U.S. Rep.-elect Ilhan Omar announced she “believes in and supports the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement” pressing Israel to reach a peaceful and just settlement in their conflict with the Palestinian people. We endorse BDS and applaud her courage in taking this position. Israel is an apartheid state, seizing Palestinian lands, building Israeli-only settlements, and denying Palestinians their civil and human rights. Boycotts are constitutionally protected speech used to end South African apartheid and segregation in the U.S. BDS will also help us change Israeli policy.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others uncritically defending Israel were quick to question Omar’s position as anti-Semitic. Meanwhile, Israeli snipers have killed 214 Palestinians and have wounded many thousands during the Great March of Return at the Gaza border. Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade for 10 years; its economy and infrastructure are ruined, and most of its population is unemployed. We support BDS to end these intolerable conditions, and we laud members of Congress who join us.

Our local Jewish Community Relations Council supported an anti-BDS bill that passed in the Minnesota Legislature and is supporting a national anti-BDS bill in Congress. Anti-BDS laws in Kansas and Arizona were, in recent court challenges, declared unconstitutional. BDS is a growing and popular political movement, and despite Israel apologists spending millions to undermine it, 49 percent of American Jews under 30 support a settlement boycott.

Thank you, Rep.-elect Omar. We will be proud to have you in Congress, and we support your stand for peace and justice.

This letter was submitted by Barry Cohen of St. Paul on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace-Twin Cities and was signed by Cohen, Allan Malkis and Joe Norcross.


Comments about economic injustice reveal poor thinking

It is unfortunate when a well-known and influential person spreads ignorant ideas. Such is the case whenever Pope Francis speaks about economics. On Sunday, he said that “the wealthy few feast on what, in justice, belongs to all.” (“Pope decries ‘din of rich few,’ ” Nov. 19, and Readers Write, Nov. 20.) He believes that the rich got rich by taking money from the poor. That may happen in countries where the government is not properly functioning and warlords control everything, but it is not the norm in developed countries. It certainly doesn’t describe the situation in the U.S. Certainly, there is some injustice, but, by and large, the more someone contributes to the economy, the more that person gains in income and wealth.

Very wealthy people have often started businesses, invented new technologies, or excelled in sport or entertainment. Bill Gates contributed a lot to the world by starting and running Microsoft and providing us with useful software. Steve Jobs contributed a lot with the creation of Apple computers. Sam Walton contributed a lot by starting Walmart and providing us with stores where we can buy things for less than at other stores. LeBron James contributed a lot by playing basketball extremely well. None of these people got rich by taking money from other people. They got rich by providing things that other people wanted.

All the people mentioned above have done more to help other people than Pope Francis. They have created jobs and products that people need or want. The pope, meanwhile, tries to stir up envy of the rich. It would be far better for him to use his influence to encourage governments and charities to increase their efforts to provide educational and training opportunities that will allow more people to become economically successful.

James Brandt, New Brighton


A winning election issue, but the task doesn’t stop with the vote

Now that the votes have been counted, it’s clear that reproductive rights were on people’s minds when they went to the polls on Nov. 6 — and that Planned Parenthood is a winning issue at the ballot box.

Gov.-elect Tim Walz has a history of standing with Planned Parenthood and was endorsed by the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, while his opponent said he would “defund” Planned Parenthood if given the chance. U.S. Sen. Tina Smith embraced her history as a former Planned Parenthood executive while campaigning to keep her seat, and it paid off with voters. Minnesotans sent Smith back to Washington alongside another Planned Parenthood supporter, Sen. Amy Klobuchar. And now, for the second time in our state’s history, we have a pro-choice majority in the Minnesota House of Representatives.

When it comes to fighting for reproductive health care, Minnesota is leading the way — but with a conservative majority in the Supreme Court and the Trump administration still in control, reproductive rights are on the line in this country. We can’t stop fighting. We must hold our elected officials accountable and continue to elect representatives who will protect our health care.

Courtney DiRose, Minneapolis


No longer noteworthy for those seeking or holding public office

The time has come for the media to refrain from making references to the sexual orientation of any candidate or holder of public office. Whether a sheriff is gay or a congresswoman is a lesbian says nothing about the person’s ability or intention to perform the duties of office. Such references only to serve to encourage bigotry and a false sense of superiority. They are both irrelevant and isolating.

The media have mercifully stopped referring to a politician’s race or religion. It is time to add sexual orientation.

William Soules, Minnetonka


Be wise to the risks of noise

Thank you to the Star Tribune for the very informative article “Facing the music ­— with earplugs” (Nov. 18). Among others, the article featured the efforts of the University of Minnesota to protect Marching Band members’ ears from hearing damage due to loud sound.

Highlighting the topic of noise-induced hearing loss and stressing the need for prevention are important steps in raising public awareness of this silent and invisible injury that affects lives in many ways. Minnesotans of all ages must become wise to the toxic effects that noise has on hearing and quality of life. In order to achieve that, public education is needed in schools, families, places of work and communities throughout the state.

Of the many causes for hearing loss, noise-induced hearing loss is the most preventable one. This is why education is important. Understanding the nature and the consequences of the injury helps people make wise choices for saving their hearing from noise.

As the article points out, earplugs have become readily available and can help dampen aggressive sound pressure. Yet, if people choose not to use them, they cannot help. Also, earplugs must be correctly installed in order to provide the attenuation noted on the package. Do take a few seconds to review the instructions. Consistent prevention of damage is key for preserving hearing and quality of life. Therefore, there is no time like the present to start public education so that all Minnesotans can become noise-wise and hearing-smart.

Monique Hammond, Minneapolis

The writer is a board member and past president of the Twin Cities chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America.