October 29, 2003

‘Gadfly’ Fights Back
Michael Wolff may know his way around the media world, but he clearly knows nothing about American Jewish organizations [“This Media Life: The Mogulissimo,” October 6]. The Anti-Defamation League’s award to Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was for his leadership in the fight against anti-Semitism in Italy and Europe, his support in the war against terrorism, and his friendship with and support for the United States and Israel. To suggest the award “may perhaps have been helped along by his off-the-cuff anti-Islamic slurs, and by his foot-in-mouth anti-German asides” is absurd and offensive. The charge that Mr. Berlusconi has a “history of spontaneous anti-Semitic remarks” is equally outrageous. And far from being “the gadfly of American Jewish groups,” as Mr. Wolff claims, the ADL has been at the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism and prejudice for 90 years.
—Glen A. Tobias, National Chairman, Anti-Defamation League, Manhattan

The Root of The Problem
Mr. wolff’s piece on silvio Berlusconi betrayed some deeply rooted prejudices he needs to deal with. Yes, he did take shots at media moguls, powerful people in general, and sawed-off billionaires who wear lifts. My concern is with Mr. Wolff’s careless use of stereotypes, which can do irreparable harm to innocents as well as the combatants he describes in the media world. Maria Bartiromo, he writes, gave “the kind of sixth-grade speech about her Italian heritage that makes actual Italians cringe.” Does he think this is funny? Has he ever considered the possibility that Ms. Bartiromo and I think the world of Abe Foxman and the work being done by the ADL? That we give our time as volunteers not to aggrandize ourselves but to support one of the many causes in which we are involved? That the relationship between Italians and Jews is, in effect, facilitated by the merciless scorn and derision to which our peoples have been submitted by people like him? And finally, that he is part of the problem and not the solution?
—Leonard Riggio, Chairman, Barnes & Noble, Manhattan

Pride And Prejudice
Silvio Berlusconi does not represent all Italians, and I was offended that Michael Wolff makes him the stereotype for all Italian people. This is like saying George W. Bush is the stereotype for all Americans. I am from Italy, and I am proud of being Italian; Mr. Berlusconi does not make me ashamed of being Italian—he makes me mad.
—Barbara Maiorano, Manhattan

Standard Deviations
Your intent in listing New York’s best plastic surgeons [“Beauty’s Best,” by Beth Landman Keil and Sarah Bernard, October 6] was laudable. Many of these physicians are both my mentors and friends and clearly deserving of this title. However, your portrait of the use of non-FDA-approved drugs and medical devices was quite alarming [“Beyond Botox,” by Beth Landman Keil]. Use of non-FDA-approved drugs and devices is unethical and illegal. That some doctors are trying to justify their use by saying others are doing it or that such drugs are the “standard of care” is clearly not in the best interests of our patients. The Hippocratic Oath should still mean something.
—Scot Bradley Glasberg, Manhattan

Smoothing Out Wrinkles
As the developer of the wrinkle filler Artefill and a plastic surgeon who has administered it to over 3,000 patients, I want to correct some misconceptions and inaccuracies reported in “Beyond Botox.” First of all, you claim that “Artefill contains acrylic beads suspended in collagen that harden under the skin.” They actually do quite the opposite: Since they stimulate the patient’s own collagen, which fills in 80 percent of the wrinkle, the effect over time becomes even softer and more natural. Then there are the doctors who say they have seen patients come in weeks after an injection to get the tissue repaired. That likely happened because U.S. doctors have not been properly trained to administer Artefill, since it is not yet FDA-approved. Most of Artefill’s side effects are due to technical error, not because the product is unsafe.
—Gottfried Lemperle, La Jolla, Calif.

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October 29, 2003