Letters to the editor: September 3, 2018

Our readers have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Vaccinating against ignorance
Regarding your editorial “Vaccines keep kids healthy” (August 31), I disagree on several points.
1) The vaccines that were used 20 years ago, when the last big study was carried out, are completely different from the ones manufactured today. No governmental policy can be based on a study that is very old from a scientific point of view.
2) Some 20 years ago, children got half the amount of vaccines available nowadays. Many of the children just got measles, or rubella, and went ahead with their lives.
3) Vaccines do not undergo the same double-blind studies as other medicines; they are being fast-tracked through the system (at least in the US). The CDC and the EPA give contradictory information on them, so the information is not reliable.
4) Vaccines have an adjuvant, a substance that is added to a vaccine to increase the body’s immune response to the vaccine, but which can also cause disastrous health problems or even death.
5) Aluminum and mercury are being used as adjuvants. Both are metals and cause health problems in the body. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said, “There is ample evidence that thimerosal (the mercury in vaccines) is making this generation the sickest in the history of our country.”
Before making such a big decision for all our children, the government has to study vaccines and their effects in depth.
I write as a lecturer on the subject of vaccine safety and ethics, and as a pediatrician who has treated hundreds of children who suffered and even died because they hadn’t been vaccinated by ignorant and arrogant parents, who thought they knew better than all the ministries of health in the world and all the accredited professional bodies of scientists and paediatricians, without exception.
I wish to congratulate your editorial and strengthen it. Your readers should know that the autism and vaccine myth began because of a fraudulent publication by a British doctor Andrew Wakefield in the esteemed medical journal The Lancet in 1999. Subsequently, in a rare and extraordinary step, The Lancet removed the article from its records and Wakefield lost his license to practice in the UK, but the damage had been done. Many years later, the Internet is still full of disinformation about this and other vaccine related issues.
Unfortunately, too many parents take it upon themselves to be experts in this complex field and second-guess the unanimous views of the authorized medical profession (barring a few charlatans). They do not understand that anecdotes, scare stories and “personal experience” are not science and cannot be a basis for responsible action. Therefore, the ethical case for sanctioning irresponsible parents who expose their children and others to unnecessary risk, is overwhelming.
Head, Department of Pediatrics
Ziv Medical Center
Vice dean, Azrieli Faculty of Medicine Bar Ilan University
The Tibi of the iceberg
Regarding “The struggle will continue” (August 31), how you can justify giving prominent space to anti-Semitic racist thug MK Ahmad Tibi is beyond my belief. In no democratic country but here in “apartheid” Israel would he be permitted to spew his venomous poison against Jews and the country that gives him shelter and sustenance.
Shame on you, and shame on your reporters who gave him such an easy time – disgraceful!
McCain’s 1969 near-death experience
Regarding “Obama, Bush rebuke Trump in McCain tribute” (September 2), John McCain was shot down over Vietnam in October 1967 after completing more than 20 missions. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. While McCain fought in Vietnam, our fearless president got four college draft deferments. After graduating in 1968, Trump visited a doctor who provided him with a letter stating he had bone spurs in a heel and this enabled him to get a medical deferment from the draft. He later said the bone spurs were “minor.”
McCain’s passing brings back memories of my Naval service which culminated in June 1967, and I recall McCain was almost killed in July 1967.
On July 29, 1967, an electrical power surge occurred in a Phantom F-4B parked on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal operating off Vietnam. A Zuni rocket shot across the flight deck and struck an external fuel tank of a A-4 Skyhawk piloted by LCDR White or LCDR McCain. McCain and the other pilots were able to escape from their planes as jet fuel spilled across the flight deck, ignited and triggered a chain-reaction of bomb explosions that killed 134 sailors and injured 161.
It was one of the worst Naval accidents since WWII.
Londonderry, NH
Alcohol – unsafe at any level?
A new global study from The Lancet (“There’s no ‘safe’ level of alcohol consumption, study finds,” September 2) recommends alcohol abstinence since it is concluded that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption.
This recommendation reminds me of the never-ending controversy concerning radiation-induced carcinogenesis for which there is a linear-no threshold theory (LNT) of radiation induced cancers. The controversy is too complex to summarize here, but a recent memorandum of the International Commission on Radiological Protection admits that the LNT-model predictions at low doses are “speculative, unproven, undetectable and ‘phantom.’”
Others have calculated that a person sleeping next to his or her partner can accumulate a significant amount of radiation (if the LNT theory is valid), since the human body contains a certain amount of radioactive materials. So far, there has been no recommendation to construct a radioactive free lead shield between sleeping partners or perhaps to sleep in separate bedrooms.
There are dangers involved in almost every action - driving a car, taking a walk, eating a hamburger. To be more intellectually honest, the Lancet report should have compared drinking a glass of wine or a bottle of beer to some of these other activities. Then people could make an intelligent decision.
Professor Emeritus of Radiation Physics
Making Prague connections
When I read “Golden Prague is as serene as the Moldau River” (September 2), I thought of the huge drawing of the “Rooftops and Towers of Prague” hanging at the entrance to the gallery of the Theresienstadt Ghetto in Yad Vashem, painted by 14-year-old Peter Ginz in the 1940s, who was wrested away from his home by the Nazis and imprisoned in the Terezin Ghetto a short distance away.
“How beautiful is my beloved Petrin,” he writes in the poem accompanying the drawing while I am imprisoned in these wretched (ghetto) streets. Peter died two years later in Auschwitz.
While in the ghetto, Peter painted other pictures, but perhaps his best known is “Moon Landscape,” in which he imagined looking at Earth from the moon. Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon took a copy of it took with him on his doomed 2003 space shuttle mission.
The name Peter Ginz and his relationship to Prague has been perpetuated by world leaders and recently American astronaut Drew Feustel took a copy of “Moon Landscape” on another space mission orbiting the Earth, in memory of Ilan Ramon and Peter Ginz to “commemorate Peter and all the victims of the Holocaust.”
Beit Shemesh
Holy tongue
One of the many miracles of this amazing country is the revival of a dead ancient language – Hebrew. Israel is a country of millions of immigrants who have put in many hours of study and effort to learn this language, with varying degrees of success.
When he addresses the UN General Assembly in September, we urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give part of his speech in Hebrew. The head of the French delegation will speak in French, the German in German, the Iranian in Farsi and so on, all in their native tongues.
After a heated debate, Hebrew has been enshrined in the Nation-State Law as the official language of Israel. We, therefore, expect and hope that Bibi will give part of his address in our official language. We understand that Bibi is a master communicator in English, thus we recommend that he begin his address in Hebrew, and after a few sentences begin anew and continue on in English.
How proud we Israelis would be to hear Hebrew spoken on the world stage and broadcast to millions of people around the planet. It would be a dream come true and a reward to all of us olim for the mighty efforts we have invested in learning and working in modern times with this blessed, vibrant, sacred, living language.