Breaking news: Coronavirus vaccination: Everything you need to know and A Tale Of Two Morgenthaus: Zionist And Anti-Zionist By Saul Jay Singer -and Rabbi Kahane -even an Israeli Jew suffers from Galut in Israel
Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money, and spiritual engagement.
Disclaimer about the vaccine story below. I am just reporting news from the paper (the Jerusalem Post in this case) about how the Government plans to implement the vaccine.
I am not discussing whether or not the virus or the vaccine is dangerous or if you should take the vaccine. These are very serious issues and the jury is still out as to who we should handle it. Should we take it right away and try to get on with our lives? Should we be suspicious and wait until there are more human trials?
No matter what position you take there are risks. For those of us who are older and overweight the corona sickness is more serious. If you don't take the vaccine for whatever reason and you get sick, that didn't turn out to be such a good idea either.
Over the next year we will be exposed (forgive the pun) to all of these issues and I will continue to bring you the information that I read and learn (G-d willing) as my blog as morphed (look up the word if you don't understand it) into not only spiritual advice but advice on the world we live in as well.
Love Yehuda Lave
The Three Musketeers at the Kotel
Coronavirus vaccination: Everything you need to know
A shot in the dark? Shedding light on coronavirus vaccination and how and when Israelis will benefit from it
By MAAYAN JAFFE-HOFFMAN
What is the vaccine timeline for Israel?
Reports in recent days have indicated that some doses of the Pfizer vaccine candidate, which is currently undergoing FDA Emergency Use Authorization, could arrive in the country as early as December. However, as Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy explained on Wednesday, wide-scale vaccination can be expected only by late spring 2021.
The first vaccine to arrive in Israel will likely be Pfizer, followed by Moderna's and soon after AstraZeneca's, though an announcement by AstraZeneca on Thursday - that it is likely to run additional trials - could delay the approval.
Israel also has a contract with another American company, Arcturus Therapeutics, which is now completing its Phase I human trial which showed promising results. The company has committed four million doses to Israel. Earlier this month, the company's CEO, Joseph Payne, told the Post that the company expects to start distributing its COVID-19 vaccine candidate in the first quarter of next year.
Israel's own vaccine candidate, Brilife, which is being developed by the Israel Institute for Biological Research, is expected to provide an interim analysis of its Phase III human trial by summer 2021 and be able to apply for emergency use approval then.
"If we assume the vaccines will be here in any quantity around April or May, and then they will be gradually distributed to specific populations," explained Amit Asa, deputy director of the Samson Assuta Ashdod Hospital, "I would say the entire country could not be vaccinated before the end of 2021."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein visit the Teva SLE Logistic Center, which is due to store and handle the vaccines against coronavirus under special conditions, November 26, 2020 (Credit: Courtesy )Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein visit the Teva SLE Logistic Center, which is due to store and handle the vaccines against coronavirus under special conditions, November 26, 2020 (Credit: Courtesy)
How will the vaccines be stored and distributed?
The vaccines will arrive in the country in batches and likely be stored at "vaccine farms," central storage facilities, from where they will be dispatched to health funds and hospitals across the country.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein visited the Teva SLE Logistic Center in Shoham, one of the country's largest and most advanced centers for storing and transporting medicines and medical equipment. The government is likely to store some or all of the vaccines there, especially those that come from Pfizer and Moderna, which must be kept in extremely cold conditions – negative 70 degrees Celsius and negative 20 degrees, respectively.
Asa said that from there, they will be transferred to the health funds in large batches.
"The health funds are experienced in vaccinating large numbers of people in short periods of time," he explained, noting that some 2.5 million Israelis are vaccinated against influenza each year in a matter of about two months.
He added that the Pfizer vaccine can be stored for five days in a refrigerator after being removed from the deep freeze. "Five days is more than enough to vaccinate large numbers of people. It will not be simple, but it is certainly feasible."
Who is going to be vaccinated first?
