- To avoid going overboard in self-blame and self-hatred.
- Jew-hatred is ALWAYS a wake-up call from Hashem.
If Jew-hatred is on the rise for any reason it hides behind, it means that we Jews are supposed to take stock of ourselves and see what non-Jewish attitudes and values we've adopted in place of the beautiful & holy Jewish attitudes & values.
Looking at the whole picture, it really seems like the spotlight on Orthodox Jews for a measles outbreak has more to do with attacking Orthodox Jews rather than a real concern about measles.
And this post addresses the reasons why that's the likely motivation...
A Brief Look at Measles
Currently, Orthodox Jewish cases of measles have been in the media, both Jewish and not, along with the usual accompanying hysteria and consternation.
Traditionally, measles has appeared as a normal childhood disease (like chicken pox).
Yes, it can be very uncomfortable.
Yes, it can even be deadly.
Yes, a measles outbreak must be taken seriously.
But if you speak with people old enough to have actually suffered through a bout of measles before the vaccine, it sounds a lot like chicken pox bouts of my childhood: Some kids got it bad, some average, some just suffered a runny nose and slight fever with a dot or two.
Yes, both chicken pox and measles can turn deadly.
So can the flu.
So can the common cold. (One stat said that 4500 people die of rhinovirus, the most common strain of the common cold, each year in the US, but I could not find a source for that.)
For every 1000 infected with measles, 1-2 die. The last confirmed measles death in the USA was in 2015, and before that, in 2003.
And it’s entirely possible that the current common strain of measles is more virulent than that of 60 years ago.
But measles is NOT, say, in the realm of polio, smallpox, tuberculosis, leprosy, HIV, or malaria.
It just isn’t.
The frum media has wholeheartedly embraced the “Vaccinate against measles, you dangerous loons!” side.
Cries of “Chilul Hashem!” rise up from all frum sides.
Fellow frum Jews want to dox the 1 or 2 rabbis who aren’t pro-vaccination.
At least one yeshivah has been closed down because of measles and a new discrimination against Orthodox Jews has developed based on the measles issue—such as a New York bus driver refusing to allow an Orthodox passenger on board, screaming something about measles at the hapless Jew.
I’d say the frum community has firmly hopped on board (maybe even overboard) the pro-vaccine side of the whole measles issue.
The frum community has gone overboard in taking responsibility.
This is so typical because the frum community is the most self-critical community in the world.
Yes, we have our deluded self-righteous narcissists. But in general, we are always ready to rip ourselves apart, self-castigating ourselves even for things we personally have NOT done and would NEVER do—simply because another Jew (or 10) who looks frum has done it.
When people take responsibility for their problems, there is no need to pursue and harass them about it. They are willing to take care of it themselves, even without all sorts of harassment.
Yet if you point out that all this response to measles in the frum community smacks of Jew-hatred, you will be charged by fellow frummies who accuse you have burying your head in the sand, not taking responsibility, passing the buck, and one of the worst accusations in frum society today: IGNORING THE REAL PROBLEM.
Whew! Pretty heavy stuff.
It's Those Juuuuuz...
Here is the golden rule of thumb:
If it’s only a problem when JEWS do it—and other groups get a free pass when doing the exact same thing or WORSE—then Jew-hatred is at its root.
So let’s look at other groups.
Other "Measly" (Ha!) Groups
Because of a measles epidemic there (4605 cases, 62 deaths), the CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Alert, discouraging Americans from going to Venezuela.
In 2014, Ohio experienced an outbreak of 383 cases of measles, the majority appearing among the unvaccinated Amish.
In 2014, Minnesota experienced a measles outbreak (78 cases) that originated among unvaccinated Somalis.
Did these cases make headlines? Did you hear about these at all?
Did you know that one is far more likely to catch measles from someone recently from Venezuela than from an Orthodox Jew?
No, of course not. It’s only when (over 120) Orthodox Jews have measles that measles is a widely publicized problem.
And did you see any Venezuelans or American tourists from Venezuela self-flagellating about their part in spreading measles? What about the Somalis? The Amish?
Neither did I.
Nobody feels bad about these things as a group—except the noble Orthodox Jew.
An Incurable 100% Fatal Disease
And it continues to be a problem in that community and communities in the Third World in which debauched behavior between men and women is rampant.
Unlike measles, HIV/AIDS is 100% fatal and has no cure.
Furthermore, unless a person is tested, one can flit gaily through life for 10 years, infecting others, before symptoms appear.
And there are other populations with very high rates of it.
- 53% of Eastern & Southern Africans have HIV.
- 16% of Western & Central Africans have HIV.
- 14% of Asians and Pacific Islanders have HIV.
- 10% of LA males involved with other males is HIV-positive (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 17, 2001).
- 1%-4%, depending which country in Central & South American, the Caribbeans.
- 0.3% of North Americans have HIV.
Now, legal immigrants are screened for such things, so we don’t need to worry about them.
However, illegal immigrants are not.
And in fact, a free clinic in California has said that 100% of their female patients tested positive and most are immigrants (legal? illegal?) from Central America.
