Letters to the editor:
The Benefit of the Anti-Vaxx Movement
Before you get out your pitchforks: I vaccinate my kids. I believe that parents who choose not to vaccinate are willfully ignoring mountains of evidence, all of which points to the almost miraculous positive effect that vaccinations have had on our collective health over the last five decades.
I still think the anti-vaxx movement has a right to exist, and it even benefits the rest of us in a way. Here’s why:
Armchair philosophers across social media debate the vaccination question with conviction. Vaccine supporters come well-equipped with study after peer-reviewed study of the abundantly obvious benefits of vaccination. Diseases that once maimed and killed are completely foreign to us; we recognize them by name only and could barely describe their symptoms. (Did you know that tetanus could cause debilitating muscle spasms in the face? I did not.)
The anti-vaxx camp is bold and unintimidated. How do you convince someone who was damaged by a vaccine as a baby to vaccinate their own children? A woman who has a lifelong hearing impairment after suffering a high fever as a direct result of a vaccination, how do you tell her that she’s wrong, that it’s actually really safe to vaccinate, that her experience is a rare exception? Personal anecdotes can be the most powerful influence on a decision, especially when the story is being shared first- or second-hand.
Anti-vaxx sentiment, in my mind, is the ultimate of first-world problems. I believe people are so far removed from the hell of diseases like polio, measles, and hepatitis that they feel threatened by the miniscule risk of inoculation. Perhaps that is why many anti-vaxxers will bend the rules for the tetanus shot; rusty nails are a threat everywhere, even in first-world countries. People with polio are not.
Unvaccinated children and adults are a threat to each other and to the elderly, the medically fragile, and so many others who rely on herd immunity to keep these preventable diseases at bay.
Then why do I support anti-vaxxers? Because I believe in “My Body, My Choice.” If we don’t want the government to have the right to force us to do something (or not do something) with our bodies, then we have to stand behind the people who choose to say “no.”
Do we want a government that can decide for us? What if this government decides to outlaw circumcision? Abortion? If we are to be in charge of our own bodies, we have to retain our freedom to choose, even if some of us will choose not to vaccinate.
Here’s another reason why the anti-vaxx movement is so important: it keeps the scientists and government bodies on their toes. It forces them to be even more vigilant about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines that are given to our children. It makes even the tiniest error unacceptable – imagine the debacle! – and ensures that there are teams of professionals that are constantly working to study and improve the ingredients in vaccines and the way vaccines are administered. It means that vaccines are becoming better and even more safe, year after year. Thank you anti-vaxxers!
The anti-vaxx movement is not going away, and it shouldn’t.
Chanie Pawliger, Marietta
Letter to the editor:
Otzma Yehudit: Assess Facts Before Drawing Conclusions
Israel and Jewish organizations spoke out forcefully and unequivocally to condemn Baruch Goldstein when he went on a murderous rampage. No one named a school after him or celebrated by passing out candies. And Israel offered no financial rewards to this murderer.
However, naming schools after murderous rampages and passing out candies is part of what Palestinians do when one of their own commits an atrocity. Palestinian murderers also receive monthly stipends. “Extremism” accurately describes a society in which this behavior is embraced and is the norm.
Otzma Yehudit proposes that Israeli lives are valuable and recognizes that the PLO and Hamas will never accept this. Meir Kahane understood this long ago and refused to adopt a “turn the other cheek” philosophy. He was assassinated in New York by El Sayyid Nosair, who was later involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
France is aware that it cannot passively turn the other cheek. French synagogues and schools are under constant protection of police or army. Every Jewish institution in Germany is under police protection. This was not necessary before Muslims immigrated to Europe in large numbers. Might there be a connection?
Israelis are certainly in need of safety measures to prevent random stabbings, shootings, car rammings and Molotov firebomb attacks, like the one that inflicted third-degree burns over the majority of 11-year-old Ayala Shapira’s body and face in 2014. Fire and explosive-laden balloons are sent into Israel on a regular basis, so Israeli children actually have to be taught to be wary of balloons!
Palestinians deliberately attack civilians in violation of every conceivable moral standard and legal norm. Otzma Yehudit wants to make it clear that Jewish blood is not expendable. When did this idea become unacceptable?
Julia Lutch, Davis, Calif.
Letter to the editor:
No single party has ever attained a majority (61 seats) in the Knesset. It’s hard to form a governing coalition when the leading party has only 30 seats, as is the case for Likud in the current Knesset. Polls predict that the most successful party in the April 9 election will garner only 36 seats.
Prime Minister Netanyahu asked Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) to join forces with Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), fearing that neither party by itself would reach the 3.25 percent threshold needed to win a Knesset seat. It’s hoped that the joint party will do better. Still, only two Otzma Yehudit members are likely to be seated, hardly a threat to Israeli democracy. In fact, Michael Ben Ari, an Otzma Yehudit leader, previously served in the Knesset (2009 to 2013), just as Rabbi Meir Kahane did in the 1980s. Still, non-Jews in Israel retain full civil rights.
The situation is complex. Muslim leaders tell Israeli Arabs not to vote (it normalizes the “Occupation”). The third largest party in the current Knesset is an Arab party; its members spend more time praising Israel’s enemies than working to address their constituents’ concerns.
Toby F. Block, Atlanta