A special committee is currently under way to determine who should receive priority vaccination. According to Cyrille Cohen, head of the immunotherapy laboratory at Bar-Ilan University, the list is likely to look similar to the flu vaccine with a few exceptions.
Medical personnel should be first, followed by the elderly and people with chronic diseases that put them at high risk of severe COVID-19. Next would be people who come into regular contact with large groups of people, teachers and prisoners, followed by pregnant women and babies, as well as senior center staff. Finally, everyone else will get access.
Looking at the eligibility for the largest Phase III clinical trials, there are no studies that include volunteers under the age of 12 or pregnant women. As such, Cohen cautioned that there could be a delay in distributing the vaccine to these populations until safety data are available. Vaccines should not be used for people not included in the clinical trials, he noted.
Cohen added that it is possible that the public will be able to choose between the various vaccines, but this will likely depend on availability. Moreover, he said that as the data are further evaluated, it could be discovered that certain vaccines are better for certain populations. For example, AstraZeneca's potential COVID-19 vaccine produced a strong immune response in older adults, the data showed.
Will people willingly be inoculated?
More than half of Israelis (52%) said they "think they would not" or are "convinced they would not" be vaccinated against the coronavirus if a vaccine becomes widely available, according to a survey published earlier this month by the Israel Democracy Institute.
Asa said that he believes these statistics could change if the Health Ministry launches a marketing campaign already now to convince the population that these vaccinations are approved by the most stringent regulatory institutes.
"I have heard people in Israel making comments like, 'I will not be the first person to get vaccinated.' That is ridiculous," said Prof. Jonathan Gershoni of the Shmunis School of Biomedicine and Cancer Research at Tel Aviv University. "There is no vaccine that we are going to start using to vaccinate the Israeli public before it has been used on millions of people in its country of origin."
Asa added that his hospital is currently recruiting for IIBR's Phase II coronavirus vaccine trial and "hundreds of people are requesting to be the first candidate. I don't think we will have a problem."
How many people have to take it to make the vaccine effective?
There is no magic percentage, said Cohen, explaining that the level of herd immunity will be based on the efficacy of the vaccine and the number of people who take it.
"If you believe you will reach herd immunity when you get 70% of the population immunized naturally or using the vaccine, that means you need at least 75% to 80% of people to take a vaccine that is 90% effective," he said.
But he added that even if lower numbers take the vaccine in the first months, after a few weeks – if few or no side effects are seen – more people will ask to get vaccinated.
"You cannot talk about herd immunity like you need to reach 70% and anything below will not work – it is just not true. The more people get vaccinated, the less COVID we will have," Cohen stressed.
Gershoni added that by law the government will not be able to force anyone to take the vaccine; however, it would be possible to require a coronavirus vaccine to get on an airplane or enter certain countries.
"It would not seem outrageous if I was told that before I can get on a plane I have to be able to show that I have been vaccinated," he said. "Now, I have to prove I am corona negative by doing a PCR test."
Is Israel done purchasing vaccines or will there be more?
Asa said that there will be more companies announced in 2021, and there might even be more contracts signed that have not yet been made public.
Cohen, who sits on the Advisory Committee for Clinical Trials of Coronavirus Vaccines through the Health Ministry, said that it was made public that Israel is in talks with Johnson & Johnson.
How do viruses and the vaccines against them work?
There are two types of vaccines, Gershoni explained: hardware and software.
Hardware vaccines contain physical components of the structure of the virus and represent all the vaccines that exist today and are taken by human beings worldwide.
"In the past, I referred to viruses as if they are a disk-on-key," Gershoni explained.
A flash drive is packaged information or memory inside a plastic or other case. For the information to get inside the computer, it must be inserted into a compatible corresponding socket.
The same is true for viruses: They have genetic information packaged in some sort of encasement. Included in the virus's protein coat are select proteins, often referred to as spike proteins, which function like the USB plug of a disk-on-key. The spike protein binds to a corresponding receptor on a cell that is being infected. Only when a viral spike protein engages and binds – only when it is introduced into the receptor – can it infect the cell.
Hardware vaccines constitute the structures of the virus: the coat protein, including the spike protein.
There are three types of hardware vaccines.
The first is "killed" or inactivated viral vaccine, which is when a specific virus is killed with chemicals. The "dead" viral particles are then introduced into the body. Even though the virus is dead, the immune system can still learn from its antigens how to fight live versions of it in the future. The flu vaccine is an example.
The second is a live "attenuated" vaccine, one in which a living virus has been modified or weakened so that when it is injected into a person it does not cause disease but still elicits an immune response. The measles vaccine is an example.
Finally, a subunit vaccine is when only the protein components of a virus that are capable of inducing a protective immune response are leveraged. An example of this is the Hepatitis B vaccine, which is so safe it is administered to babies at birth, even before they leave the hospital.
Gershoni said there are some companies working on these more conventional vaccine candidates against COVID-19, including Maryland-based Novavax, Inc. and the French pharmaceutical company Sanofi. Both of their vaccines are subunit vaccines that contain the viral spike protein. Novavax is in the midst of its Phase III trial, and Sanofi is expected to start its late-stage trial next month.
"I would expect Israel will try to sign for these," Gershoni said.
The vaccines that are all the rave now are software vaccines, those in which scientists take the blueprint of the virus – just the RNA or the genes corresponding to spike protein – and inject that in a palatable and effective way into the body. The cells then synthesize the viral protein and mount antibodies against the viral spike.
On January 9, 2020, the entire genome of the novel coronavirus was published by the Chinese. The size of the genome is 30,000 bases of RNA; coronavirus is an RNA virus. The size of the specific gene that codes for viral spike protein is only 12% of the genome.
As such, small snippets of the novel coronavirus genes that correspond to the spike protein are what is being injected.
"Under these circumstances, you have no chance of causing the disease," Gershoni said.
One modality of a software vaccine is to take RNA that corresponds to the spike protein and encapsulate that RNA in some sort of a mixture of lipids so as to raise a response to the area of the injection – this is like Pfizer and Moderna.
Another method is to deliver the gene for the spike protein via another virus that infects human cells but does not cause any noticeable or harmful disease.
"If we take a virus like that and manipulate its genes and swap some of the genes of the viral vector with the gene for the coronavirus spike, when such viral vectors infect our cells they are manipulated and produce the coronavirus spike protein, which then stimulates the production of antibodies against coronavirus," Gershoni further explained. This is what AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Moscow's Gamaleya Research Center are doing.
In other words, all of the vaccine candidates that Israel has access to now are software vaccines.
"There are no software vaccines that have been previously approved by the FDA and used in humans," Gershoni stressed – not Moderna and not AstraZeneca.
Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020 (Credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION/FILE PHOTO)Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020 (Credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION/FILE PHOTO)
So how did they get approved so quickly?
The emergence of the first cases of COVID-19 occurred in December 2019. As noted, the Chinese were able to rapidly isolate the virus by January 9, 2020. With today's knowledge in genomics and bioinformatics, the moment that scientists saw the sequence, they were immediately able to begin the research and production of software vaccine candidates.
"The accelerated speed should not be interrupted as dangerous as far as safety is concerned," Gershoni said. "All the companies are conducting Phase I, II and III human trials. No corners have been cut."
Rather, he said, the companies are taking an enormous financial risk by running clinical trials in parallel and producing vaccines even before they are fully approved.
"Not all the vaccines may be safe" that are being developed, he further explained. "But I do believe that all those vaccines that are approved by the FDA should be considered safe."
Will they have any short-term side effects?
The short-term side effects of these vaccines will likely be tiredness, soreness at the site of injection, redness or inflammation, maybe even a slight temperature – all symptoms that are manageable with Tylenol.
"What we want to try to avoid is a vaccine that causes dramatic side effects," Gershoni said, admitting that because the vaccine will be tested on tens of thousands of people rather than millions, "there is no way that you can tell what kind of side effects are rare and could appear in one in a million cases."
What about long-term side effects?
