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September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
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Letters To The Editor

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Readers’ Generosity

Once again we would like to thank the management and readers of The Jewish Press for their help in making a success of this year’s Chanukah Campaign for poor Israeli families.

Jewish Press readers reside in a truly amazing range of locales; we received checks from all over the U.S. and Canada. We thank you all and wish you the happiest of Chanukahs.

Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein
Jerusalem

Israel’s Humanitarian Mission

Your Nov. 22 front-page news story on the IDF field hospital in the Philippines was heartwarming to read.

Israel’s readiness to send doctors, nurses and logistics officers following Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines just a few days before the Israeli medical team arrived, is so commendable. It follows other instant responses by Israel such as in Haiti in 2010 and Japan in 2011. The doctors in the Philippines immediately delivered a baby who was named Israel in honor of the team. The field hospital serves over 300 patients a day with Israeli doctors introducing new equipment and procedures to Filipino doctors, which will remain behind when Israel leaves the area.

While the world loves denouncing Israel at every turn, and the delegitimization and criticism goes on non-stop, it is wonderful to see that none of this stops the Israelis from doing their good deeds. Great reports are also coming from hospitals in Israel about the humane reception of Syrian refugees fleeing to Israel for medical treatment.

If only the mainstream secular media would cover these stories.

Helen Freedman
Executive Director
Americans for a Safe Israel/AFSI

Surrender To Iran

Contrary to the administration’s spinning, the P5+1 agreement with Iran amounts to unconditional surrender to Iran’s nuclear weaponry goal. The weasel-worded pact allows the West to claim not to have acceded to Iran’s “right” of enrichment while Iran can claim otherwise.

The sanctions regime, which brought Iran to the table and which already has quietly been partially non-enforced, will be fatally weakened. The mullahs can thus continue to deny, deceive and develop.

Having long defied the international community and repeatedly lied about its unmistakable nuclear intentions, Iran should have had to prove its good faith. Instead, the West has thrown away increasingly biting leverage to compel an unwilling Iran to abandon its illicit program. No doubt, too, to avoid looking duped it will look the other way at inevitable Iranian violations.

Richard D. Wilkins
Syracuse, NY

Double Knockout

It was a double knockout weekend.

Knockout #1 one took place when a religious Jew was the victim of a so-called knockout attack, a phenomenon that is spreading in the U.S., with Jews the apparent targets of choice in New York City.

Knockout # 2 took place in Geneva, where diplomats, not thugs, knocked down Israel a peg or two by loosening the sanctions grip on Iran while dismissing the existential threats facing the Jewish state.

As we enter the Thanksgiving/Christmas season, let us hope the nations of the world will continue to support the idea of an independent and secure Jewish nation, a nation that will sometimes be battered and sometimes be bruised but with the pride and the means to always get back up.

However, as we put our faith in these nations, especially our greatest friend, the United States of America, we must remember the central lesson of Chanukah: Never rely on others or on miracles. When our very existence is in the balance, as it was in the time of the Maccabees and as it would be should Iran obtain nuclear weapons, we must be prepared to fight a lonely battle to victory.

Rabbi Reuven Kahane
Piedmont, CA

Parents And MBP: Responding To Attorney Shapiro

In his Nov. 15 letter to the editor responding to our Nov. 1 op-ed article (“Consent Forms for Metzitzah B’Peh – Empowering Parents or Interfering in Religious Practice?”), attorney Akiva Shapiro accuses us of having “forsaken accuracy and context” and he “substantiates” his attack on our professional integrity with several examples:

The friend of the court brief…actually ‘expresses no opinion’ on ‘whether the regulation withstands strict scrutiny’ (i.e. whether it is constitutional or not); it argues ‘only that strict scrutiny [a heightened standard of review] must be applied…’ ”

In fact, our only two attributions to the brief were: (a)“The regulation was, the city concedes, specifically targeted at Orthodox Jews and specifically at the religious ritual of MBP. The regulation stands alone; it is not part of a broader…effort to protect infants from consensual practices…. Moreover, the regulation was…in a context of hostility towards Orthodox Jews”; and (b) “The regulation triggers strict scrutiny because it targets… only that practice.”

The brief was co-authored by Professor McConnell of Stanford University’s Constitutional Law Center, former federal appellate judge and foremost religious freedom expert. Unlike Shapiro, McConnell stuck to his area – the law, specifically that strict scrutiny must be applied. It is up to scientists to help assess whether that review standard is met, and we – medical, epidemiological and statistical experts – proceeded to answer.

Our continued reliance on the conclusions of a University of Pennsylvania study.

Here too we confined ourselves to verbatim quotes, acknowledging that the university disagreed with “our characterizations.” Additionally, we gave the reader Internet access to the report to ascertain the context of these quotes. Beyond “relying” on this study, we reviewed several sources corroborating our analyses.

Shapiro extracts one sentence from the report: “All of the reviewed studies present clinical findings that are consistent with transmission from mohel to infant.”

However, the review’s objective was to evaluate the findings, and, in the very next paragraph, concluded:

“The evidence base is substantially limited by several factors. The small number of…events is the most significant limitation…. Most of the cases were not identified … systematically…and the total population of infants [with] direct oral suction is unknown…. Important information about some…cases is unknown, including the infection status of the mothers and mohelim…. In some cases, other possible sources of transmission were present.”

Even when read in isolation, the quoted sentence merely acknowledges consistency – a theoretical possibility, similar to an earlier conjecture concerning AIDS transmission later refuted by scientific evidence. Theoretical possibilities are a dime a dozen; as we and the Penn authors explain, much more is needed to establish evidence, let alone withstand strict scrutiny.

As to the continued claim that the community resists testing, does Shapiro deny the 2006 agreement between New York State and the community, which was rejected by New York City and withdrawn by New York State?

Finally, Shapiro claims we ignored his core point that “It should be parents…who decide…whether to have MBP performed…” Our response to that is to refer the reader to our Nov. 1 article mentioned above.

Dr. Daniel Berman
Professor Brenda Breuer
Professor Awi Federgruen

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