Letter from Christian B. Anfinsen to Halfdan Mahler
This copy of a letter from Anfinsen to Mahler was included with Nirenberg's own correspondence. Anfinsen addresses the
intention of Iraq to introduce a resolution to the General Assembly of the United Nations that would request the suspension
of Israel for membership in the World Health Organization. Anfinsen assures Mahler that Nirenberg is "fully in accord"
with his point of view that the actions of Iraq should be denounced.
Item is a photocopy.
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2 (110,542 Bytes)
1979-05-11 (May 11, 1979)
Anfinsen, Christian B.
World Health Organization
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Beyond the Laboratory: Professional, Personal, and Political Life, 1967-2002
I have just heard about the reckless and rather frightening decision by the Republic of Iraq and the bloc of nations with
which it is associated. As you know, they intend to introduce a resolution in the General Assembly of the United Nations
that would request the suspension of Israel from membership in the World Health Organization. Having visited Israel frequently
over the past years, I have had the opportunity to observe the excellent handling of general medical care for all the inhabitants
of this nation, Arab and Jew alike. This is certainly true in the West Bank area as well as the rest of Israel and the construction
and operation of hospitals, clinics and medical supply centers in the West Bank area is particularly impressive.
It is well documented that the levels of health, life expectancy and infant mortality are almost exactly the same for the
Arab and non-Arab inhabitants and, furthermore, that these levels are an order of magnitude higher than the situation that
exists in the neighboring Arab nations. The intended resolution is clearly of a purely political nature, very reminiscent
of a similar proposal made with regard to UNESCO several years ago. My colleagues here at the NIH, Dr. Julius Axelrod and
Dr. Marshall Nirenberg, both of whom are Nobel Laureates, are fully in accord with my own point of view and our position is
completely adhered to by all those associates with whom we have discussed this matter.
We strongly urge you to take into consideration the extremely negative effects that such an action would have, not only on
the population within Israel but also on the usefulness, worldwide, of the highly successful World Health Organization. Expulsion
of Israel from WHO would make it impossible for many of us to consider cooperation with those nations that go along with the
senseless stand that has been taken by Iraq. We would be extremely grateful to you if you could take into consideration,
and publicize, the attitude that I am conveying to you which I am sure would be taken by everyone truly interested in the
maintenance and improvement of health throughout the world.