Cohen admitted that because mRNA vaccines are new, there might be some "undesirable reactions" that will be discovered only in the long term, though there is no proven evidence.
These "very rare" reactions could include local and systemic inflammatory responses that could perhaps lead to autoimmune conditions; the bio-distribution and persistence of the induced immunogen expression; and possible development of autoreactive antibodies, as have been reported by the National Institutes of Health.
However, Michal Linial, a professor of biological chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told the Post in a previous interview that she believes there is no cause for concern.
Linial explained that "mRNA is a very fragile molecule, meaning it can be destroyed very easily.... If you put mRNA on the table, for example, in a minute there will not be any mRNA left over. This is as opposed to DNA, which is as stable as you get."
She said that this fragility is true of the mRNA of any living thing, whether it belongs to a plant, bacteria, virus or human.
Cohen said that "our bodies are full of RNA," and these vaccines are asking them to do something they do every day: protein synthesis, the process where cells make proteins.
"There can always be long-term effects – not just of these new mRNA vaccines, but in general," said Cohen. "But remember, we don't know yet that there won't be long-term effects of COVID-19."
"Which is more dangerous: COVID-19 or being vaccinated by something that raises viral response to spike protein?" Gershoni asked. "My sense is that these presentations of the viral spike are much safer than having to experience the disease.
"Comparing vaccination to disease – there is no comparison," he continued. "The only thing you can argue is that you would rather play Russian roulette and hope you don't get infected."
Are vaccinations safe in general?
In general, FDA-approved vaccines are "remarkably safe," a study by researchers from Tel Aviv University and Sourasky Medical Center showed over the summer.
The group, led by Dr. Daniel Shepshelovich of TAU's Sackler Faculty of Medicine, studied 57 vaccines that were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration between 1996 and 2015 that yielded 58 safety-related issues associated with 25 of them – most of them identified through the FDA's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. Those that were identified were of limited clinical significance, rare and not life-threatening, the study found.
In only one case in the last 20 years was a vaccine pulled off the market. The RotaShield vaccine for rotavirus was removed within months of approval after it was found to have mild bowel side effects in one out of every 5,000 to 10,000 people who took it.
The conclusion: Vaccines are very safe – much more so than drugs and medical devices, whose side effects are many and more dangerous, according to the study, Shepshelovich told the Post in July when the study was published.
People who tested positive for COVID-19 in the past – will they still need to be vaccinated?
In theory, if people have recovered from the disease, they don't really need to be vaccinated, because they presumably have natural immunity. The challenge, said Gershoni, is that doctors still don't know how effective or long-lasting that immunity is.
"We may learn that natural immunity is less robust than we had hoped, and therefore vaccination [of people who had COVID-19] plays a very good role in boosting immune response, and that might be helpful," he said.
Gershoni suggested that, over time, it could evolve that people who had the virus will take a booster shot to ensure strong immunity.
What questions remain?
Even as the vaccines are approved, several questions will remain unanswered. These include the sustainability and the immunogenicity of the vaccine – which could be evaluated only in the longer term.
It is also still unclear whether the virus will mutate and modifications will need to be made to the vaccines, even perhaps as often as annually. However, in comparison to influenza, it is understood that coronaviruses in general are more genetically stable.
Will vaccination mean the end of the pandemic?
"I am certain that we are not going to go back to where we were in November 2019," Gershoni said. "That is because we experienced a traumatic pandemic and adopted various behavioral patterns."
However, wide-scale immunity will allow people to resume normal activities and reopen the economy in a way that the public has not experienced in more than nine months.
As Edelstein said on Thursday: "It is not just a light at the end of the tunnel but a path we are on."•
Selected Writings of Rabbi Meir Kahane,
Galut in Israel
There is no word that is referred to with greater contempt in Israel than "Galut" exile. The Galut, the Diaspora, we were told, is a hated thing that has bred in the Jew inferiority complexes, physical fear and mental abnormalities. Those who continue to live there are bluntly chastised and told to come to Israel and become "normal.
