Before the narrative congealed into the familiar images of Orthodox Jews “defying” lockdown curfews that didn’t seem to apply to other minority groups, while Gov. Cuomo and his cronies led an illegal crackdown targeting a single group, backed by an outpouring of vocal media support and cheers from lefties, there was an earlier narrative.
Before Orthodox Jews were accused of being anti-vax, they were being accused of illegitimately gaining access to the vaccine. That particular antisemitic narrative fell apart to be replaced by the most familiar one of Jews spreading the disease by refusing to get vaccinated or comply with restrictions.
While both are classic antisemitic tropes, classifying Jews as thieves and spreaders of disease, the existence of that earlier narrative shows how situational pandemic antisemitism really was.
The story changes and yet remains the same.
Early on when the vaccine was just released, Jews were accused of illegitimately gaining access to it. Once it was widely available, then the story became that Orthodox Jews were refusing to take the vaccine.
I mention this in light of the media’s latest casual venture into vaccine antisemitism.
The Washington Post ran an article on a “rapidly growing measles outbreak in Columbus, Ohio” which mainly involved Somali Muslims. The paper does devote several paragraphs to the Somalis but illustrates the story with two photos of Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn.
No Somalis are depicted. That would be racist. And Islamophobic.
A number of people have called attention to this antisemitic stylistic choice. Little else ought to be expected.
What is notable here is the persistence of vaccine antisemitism. The way that it’s taken so much for granted that it’s a reflex. And how people who claim to be progressive, tolerant and self-aware of their biases refuse to acknowledge what they’re doing. Diversity and inclusion means that they’ll spend weeks checking to see if they’re committing microaggressions and then reflexively bust out a picture of Jews spreading disease to illustrate their story which only mentions Orthodox Jews at the very end.
Antisemitism isn’t really about Israel. It’s not about vaccines. It’s about an underlying worldview that finds it very convenient to link any cause to Jews. That’s worth remembering as the media dashes through its pretexts much as it claimed that any mention of China’s role in the pandemic was racist while swarming over Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods to demonize the residents during the pandemic.
A crisis often shows us who we really are. The rest is commentary.