November 4, 2019: Pro-science, pro-common sense

Readers of the Jerusalem Post have their say.

Letters (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Pro-science, pro-common sense
Regarding “Right from wrong” (November 1), when people question vaccine safety or vaccine efficacy or vaccine necessity, that does not make them anti-vaccine – it makes them pro-science, pro-common sense and pro-public health. The truth is that we care about having healthy children and a healthy population. Nobody is anti-or pro-vaccine. We are all pro-kid and pro-health, and question certain aspects of our current vaccine schedule.
The scientific integrity of vaccine studies and the vitally important topic of vaccine freedom of choice can be better understood by exploring the scientific literature of stellar doctors, neurologists and research conducted by Ty Bollinger in The Truth About Vaccines. I refer readers to Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s study (MMed.Sci MMed Neurology) entitled the “Gut Brain Connection to Autism,” Dr. Marc Hyman, MD and Dr. Richard Halversen. Included in their studies are the dangers of the additives/preservatives such as mercury and thimerosal, which are highly toxic brain substances.
Rather than attack a person’s conscientious decision concerning vaccines, it is incumbent on all to know the facts these studies bring to light. That said, I look forward to the freedom I have to attend the conference and worthy cause that will take place on November 21, entitled “Vaccines, Bechira Muskelet.”
In her excellent article about the anti-vaccination movement, Ruthie Blum describes how a toxic mix of gross inaccuracy and ideological fervor can lead to ill-informed decisions and tragic health consequences, most recently in the case of measles.
Added to this mix, I would suggest, is indifference on the part of some parents. In Israel, which boasts a stellar 97% national coverage rate for the first dose of measles vaccine, an anti-vax movement exists, but is somewhat less of a factor than elsewhere.
Yet the 2018-19 measles outbreak here numbered 4,300 cases, involved hundreds of hospitalizations (mostly of infants and toddlers) and included three fatalities. Public health officials have observed that the scope of the outbreak was due largely to local pockets of undervaccination and delayed first-dose vaccination that weakened herd immunity, which is so crucial to community health.
Blum also reports that the Tel Aviv municipality has approved an upcoming anti-vax convention scheduled to take place at Expo Tel Aviv, and she writes that the event should be banned – correctly arguing that the refusal to be immunized against vaccine-preventable diseases should no more be tolerated than is drunk driving, another “personal choice” that imperils public safety. One hopes that the Tel Aviv municipality will reconsider its decision.
The Rainbow State
Regarding Crystal Paul’s article about Hawaii “Much more than a tropical paradise”(November 3), nowhere in the article does she state the fact that Hawaii is part of the United States, and has proudly been a state for the past 60 years. On the contrary, she uses some conjugation of the word “colonization” a half dozen times, thus skewering an otherwise charming narrative of Hawaiian lore.
As far as her issue with tourism in Hawaii, she might note that it also exists in the state where she was raised, Utah, with huge numbers of visitors each year coming to see the edifices of the Latter Day Saints.
Hawaii is one of the most densely populated states in the US, though less populous in terms population overall, and it has the highest percentage of Asian-Americans in a diverse population.
Whether intentional or not, the omission of the fact of Hawaii’s statehood can leave the reader with only a partial picture of life in Hawaii today.
Beit Shemesh
Needed: UK apology
Regarding “Palestinians call on Britain to apologize for Balfour Declaration” (November 3), use of the term ‘Palestinians’ only spreads false hope by perpetuating this misnomer, which thereby brings suffering to all.
The historic rights of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel were given by God thousands of years before there was a Britain or Balfour Declaration. Britain does need to apologize, but not to a people that didn’t exist until 1967, but to Israel for stealing three quarters of our land to make what is now called Jordan.
The Jews suffered greatly under the British Mandate; their favoring of the Arabs was no secret, then as now. Many Jews could have been saved from German atrocities during the Holocaust had the British not refused them the right to safety in the Jewish land, instead deferring to the Arabs that were murdering Jews even before the Jewish State was re-born in 1948.
The PA terrorist leadership, which continues to exist only through Israel's support, now talks of their supposed "rights," yet before and during 19 years of Jordan’s illegal occupation of Jerusalem, such a concept was unheard of. Jerusalem was never considered a capital by them. The only time any part of the Jewish Land became "holy" to the Arabs was when Israel made it thrive. When then-prime minister Golda Meir offered the Arabs Judea and Samaria, they turned it down as not acceptable, as it was still only barren land. We need to regain our lost pride and faith in our full rights to the land of Israel.
Jews are indigenous here
In "How to build a peace camp (October 31), Jafar Farah and Jonathan Shamir, members of the Mossawa Advocacy Center, analyze the prospects for a political peace camp based on Blue and White, the Arab vote and less "identity" voting among Israeli Jews.
Arabs are sometimes referred to as Arab citizens of Israel or Palestinian citizens of Israel. Jews, however, are always referred to as Israelis so there is an inferred native status to the Arabs living in Israel as though Arabs are the natives and Jews are the colonialists.
My family emigrated to Safed, Palestine in the 1600s, and I am as much a Palestinian as I am an Israeli – as are many other so-called Jewish Israelis. I object to the hijacking of the term "Palestinian" to refer only to Arabs. It suggests a certain prejudice and a lack of understanding on how to really promote peace.
Farah and Shamir should be more careful: there are Jewish Palestinians who are citizens of Israel and there are Arab Palestinians who are citizens of Israel.
