Initial Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against UK virus variant and other variants and Melanie Philips writes A disaster and a tragedy for America, Jews and decent people everywhere and The Jews Now Dumping Trump Won’t Ever Apologize for Backing Him by Jonathan S. Tobin
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.
The Jews Now Dumping Trump Won't Ever Apologize for Backing Him by Jonathan S. Tobin
There were Jews who joined the pro-Trump assault on the Capitol, arm-in-arm with open antisemites. But while most Jewish Trump voters won't mourn his exit, they don't regret backing him either
Are Jews who backed Donald Trump finally now ready to both renounce him and to concede that they were wrong to support him for the last four years?
That's a question that deserves an answer in the wake of the Capitol riot that finally vindicated some of the fears Trump's critics have voiced in recent years about him being a threat to democracy.
But while many, if not most, of the up to 30 percent of the Jewish electorate who voted for Trump may now want no part of him after his disgraceful conduct in the wake of his election loss, few will be apologizing - and some will still stick with him.
For the most part, Trump's policies were little different from those that any Republican might have pursued. The divide about him was always more about manners and the very different perceptions of the educated and working classes about whether having someone so determined to outrage the establishment was a much needed shock to the system,or a path to chaos and the collapse of democracy.
For those who have always regarded Trump as not merely a proto-authoritarian but also the embodiment of political evil, the events of the last week merely confirmed the assumptions they've always held about him.
For four years, Trump had pushed the envelope of propriety in many respects, using language unheard of in a president. His comments, both those taken out of context and those that were not, were construed as hateful. He shredded precedents of every kind.
But what those who were appalled by Trump failed to understand was that in doing so, he was responding to a genuine sense of grievance on the part of many Americans that the governing classes had ignored their plight, and were operating for their own selfish benefit. His often deliberate use of politically incorrect language delighted them because he was baiting his detractors in the press and the political establishment that they despise.
When Trump's Israeli groupies abandon ship His unconventional instincts served him well on issues as diverse as trade policy, deregulation and Middle East peace. And, at least up until the pandemic hit the nation in 2020, he could claim to have had more successes than setbacks, despite the way he divided the nation. His keeping of his promises to various Republican constituencies — whether it was conservative judges or a historic level of support for Israel — made it all worth it to them.
But his refusal to accept defeat, and then his continued attempts to push a false narrative about a stolen election,were a bridge too far, even for many of the 74 million Americans who voted for him.
His attempt to pressure Georgia election officials to essentially falsify that state's vote was not only outrageous, but then led to a disastrous double defeat in Senate runoffs that cost Republicans control of the upper body. Days later, his incendiary rhetoric at the rally he had organized, intended to pressure Vice President Mike Pence and Congress to overturn the certified results of the election, incited a mob to attack the Capitol building where Congresswas sitting.
Flouting norms about behavior was one thing. Interfering with the peaceful transfer of power after an election — a cornerstone principle of American democracy — was quite another. At this point even many Republicans now agree that he deserves impeachment though the utility of a conviction that would only come after he has already left office seems questionable.
Unfortunately, those expecting a bipartisan consensus about the events of January 6 are bound to be disappointed. And that is as true of the Jewish community as the rest of the nation. After all, there were also Jews in that crowd including some among the Capitol invaders, as well as open anti-Semites.
Just as many Trump supporters believe him when he claims an election he lost decisively was stolen, so too are many unwilling to admit that he incited a riot and that his attempt to invalidate the results was itself illegitimate.
They do so because in a bifurcated political culture in which the two camps isolate themselves from those with opposing views, many are no longer willing to question their own side or accept facts that contradict their pre-existing biases. They believe Trump's opponents are dishonest and accept his claims even if they are untrue.
This isn't solely a product of their having drunk the Trumpist Kool Aid. They point to the fact that most of the mainstream media did eschew even the pretense of objectivity when it came to their coverage of the administration. Trump supporters also point out the contrast between the sympathetic coverage given to violence that emanated from the Black Lives Matter protests as compared to that of the Capitol riot.
That sort of whataboutism doesn't excuse what the Trump mob did. But it does explain why so many Trump supporters — including Jews — are so unmoved by the national reaction to January 6.
To people like Rabbi Dov Fischer, a contributor to the American Spectator who just wrote a piece entitled "Why Trump Will Weather This Nonsense," subtitled "He'll be back," the Capitol riot is no different from any other past example of the left trying to unfairly take down Trump.
Though the president's opponents were wrong about Russia collusion and other alleged scandals, Fischer and other pro-Trump diehards are no longer able to look at their hero's behavior and draw appropriate or honest conclusions about him. Or about his hardcore fans' mob rampage: Fischer writes that he watched "the" video of the Capitol events and determined: "That was not an insurrection; it was a grown-up misbehaving — and, by the way, quite peacefully and jovially."
By contrast, the majority of Jewish Trump voters may have disliked Trump's behavior but believed his conservative and pro-Israel policies were more than enough to convince them to put aside any doubts. Unlike the Trump true believers, they are done with him and, like many of those who cast their ballots for the president, now wish him to go away and allow a lockstep pro-Israel GOP to rebuild without having to go on excusing his misconduct.
