Antivaccine nonsense Medicine Religion

Same as it ever was: Antivaxxers target Orthodox Jews with COVID-19 misinformation

About a year before the COVID-19 pandemic, large measles outbreaks among Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn and Rockland County were linked to misinformation targeted to their communities by antivaxxers. History is repeating itself with COVID-19.

Let’s rewind to what now seems like ancient history, April 2019. It’s hard to believe that that was not even three years ago, but since the pandemic hit that time seems like an entirely different world. I realize that it seems almost quaint now in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, but back then the biggest concern with respect to infectious disease and vaccines was that measles was making a resurgence in multiple areas in the US. The reasons boiled down to the usual reasons for measles outbreaks: pockets of low vaccine uptake, fueled by vaccine hesitancy, which was fueled by antivaccine misinformation promoted by antivaxxers. Some of this misinformation was targeted at insular religious groups, like some communities of ultra-orthodox Jews, which led to my writing a post about how the situation was more complex than that.

The picture being painted by the media at the time was that, for some reason, Orthodox Jewish communities were more susceptible to antivaccine misinformation and conspiracy mongering; in a post, I contrasted that to the fully enthusiastic and robust cooperation that the Orthodox Jewish community in the Detroit area gave to local public health officials, complete with vaccine drives and a full-throated endorsement of vaccination by the Council of Orthodox Rabbis of Greater Detroit, which urged Jews to vaccinate their children with MMR and that older adults whose immunity might have waned also receive the vaccine.

Orthodox Jews targeted in 2019
The usual suspects were targeting Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn (and Rockland County) back in early 2019. Notice that there’s no date on the flyer. (There are also, hilariously, a number of misspellings.) The date was communicated by other means, mainly robocalls and Whatsapp messages.

Unfortunately, efforts of antivaxxers to target insular communities like the Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn are nothing new. I’ve been writing about them a while, including a study of a measles outbreak in 2013 and how much it cost to contain. Worse, the efforts of antivaxxers like Del Bigtree and Larry Palevsky were bolstered by an antivaccine Rabbi named Hillel Handler, who invoked their religious authority to bolster the misinformation being spread by antivaxxers. Also, given the nature of the community, a lot of the misinformation was spread very much in an old school manner, by flyers and booklets, such as the ones spread by Parents Educating and Advocating for Children’s Health (PEACH).

Why did I start this post by recounting this unfortunate history? Simple. Past is prologue, and history repeats, as we’ve seen time and time again, or, as I like to put it, in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic and antivaxxers, everything old is new again. The same thing is happening now, in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic. Added to the list of previous players are new antivaxxers, quacks, and grifters who have risen to prominence over the last year and a half, like “the inventor of mRNA vaccines” Dr. Robert Malone, a man who thinks that he’s being “erased” from Wikipedia after his wife was caught editing his Wikipedia entry. This time, though, he’s been recruited to spread fear of COVID-19 vaccines, in particular the mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, among the Orthodox Jews of Brooklyn and proudly announced his apparent “success” on Twitter a week and a half ago:

Apparently, last week he’d been flown in by this group:

First off, a number of Jews tell me that this Hasidic Rabbinical Council is at best sketchy, with no real authority other than the individual authority of the rabbis making it up. I don’t know, but they certainly have the air of a group trying to seem a lot more influential in their religion than they really are. (I’ll let any Orthodox Jews from Brooklyn or Borough Park comment, if any are reading, or just any Orthodox Jews.)

Indeed, on Twitter:

Given that I am not Jewish, much less an Orthodox Jew, much less a member of the particular community being targeted, I cannot knowledgeably comment on the group dynamics any more than I could in May 2019. I can, however, look at what happened then, what’s happening now, and how it’s being spun, and then make comparisons to similar incidents in the past, all while addressing some of the specific antivaccine claims.

First, however, an antivaxxer provided a useful translation:

A Google Translation of the document tells me that the rabbis involved are not any that I’ve written about. (Surprisingly, Rabbi Handler appears not to have been involved, which, I suppose, is a blessing.)

So what’s going on? To me, it looks as though antivaxxers are partying like it’s 2019, but with even more potentially deadly consequences. Spreading antivaccine misinformation among the Orthodox Jewish communities now has the potential for orders of magnitude more death and suffering than targeting them for misinformation about measles vaccines in 2019 did.

Antivaccine misinformation in Brooklyn

Over the weekend, a reader of my not-so-secret other blog (and hopefully this one too) pointed me to this website, MACABIM. This is clearly the website of this “rabbinical council,” as you can see the “experts” recruited to “give testimony” regarding COVID-19 vaccines:

Physicians, Scientists, and Community Activists Standing for Truth, Medical Freedom, and G-d Awareness. We promote early, lifesaving treatment for corona, and oppose the injection and the vaccine mandates. We stand for free speech, freedom of information, informed consent, and transparency.

By the grace of G-d
Emergency Rabbinical Court Meeting on the Corona Injections
Tuesday October 26
8 hours of expert testimony by:
Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche
Dr. Peter McCullough
Dr. Robert Malone
Attorney Thomas Renz
Dr. Jane Ruby
Dr. Michael Yeadon
Dr. Christiane Northrup
Dr. Janci Lindsay
Dr. Richard Urso
Dr. Jessica Rose
Plus healthcare providers caring for victims and victims telling their own stories
The Rabbis are putting out a statement in the wake of this testimony.