True. But what is not often spoken about and what is not enough proclaimed is the fact that it is totally possible to be a sabra, a genuinely free soul, and nevertheless be beset with all the complexes and problems of a galut Jew. It is, in short, quite possible to be a galut Jew in Israel, and the land abounds with many of them.
All this is by way of explaining in greater detail the startling JDL announcement that it was setting up its international office in Israel! "Mah inyan shimita eytzel Har Sinai?" (What is the connection between Sabbatical Year and Mount Sinai?) was the outcry. What purpose is there for JDL in Israel? Are there troubled neighborhoods? Is there anti-Semitism? Are there Panthers? With slight tongue in cheek, let us leave aside the question of whether there are Panthers in Israel (of whatever breed) or if there are anti-Semites (of whatever faith) or if there are troubled areas (of whatever trouble). Let us go directly to the question: JDL in Israel – why?
The All Mighty has been kind to Israel. He allowed it to survive its Arab enemies without totally defeating them. He gave the Jewish state victory and survival without a total peace. Had it been otherwise, who knows what conflicts and hostilities would have erupted in Israel! There exist within Israel problems of such magnitude and with such a potential for explosion that they threaten the very existence of the State. These problems may be summarized as follows:
Religion – There is a basic conflict between two large segments of the nation concerning the place of religion in national life. To the religious Jew, the very essence of the Jewish people is derived from a religious concept. It is a Torah that must guide the national life. Hence the demands for public observance of the Sabbath, the laws of kashrut and, above all, the laws of personal status such as marriage and divorce. Bitter disputes have arisen revolving about these areas, particularly the right to marry and divorce at will, but no religious problem so affects the future of Israel as the definition of "Who is a Jew."
The religious Jew, if pressed to the wall, can survive without a compulsory Sabbath law; if Jews do not observe this Sabbath, they can, hopefully, observe the next one. Massive and permanent damage to the Jewish soul will not occur if a national law banning unkosher food is not passed; if the Jew eats ham on Monday, there is hope that on Tuesday he will be brought around. But the question of "Who is a Jew" is quite another matter. If "today" is not observed properly, there is no tomorrow. If the halachic definition of a Jew as one who is born of a Jewish mother or who converts ACCORDING TO HALACHIC is breached today, what may happen is that, within the next ten years, there will be two nations within Israel, with special listings kept of those Jews whose families are religiously Jewish and from whom one can choose a spouse. That "nation" will be separate from the other one, and bitterness, recriminations and division will make it impossible for the State to endure. In short, what is at stake here is the very unity and survival of ONE Jewish people.
The great obstacle to recognition by all Jews of imperative need to accept the halachic definition of a Jew – for the sake of Jewish unity – lies the galut that has crept into Israel. None have been so crippled by this disease of inferiority and shame of being Jewish as some of the staunches sabras within the Jewish state.
So much of the opposition to ALL religious definitions and observances comes from an attempt on the part of large segments of sabras to escape their Jewishness. It is no coincidence that so many of the same leaders in the fight against religion are also leaders in the fight to "de-Zionize" Israel. The mind boggles at the thought! Israel without Zionism! Israel free of Judaism and Jewishness! Yet, this is what thousands and thousands of Israelis are now expounding. One does not, now, speak of the many who have seized upon this as a rationale for their demands that Jewish immigration to Israel be curbed because there are not enough houses for Israeli-born Jews. These are people who merely use the concept because they are concerned with immediate personal problems. What must concern us, more, is the sabra who ideologically proclaims himself an Israeli first and a Jew second; who looks down upon Jews in the Diaspora and sees little connection between himself and them; who demands that religion and nationality be sundered and who finds more in common with non-Jews when he travels abroad than with Jews (and who all too often consciously avoids Jews when he travels outside of Israel).
Such a Jew is a galut Jew, pure and simple, though born in Mishmar Ha'emek a kibbutznik of the first order. When the son of the mayor of Jerusalem writes a book and candidly states his Israelism over his Jewishness as he sits next to his non-Jewish wife, we are faced with a serious problem. It is not only that those who cut away their Israelism from their Jewishness and who deride Zionism have no right to be in Israel (for it is only the eternal Jewish foreigners to come from Russia or Yemen and take away the land from the Arabs). What is being evidenced here is an embarrassment at being Jewish. When a Jew outside of Israel cries out: "Nihyeh b'chol hagoyim" (Let us be amongst all the nations"), the Jew inside Israel proclaims "Nihyeh k"col hagoyim" (Let us be as all of the nations"). In the end it is the same. It is an attempt to escape the uniqueness of the Jewish people with all its obligations and responsibilities. It is an effort to do away with two things. Achdut Yisroel, the unity of the Jewish people, and its immediate and necessary corollary, Ahavat Yisroel, the love of the Jewish people, the need to run to their aid whenever they may be and the ability to recognize that problem of a Jew in Moscow is as much a problem for the sabra as the shelling of Beit She'an.
Written July 23, 1971
A Tale Of Two Morgenthaus: Zionist And Anti-Zionist
Henry Morgenthau, Jr. (1891-1967) is best known for his service as U.S. Secretary of the Treasury during most of FDR's administration; for stabilizing the dollar and for his major role in designing and financing the New Deal; and for his leading role in financing America's participation in World War II.
He was the only Jew in FDR's cabinet and, when he continued as Treasury Secretary through the first few months of Truman's presidency, he became the first Jew in the presidential line of succession.
A skillful and dynamic administrator, he thoroughly reorganized the Treasury Department and was largely responsible for the national and international monetary policies instituted in the 1930s which led to the stabilization of the American economy and made the dollar the strongest currency in the world.
He was an early champion of supporting the Allies in World War II and preparing America for involvement in the war and – notwithstanding his father's repeated and insistent urging that he not become entangled in Jewish issues – he was one of the greatest and most important advocates for the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust.
As early as 1930, Morgenthau was a contributor to the efforts of the Joint Distribution Committee, and he became one of the earliest and most vocal critics of the American immigration quota system for its inadequate visa allocation for Jews seeking haven from the Nazis.
In 1938, he unsuccessfully urged FDR to acquire British and French Guiana for use as a sanctuary for refugees – a humanitarian effort in which he pointedly included non-Jews – and he later actively, albeit unsuccessfully, pressed Secretary of State Cordell Hull to intervene on behalf of the 900 refugees aboard the S.S. St. Louis (1939).
However, he was successful in persuading Hull to support a World Jewish Congress plan to transfer private U.S. funds to Europe to rescue Jews. When the State Department purposely delayed any American action on the plan, a determined and indomitable Morgenthau undertook to circumvent the State Department and went directly to the president, presenting him with a stunning January 13, 1944 "Report to the Secretary on the Acquiescence of This Government in the Murder of the Jews."
As a result of his meeting with Roosevelt, the president issued an executive order on January 22, 1944 which created the United States War Refugee Board (WRB), the first major American attempt to address the extermination of European Jews. Among other things, the WRB sponsored Raoul Wallenberg's mission to Budapest and is responsible for saving the lives of some 100,000 Jews.
Later in 1944, Morgenthau proposed his famous "Morgenthau Plan," a peace plan involving the partition of Germany pursuant to which the Ruhr and Saar regions would be converted into an agrarian area and Germany would be stripped of its heavy industry and "so weakened and controlled that it cannot in the foreseeable future become an industrial area."
While still at the Treasury Department, Morgenthau was active in many Jewish organizations, including the United Jewish Appeal, B'nai B'rith, and the Jewish Welfare Board. Due to personal and policy differences with President Truman – including not only advancing the Morgenthau Plan, which Truman and the State Department opposed, but also his call, as chair of the United Jewish Appeal, for Truman to take action regarding the British seizure of The Exodus – Morgenthau was forced to resign as Treasury Secretary (July 1945).
