The Aug. 16 article “After Trump tweet, Israel bars entry to Omar, Tlaib” discusses the denial of entry for U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar into Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories because of their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
As members of the Minnesota BDS community, we are outraged that Israel repeatedly denies entry to U.S. citizens and members of Congress solely on the basis of their political views.
Omar and Tlaib are not the only people to have been denied entry to Israel. According to the Times of Israel, the number of those denied has been increasing, and in 2018 almost 19,000 people were barred. Although not all of those were denied for their political views, we must point out that many Minnesotans also have been denied entry, many only for their political views. This is not trivial, because we are being denied access to the real story from a part of the world in which our government has been deeply involved. A denial of entry is a denial of experience and understanding. As Peter Beinart of the Forward has written, the purpose of denial of entry is to keep the occupation of Palestinians and their land hidden — especially from Americans.
While decrying the action of the Israeli government in denying entry to Omar and Tlaib, much commentary, including social media generated by some members of Congress, fails to demonstrate an understanding of the context and goals of the BDS movement.
Palestinians have lived under conditions of colonization since the establishment of the modern state of Israel. International human-rights organizations, including the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, agree that these conditions imposed by the Israeli government are depriving Palestinians of their fundamental human rights. In the context of these intolerable conditions, more than 170 Palestinian civil-society organizations called upon people of conscience around the world to participate in boycotting Israel.
The BDS movement seeks three demands of Israel: End the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, grant equal rights for all Palestinian citizens of Israel, and recognize the right of return of the refugees who were expelled from their homes during the formation of the State of Israel in 1948. These demands of the BDS movement are enshrined in international law and therefore should not be controversial. We believe that affording human rights to human beings is common sense. It is also just.
We call for an honest and in-depth dialogue about the roots and purpose of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights.
Eric Angell and Sylvia Schwarz, St. Paul
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The state of Israel had every right to deny visas to Omar and Tlaib. After all, these women openly advocate the destruction of Israel both economically and physically. But Israel played right into their hands. It gave these two the publicity they were really after — not the welfare of the Palestinians; that was secondary. I support anyone in this country who wants to express their opinions, be they ever so odious. But so am I entitled to my opinion, and I find the actions and the rhetoric of these two to be very venomous and certainly not helpful in finding solutions in the Middle East, or harmony and unity in this country.
Tom Kovach, Nevis, Minn.
Yes, we do have a right to protect ourselves — from guns
To the Aug. 19 letter writer who says there’s nothing to be done about gun carnage because some people are bad (“Laws wouldn’t and didn’t prevent weapons getting into wrong hands”), I would say this:
Over the years, carmakers have been required to install seat belts, air bags and all manner of safety devices to make their cars safer. Over the years, terrorists have tried to smuggle bombs or other devices aboard airplanes, and now we submit to all manner of screenings at the airport. Many years ago, someone tainted some bottles of Tylenol on a store shelf, and now there is safety packaging on practically everything you buy. Why is it that a child can pull the trigger on a gun but not get into a bottle of aspirin? The Second Amendment is not an unlimited right — it doesn’t say anything about making it convenient to own and operate a gun. Society has the right to protect itself, and if we were able to treat guns the same way we treat cars and aspirin bottles, we might get somewhere.
Bob Guenter, St. Paul
Perdue is not convincing
I fail to be persuaded by the soothing words of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue with regard to protecting the BWCA (“Rest assured, USDA will do right by the BWCA,” Aug. 16).
Why? Because Purdue just got rid of as many of the USDA scientists as possible by forcing them to move to Kansas City from D.C. on short notice or resign — the very same scientists who would be reviewing the permit process for any mining. And, no, he has no intention of replacing them: Trump’s Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney praised the move because it “streamlined” the USDA’s personnel.
It is widely suspected that the move was made because the scientists’ view on climate change did not align with the administration’s. We know the administration’s view on mining. What could possibly go wrong?
William Tajibnapis, Minneapolis
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I read Perdue’s commentary with dismay. It is naive to assume that foreign mining companies will reliably protect the future health and welfare of our children against the substantial risks associated with sulfide mining. That is not their track record. Neurotoxins do not dissipate, and the mining industry by its deeds has shown only token concern about their devastating impact upon developing children. Perdue goes on to distract, invoking his concern for rural America, hardly his only or main job under our Constitution. That responsibility is to uphold all of our laws and promote the common welfare. Not exactly what this administration (EPA) has been doing lately. Instead we witness the daily gutting of health, safety and environmental standards.
Deceptive arguments about “caring for the environment and jobs simultaneously” do not square with the abominable documented record of known corporate polluters. Invoking and distorting U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s comments about the hasty irregular process followed by the previous administration is likewise duplicitous. Compromises for short-term economic gain (highly doubtful if we become the “Land of 6,000 Lakes”) are a gross disservice to future generations. If any entity is being hasty, it is the executive branch of our federal government, trying to circumvent existing environmental rules, court shopping to parry them, and doing so repeatedly.
Minnesotans love winter, but we don’t like getting snowed by our current secretary of agriculture, who apparently is serving the interests of a few, trying to ingratiate himself with his boss. We deserve better. So do our children and theirs.
Ken Klein, St. Paul
Birds hitting U.S. Bank Stadium
Put the money where it matters
I don’t want to take sides on the birds vs. windows issue (“Stadium’s award bothers birders,” Aug. 15), but we have so many birds in our backyard and a breakfast room with three sides of glass windows. Daily I hear three to four birds smash themselves into a window. I have shiny ribbon and reflective decals, and I put the blinds down at peak times thinking they will avoid the glass. It still happens much to my sadness. My thought is, nothing you do to the glass on the stadium will stop the problem. So save the money or donate it to the schools to make sure all children have proper lunches.
Mary Jo Sherwood, Minnetonka
Trump should rethink priorities
Perhaps President Donald Trump should have taken care of the territories he already has before considering the purchase of Greenland.
Sally Thomas, Edina