Also included is a link to a PDF of the same statement in Hebrew Tweeted out by Malone and others. So, yes, these are the right people, and this is the right website. I will admit that I didn’t watch the hours of video of the testimony provided in the Dropbox link above. As you will see, there really wasn’t a need to subject myself to all of it, because the website summarizes the findings and reports a “judgment,” and I could tell that much of the testimony was antivaccine misinformation that I’ve covered before. 

Looking at that list of “experts,” I couldn’t help but be struck at just how many cranks there are, including several about whom I have written. For instance, Dr. Christiane Northrup used to engage in thermography grift but, like so many quacks before her, has effortlessly pivoted to COVID-19 grift, to join the list of the “Disinformation Dozen“. Geert Vanden Bossche is known for promoting the unproven and untrue concept that a mass vaccination campaign against COVID-19 during a pandemic is a horrible idea that will lead to untold deaths through the selection of ever more virulent “escape mutant” variants, a discredited idea that very much resembles what the godfather of the modern antivaccine movement Andrew Wakefield once claimed about vaccination against measles a few months before SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, first reared its ugly head in Wuhan, China. Dr. Peter McCullough has also been featured here for his prediction of a “vaccine holocaust” in which COVID-19 vaccines lead to “depopulation“. It’s a claim driven by dumpster diving in the VAERS database to produce deceptively high estimates of death rates after COVID-19 vaccination that ignore the baseline rate of mortality that happens without vaccines. Let’s not forget Dr. Michael Yeadon, either. He’s the one falsely warning of mass infertility due to COVID-19 vaccination, as well as claiming that booster shots for COVID-19 vaccines will be our “death knell” through “depopulation“. Finally, of course, there’s Dr. Robert Malone, “inventor of mRNA vaccines”, whose wife Dr. Jill Glasspool Malone was busted editing his Wikipedia page in order to promote him as—you guessed it!—the “inventor of mRNA vaccines”. Oddly enough, for someone claiming to have invented the technology, Malone is unrelentingly negative about the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. I suspect both grift and envy, but who knows?

As for the others, I’ve heard of some of them but never really written about them before. They are all—surprise! surprise!—COVID-19 minimizers and antivaxxers. Dr. Richard Urso (briefly mentioned on SBM here), for instance, is an ophthalmologist and member of “America’s Frontline Doctors”, who promoted the repurposed and unproven drug hydroxychloroquine as a “miracle cure” for COVID-19 back in the summer of 2020. These days, America’s Frontline Doctors have managed to have one of their own put in charge of public health in Florida as they continue to spread COVID-19 misinformation after having pivoted to promoting the COVID-19 “miracle cure” of 2021, ivermectin. (They’ve also sued over deaths from COVID-19 vaccines and been caught grifting by selling telehealth visits in which they sold ivermectin prescriptions.) Oddly enough, no one on SBMhas written about Jane Ruby before. A few months ago, she promoted a false claim that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is “99.9% graphene oxide”, a claim so ridiculous that perhaps no one here thought it worth bothering with, but Politifact did. (So much disinformation, so little time.) As for Dr. Jancy Lindsay, although no one here has written about her specifically, we have written about the false claim that she promotes, namely that the spike protein used by COVID-19 vaccines as the antigen sufficiently resembles syncytin-1, a placental protein, as to result in an immune reaction against it that can cause miscarriages and infertility. As I have written, this claim is utter nonsense from a molecular biology standpoint. Dr. Jessica Rose, it appears, was a postdoctoral researcher in biology at the Israel Institute of Technology from 2016-20 but more recently has joined the COVID-19 minimization grift train, publishing bad studies that dumpster dive in VAERS for the COVID misinformation site and working with former scientist and antivaxxer James Lyons-Weiler for the Institute of Pure and Applied Knowledge (IPAK) to misuse VAERS to demonize COVID-19 vaccines. Finally, Thomas Renz is a formerly little-known attorney (who only became a licensed attorney months before the pandemic hit on his fifth attempt to pass the Ohio bar exam) who’s found a way to boost his standing by promoting COVID-19 misinformation and filing dubious lawsuits over COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Again, not being Jewish or part of the community, I have a hard time commenting much on this “Rabbinical court in New York City” or its legitimacy (although it reeks of “magnified minority” and an appeal to a false authority), but I can call its document out for what it is: Antivaccine nonsense. After all, just look at this image on the website:

COVID-19 misinformation targeted at Orthodox Jews
This should be retitled “Top Ten Lies About COVID-19 Vaccines.”

Each and every one of these “Top Ten Reasons Not To Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19” is either a lie, disinformation, or a distortion of science. First, though, let’s take a look at the statement from these rabbis.

The statement

I will use a translation forwarded to me by a reader, who informed me that the person doing the translating didn’t want to be identified in this blog:

A time of trouble for Jacob

We gathered here to discuss the new mRNA “vaccine” (including Adenoviral vector DNA), and we heard opinions from great experts in this field, as well as doctors who created mRNA treatment themselves whom have testified on their actions (ordinary doctors are not proficient in these matters, and are only biding the government HIN, CDC etc instructions, as known) and have showed us the great risks and damages related to this (vaccine), and also the government and pharmaceutical companies deny many of it and hide information and make is difficult to know the harsh results caused to those who’ve already taken this mRNA vaccine, and also try in many ways to prevent the publications of these damages in the Media, Internet etc.

