Letters | Healthcare and Anti-Semitism

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The Other Side of Drug Patents

As a member of the medical community, I found the op-ed by Peter Rheinstein exceptionally one-sided and candidly profit-motivated (“Ignoring Drug Patents Puts Lives of Patients at Risk,” Jan. 3). The health care system in this country is so fragmented that greed in the shape of soaring drug prices can be disguised as entrepreneurial rights.

There is no question about the contribution of pharmaceutical research. However, Americans who require the new approaches that may drive innovation worthy of the investors’ risk-taking seem to be bearing the larger burden of underwriting the costs of development with escalating costs.

Perhaps one way to control for this and to make it more equitable is to give our representative government permission to negotiate better deals for marketed medications. A more balanced point-counterpoint set of opinion pieces would have better served your readership in this instance.

Robert E. Wenger | Doylestown

Look Out for the Clear Threat

The juxtaposition of Editor-in-Chief Joshua Runyan’s column regarding not unnecessarily alarming the masses when it comes to rumored anti-Semitism and Rabbi Neil Cooper’s op-ed concerning the need to do something about hostility to Jews and Israel warrants some real thought by our community (“The Mail, and Other Worries,” “Today, We Can and Should Do Something About Anti-Semitism,” Dec. 27).

Runyan seems to be suggesting that many of us are sometimes too quick to respond to perceived anti-Semitism, while Cooper calls for heightened responses when Israel is portrayed unfairly. I find the rabbi’s suggestion that a New York Times columnist who wrote an overly critical piece about Israel be “held accountable” extremely frightening, echoing President Trump’s war on journalists that anger him.

Cooper’s suggestion that Professor Marc Hill is wrongly “protected by the concept of academic freedoms” is equally troubling. As the rabbi must surely know, academic freedom protects the right of a member of the academy to teach even absolute nonsense. We don’t really know if Hill understood the intent of the slogan “free Palestine from the river to the sea,” but even if he supports the outrageous and naive idea that there should be one predominantly Muslim state in the land of Israel, this should not warrant dismissal from his teaching duties.

Keep in mind that Hill’s remarks were not in the context of his teaching. As a former teacher and university instructor, the idea that I could have disciplined for making mean-spirited and absurd comments outside of the classroom is absolutely chilling.

Furthermore, while Cooper rightly notes that instances of anti-Semitism have increased in the last several years, he chooses to conflate negative expressions and criticisms of Israel from the left with much more virulent actions from the right. While Muslim members of Congress want to punish Israel for policies that they believe are harmful to Palestinians, the attack on Jews at prayer in Pittsburgh came from a right-wing extremist.

I am much more concerned about anti-Jewish expressions targeting journalists and anti-Jewish violence than anything a Temple University professor or a Jewish columnist might say. I fully agree with Cooper that we do something about anti-Semitism, we just seem to disagree about where the most dangerous threat comes from.

Burt Siegel | Elkins Park

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