The Orthodox Jew Who Developed the Cholera and Bubonic Plague Vaccines

Mordechai Wolff Haffkine was born in 1860 in what is now Ukraine; as a youth, he founded the Jewish League for Self-Defense in Odessa and was injured while defending a Jewish home during the Odessa pogrom of 1881. As Saul Jay Singer documents, Haffkine was mentored by Louis Pasteur and almost singlehandedly developed the vaccines for both cholera and bubonic plague—often at great personal cost. He encountered significant anti-Semitism among the British and European officials and scientists with whom he worked, and became embroiled in what is now known as “the Little Dreyfus Affair.”

Haffkine had many enemies, including envious and resentful “establishment” scientists and the British colonial bureaucracy, particularly the British officers who comprised most of the staff at his laboratory, who were all unhappy about a Russian Jew heading the operation. Sham, but nonetheless damaging, reports began to circulate, including rumors that he was a Russian secret agent and an enemy of the British colonial rule and reports that he had produced the [cholera] vaccine with pig flesh, an anathema to both Hindus and Muslims.

His antagonists soon succeeded in finding a way to ruin him when, during a mass outdoor inoculation in the Punjabi village of Malkowal on October 30, 1902, nineteen villagers died from tetanus. It was quickly determined that the cause of the deaths was the failure of an Indian assistant to follow Haffkine’s established sterilization and sanitation procedures after he dropped a forceps that he was using to open the vaccine bottles, and that all the deaths were from vaccines administered from this single bottle; all other subjects who had been inoculated that day were thriving.

Nonetheless, a kangaroo Indian Commission of Inquiry was convened to investigate the matter and determined that the bottle of vaccine had been contaminated in his lab and that he was responsible. Relieved of his title and position, he was sent back to England in ignominy.

When the Indian government finally released its full inquiry in 1906—four years later—much of the scientific community came to his support and, on July 29, 1907, the London Times published a letter signed by ten internationally renowned microbiologists. . . . The letter cited not only the injustice of wrongfully accusing one of mankind’s and India’s “greatest benefactors,” but it also warned about the adverse repercussions that would arise out of false information eroding the public trust in vaccines—a warning that has particular resonance today.

Read more at Jewish Press

More about: Anti-Semitism, India, Jewish history, Medicine, Orthodoxy

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy