In a recent Sun-Times op ed, the Israeli consulate for the Midwest used its alleged LGBTQ friendliness to excuse its repression of Palestinians, boasting of marching in Chicago’s Pride Parade.

It’s part of “Brand Israel,” a public relations campaign to divert attention from Israel’s appalling human rights record against Palestinians, most recently its killing of more than 100 unarmed demonstrators by Israeli sharpshooters – including children, and clearly-identified medics and journalists.

As LGBTQs who also marched in this year’s Pride Parade under a banner, “Israel: Stop Killing Palestinians,” we have several problems with this:

1) Greater equality for one group should never excuse the repression of another. For example, LGBTQs in the U.S. have won substantial freedoms, but that progress in no way excuses wrongful police killings of black people, separating immigrant children from their parents, and other racist crimes.

2) Palestinians are about half the population controlled by Israel, but most cannot travel except in tiny areas of the country. The LGBTQ freedoms that the Israeli state boasts of are largely not available to LGBTQ Palestinians.

3) For President Donald Trump, Israel is the fulfillment of his bigoted dreams:  Racist border wall? Israel already has it, largely built on land stolen from Palestinians. Separation of children from their families? Israel already imprisons thousands, including children, without charges and trials. For years both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have repeatedly cited the Israeli government for systemic torture.

It is no accident that Trump finds kindred spirits in both the anti-Semitic, homophobic “alt-right,” and the far-right Israeli government. All three have nothing but contempt for human rights.

As a huge recipient of U.S. arms aid, nuclear-armed Israel should be a primary concern for anyone who cares about human rights.

Andy Thayer, co-founder, Gay Liberation Network

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Leave pigeons in peace

Re: “Aldermen seek to legalize ‘new sport’ — pigeon racing,” pigeon racing should remain in Chicago’s history books. Countless birds suffer and die in this pastime.

PETA conducted a 15-month undercover investigation into some of the largest pigeon-racing operations in the U.S. and documented massive casualties of birds during races and training, rampant “culling” (killing), abusive training and racing methods and illegal interstate gambling.

Since pride and profit are often the compelling factors in pigeon racing, owners have little use for birds who can’t or won’t win. One racer told PETA’s investigators that the “first thing you have to learn” in pigeon racing is “how to kill pigeons.” Another recommended killing these gentle birds by drowning them, pulling their heads off or squeezing their breasts so tightly that they suffocate.

Pigeons are smart and have complex social relationships. Their hearing and vision are both excellent but they still flock in large numbers to help protect each other from predators. They are innocuous and enrich our mornings with their gentle cooing. They deserve to be left in peace.

Jennifer O’Connor, senior writer, PETA Foundation

Broken promise

President Donald Trump wants Congress to fund a border wall. I thought Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall. Was that not a campaign promise? Many voted for him because of this bravado and his “deal making” skills that would allow a wall to be built without taxpayer expense. What happened?

William H Davis Jr., Matteson

Shame on our federal government

Shame on our federal government for its inability to quickly reunite children and parents separated by the Trump administration’s radical immigration policy.

Put aside the heart wrenching separations in the first instance, and note that the president and the people he appointed lacked the foresight to establish basic measures necessary to rapidly reunite families. Were this occurring in any another country, we would be looking on it disgust. But it’s happening right here, in the United States, and history will judge us harshly.

Christopher Skey, Evanston