Offensive to women
Your editorial on the Rav Firer debacle (“Musical tolerance,” November 3) misses the point. While the performance in honor of Shlomo Artzi is not publicly funded, it is not a closed ultra-Orthodox event, either. Rather, it is open to the public. That is, the general public, as well as the performers – none of whom belong to the ultra-Orthodox community, yet they are being asked to accept yet another instance of exclusion and silencing of women.
Haredi men consider women’s singing and dancing to be immodest? I – and the many women and men like me – find the public erasure of women to be outrageous. The trend (in the military, in academia, on some city streets!) is dangerous for the well-being of our society as a whole. The musicians should never have been asked to participate in, to accept, such an anti-woman policy. The solution is not to tolerate a policy of intolerance: rather, to plan a different sort of fund-raising activity, one that does not offend women.
Put more simply, Firer need not attend. While his organization is the beneficiary, Shlomo Artzi – not Rabbi Firer – is the honoree.
Buttigieg's obtuseness
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has a lot of nerve to make the suggestions he did at the J Street gala ("At J Street, military assistance becomes a campaign issue," Oct 30). Who does he think he is giving us this very paternal nonsense – "...put your arm around your friend and try to guide them toward a better place." Really?
I don't know where he was in 2005 when prime minister Ariel Sharon demolished Gush Katif, but we remember the productive farms and factories – to say nothing of the people's lives – that were destroyed. Sharon had the brilliant idea that all we had to do was uproot everyone who lived there and give the Arabs all the thriving farms, and then, no doubt, peace would break out. Except, of course, what we got instead was missiles, in the beginning actually made of the old irrigation pipes from the thriving farms. Mayor Buttigieg, just imagine that you have young children who at all times must be aware of where the closest bomb shelter or safe room is to scramble to. That's what we have had to contend with for the past 20 years!
You say you would like to see peace. Well, so would we, but we are not about to make erroneous assumptions again. J Street seems eager to repeat Sharon's horribly failed Gush Katif experiment – this time in our heartland of Judea and Samaria. Nobody here is ready to cede to others the right to decide our future and put us in mortal danger. Has Buttigieg seen any signs that the Arabs in Gaza want to make peace with us – or just violent riots and missiles? When will he put his arm around them and guide them to a better place?
Buttigieg, J Street, and all who urge us to dismantle our towns and communities should further their education and find out what is really going on in our part of the world.
Petah Tikva
Sanders panders to Gaza
The Jerusalem Post’s coverage (October 30) of Senator Bernie Sanders at the JStreet gala at the Washington Center quotes him as saying that “some of that $3.8 billion [of Israel’s military assistance] should go right now into humanitarian aid in Gaza.”
Sorry, Sanders. You are a little late. The UN, US and others have been there and done that, but once the Hamas leadership gets their hands on the “humanitarian aid,” the money goes into their pockets, into rockets and into building tunnels.
Your professed concern for “human rights and democracy” also extended to your calling for a two-state solution, so that the Palestinians can live securely and in peace. Great idea, but don’t think that you or your Jewish friends will have humanitarian or democratic rights there. PA President Abbas made it very clear that “no Jew will ever live in our land.”
And what do you propose to do about the 800,000 Jews – rapidly approaching a million – who already live over the 1949 armistice line in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem?
Zichron Yaakov
Not just a dead issue
Regarding "Jewish dead on way to Israel after Foreign Ministry strike delays burials" (November 1), responsibility for the current Foreign Ministry labor impasse rests squarely upon the Finance Ministry, which has lost sight of the fact that in addition to the very vital function of collecting revenue, the purposes of taxation also include A) effectuating monetary and economic policy; and B) facilitating or discouraging various behaviors amongst the populace.
In addition to the revenue imperative, the excise taxes imposed by most nations upon alcohol and tobacco products have an obvious element of behavior discouragement in their imposition.
As for income taxation, the Finance Ministry ought to examine the American model. The United States Internal Revenue Code scheme takes into account that certain occupations have unique attributes that warrant special taxation treatment. Mindful that the spiritual work of clergy persons of any denomination almost always has frequent occasion to be carried over into their personal residences, the fair rental value of the clergyperson's residence (regardless of religious denomination) is excluded from income for income tax purposes.
Similar exclusions from income are accorded for military combat zone pay; payments to child foster care providers; and benefits received by volunteer firefighters and other emergency responders, each of which is an occupation that benefits society and carries unique attributes, which, if taxed as ordinary income, would work an undue and unfair hardship.
The Finance Ministry's attitude is short-sighted because, all else being equal, if the Foreign Ministry is compelled to bring its employees posted overseas to parity through salary increases, there would be no long-run net difference in the Treasury's cash holdings – except for the added expenses of additional paperwork and lost productivity.
Petah Tikva
Former attorney for the US Internal
Revenue Service
No to Russian blackmail
It is a pity that Naama Issachar’s family has applied to the court to hold up the extradition of Burkov. It would be the height of folly to submit to Russian blackmail and trade Burkov for her release, and I hope our government will not change its decision. If they did, any Israeli thinking of traveling to or transiting through Russia would have to worry that another Russian criminal might get arrested here and they could become a hostage to the Russian system of “justice.” The moment Burkov lands in the USA, Vladimir Putin will understand that Issachar is not a bargaining chip, and continuing her outrageous sentence would lead the world to ridicule him for petty revenge. Issachar will then be on the next flight home.