We also heard testimonies from our brothers in Israel who were sick, and furthermore, also what was harming future generations (I assume they mean here than not only men, but also pregnant women were harmed). And the worst thing is that there are simple ways to treat this illness yet they forbid using these treatments, and did whatever they could to create fear instead of practicing medicine, while they know the treatments can help.

And now this mRNA was approved for children, even though the disease is not dangerous to them, and they want to obligate children in order for them to go to schools and yeshivas.

Therefore we come to speak our opinion by the holy bible:

  1. By the Holy Torah, it is strictly forbidden to give or to encourage giving this mRNA vaccine to children, young men and women, even if it means they can’t travel overseas. We must protest against it. Whoever has the power to prevent it, must do so.
  2. Many damages were caused to pregnant women (some say it’s due to the SM102 and some say it’s the “antibodies” who fight the “protein” or causing micro blood clots). Therefore they can’t get this mRNA, and same goes for any healthy person.
  3. For elderly people, more information is needed (because data is hidden) but clearly there’s a breakthrough, meaning there’s no difference between those who got the mRNA and those who haven’t. On the other hand, elderly people are also at risk, and we heard about old men who died shortly after receiving the mRNAs. So we also advise not to take the vaccine, especially since there are other useful treatments. We found out, by a lawyer who handles such matters, that the data they publish is also false, for example a man who died of covid a few days after receiving the vaccine is considered “unvaccinated” and there are more examples. We need to do our best to find the true data.
  4. We heard testimonies from our brothers in Israel and experts, that he who gets this mRNA vaccine and is close to pregnant women can cause harm ,and this is called “shedding” (they use it in animals, when they can’t vaccinate all animals, they vaccinate some and the shedding spreads it to other animals). So far we don’t know how long the shedding lasts, so he who got the mRNA must stay away from pregnant women for 2 weeks from getting the shot.
  5. It is strictly forbidden to encourage or force or pressure anyone to get the mRNA.

This is just based on what we know now, but the experts want about what lies ahead. God have mercy on us.

As you can see from the statement, these antivax rabbis (and, make no mistake, that is what they are) believe several myths about mRNA vaccines commonly spread among the antivaccine movement, the first of which is that the COVID-19 vaccine is more dangerous to the young (and children) than the disease. (Portraying vaccines as more risky than the diseases they prevent has been a favorite antivaccine trope for a very long time; so it is not surprising that it’s been applied to COVID-19 vaccines.) This is, as Jonathan Howard has written (e.g., hereherehere, and here), false.

They also believe the myth that COVID-19 vaccines cause miscarriages and infertility, a myth based on a misunderstanding of molecular biology and the syncytin protein that would embarrass any but the most antivaccine grifting scientist, as I’ve been writing aboutdating back to last December. They also believe in the antivaccine myth of “shedding.” It’s a myth that had to be tweaked from an old antivaccine myth that virus “shedding” from live-attenuated virus vaccines is a danger to the unvaccinated, because COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not live-attenuated virus vaccines. So antivaxxers changed the “shedding” myth from fear mongering about “shed” virus from the vaccine to shed spike protein from the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s even more nonsensical than the previous myth, given that the amount of spike protein generated by the COVID vaccine is incredibly tiny and does not shed. Then there’s the myth that there are “miracle cures” for COVID-19 like ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, which obviate the need to vaccinate even the elderly, who are most likely to suffer severe disease and death from the coronavirus. There aren’t cures. Ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine don’t work. Finally, apparently the antivaccine lawyer consulted is spreading the false claim that COVID-19 deaths are overcounted and misattributed to the unvaccinated even when they occur in the vaccinated. The example above is risible even if accurate because it takes the vaccine more than a few days to generate immunity and the most likely explanation for such a death would be that the person had an undiagnosed case of COVID-19 at the time of vaccination.

Of course, these myths are just the ones in the statement issued by these rabbis. The “Top Ten” list is far more antivaccine and peddles the nastiest antivaccine myths. (Perhaps the rabbis wanted to seem “reasonable” in their statement.) Get a load of some of these claims! First, there’s the claim that the vaccine has killed tens of thousands of people, which, as I’ve written, is based on the very old antivaccine tactic of dumpster diving in the VAERS database for a purpose for which it was never intended. There’s the COVID-19 minimization that it “only” kills 0.3%, which, even if accurate, still ends up being a hell of a lot of people, coupled with the false claim that there are cures that can prevent even those few from dying. (The MACABIM website includes a link to Vladmir Zelenko’s quack protocol using zinc, hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, ivermectin, and a number of other unproven and disproven treatments.) There’s Geert Vanden Bossche’s false claim that the vaccine drives the emergence of ever more transmissible and lethal variants, which is not true. Actually, allowing the coronavirus to circulate unchecked in huge numbers of people is the best way to allow the emergence of such variants; vaccines will not produce nastier variants. Nor are vaccines completely ineffective at preventing the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. They’re nowhere near 100% effective, of course (no vaccine is 100% at preventing the spread of the virus it’s targeted against either), but they do decrease the frequency of transmission and certainly don’t facilitate transmission. As the CDC states:

The risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in fully vaccinated people cannot be completely eliminated as long as there is continued community transmission of the virus. Early data suggest infections in fully vaccinated persons are more commonly observed with the Delta variant than with other SARS-CoV-2 variants. However, data show fully vaccinated persons are less likely than unvaccinated persons to acquire SARS-CoV-2, and infections with the Delta variant in fully vaccinated persons are associated with less severe clinical outcomes. Infections with the Delta variant in vaccinated persons potentially have reduced transmissibility than infections in unvaccinated persons, although additional studies are needed.

