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

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy