Letters, May 13, 2015


Urging use of DDT
to combat malaria
Battling malaria truly is a moral responsibility (“A unique tragedy,” Voices, WJW, April 30). Isaac Nuell’s suggestions should inspire tikun olam everywhere, to help heal the world’s people.

Malaria makes victims too sick to work, causes permanent brain damage, costs billions in lost wages, medicines and hospital care, and leaves families and nations impoverished.
While insecticide-treated nets help reduce parent and child mortality, adding insecticides, larvicides and DDT could help eliminate the disease.

During World War II, DDT kept Allied soldiers out of hospitals and graves. After the war, it was sprayed on concentration camp survivors to prevent typhus. It helped eradicate malaria in the United States and Europe.

In parts of Africa, people can get 1,500 malarial mosquito bites per year. But spraying small amounts of DDT on the walls of mud-and-thatch homes keeps 80 percent to 90 percent of mosquitoes from entering, irritates any that do enter, so they leave without biting, and kills any that land – for up to 12 months. No other chemical, at any price, can do this.


Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now’s 2007 campaign collected signatures from three Nobel Prize laureates and hundreds of rabbis, ministers, healthcare workers and other caring people worldwide to restore DDT for malaria prevention.

However, anti-pesticide activists claim DDT is “associated with” low birth-weights and weakened immune systems in babies, and “could” cause lactation failure in nursing mothers. No peer-reviewed evidence supports this, and all these problems are definitely associated with malaria.

Opposing responsible DDT use, says Ugandan Fiona Kobusingye, is “playing with our lives.” It is akin to battling chemotherapy for cancer – because of “possible side-effects” and the “ethics” of permitting “risky” procedures.

The film “3 Billion and Counting” says that’s how many have died from malaria, in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Americas, Europe and even Siberia. By championing DDT and every other anti-malaria weapon, congregations can help finally defeat this complex, deadly disease.
The writer helped coordinate Kill Malarial Mosquitoes Now’s 2007 campaign and is a senior policy adviser of the Congress of Racial Equality.

Some Poles were
accomplices in Holocaust
Your article “FBI director: Holocaust most significant event in human history” (WJW, April 17) omitted James Comey’s controversial remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that some Poles were accomplices in the Holocaust. In fact, Comey was correct.

From the 1100s-1500s, Poland welcomed Jews fleeing Western Europe, where anti-Semitism flourished during and after the Crusades. Beginning with Bolesław the Pious’ “Statute of Kalisz” in 1264, Polish rulers protected Jews; King Casimir the Great later expanded those protections. According to legend, in 1587, a Jew, Saul Wahl Katzenellenbogen, was even elected by acclaim as Poland’s king for a night.
As the Poles’ fortunes fell beginning with the 1648 Cossack uprising, however, anti-Semitism spread rapidly. When Poland was partitioned among Prussia, Austria and Russia in the late 1700s, Poles unfairly scapegoated their Jewish neighbors; when Poland was reconstituted after World War I, those attitudes remained.

During World War II, no country produced more individual “Righteous Among the Nations” honorees by Yad Vashem than Poland. Nevertheless, more than 90 percent of Poland’s 3.3 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis. It was the highest rate of any nation, made possible by widespread Polish acquiescence to the genocide. Poles also massacred Jews during and after the Holocaust without the Nazis’ help — most notably in the 1941 Jedwabne and 1946 Kielce pogroms.

Rejected by their neighbors, most of Poland’s 250,000 surviving Jews fled to Israel or the United States.

Poland is a different country today. But it cannot wish away the darker chapters of its own history.
San Francisco

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