The “Top Ten” also includes the false claims that the vaccines don’t work (false) and the usual conspiracy theories that vaccine injuries are being “covered up”; doctors are being “censored”; and VAERS reports are only a fraction of the “true” incidence of deaths and injuries due to the vaccine. It’s basically a “top ten” list of COVID-19 antivax tropes.

Weaponization of religion by antivaxxers

I’ve been writing about how antivaxxers have been weaponizing religious beliefs to try to portray vaccines as disgusting or as against various religions. Given my Catholic upbringing, the most common variety of this claim that I write about is the longstanding effort by antivaxxers to demonize vaccines by tying them to abortion based on the use in vaccine development and manufacture of some cell lines derived from aborted fetuses decades ago. These false claims range from saying that there is “fetal tissue in vaccines” (there isn’t and never has been) to the claim that there is “fetal DNA” in them (there might be an infinitesimally tiny amount left over from manufacture) to just the homeopathy-like claim that any association in the past with cells from an aborted fetus renders vaccines evil. They’ve been doing it for a very long time and are continuing to use this hoary old trope now, even though no such cell lines are used in the manufacture of the mRNA vaccines. At other times, I’ve noted how antivaxxers have over the years portrayed vaccines as against the Jewish and Muslim faiths because some of them contain gelatin, a protein that can be derived from pigs. In actuality, Islamic legal scholars and Jewish authorities long ago rejected that claim.

What theses rabbis are doing is nothing different from Catholic Bishops who tried to demonize the COVID-19 vaccines over abortion. One might say that the targeting of the Orthodox Jewish community by antivaxxers like Del Bigtree in 2019 has, in the age of the pandemic, borne even nastier fruit than just causing measles outbreaks, which was bad enough at the time. This year, the same sort of misinformation is being spread, for example:

In January and February of this year, the city found leaflets aimed at the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn that wrongly suggested the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines could change a person’s DNA and were only 0.5 percent effective.

Worse, as noted by Anna Merlan:

And even before COVID, we’ve seen this same pattern before much more recently: The suspicion and refusal of basic public health measures leading an increasingly strict government response, thus heightening the original underlying suspicion. In 2018 and 2019, two severe measles outbreaks among New York’s Orthodox Jewish communities, one in Brooklyn and one in Rockland County in upstate New York, led to a series of increasingly heightened government actions. But public health officials were battling against a disinformation campaign by Orthodox anti-vaccine activists, and when measles continued to spread, unvaccinated children were briefly banned from being in public in Rockland County March 2019. The ban was overturned by the New York State Supreme Court, but by then, bigger anti-vaccine activists had alighted on the state’s Orthodox community. (Anti-vaccine celebrity Del Bigtree, for instance, pinned a yellow Star of David on himself in a speech, and then sent out a press release to make sure no one had missed it.) While the measles outbreak subsided, anti-vaccine suspicions—fueled, in part, by the memory of the government restrictions—have continued, and remain a factor in how Orthodox communities have responded to COVID vaccines.

Worse, the targeting still continues:

An author of a research paper published last month about coronavirus in Haredi communities told the Jewish Telegraph Agency that “no value in the paper approaches herd immunity.”

About 19% of Borough Park’s population has had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, which is the second-lowest rate in the city behind the neighborhood of Edgemere/Far-Rockaway, Queens. Citywide, 34% of people have had at least one dose.

Meanwhile, one robocall circulating in the community warns not only of infertility supposedly caused by the vaccine, but also of heart attacks, “aneurysm, stroke, hemorrhage, paralysis, seizures, psychosis, anxiety, cognitive problems, digestive disorders” and a laundry list of other problems.

One petition circulating in the community asks parents to sign if they are opposed to distributing vaccines to children in schools.

And on WhatsApp Tuesday morning, users were sharing a video of a woman counting funeral and shiva notices in her inbox, as she said she had more to attend now than she did during the entirety of 2020, suggesting those deaths were caused by the vaccine.

As I mentioned, though, in actuality, just as Catholic authorities have urged Catholics to be vaccinated, Jewish authorities strongly urge Jews to be vaccinated as well, as I pointed out long ago and Dr. Peter Lipson pointed out more recently:

Then there’s JOWMA, an organization that provides health education to the Jewish community and supports current and future Orthodox female physicians. The group maintains a page of COVID-19 resources tailored to Orthodox Jews whose “Top Ten Reasons to Get Vaccinated Against COVID-19” was parodied by the rabbis who issued that statement. Don’t believe me? Here’s JOWMA’s page:

JOWMA Top Ten Reasons for Orthodox Jews to get vaccinated
JOWMA must be irritating antivax rabbis if they used this page as a template to twist into misinformation.