Born into a prominent assimilated Jewish family in New York City, Morgenthau rejected all Jewish observance and was reticent about even publicly acknowledging his Judaism. He and his wife never attended Jewish religious services, yet they celebrated Christmas and Easter; they carefully avoided Jewish social networks and vacation spots; and they pointedly refused to circumcise their son. Yet, he was a fervent Zionist and dedicated much of his post-government life to Israel.
He served as general chairman (1947-1950) and as then honorary chairman (1950-1953) of the United Jewish Appeal, in which capacity he is credited with playing a major role in raising the unprecedented sums vital to the success of the new State of Israel. He also served as chairman of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University (1950-1951). As chair of the Board of Governors of the American Financial and Development Corporation for Israel, he played an important role in the offer of a 500 million-dollar bond issue for the new nation.
In this historic May 15, 1949 correspondence on his UJA general chairman letterhead, Morgenthau writes to Rabbi Isadore Breslau about the importance of attending an upcoming UJA meeting in light of the proclamation announcing the birth of Israel:
We are living in what is perhaps the most meaningful moment in two thousand years of Jewish life. The proclamation announcing the re-establishment of the State of Israel and the prompt recognition given to it by the United States make it imperative that American Jewish leadership come together at the earliest possible date to take counsel on the responsibilities and opportunities facing the United Jewish Appeal.
In reviewing the list of acceptances, I note with concern that we have not yet received a reply from you to attend the conference of the United Jewish Appeal to be held at the Astor Hotel in New York, on Saturday evening, May 22 and Sunday, May 23. The new developments give this meeting even more urgent significance….
Rabbi Isadore Breslau (1897-1978) is perhaps best known for his work on behalf of a variety of Zionist causes, including particularly the UJA, which he served as its honorary national chairman. He was also active in the Zionist Organization of America and the Joint Distribution Committee, and was a delegate to a number of World Zionist Congresses.
Morgenthau was awarded honorary doctorates from Yeshiva University and the Hebrew Union College, and Morgenthau Street in Jerusalem is named for him.
* * * * *
Ironically, Morgenthau's father, Henry Morgenthau Sr. (1856-1946) – lawyer, businessman, financier, diplomat, and perhaps best known as the American ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during World War I – was a fervent and vociferous anti-Zionist.
In March 1919, with the Jewish community preparing for the Paris Peace Conference with hopes that it would officially bless the idea of a Jewish homeland in Eretz Yisrael and as President Wilson was leaving for the conference, Morgenthau Sr. joined 31 other prominent Jewish Americans in signing an anti-Zionist petition.
Displayed here is Morgenthau on Zionism and Palestine, Morgenthau Sr.'s booklet, distributed by the "League for Peace With Justice in Palestine," in which he seeks to turn "Americans of the Christian faiths" against "gigantic lies" advanced by "dual-allegiance Zionists" who are essentially American traitors. He blames Zionism for virtually every ill plaguing the Middle East and, in particular, for fomenting Arab animosity against the Jews.
Citing his own knowledge, expertise, and familiarity with the Jews, he characterizes Zionism as "the most stupendous fallacy in history;" argues that it is "wrong in principle and impossible of realization; unsound in its economics; fantastical in its politics; and sterile in its spiritual ideals;" and contends that "Zionism is a surrender, not a solution; a betrayal; a proposal that, if it were to succeed, would cost the Jews of America most of what they have gained of liberty, equality, and fraternity."
Calling the Balfour Declaration "a shrewd and adroit delusion," he sets out to prove that Zionist leaders purposely misrepresented its scope, which was not that "Jews shall have the right to dispossess, or to trespass upon the property of those far more numerous Arab tenants whose rights to their share in it is as good as that of the Jews and, in most cases, of much longer standing."
He asserts that sustaining an economy in a Jewish county in Eretz Yisrael is manifestly impossible, arguing that despite 30 years of Jews working with "fanatical zeal backed by millions of money from philanthropic Jews of great wealth," only 10,000 Jews have moved to the soil of Eretz Yisrael while 1.5 million Jews have come to America, and that agriculture in that waterless land is impossible. He further argues that the Moslem dedication to the land is such that the British would never, under any circumstance, permit Jewish ownership of any part of the land.
