Thank you for publishing the thoughtful Opinion Exchange piece in Saturday's paper by John Peacock ("Minnesota, 1862: a 'distant mirror' for Gaza, 2023," Dec. 2). Although no one historical event can capture all the nuances of another, I found the analogy helpful and insightful. It is disheartening, though, and bodes ill for the Palestinians, that over a century and a half later, we Americans still haven't resolved the issues regarding American Indians, who suffer economic and health deprivation disproportional to their fellow Americans.
That said, I do take issue with one statement by the author: "In the wake of the Dakota and Hamas attacks, many more Dakota and Palestinians died than did Americans and Israelis." By calling the civilian settlers "Americans," he — inadvertently, I presume — implies that the Dakota are non-Americans. This "othering" of non-European-extracted Americans underlies much of the problems they face in our country, and a similar dynamic may operate in the Israeli/Palestinian arena as well.
Timothy R. Church, St. Paul
Peacock misrepresents Israel's history in his commentary "Minnesota, 1862: a 'distant mirror' for Gaza, 2023." He says that the Palestinians were "forced off most of their land ... ." This makes it seem as if Arabs owned all the land in Palestine and Jews took most of the land away from them. That isn't what happened. Both Jews and Arabs had always lived in the land that is now called Palestine. The Arabs didn't own all the land; they owned parts of it. Starting in the late 1800s, Jewish immigration to Palestine increased because of pogroms against them in Europe. The Jews who moved to Palestine purchased the land from Arabs; they did not steal it.
The United Nations proposed a two-state solution in 1947. Israel accepted the solution, and the Arabs rejected it. When Israel declared its statehood in 1948, Arab countries immediately attacked it. The Arabs who left their land did so during the 1948 war that was initiated by the Arab countries.
The situation in Palestine is an unfortunate one. Finding a solution requires understanding the history. Peacock presents a false narrative that makes it seem as if the Jews stole the land from the Palestinians. His purpose seems to be to incite anger against Israel rather than improve our understanding of the history of Palestine.
James Brandt, New Brighton
For those who are sympathetic or supportive of Hamas I suggest reading the factual book "Son of Hamas" by Mosab Hassan Yousef. You will learn much about the lack of concern and care Hamas operatives have even for their own Palestinian people in order to achieve their aims. The author has been on several news shows since the Oct. 7 massacre. It is available at the Hennepin County Library.
Al Muerhoff, Bloomington
In the debate over the recent terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israel, nuance and tolerance seem to be in short supply. According to a letter signed by 13 DFL legislators, state Sen. Ron Latz "recited a litany of hateful, prejudicial and demonstrably false claims" ("Sen. Latz rebuked by fellow DFLers for 'dehumanizing' Palestinian comments," Dec. 1). Latz had made several specific claims in a speech Wednesday claiming Palestinian youth in Gaza are taught to hate Israel.
As an attorney, my radar goes up when someone says something is "demonstrably false." That's a pretty bold claim. It means they have evidence to back up what they're saying. So I went and watched the entirety of Latz's speech. I found no "demonstrably" false claims in it. For instance, are Palestinian youth in Gaza taught in United Nations-run schools to hate Israelis, as Latz claimed? Some credible organizations, like UN Watch, have evidence that they are, cited in a well-sourced report found at tinyurl.com/6yanwfae. This one statement of Latz's was not "demonstrably" false. Is every teacher instructing all Palestinian youth to hate Israel? Of course not — Latz never said that. Until there is evidence Latz lied regarding this or any other "litany" of falsehoods, some discretion and nuance is in order. And an apology.
Mark Fiddler, Minneapolis
Buried at the bottom of page 4 in my Dec. 2 paper was the headline "Israel, Hamas back at war as weeklong cease-fire falls apart." I was horrified that the slaughter of innocents has resumed. I wholeheartedly condemn the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7 as an evil attack on civilians: 1,200 dead, 248 hostages and many wounded. But I also am shocked by the deaths of innocents in Gaza as Israel rains down death on hospitals, schools, apartment buildings and refugees fleeing south. Over 15,000 Gazans have been killed, 70% of them women and children, with uncounted thousands likely buried under the rubble of their homes.
I detest each death, but I mostly feel shame for one side. I have never given a penny to Hamas, but my tax money is now being used in the Gaza bloodbath. Since 1948 we have given over $150 billion to Israel, nearly all military aid. This has built a huge force, even nuclear-equipped, against a sliver of blockaded land struggling to just survive, a hugely disproportionate war. The grief I feel for each death of both Palestinians and Israelis is deep, but my shame is for the evil now being done to Palestinians. My own tax money is being used for this resumed genocide. We are all complicit. Whatever our faith, we must contact our elected officials and demand a permanent cease-fire — the least we can do.
Charles Underwood, Minneapolis
Can't we reinterpret the current one?
We cannot ignore history, change history and/or make aspects of history go away. History is full of examples of conquest, domination, mistreatment and cruelty by multitudes of cultures on others.
As a kid, I saw the Minnesota state flag as a symbol of cooperation between differing cultures. Why can it not be a symbol of and for that ideal today? It's an ideal we should continually strive for in Minnesota. The flag should remind Minnesotans of the commitment we have made to each other, regardless of history and the potential multitude of personal differences.
The current desire to ignore and/or conceal that history is not going to change history with a new flag. The current Minnesota state flag can also be a symbol of our failure toward each other. What ideal does a loon, star, river or differing colors portray? To me, nothing at all.
It's time for all to treat others as you would want to be treated. Very simplistic, but apparently difficult for humans to do.
Marty Smith, Faribault
SANDRA DAY O'CONNOR
A testament to her legacy
The recent passing of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor not only marks the loss of the first female justice on the Supreme Court, but also the loss of a vehement and effective supporter of teaching civics to our children. As she so aptly said of the need for the teaching of current civics, "You don't inherit that knowledge through the gene pool." The successful implementation of the 2023 legislative requirement for the teaching of civics in the 11th or 12th grade in all schools in Minnesota will be a fitting tribute to a pragmatic and thoughtful justice on the Supreme Court.
Tom Berg, Minneapolis
The writer is a former legislator and U.S. attorney.
Thanks, Rep. Stauber
In the past few years, I have contacted my U.S. House representative, Pete Stauber, about several issues. I almost always disagree with him, so I was surprised and pleased to see he voted to expel former Rep. George Santos from the House. Shame on our other three Republican Reps. Tom Emmer, Brad Finstad and Michelle Fischbach for voting against the resolution to expel. Santos was accused of committing egregious acts by the House Ethics Committee. Apparently, three of our state representatives have ethical issues of their own.
Tana Havumaki, Taylors Falls, Minn.