I will conclude, as I have all too often concluded since the pandemic started, by simply pointing out that in the age of COVID-19 everything old is new again. The same old antivaccine lies are being updated, tarted up, and recycled for COVID-19. The same old tactic of weaponizing religious belief to falsely representing vaccines as against the tenets of various religions has been resurrected. The same strategy of crafting antivaccine messages to resonate in relatively insular communities like the Haredi has been repurposed for COVID-19, with the aid of antivaccine religious leaders.

I’m reminded of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series of novels, specifically, its introduction:

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.

Antivaccine lies are a lot like that, with one big exception. It doesn’t take ages for them to fade and return again. I’ve been reminded of this nearly every day since the pandemic hit, and the targeting of Orthodox Jews in Borough Park, Brooklyn, and other areas with antivaccine propaganda is just the most recent example. Another difference, unfortunately, is that the last time these sorts of antivaccine lies were circulating widely and various tight-knit communities were targeted, a depressing number of my colleagues were not paying attention. Some even dismissed efforts to combat antivaccine misinformation as not worthwhile. I wonder if they still think that. I also wonder how quickly, once the pandemic finally abates, the lessons learned will “fade to myth” again before the wheel comes around yet again.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

58 replies on “Same as it ever was: Antivaxxers target Orthodox Jews with COVID-19 misinformation”

It seems that the same “experts” show up for the Orthodox as are guests on g-d awful, altie websites/ broadcasts like those I survey: most of those names are all too familiar to me. Dr Zelenko may be ill: on a recent broadcast, he told Adams that he had terminal cancer ( earlier, there was an article in a Jewish paper saying he had cancer). Rose is a rising star. The fact that they show up on PRN or NN should be a signal to other groups.

I could kick myself that I didn’t attend the event at Monsey described in the brochure: I was busy but should have tried to get there because it has become so iconic. Interesting how Del, who used to live in Malibu and now resides in Austin, stars in gatherings in NY or NJ. RFK jr, from Beverly Hills is in Harlem or Times Square.

Note the ” Everyone should have a farm to come home to” comment. That’s expected. Anti-vaxxers tweet photos of organic produce or about farmers on a regular basis: who needs vaccines when you have fresh fruit and broccoli!

You might want to consider that, “who needs vaccines when you have fresh fruit and broccoli!” – grown on one’s own farm, lessen the chance of contagion like from other people at a supermarket, for example.

Free speech is all very well but they are putting lives at risk so when do we equate this to shouting fire in a crowded cinema?

Only after the death toll disparity becomes high enough. By that point, of course, the anti-vaxxers will have moved on to the next group in another state. By the time changes to local or federal law have got through all those Republican reality-deniers, and/or a succession of court decisions and appeals, it’ll be too late.

You have to tie a particular death to their speech, which is all but impossible. A person would likely be exposed to other propaganda, may not have been treated “properly” with Ivermectin and black seed, etc.

I found an interesting legal commentary:
“UC Hastings School of Law professor Dorit Reiss confirmed in an interview that state-initiated litigation against the pharmaceutical industry is feasible, if certain criteria are met.

Documents used as evidence in litigation must show fraud on the part of the defendant pharmaceutical companies, said Reiss, who did not attend Thursday’s event. She said the pharmaceutical campany’s mRNA reasearch documents showed that executives knew early on about the harms of mRNA spike-protein inducing genetic technology and attempted to hide them.

“That was a strong case,” she said. “The question is, do you have a strong case here?”

Second, she said, the defendants chosen must be similar enough to be treated as a whole, otherwise “you’re going to have a breakdown.”

“You’re going to have a question of who to sue, how does the damage distribute between them, because you have to show…there was enough harm to get them on the hook,” said Reiss, who teaches torts.

She said courts must meanwhile “address the question of, is there enough there to claim they committed fraud that imposed health costs on the state?”

So far, public health researchers think there might be.”

Source: “New Document Archive Could Open Litigation Against Pharmaceutical Companies”, Courthouse News Service – in an alternate universe with a different Mrs. Rubinstein.

Why target insular communities? Is it supposed to be a toe hold into larger populations or is it actually an experiment? Are they hoping that they’ll persuade a community to go full anti-vax, thereby producing a pool of data that is supposed to show people living forever in a land of milk and honey while the rest of the world burns?

Very cynical….me that is.

Possibly because the Orthodox get almost all their advice from other Orthodox, so it is possible to convince yourself that you can get an entire community of zealots on your side.

In related anti-vax hysteria…

Anti-vax. anti-mandate white supremists clashed with counter protesters at Boston Common yesterday ( leading to the deployment of hundreds of police.

Also, hundreds or thousands** of anti-lockdown/ anti-vax protestors appeared at LA’s city hall today.

** highly variable crowd estimates by reliable sources with images- doesn’t seem to be time related AFAIK. Take a look.

I wrote a long comment about my personal distaste for religion, especially fundamentallist religion, but decided it was maybe too much–my being an Orthodox Atheist and all. Suffice it to say that people who believe in imaginary beings don’t have a lot of trouble extending their beliefs to just about anything and testimonials mean everything to them,so they are ready-made victims.

I’ve felt since childhood that religion is the ultimate disinformation. I couldn’t care less about medical advice from a rabbi (or iman or reverend or any other variant), their study of Bronze Age edicts is just a literary effort, not one with binding authority from a King of Kings. And if one believes you are going to meet a sky deity after death, then a pandemic that has probably killed more people than the Holocaust (worldwide, if “excess deaths” are considered) then this misery and suffering is just a step on the way to heaven.