He submits that "the spiritual pretensions of Zionism" are intellectually dishonest and that rational Jews understand that their true route to success is accomplishment in the fields of science, industry, and arts, and as protected citizens in the enlightened countries in which they live. And, perhaps the worst of all: Morgenthau Sr. makes a point of declaring: "I speak as a Jew."
Born in Mannheim, Germany and brought to the United States at age nine, Morgenthau Sr. achieved great success in the fields of law, real estate, and business before commencing his public service career at age 55. An early Wilson supporter, he was disappointed when the president appointed him as ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, but Wilson responded that he had to have a Jew in that position because of the interests of American Jews in the welfare of the Jews of Eretz Yisrael.
He originally declined the offer but later was encouraged to accept by Rabbi Stephen Wise, a close friend. Ironically, Morgenthau Sr.'s extreme antipathy for the very idea of a Jewish state led to his resignation as president of the Free Synagogue following a dispute with Wise, who was an ardent Zionist.
When the Ottoman authorities commenced the Armenian Genocide in 1914-1915, Wilson, seeking to maintain American neutrality in the dispute, rejected Morgenthau Sr.'s request for American intervention. As the massacres continued unabated, however, Morgenthau Sr. took independent unilateral steps to alleviate the plight of the Armenians, including forming the Committee on Armenian Atrocities, which raised over $100 million in aid, and convincing his good friend Adolph Ochs, the Jewish publisher of the New York Times, to assure continued coverage of the massacres. He finally resigned his post in disgust in 1916.
In June the next year, Morgenthau Sr., in his capacity as a representative of the War Department, commenced a clandestine mission to persuade Turkey to abandon the Central Powers in the war effort. In undertaking his mission, he cited the wretched conditions of the Jews under Turkish rule, but this was only a cover. As additional protection against unwanted interference by the Zionists, both in America and overseas, he enlisted a reticent Felix Frankfurter, considered by some to be a leader of American Zionism (and then assistant to the Secretary of War), to join the mission.
However, few Jewish leaders were fooled. For example, Weizmann correctly saw the delegation as a plot to undermine the Zionist national movement, since any successful peace proposal to Turkey would necessarily reduce dramatically any real possibility of a Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael. Weizmann feared – and with good reason – that this sudden American interest in Turkey would compromise his ongoing discussions with Great Britain with respect to the Balfour Declaration.
Fortunately, the British also opposed Morgenthau Sr.'s mission, but they could not risk alienating President Wilson. Accordingly, Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, sent Weizmann to meet with Morgenthau Sr. as "an unofficial British representative" in Gibralter, where he convinced Morgenthau Sr. to abandon his mission.
It was one of Weizmann's greatest, if generally unheralded, accomplishments. The failure of Morgenthau Sr.'s mission enabled England and France, pursuant to the secret Sykes-Picot Treaty, to dismantle the Turkish empire and led to the issuance of the Balfour Declaration.
Morgenthau Sr. was next appointed head of the "Morgenthau Commission" (July-Sept. 1919) charged with investigating the situation of the Polish Jews after the post-World War I pogroms. The shameful Commission report, published in the New York Times on Oct. 3, 1919, ignored the evidence of atrocities committed against the Jews and, in an attempt to cover up Polish brutalities, attributed the violence to tension and hostile acts perpetrated by the occupation armies and retreating forces.
Notwithstanding his extreme anti-Zionism, Morgenthau Sr. cared to some degree about Jews and Judaism. He appealed to Jewish leader and philanthropist Jacob Schiff on behalf of the Jews in Eretz Yisrael in 1914, which generated $50,000 for the cause. In 1939, with America's doors all but shut to Jewish refugees, he was able to secure visas for dozens of his relatives and provided financial support to them all.
He also had a strong attachment to Reform Judaism and was very active in religious and philanthropic work. He served as a member of the board of directors of Mt. Sinai Hospital; helped raise funds for the establishment of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati; served as a B'nai B'rith executive committee member; and was president of the Free Synagogue of New York.