Opinion editor's note: Star Tribune Opinion publishes letters from readers online and in print each day. To contribute, click here.

•••

The article about the recent rescue of four Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza presented some disconcerting facts ("Israeli assault rescues 4 hostages," front page, June 9). The headline states, "Hundreds of Palestinians are left dead or wounded in brazen raid in Gaza."

According to the article, a spokesman for a local hospital "said that 210 people had been killed and 400 wounded" during the operation that freed the four hostages. Although most compassionate folks are happy to see these four hostages free and safe, the Israeli's government willingness to kill and maim over 600 Palestinians to free four Israeli citizens suggests that it considers a Palestinian life to have less value than an Israeli life.

The article points out that seven hostages have been rescued through military means compared to 109 hostages freed during the negotiated releases, most of them during a weeklong truce in November. So, negotiations have been much more effective than military actions in freeing hostages held by Hamas.

By continuing to send money and arms to Israel, the U.S. government abets Israel in its disregard of Palestinian lives and the destruction of Gaza. Our government has historically spent more on the Defense Department than the State Department. President Joe Biden's budget request for 2025 includes $849.8 billion for the Department of Defense and just $42.8 billion for the Department of State and the United States Agency for International Development for foreign assistance. That is almost 20 times more on the military than on diplomacy, peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts. Imagine how much more peace we could facilitate around the world if these numbers were reversed.

All of this brings to mind an old quote attributed to Basil O'Connor, who died in 1972: "The world cannot continue to wage war like physical giants and to seek peace like intellectual pygmies." As O'Connor alluded to over 50 years ago, building up the war machine is not the way to peace. We will only achieve peace by investing in it and valuing every human life.

Tony Keenan, Columbia Heights


'ABANDON BIDEN' MOVEMENT

Shortsighted and mistaken

Really? Former university teacher Hassan Abdel Salam has quit his job and intends to go to other campuses in the name of helping to lead the "Abandon Biden" movement to defeat the re-election of the president ("Minn. Muslims take stand against Biden," May 26). In no uncertain words he states that this is "very emotional." To me, it appears he has no logical sense of history, either past or present. He and others are evaluating possible third-party candidates so they can teach President Joe Biden "a lesson."

Thinking that a second term for Donald Trump will make a positive difference for the Palestinians who are suffering under the inhumane rule of Hamas is totally unrealistic. The only hope for any kind of peaceful settlement in the horrible war started by Hamas (with over 1,200 killed and over 200 hostages taken back to Gaza) last October rests with the current administration. Supporting Trump seems to me to be supportive of Hamas, a terrorist organization that uses civilians as human shields and, according to Israeli estimates, is stealing up to 70% of the humanitarian aid being sent into Gaza. Does he and others who agree with his idea not remember that it was Trump who wanted to close our borders to those of the Muslim faith? That Trump stopped funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees? Do they think that anything positive could come from Trump's re-election?

Supporting the "Abandon Biden" movement is not only unrealistic but downright dangerous to our whole country. A realistic activity supporters could do would be to marshal all their resources in support of Biden and strongly encourage all their current supporters to do all they could to re-elect him in every state.

Ardis Wexler, Edina


U HOLOCAUST CENTER

A mainstream view is forbidden

As a professor of history and a Jewish American, I was appalled to read that the University of Minnesota's job offer to Israeli historian Raz Segal to direct its Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies has been put on hold ("Controversy puts pause on U Holocaust center hire," June 11). As a prominent scholar of the Holocaust who currently directs a similar center, Segal is eminently qualified for the job. Apparently, however, some believe that his description of the current Israeli military campaign in Gaza as an unfolding genocide should disqualify him for the job. On the contrary, his views lie well within the mainstream of scholarly thought within the field of Holocaust and genocide studies. In November of 2023, for instance, Brown University's Omer Bartov (among the most prominent scholars of the Holocaust and the history of genocide who, like Segal, is Israeli) warned of genocidal intent in Gaza that could easily tip into genocidal action.

If Segal were not Jewish, his opponents might very well be labeling him as antisemitic. But because he is both Jewish and Israeli, they are instead labeling him as "pro-Hamas." Frankly, it is disgusting. Those protesting the job offer to Segal have a very specific agenda — to silence open and honest academic inquiry into the state of Israel and its policies. That the individual they are targeting is himself Israeli simply adds a note of irony to their efforts.

Joel Sipress, Duluth


•••


I looked in Raz Segal's published writings and many of them do reference the idea that Jews should have stayed in Europe after the Holocaust. The problem is that they could not. And honestly, they did not want to. Holocaust survivors lost everything and going home and starting over was not on the table as the Cold War was beginning. And yes, many did fight in the 1947 civil war as they had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Why would a college professor in genocide studies fail to see what was really happening in Europe and how it affected the Middle East? Simple. He did not want to, and he cherry-picked facts on what occurred to discredit the creation of Israel. What is known is this. The British were leaving the region after essentially controlling the area after World War I. The Arabs did pressure the British to try to keep Jewish immigrants who were escaping persecution in Europe during the 1920s and 1930s out of the region, as Arabs were trying to set up their own state. Some anti-Zionist Palestinians did go as far as supporting Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany in hopes a German victory would kick the Brits and Jews out. The events of World War II did lead to the eventual civil war that was a disaster for the Palestinians in the region, although both sides committed atrocities during it. What is also true is that Palestinians were left stateless as refugee camps were set up. By contrast, any Jew in the Arab world who was forced to leave during and after the civil war was integrated into Israeli society.

It is also true that Palestinians have few rights and are persecuted under the current system, so they need to set up their own state. However, Hamas cannot be part of a governing it. The fact is Hamas has used acts of terror that are absolutely disgusting. But so was the response by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the fact remains that innocent Gazans and Israelis are dying because of extremism and fanaticism on both sides.

Still, it is obvious that Segal should not have been offered the job as director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, as his own refusal to look at all the facts of what happened and selecting only the facts that support his belief of anti-Zionism should have been a red flag. Well, better to make the right call late than never.

William Cory Labovitch, West St. Paul