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Ahmed Tharwat submits his familiar diatribe in his latest opinion piece, which essentially is that Israel has no right to exist ("What Biden forgot in his Holocaust Memorial speech," Opinion Exchange, May 16). Leaving aside his basic and disturbing premise, he ignores and misconstrues a number of facts. He claims that "from the river to the sea" is not antisemitic but about equality of everyone. What he ignores is that 900,000 Jews fled Muslim countries because not only had they been second-class citizens in those countries for centuries, but after the birth of Israel they faced certain death. Only a handful of Jews remain in Arab countries. Whereas despite his claims about Arabs in Israel not having rights, they vote, serve in the legislature, serve as judges and have even served in the cabinet and on the Supreme Court. Although Arabs' lives in Israel are far from perfect, contrast that to Gaza, where they haven't voted since 2006 and, as the New York Times recently reported, where Hamas spies on Gazans to prevent any political dissent with unfortunate consequences for those suspected of that.

Tharwat also plays the "white settler colonialism" identity card. He ignores the fact that a majority of Israeli Jews are descended from those who fled Muslim countries and are as "brown" as Arabs, which is why they have been effective as spies in Arab countries. Also, there are 200,000 Black Israeli Jews, 160,000 from Ethiopia.

The only solution is a two-state solution, not a "from the river to the sea" elimination of Israel as Tharwat repeatedly advocates in his opinion pieces.

Ken Cutler, Edina


I stayed, but things have worsened

The counterpoint from the writer who has lived in Minneapolis for nearly five years and loves it here reminds me of some of the reasons I've stayed in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis for over 40 years ("So you're leaving Minneapolis. I'm staying," Opinion Exchange, May 15). There's the proximity to the lakes, which I enjoy kayaking across, bicycling around or walking around. There's the ability to walk to my clinic, my dentist, pharmacy, grocery store and even a movie theater. Several coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants are within walking distance. These are all wonderful amenities.

But I also understand why the gentleman who wrote "The trouble with Minneapolis: Why we're leaving after all these years" (Opinion Exchange, May 8) is leaving. Like him, I am troubled by the decline in the quality of living here during the past few years.

The transplant from the East, who has lived here for less than five years, did not experience the era when having a vehicle stolen from one's alley was not considered just "life in the big city." She missed out on the era when random gunshots in Uptown were unheard of, rather than frequent occurrences, as they are now. Nor can she experience Uptown and Lake Street in general as it once was.

Not so long ago, I could walk to Calhoun Square and buy quality shoes at Bay Street Shoes, socks of all sorts at Sox Appeal or books at first Odegard Books and later Borders Books. Later still, the bookstores were replaced by Kitchen Window, a great place to buy cooking items. At one time I could get my watch battery changed at a kiosk under the stairway or buy stamps at a small post office. I could go upstairs to the Ediner if I wanted American comfort food in a casual setting.

All of that is gone, along with the name, Calhoun Square. The renamed Seven Points is an empty shell devoid of retail. So is the opposite side of Hennepin Avenue, where I once could buy outerware at the Columbia or North Face stores and could get my iPhone serviced at the Apple Store. All of those are gone, too, along with numerous restaurants I once patronized, from fast food outlets like Arby's to longtime establishments like William's Pub and Stella's. Now Uptown presents a dreary vista of empty storefronts, torn-up streets and occasional tents of homeless people. Hardly an inducement to remain, especially since city planners seem determined to turn our remaining streets into sterile busways or seldom-used bikeways with inadequate parking for the high-density human hives proliferating in the neighborhood.

Donald Wolesky, Minneapolis


Support those who do the job right

It is unfortunate that U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber has to be less than factual in trying to support our police officers ("Let's recommit to defending law enforcement," Opinion Exchange, May 15). A simple Google search would show that crime in all major categories has decreased in both 2022 and 2023 despite, or maybe because of, fewer police officers. As a former teacher, I would say the same thing to the police union that I would say to the teachers union: If you want trust and respect, you need to stop protecting those in your ranks who are not doing their job. There is no excuse for police officers breaking any law. The union should be encouraging and helping those who can't do the job the right way to find different employment. This would be one important step in bringing back the respect and trust needed by police officers.

Bill Lerman, Mendota Heights


Maybe say 'thanks'

Public leadership is hard. Can we just acknowledge that?

In some circles, we hear full-throated support for some civil servants — especially the military and police — while others are uniformly treated as self-serving villains. Why do we give so much more credit to those who are allowed to use deadly force, while abusing the leaders who have only policy, rules and words at their disposal? The truth is, most public leadership in the United States now requires a good dose of self-sacrifice.

In most communities, county commissioners, city council members and school board members serve with very little financial compensation relative to the amount of time they put in. They listen to far more complaints than praise, and sometimes are vilified for not weighing in on issues that are far removed from their purview. Some are harassed and even receive death threats. Who would want to do that, except out of genuine care for the community?

Leading any institution in a culture that distrusts institutions is hard. Listening to many competing voices and still thinking independently is hard. Balancing long-term threats and short-term gains is hard. Yes, some leaders in high-profile positions are more in love with their own voices than with the people they serve, but these leaders are the exception, not the rule.

The next time you're tempted to join in the name-calling and good-vs.-evil thinking, remember the hardest decisions you have made, and be grateful that a legion of other people are also trying to lead wisely in challenging times. You don't have to agree with them to honor their commitment to the community.

The Rev. Pamela Fickenscher, Northfield


Pull it wherever you find it

Garlic mustard, an "Awesome Blossom"? (Feature photo, A5, May 16.)

No! The only thing awesome about a dainty white garlic mustard blossom is that it's a sure clue to tracking down this horribly invasive plant to pluck it out!

Most of us can locate garlic mustard popping up along the roads, in school yards, parks and in our own lawns, crowding out native plants. Once you know what to look for, you will start seeing garlic mustard everywhere.

Right after that tiny white blossom appears, each garlic mustard plant will send up thin green shoots filled with hundreds and thousands of little seeds.

Some cooks will eat garlic mustard leaves sautéed, pickled or even in pesto. The rest of us just pull and destroy before the plant goes to seed. The time is right today to give a strong yet slow, steady pull right where the stem meets the earth. Happy pulling!

Peggy Thomsen, Bloomington