Should we not allow, say, LA men attracted to their own gender into our schools and universities?
And why aren't clubs catering to toeva shut down if schools with measles are shut down?
And before you say, “Well, it’s not an airborne disease, so it’s okay,” there have been rare cases of HIV being contracted through being kissed or bitten by an HIV-positive person.
Regardless, you’d think that with an INCURABLE 100% FATAL and common disease, people might be more cautious and also forgiven for discriminating against populations in which HIV is common, but I would like to see the popular response to any southern Californian university or public place that would deny entry to a toeva male or a Latina woman based on their much higher likelihood of carrying an incurable 100% fatal disease.
(Actually, I wouldn't like to see the popular response. They'd be screaming about discrimination.)
And would newspapers blare such headlines?
And finally, I’d like to see toeva publications and representatives lambaste themselves (just like Orthodox Jews are) for this crisis and very real health hazard.
I would like to see toeva men and southern Californian Central Americans ban each other from parties, simchas, and other get-togethers (just like some Orthodox Jews do) in which this disease might be spread further.
Let them admit only those who’ve been tested and tested negative for this incurable 100% fatal disease.
(And if you think that because it’s not airborne, then it can’t be spread at group functions—especially those where there is likely to be drinking, etc.—then you aren’t aware of what can go on at these functions.)
If frummies can do all that for measles, then why can’t these groups do it for an incurable 100% fatal disease?
And why can't these groups do all the above for the following disease, which IS airborne...
The US has one of the lowest rates of TB in the world.
In contrast, Mexico has 10 times the rate and much of Africa and other countries have 100-150 times the rate.
Again, legal immigrants are tested for TB. We don't need to worry about them.
Illegal immigrants are not tested.
In California, 84% of TB patients are foreign-born.
TB is a real concern because it is potentially fatal and highly contagious as an airborne disease. One person with active TB will infect 10-15 others over the course of a year. Furthermore, a recent strain of TB resists all the standard anti-TB drugs. And another strain is impossible to cure at any cost, making certain strains of TB incurable.
This is obviously much more serious than measles, yet the groups infected with TB (especially the most dangerous strains) are not being highlighted in any way.
We do not see bus drivers refusing to stop for members of these groups or any other form of group discrimination based on this very real and dangerous disease-risk.
And any discrimination against such groups because of disease is severely castigated in Western society.
(This is despite the fact that such strains of TB are almost exclusively found among specific groups from specific regions, something which is not true about Orthodox Jews & measles.)
Dengue & Chagas
Dengue is spread by mosquitoes and there is no medication for it, although as of 2016, the FDA approved a vaccine for it.
(Actually, information regarding dengue is contradictory. Some say dengue isn’t so bad and people recover after a few days with a lifelong immunity to it, while others say it’s pretty bad and that re-infection IS possible, with a serious increase in complications and fatalities from a 2nd-time infection. So there you go.)
Chagas is still not recognized by most US doctors (meaning, even if someone has it, the doctor won’t think to check for it & therefore cannot treat it) and it entered the American blood supply because blood banks did not think to check for it until 2006 (because it was unknown in the US).
Leprosy passes from mouth/nose droplets and is curable.
But it takes anywhere from a few weeks to many years for symptoms to appear and the vast majority of cases are found in people from India and anywhere south of the US.
The rate of leprosy has doubled and increased in the US. And while considered curable, the strain has been mutating.
Furthermore, due to their unfamiliarity with leprosy, many American doctors aren’t quick to diagnose it. This means that 25% of lepers end up with disfigurement and disabilities impossible to remedy even after the disease is finally diagnosed and cured.
Finally, until 1997, the only Americans with leprosy were those who’d been infected while abroad.
But in 1997, the first diagnosis appeared in a man who’d never left the US.
This made leprosy endemic to the US for the first time.
Summary of Main Points
Yet are any of these groups self-flagellating because of it?
Are there headlines about it?
Are people discriminating against them because of it?
As is well known, it is considered racist to even mention the bare fact that infectious diseases have been brought into America by certain groups—unless, apparently, the group is Jewish.
This is true even when the only source for a disease is from this particular group (which is not true for Orthodox Jews & measles).
So to sum-up:
- Orthodox Jews are not the prime carriers or sport the largest outbreaks of measles or other infectious diseases in the US, but they are the only group being spotlighted.
- No other group is displaying nearly the same level of shame, concern, or responsibility for their group’s tendency toward a particular outbreak.
- No other group is facing discrimination (including among its own members) for its infectious diseases—including those suffering fatal incurable diseases.
Yes, I feel measles should be taken seriously. But I think ALL infectious diseases should be taken seriously—especially untreatable & easily transferable diseases.
These are not even all the sources. As you can see, I chose a variety of sources. Not all sources share the same politics and attitudes regarding the issues mentioned in the post.
I do NOT want the comments section to turn into a vaccine debate. The subject of the post is discrimination (and our need to embrace our authentic Torah Judaism more fully), not vaccine effectiveness or lack thereof. Thank you.
Let's start giving our neshamahs, our God, and our Torah more love.