November 18: Well overdue

Failure to reach 90 percent vaccination rates puts everyone at risk.

letters thumb (photo credit: )
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Well overdue Sir, - Judy Siegel's article on measles immunization was extremely timely ("The jab that protects," November 15). It is now widely recognized that the universal childhood vaccination program in Israel is in serious decline. Increased complexity and cost of vaccines, combined with high-profile sensationalist reporting of alleged adverse reactions and widespread dissemination of disinformation on the Internet, have created an atmosphere of distrust and even hostility. This despite what is correctly described as modern medicine's crowning achievement. Failure to reach 90 percent vaccination rates puts everyone at risk. The result: outbreaks of measles, deaths from whooping cough, unnecessary morbidity from rotavirus, pneumococcus and other threats. Many countries, among them prime democracies such as the US, Canada, France, and Italy, have mandatory vaccination programs backed by real sanctions for failure to vaccinate. Public discussion of this issue is well overdue in Israel, but is urgently necessary. DR. ANTHONY S. LUDER Safed His own man Sir, - In my opinion, the new Jerusalem mayor does not need the late Teddy Kollek's legacy to guide him ("Barkat's Agenda," Editorial, November 14). Nir Barkat has a successful track record of strong leadership, character and perseverance. The city has been waiting many years for a leader with such ability and honesty. With Barkat's business background and experience there is now an opportunity to turn this impoverished city around. He is a conversant of the competitive nature and a champion of the private sector economy. I am certain one of his urgent priorities is to promote this sector to increase employment and wealth in the city. This would ultimately broaden the tax base of financial support, which should benefit all the citizens of Jerusalem, including our Arab neighbors. Barkat is a self-made man, a high achiever with a mind set for productivity. He does not need Kollek as his model. He will be his own man. JACK DAVIS Jerusalem Missing my stop Sir, - In reference to the article, "Barkat favors buses but officials say it's too late for him to derail the train" (November 14), no one seems to be aware of the fact that when the system begins running every passenger along Sderot Herzl will be forced to trek long distances between the light rail stops that have been placed few and far between, leading to an irresponsible upheaval of the Egged bus stop system that has been in use for decades. I have been complaining to the light rail management about this since work began and their route plans were advertised. Their response has been: The trains we have purchased cannot make frequent stops. We aim for speed. This arrogance indicates, first of all, that the planners have never depended on public transportation to get around, and secondly, that they couldn't care less about causing real distress to many Jerusalemites. Even if it is too late to derail the trains, I hope our new mayor can assist in this matter. SHIRA TWERSKY-CASSEL Jerusalem Reverse prejudice? Sir, - There is little doubt that many people, especially blacks, feel the election of Barack Obama has wiped away decades of prejudice and discrimination ("Let the races begin... mending rifts," November 14). While part of me was happy to see the United States make a choice reflecting its disdain for prejudice, one can't help but wonder how free of prejudice we actually are? With well over 90 percent of blacks that voted for Obama, was this because they felt he was the best person for the job, or because of his skin color? As a Jew, should I vote for a candidate only because he/she is a Jew? In doing so, this only reflects a prejudice. In the words of Martin Luther King Jr., "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." When we as a society understand this in the current context, and vote accordingly, we can then say we are free of prejudice. DAN CALIC San Ramon, California Extend a hand Sir, - Caroline Glick's November 14 article, "The perils ahead" alleging that President-elect Barack Obama sent Robert Malley to Syria immediately after his election would be laughable, if it also weren't so dangerous. Glick's allegations and those similar seem to be running rampant among right-wing bloggers and columnists. But a 10 minute Internet search by a nine-year-old would show that something smells in Denmark. Whether they like it or not, Barack Obama is going to be the president of the most powerful country on earth and Israel's closest ally for at least the next four years. Is it really in Israel's best interests to demonize and alienate him with false rumors, half-truths and outright fabrications when we want him to be Israel's friend? Obama has many fervently pro-Israel supporters, and many pro-Israel people will be in his administration. Let's extend a hand to him so he can truly understand Israel's needs. ROBERT SMITH Los Angeles Not so fabulous Sir, - I'm offended by the platform David Benkof was given in this newspaper for what I consider gay-bashing commentary. Just because his thoughts are framed in a "religious" context does not make them acceptable for public discourse ("Fabulously Observant: Can gays be 'cured' after all?" November 12). BRUCE KAYE Los Angeles, California No help at all... Sir, - Would it perhaps be possible to evict The Council of Settlement Rabbis? That would probably do more good than evicting the settlers from Hebron ("Court gives settlers in disputed Hebron building 3 days to leave," November 17). None of them is doing Israel or the Jewish people any good. LEONARD ZURAKOV Netanya ...but some hope after all Sir, - In regards to the article, "Medvedev wants to re-democratize Russia" (Op-Ed, November 11), I can only hope that other leaders of Middle Eastern countries (including Ahmedinejad) will join the Russian president and President-elect Barack Obama at a major conference to iron out their differences peacefully. Maybe there is hope after all. Maybe if all nations drop their aggressive diplomacy and realize that negotiation is the only way to peace instead of using military might and wasting the lives of future leaders, then it just might be the way to go. It's worth a try. HERB STARK Massapequa, New York A better idea Sir, - It's becoming clear that any Arab money made available to help resolve the current economic crisis will come with strings attached ("Shari'a-friendly investments," October 23). That is, it will bring a demand for compliance with Islamic banking law, and with that, Islamic shari'a law in general, since the two are inseparable. Perhaps it's time to dust off Judaism's own no-interest approach to mortgage and business loans, fully described in the Talmud. This could put Israel at the forefront of global economic recovery while sparing the West the "bath water" that would come with the Islamic "baby." GERSHON JACOBSON Jerusalem