DId antivaxers testifying before the “Rabbinical Court” have yellow stars pinned on their clothing while comparing Covid vaccination to the Holocaust?

That would’ve gone over well.

So, according to Orac, Orthodox Jews–like other naive dullards living in ‘insular communities’–aren’t capable of objectively assessing the evidence for themselves. So they are targeted by evil anti-vaxxers trying to sell books, t-shirts, and even–God forbid–nutritional supplements and natural treatments. Worst of all, they are selling heretical ideas about vaccination.

An astounding post combining disrespect, patronizing condescension, elitism, paranoia and hypocrisy with delusional trust in the medical-industrial complex. First prize for brazen disregard of reality.

@Julian Frost

You do realize how obvious it is that if only you had about four IQ points more and your skin contained environmentally appropriate amounts of melanin, you could have been a typical sub-Saharan goat herder.

Then again, the billy goats might not like what you were trying to do to the ewes and kids…

I was gratuitously yet not groundlessly describing some of your demonstrated attributes, regardless of the discussion you were, as usual, skill-lessly attempting to be involved in.

Special-education level debate games are uninteresting to me.

Rumor has it your imaginary friend has got a sugar, dairy, egg and gluten-free soy cupcake for you in your safe space.

T-shirts? Anyway, Ginny betrays her ignorance of secular schooling within Haredi communities.

The ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t ‘do their own research’, but place a lot of importance on the Rabbi’s decision. They don’t have ‘delusional trust in the medical-industrial complex’, but rather in the Rabbi’s opinion – His word goes.

Your about-face demonstrates just as much ignorance as your first bite at the babka, Ginny. It’s now time to lash at those faithless, vaccinating Amish.

@NWO – You’re missing the point – the ultra-Orthodox don’t listen to any other source either – lust their specific rabbinical authority(s)

You’ve got things switched around – they are more than mentally capable – they just are not going to get to another conclusion than the Rabbi’s (if they did, they would leave the sect/or be forced out).

In other news regarding belief systems and vaccines, the South Australian government has decreed today that chiropractors and osteopaths are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to practice along with all medical practitioners and allied health practitioners.

Meanwhile, a nurse in Western Australia has got into a [URL=]spot of bother[/URL] for allegedly faking the administration of COVID-19 vaccinations for people she knew, including her chiropractor husband.

According to other [URL=]news reports[/URL], staff at the clinic she worked at became suspicious when patients asked for her by name to administer the vaccine. Up to 25 patients may be involved in the scam.

As of noon today, Queensland has mandated COVID-19 vaccination for all medical and allied medical healthcare services and clinics. Even the front office staff will need to be vaccinated.

You would think so…but the other 0.1% is aborted fetal cells, which absorb the pigment and keep vial contents a nice pinkish color.

Another chunk of Covid-19 misinformation has bit the dust. Or if you prefer, cancel culture has hammered another nail into the lid of the coffin containing research bodily autonomy.

Last December, a paper co-authored by Pierre Kory (promoter of ivermectin and other dubious Covid-19 treatments) that was published in an intensive care journal, claimed that their alternative protocol (MATH+) for treating Covid-19 resulted in a massive decrease in mortality in hospitalized patients. The paper has now been retracted, after a hospital revealed that its mortality figures cited in the paper were a bit…optimistic.

“The data from Sentara Norfolk General Hospital that [are] reported in this paper are inaccurate. The paper briefly states the methods as: “Available hospital outcome data for COVID-19 patients treated at these 2 hospitals as of July 20,2020 are provided in Table 2 including comparison to the published hospital mortality rates from multiple COVID-19 publications across the United States and the world.”‘

‘We have conducted a careful review of our data for patients with COVID-19 from March 22, 2020 to July 20, 2020, which shows that among the 191 patients referenced in Table 2 that the mortality rate was 10.5%, rather than 6.1%. In addition, of those 191 patients, only 73 patients (38.2%) received at least 1 of the 4 MATH+ therapies, and their mortality rate was 24.7%. Only 25 of 191 patients (13.1%) received all 4 MATH+ therapies, and their mortality rate was 28%.”


*note: ivermectin was added to the MATH+ protocol after the paper was submitted for publication. What was in the protocol at the time included thiamine, ascorbic acid, colloidal silver and homeopathic essence of deceased rock critics (OK, I made up the last two).

Our grandparents and parents fought a world war to stop this Gestapo like use of informers and now we are willingly allow it, plus a whole lot of other ‘laws’ that have never been voted on by congress. I posted this very issue with Dorit (about enforcement and OSHA and lack of inspectors 1,500 in the entire USA and over 500,000 companies, the actual number is 1,700,000 companies over 100 employees)

“You know as well as anyone, the federal government, first does not act/respond this fast and second doesn’t have the capacity to receive or process the information. OSHA only has about 1,500 inspectors for the whole US. The company I work for has about 500 employees and I have been at this company for 10 years and we have not had an OSHA inspection in those 10 years, You really believe that 1,500 OSHA inspectors could be trained to implement the mandate in under 6 months to a year and inspect the over 500,000 companies with over 100 employees in the US ?”

and never received a reply and now I know why. The Gestapo, the Staci and the KGB knew how to keep a population in check, there will be no ‘greatest generation’ to save us.

