Although the media portrays the Hamas-led demonstrations on the Israel border with Gaza as having been sparked by the U.S. decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, history tells us that this is not the real reason for the violence. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem is nothing more than recognizing the facts on the ground. It changes nothing, as the move merely recognizes long-standing reality. Jerusalem IS the capital of Israel, and virtually every country, including Sunni Arab countries, understand that. This does not mean a Palestinian state, should one eventually come into existence, could not have its capital in Arab-dominated East Jerusalem. What prevents this from happening is the refusal of present Palestinian leadership to sign a final peace agreement that divides the land with a Jewish state. That much is clear from its rejection of repeated peace overtures made by three Israeli leaders, Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, Ehud Barak in 1999 and Ehud Olmert in 2006, even though those offers included a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. And without Palestinian acceptance of a Jewish state sharing the land in peace, no Israeli government will agree to a Palestinian state.

Ronald Haskvitz, St. Louis Park

• • •

The president’s decision to upend decades of American foreign policy by relocating the embassy to Jerusalem has caused major damage with increased violence in this already-unsettled area.

I feel he makes snap decisions with no thought of consequences. This is another interference he has made to worsen foreign policy. He has also made decisions for America that are not positive — tariffs and rules on immigration, for example.

I understood that the Constitution has a system of checks and balances. But I do not see any checks on President Donald Trump. Will there ever be?

Rebecca Kosbab, Burnsville


‘Humane’ training experience is just not the real thing

In the May 14 letter “I’ve been waterboarded; it’s humane,” I counted four stated actions that count as torture and several unstated acts that would count as torture. The stated acts: “strapped to a board,” “head is covered with a towel,” “table is tipped,” “water is poured on the forehead then gradually over the nose and mouth” and “it is very scary.” The unstated acts: The individual is accused of terrorism outside a court of law and locked up without due process (no court date, no representation, secret evidence). These acts constitute psychological torture.

No, the letter writer’s training was not torture, but that is because he was waterboarded by instructors. He was probably told he would not drown and had every expectation the waterboarding would not last long. An individual accused of terrorism is surrounded by adversaries and does not know how long the waterboarding will last and whether or not it will result in his death. The letter writer (and all of us) should heed the words of Friedrich Nietzsche: “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.”

Gary R. Janckila, Dassel, Minn.

• • •

“When I was not able to endure his punishment which I received, I told a lie to Yuki … . I could not really show anything to Yuki, because I was really lying just to stop the torture.” You can read the entire transcript between an American POW and the prosecutor during the trial of convicted war criminal Chinasu Yuki in the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law (

I disagree with the May 14 letter writer’s advocacy of waterboarding. I also have experienced “enhanced interrogation techniques” during military training. Those simulations were conducted in concentration camp environments by a simulated dystopian autocratic regime. The training was conducted to teach resistance and survival to service members. The need for training was highlighted in the aftermath of the harsh treatment of U.S. soldiers during the Korean War and World War II. It is hard for me to understand that we could survive the existential threat of a world war with a certain level of humanity and then when presented with a threat (terrorism) that is not existential we would begin to mirror our enemies. The CIA did not have the experience of interrogating suspects and had newly received the orders to conduct investigations. The FBI, with the experience of conducting interrogations, argued against the “enhanced techniques” with the knowledge that the information received from them is unreliable.

We should be proud that a Congress and a president representing the better angels of our nature saw fit to outlaw torture as an investigative tool.

Dana Post, Minneapolis


The paper keeps citing that ‘9 of 10’ poll. I don’t believe it.

Once again I see it cited in the Star Tribune that 9 out of 10 Minnesotans favor strong gun laws (“Listen to majority and reform gun laws,” editorial, May 13). Whom did this biased poll contact? I know of not one gun owner who was contacted, yet of several advocates who were. Does this paper have the courage to answer this, or is it just that swayed?

This post will be posted on public media daily starting Wednesday to show the public your true selves. I do this because I know you lack the moral courage to show the truth.

Robert J. Grier, White Bear Lake


Editor’s note: The April 22 and 23 publications of the results of the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll on gun policy included information about how the poll was conducted. Explore the poll data at or see frequently asked questions at

• • •

I recently overheard a conversation at an adjoining table in a restaurant in which a group of women were bemoaning the nonresponsiveness of government at both the state and federal levels to issues these women care about. Remarkably, their discussion came to an end when one of them said, “Oh, well, we’ll all vote Republican like we always do,” followed by nervous laughter among the group. This must be how it comes to pass that although polls indicate an astounding 90 percent of Minnesotans support expanded criminal-background checks for gun sales, Republican leaders continue to turn a deaf ear to their constituents.

Unfortunately, today’s Republican Party is not the Republican Party of Al Quie, David Durenberger or Arne Carlson. Let’s not forget that in 2010, the Minnesota GOP banished these former statesmen, along with 15 other prominent party members. The state Republican chairman at the time called these men “old-fashioned moderates” of “a bygone era.”

Many of us would say that moderation is precisely what our world needs right now. Voters, get acquainted with political candidates — not just their party affiliation. Do you favor gun safety measures? Clean water? Education? Scrutinize candidates’ track records and vote accordingly.

Louis Asher, Vadnais Heights


Antireligious bigotry saddens

I’m saddened once again by one of L.K. Hanson’s cartoons (“You Don’t Say,” May 14), which regularly seem to present an ongoing screed of antireligious bigotry.

Religious people of the Abrahamic traditions, on the whole, come out of an ideology/theology based not on bitterness or vindictiveness, but on norm reminders to be kind, compassionate and giving in their personal and civic lives.

Do all live up to it? No. Do they try? My experience is, absolutely. Which is why these norms have become the backbone of building good communities and healthy personal lives.

Leonard Freeman, Long Lake

The writer is a retired Episcopal priest.