How Orthodox Jews Became Coronavirus Scapegoats

As Americans continue to debate the merits of various policies undertaken to confront the COVID-19 epidemic, Moshe Krakowski looks back on how journalists and even government officials sought to depict Ḥaredim as particularly dangerous vectors of disease:

In August of 2022, [the former chief medical adviser Anthony] Fauci singled out Ḥaredim as poster children for the loss of herd immunity: “when vaccinations get below that number you start to see outbreaks like we saw some time ago in the New Yor City area with ḥasidic Jewish people who were not getting vaccinated.” (This, despite the fact that measles vaccination rates in the ḥasidic community were shown to be 96 percent and other, non-Jewish, communities experienced measles outbreaks too.)

In November 2021, a Department of Health official confirmed in testimony to Attorney General Letitia James that Governor Andrew Coumo’s COVID-19 cluster zones had targeted Orthodox neighborhoods, even though other neighborhoods in the city met exactly the same COVID-positivity metrics.

Ḥaredim were routinely described as ignorant and clannish, and as engaging in mob behavior. Ḥaredi religious beliefs and values were mocked as unimportant. In April of 2020, [then-New York City Mayor Bill] de Blasio issued a special “message to the Jewish community” threatening that “the time for warnings has passed” and indicated that he would be dispatching the police to “arrest those who gather in large groups.” Jews were the only one of the city’s many ethnic groups whom de Blasio singled out for public condemnation.

We actually have very little clear or systematic data about how and why Ḥaredim responded to COVID-19—or how the virus responded in turn. There are strong reasons to believe the ḥasidic COVID-19 death rate was exactly the same as the rest of New York, despite the community suffering a massive surge of deaths in the very initial wave that kicked off the pandemic.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Andrew Cuomo, Anti-Semitism, Bill de Blasio, Coronavirus, Haredim

Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security