The Biden administration is acting under a 1976 law called the emergency powers act, which congress passes that allows the president to declare and emergency and then make up laws (which are enforceable). Right now 30 such emergencies powers acts are active, including the emergency powers act following the Iran hostages. And the administration just told companies to ignore a court order.

Ho, hum. But you could at least learn to spell Stasi correctly if you’re going to use them as bugbears. From STAatsSIcherhieitsdienst – state security service.

Odd. I thought I addressed your comment in the previous thread. Still there. Hmm.

The TL/DR version:

No one expects OHSA to barge in to check vaccination status. Even with whistle-blower protection, there will probably be very few of them. It’s not like there is a bounty paid for informing OSHA that a company isn’t complying with the mandate.
Many (probably a large majority of) companies want a government mandate to back up their own desire to put a mandate in place. As MedicalYeti also rather cryptically mentioned, HIPAA regulations also currently restrict companies from verifying vaccination status. Which makes it difficult for companies who want to institute a mandate. Making this a workplace safety issue may help companies track vaccination status.

There will probably be some fraud, but the majority of companies will comply with the OSHA mandate because it’s the best way to get their business back to normal.

This OSHA policy was not created in a vacuum by an over-reaching government. While there are some crack-pots who own companies who will resist a mandate, the vast majority of companies see vaccination as the road to dropping mask mandates, social distancing requirements, re-opening their water fountain and coffee areas, re-opening cafeterias, having in-person meetings, etc. With 90% of their employees vaccinated they could do that, or they could wait another couple of years (through 6 or 7 more waves) until the disease becomes endemic naturally.

If a company has a choice of free vaccination now and be back to pre-pandemic operation, or spend 1-2 more years with reduced efficiency (as well as employee illness and death) what do you think they will choose? This is no conspiracy, this is market forces at work.

Our grandparents and parents fought a world war to stop this Gestapo like use of informers and now we are willingly allow it

looks around at drug war I thought that has been the staple fastest, greasiest/easiest path to wealth, sex, and drugs for quite some time in this country. What with everyone running around fretting about how to pee in cups the correct way and all.

Snitches get stitches? Perhaps not so much as they now get doxxed and the longer they carry on without realizing the fact then the more fun, gnarly, life-devestating impact of a spectacle can derive. The stitches do come but they usually keep that part out of the media.

It seems that post you reference and the comments to it don’t really say what you want them to.


I may have put the question wrong, I will try to restate it.

If an employer asks if you have been vaccinated, they have the right to do that.
If an employee tells them they are vaccinated, under HIPAA the employer can not go to the state health department or the medical facility and confirm this information is true or false.
If the employer asks to see the card, the employee can show a fake/false card, the employer could not confirm the card (if they are like most cards I have seen the name is hand written and many are missing information including dob’s). You also have the issue of people who are vaccinated in different states or lost cards. Who at OSHA will have time or resources to verify the accuracy of the vaccination status.

I think you are wrong, as most companies really don’t want to deal with this issue for the above listed reasons, no company wants to be put in a legal bind over whether an employee is vaccinated or not with no real way to confirm the answer. With the added bonus to an employee, that they can inform to OSHA that the employees are not all vaccinated.

As to your point about 90% vaccinated, right now in the age group of 25 to 65 (that would be the working class) the US is at about 80% vaccinated with at least one dose (J &J is only one dose).

and in the US we are vaccinating over 600,000 person per day. by the time this mandate is in effect (about 80 days from now) your 90% will have been surpassed.

I am old enough to remember the 14 days to flatten the curve, 60 days of lock downs to stop the virus, arrows on shopping isles, millions of tons of plexiglass that will add to the CO2 problem, 1 billion disposable masks used and discarded every day, people getting arrested for surfing, walking in a park and now endless vaccine shots (they are already talking about a 4th shot) all in the name of getting back to pre-pandemic normalcy.

If you really want to talk about market forces, other countries will forgo vaccine mandates, much the same as they have forgone environmental mandates, child labor laws to get the jobs in those countries. And of course you will all buy those foreign produced goods and services because they are cheaper. And to you really believe it is ok for the President to tell companies they can defy a court order over the vaccine mandate?

First, many of the 600,000 vaccines delivered are for booster shots and the newly eligible part of the population. I’ve been tracking the Michigan vaccine deliveries for some months now, and while the rate has averaged around 100,000 per week, the number of actually vaccinated adults, with their first shot, has been less than half that. We are not going to reach 90% in the next 80 days. The US is at 57% fully vaccinated, 10% more partially vaccinated. So call it 67% with some vaccination protection. We will be lucky if the US breaks is 70% in the next 80 days.

Second, you apparently have no idea how companies operate. Most companies do not think of their employees as disposable. There are costs, large costs, to hire and train employees. Avoiding employee deaths through mask mandates, working from home, enforced social distancing at work, quarantining ill employees, has been costly; but less costly then letting them die. Getting all their employees vaccinated will save them money.

Third, as for the President telling companies to defy a court order. Sure. The President recommending that companies start working toward compliance to an OSHA requirement while the debate on the legality of the requirement works it’s way through the courts is fine. I know that some companies won’t take the President’s advice, and they won’t be penalized if they don’t. I also know that some companies will take the President’s advice because they think the legality of the OSHA requirement will be upheld.

