The epicenter of the measles outbreak in the NY metro region is the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community which shuttles back and forth between Brooklyn and Rockland County, which lies directly across the mighty Hudson from my beloved Yonkers. It's not surprising that anti-vaccination ideation has hit this community- it is a community which has traditionally been targeted by hostile government forces, and a community which places little, if any, value on secular education. Distrust of secular authority plus scientific illiteracy seems to be the combination which has led to suspicion regard vaccines.
Last Monday night, members of the ultra-Orthodox community met in Rockland County for an anti-vaccination symposium. There, they were subjected to misinformation peddled by opportunistic quacks. The most striking statement recorded during the symposium, though, was a statement by a man who should have known better... a statement by a Holocaust survivor:
Just one of the event’s five speakers, who were introduced as “distinguished personalities” and the “cream of humanity’s crop,” was from the Orthodox community. Rabbi Hillel Handler, who has likened vaccination to “child sacrifice” in the past, told the crowd that according to “medical research,” if you catch “measles, mumps and chickenpox, your chances of getting cancer, heart disease, and strokes goes down 60 percent.”
He also said that Hasidim were being scapegoated by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who he called “a very, very sneaky fellow” and a German.
“The Jews are our misfortune,” he said, bringing up how Jews were stigmatized in Nazi Germany. “We Hasidim have been chosen as the target in order to distract from the virulent diseases that are sweeping through the city from illegals.”
The emphasis is mine... this is a particularly grotesque quote because Rabbi Handler is participating in the same sort of stigmatization that he decries. The lack of self-awareness on display here is stunning. My take on this whole sorry affair is that the Hasidim are being victimized by a bunch of grifters and anti-science loons, and in turn are victimizing their own children. Playing the blame game, and trying to paint Latin Americans as a threat is beyond the pale- it's playing from the same anti-semitic conspiracy theory handbook, merely changing the name of the enemy. I'm not Jewish, but I can recognize a shanda fur die goyim when I see one.