Speech about borders proves to be divisive

In June 2008, candidate Barack Obama stated that "any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state, with secure, recognized and defensible borders. ... We must never force Israel to the negotiating table."

President Obama reneged on that commitment in his May 19 speech. Missing was a clear demand that the Palestinian leadership renounce terrorism and recognize Israel's right to exist as a precondition for negotiations. Absent such a precondition, his insistence on Israel's return to its indefensible pre-1967 borders presents Israel with two equally unpalatable alternatives: Either fatally compromise its security or risk losing America's support.

Obama's treatment of Israel brings to mind Henry Kissinger's observation that "next to being America's enemy, the worst thing is to be America's friend."


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If Israel had lost the Six-Day War -- imposed on it by its enemies -- there would be no discussion, 44 years later, about restoring the country's pre-1967 borders. Israel would simply have ceased to exist. (God knows what would have happened to its Jewish inhabitants.) So why does it make sense to create a Palestinian state with precisely those borders now? Doing so simply makes Israel (more) vulnerable to enemies who seek its destruction no less today than when it was founded in 1948.


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President Obama has once again risen to the challange of our times, supporting transitioning democracies in Tunisia and Egypt and working toward a two-state solution within the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This builds on the vision of former President George W. Bush that democratic governments are capable of becoming a reality in the Middle East. The Obama administration's position to tie trade and debt forgiveness to the economies of these states also bears a strong resemblance to the Marshall Plan that followed World War II.

We need to make emerging democratic states in the Middle East our significant trade partners, then incorporate them into our security sphere by having them join the NATO alliance, adding stability to the region. As the Declaration of Independence put forth, economic freedom and political liberty go hand in hand.



Which state's policy is truly more fair?

While not getting into the issue between Boeing and the National Labor Relations Board, I do take issue with the portrayal of "right to work" states vs. non-right-to-work states in the editorial from the Economist ("Labor presses its political advantage") published May 23.

The article says that "in Washington, once workers vote to unionize every employee can be forced to join (and pay union dues) to the union. In South Carolina they cannot."

In non-right-to-work states such as Washington, workers are not required to join a union if they choose not to. However, they are required to pay a representational fee to cover the cost for the services the union provides, such as contract negotiations, grievance and arbitration procedures, and other union expenses related to general representational activities.

In "right to work" states like South Carolina, employees are not required to pay anything for union representation, but still receive all the wages, health and retirement benefits and full representation rights that the dues paying union members receive from the union. To be clear, unions are required by "right to work" laws to represent employees who pay absolutely nothing to the union, even when they are disciplined or terminated, and even if these grievances are resolved through the costly arbitration process. As far as I know, unions are the only organizations that have to abide by these types of unfair rules.

Just think of the lobbyists who would flood State Capitol buildings if legislators proposed laws requiring the Chamber of Commerce to represent all businesses in their community even if those businesses did not pay membership fees or dues.

So called right-to-work laws are nothing more than an attack on the finances of unions used to hinder their ability to properly represent their members and to silence the voice of workers in their places of employment.



Lundstrum Center deserves more attention

May 14 was a drizzly, rather cold Saturday, but was beautiful for me because of the 11th annual gala of the Lundstrum Center for the Performing Arts. The Lundstrum Center is a jewel in the heart of a somewhat troubled Minneapolis North Side. It is an organization that brings hope and promotes talent and self-confidence to young inner-city people, kids from kindergarten through their teens, who might otherwise take a wrong turn in life.

It brought tears to so many eyes as we heard and saw the singing and dancing of many vibrant, budding stars. It was an honor and a privilege to watch the young people perform.

If there is one failure of the Lundstrum Center, it is that most Twin Citians are not aware of its existence. This great training facility should receive more coverage in our newspapers, on TV and by word of mouth. It is supported by the relatively few who are aware of it, but it could use a great deal more support from all who would see firsthand its gifts to us and the North Side.



A building that even the architect didn't love

Regarding "A building that could still be loved" (May 16): I was an architecture student from 1968 to 1973 while Ralph Rapson was the head of the School of Architecture. I saw him at a convention about 10 years ago. We were talking privately about his career and his favorite projects. After we had discussed several of his modernist buildings, he volunteered: "I have only one regret in my career -- the Cedar Square West towers."