Regardless of what you might think, the President is not a king. While the courts decide the legality of the OSHA requirement, all Biden can do is recommend, he has no teeth to enforce compliance. That being said, Biden’s recommendation that employers is a good recommendation.

Flex do you just make facts up to suit your views?
NPR/CDC claims 724,000 people A DAY are getting booster. Which is triple the number of first timers.
So that puts the number of first timers at 250,000 that comes to about 25 million first timers by 80 days well over your 80% or even 90% of the work force age.

As to you point about working from home, employers love employees working from home, they don’t have to pay for buildings, rent, heat , A/C, lunch rooms etc. My company opted out of a long term leased building at a much lower cost as they have a cost annalists. They have determined the productivity of the staff is even higher as they can get more work out of an employee.
You must never have worked for a for profit company. With computers, automation and out sourcing jobs can and are eliminated all the time. Most companies maintain price points of every job and when that price point is broken, the job is eliminated or out sourced.
But that was quite the leap from safe work practices to wanting their employees to die. , reductio ad absurdum.

Well, the days of rage have now passed ( RFKjr called for international walkouts to protest mandates last Wednesday and this week, Monday-Thursday) so I have daily monitored the net for reports of protests, rallies and events related to Covid shutdowns, vaccines or mandates in North America, Europe and worldwide ( MSN, BBC, CBC, Italian and French services etc). There have not been much but erratic reports from Morrocco, NZ, Ukraine and isolated stories/ images from the US such as hundreds ( also reported as thousands) outside LA’s city hall and a group reported as “dozens” by ABC7 ( it might have been as many as 200 as I see it from the aerial photo) at an overlook near the Golden Gate Bridge.
Interestingly, RFKjr himself doesn’t note any of them. I wonder why.

Here’s a Radio New Zealand report about the protest in Wellington. I don’t think any of the photos in the report are much use for estimating the size of the crowd, which the report says was “thousands”.

I rather doubt that any “call to arms” by RFK Jr had much influence on that protest being called.

New Zealand already has 80% of the eligible population (12+ years old) fully vaccinated, and 90% partially covered (and I think that’s a good minimum estimate of where the fully vaccinated status is heading), so the influence of the anti-vaccine crowd seems to be pretty low there.

On Thursday, November 11, we in Canada commemorate our war dead on Remembrance Day, which is a solemn occasion, much like Memorial Day in the US, I understand. This year, memorial ceremonies in several cities were disrupted by antivaxers shouting into microphones and interrupting addresses by whining about how Canadian service men and women died for their Free-dumb and how dare we deny them their right to spread disease and kill people etc ad nauseum. This has predictably been reviled by the general public.

I hate to see occasions like this hijacked by these idiots. However, it does demonstrate to the public how clueless and selfish they are.

The title of this post bothers me. (I know, who cares)

Are you implying that Orthodox Jews are low hanging fruit? That they are more susceptible to “antivaxxer misinformation”, (as you have apparently assessed), than others, most certainly YOU; are? If the Orthodox jews are declining the vaccine due to concerns for safety, or personal, religious or philosophical reasons, your claiming that they are declining the vaccine because they were a “target”, implies that you, of course, are not a target. You, of course, can’t be fooled by antivaxxers, lol. You must be smarter than them.

Yes, the takeaway from this post seems to be that Orthodox Jews have no autonomy or agency & couldn’t possibly have come to this conclusion on their own. It had to be the cunning, predatory antivaxxers. The evil masterminds of Wakefield et al, duping the village idiots once again, while “You et al”, who are smart enough to see it for what it is (unlike the unsuspecting Orthodox Jews); perseverate on what to do about it. Patriarchy at it’s finest.

You know, like the Somali community in 2017? Had to be Wakefield et al … Immigrants from Somalia couldn’t have possibly noticed their own children’s adverse reactions.

You know, like Autism parents everywhere, from all walks of life & socioeconomic statuses … We, the stupid, silly parents that we are … We were also duped by the much smarter antivaxxers,

At least the first part of the title is correct: “Same as it ever was …”

That’s quite a lot you’re reading into the title that isn’t there.
The title addresses the behavior of the antivaccine manipulators, not the community. It’s criticizing them. Some in the community may be vulnerable, some not, and being targeted by antivaccine activists looking to mislead them doesn’t negate their agency.

It just points out that antivaccine activists are going after them and trying to trick them.

So what are you saying – that anti-vaxxers are stupid and this is their own opinion? Seems a sort of back-handed compliment.

As for Orthodox Jews making their minds up, lots of them are members of insular communities build around a single authority, a Rabbi. If they want ‘autonomy or agency’ and to ‘come to this conclusion on their own.’ they will leave the sect (or get kicked out).
This is not a society based on understanding of medical and scientific methodology. You could even say that the ignorance is ‘self-inflicted’. The rabbinical world is an extreme form of ‘Patriarchy’.

Exploiting fears of groups that have historically been oppressed, using deception and misinformation in order to further a destructive agenda, is reprehensible.

Exposing such behavior has nothing to do with “patriarchy”.

If you want patriarchy, there’s no better example than the ultra-Orthodox Jews. So that whole idea is a non-starter.

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