders, military leaders, our allies or congressional leaders? To me it seems like another example of a foreign policy that is in complete disarray!
The president based his decision to attack Soleimani on intelligence that indicated there were going to be attacks on diplomats and military facilities. So now we are supposed believe that the president believes intelligence officials after disparaging the same since he took office. He makes me suspicious of what his decision was based on and the real reason for it.
Finally, if we knew about the attacks, couldn’t we have thwarted them?
Jim Smola, Apple Valley
• • •
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN Tuesday that the U.S. is not aiming to start a war with Iran but that it is “prepared to finish one.”
Maybe we should first finish the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
James Halvorson, Farmington
• • •
The U.S. contractor whose death President Donald Trump claims he was avenging was a naturalized citizen born in Iraq. Trump retaliated for this crime by assassinating Iran’s number two political/military official. Jamal Khashoggi was an American resident born in Turkey. His murder orchestrated by Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman didn’t merit even a hand-slap.
Trump is “wagging the dog,” and Americans are paying the price for his self-centered actions. He has made the entire world more unsafe and continues to spread hate and fear both here and abroad.
Margaret Capra, Rosemount
How about this solution
The third decade of the 21st century: 2021-2030. The 2020s: 2020-2029. (“It’s still the 2010s. Count with me,” Readers Write, Jan. 7.)
Mary Sampson, Minneapolis
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