Is it fair to ask them to apologize for believing his moving of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, holding the Palestinian Authority accountable for subsidizing terrorism, withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and the Abraham Accords normalization agreements for Israel was worth it?
To Trump's detractors,the answer is yes. But to those who believe the Trump administration's achievements would not have happened under any other president, and that the whole point of politics is policy rather than promoting public virtue, the answer is still no.
Much like the rest of the GOP, pro-Israel Republicans don't think of themselves as having sold their souls for a few policy achievements. To the contrary, they point out that it was Trump who changed his positions, not them.
Trump entered politics as a conventional New York liberal with no history of stands on any issue other than trade. By the time he took office he had adopted the Republican agenda on social issues like abortion and the need for conservative judges, tax cuts and deregulation. That also meant positions on Middle East issues that aligned him with Likudniks and supporters of the settlement movement, like his lawyer David Friedman, who was subsequently appointed ambassador to Israel, not to mention his son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
Just as political conservatives can say the significance of, among other things, the 6-3 conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court achieved by his nominations outweighs other concerns, pro-Trump Jews are likely to say his stands on Israel would have been enough to justify their support.
That's largely true even if they are dismayed about the disgraceful conclusion to his presidency, which, as horrible as it was, was ultimately a feeble gesture rather than an actual coup.
Nor is it likely that the majority of Israelis whom, polls said, liked Trump, would choose to turn back the clock and accept four years of Hillary Clinton's likely continuation of Barack Obama's unpopular policies in exchange for what did happen.
His supporters are hardly alone in being willing to excuse the foibles or even worse from a political leader in exchange for policy positions that they think are not merely important but a matter of life and death. While Trump is clearly an extreme example, just as Democrats have put up with flawed leaders like Bill Clinton and now Joe Biden, so, too, will Republicans in the future, if it means keeping the other side out of power.
That kind of thinking about politics is a function of the way politics has largely replaced the role religion once played in the lives of Americans. So long as such debates are conducted in a manner in which both sides of the spectrum believe each other to be not merely wrong but evil, and lacking good intentions, a consensus on what constitutes disqualifying behavior will always be elusive.
Most of his Jewish voters will not mourn Trump's departure from the stage now, but they will also have no regrets for their role in electing someone who gave them more or less everything they wanted from a president in terms of policy. What's more, they will do so in the belief that those who disagree with them would have done, and will do, the same to advance their own agenda.
Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of the Jewish News Syndicate. Twitter: @jonathans_tobin
A disaster and a tragedy for America, Jews and decent people everywhere
Those trying to defend principles of law and constitutional order against the left have been grievously undermined.
Melanie Phillips ,
(JNS) If freedom is indivisible, so are the rule of law, constitutional order and respect for the democratic process.
That's why the appalling events that took place on Capitol Hill on Wednesday are so shattering to one group in particular.
Of course, every person who supports those orderly principles—the core of any civilized society—will have looked on aghast as a violent mob stormed the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to fling themselves to the floor in terror as the process of certifying a president was brought to a halt.
Everyone who regards America as the standard-bearer of Western values will have been appalled by the spectacle of the constitutional order being so violently breached. Whatever the provocation, however strong the belief may be that the election process was fraudulent, the only way to resolve this is through lawful and democratic means. There is no cause that can justify violence in a free society.
But the people who are perhaps the most distraught by what happened are those who feel most betrayed by the person who bears responsibility—not just for the disorder itself, but also for having now undermined the increasingly desperate defense of good against evil.
That person is President Donald Trump. And among those who are so very distressed, the people who now have most cause to fear for the future are the Jews who supported him, towards whose interests as a people he was arguably the most sympathetic president there has ever been but whose trust he has now so wantonly squandered.
Many of Trump's Jewish supporters, like others who voted for him, disapproved of his manifest personality and temperamental flaws. Nevertheless, those who backed him understood that he was arguably the only significant bulwark against the enormous threat posed by the left to the West's core democratic and social values.
Such people watched America being defamed in schools and universities as intrinsically racist. They watched as their history was rewritten by propaganda falsely casting their nation as springing from evil and oppression.
They watched as conservative thinkers were hounded off university platforms or out of academic posts for having views that did not conform to the left-wing consensus.
They watched as the Democrats backed the thugs of Antifa and Black Lives Matter, even as they burned and trashed American cities. They watched as the Democrats gave illegal immigrants convicted of even major crimes "sanctuary" from law enforcement.
They watched as the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was disrupted by left-wing activists.
They watched as Trump was subjected for most of his term to an arguably illegal and certainly subversive attempt by an alliance of administration officials and Democrat politicians to lever him out of office through a campaign of baseless smears.
Yet in an Orwellian inversion of reality, the Democrats and their propaganda mouthpieces in the mainstream media accused the president himself of being a threat to the constitution and the rule of law.
Now, though, Trump has appallingly proved them right. Until this week, he had confined himself to constitutional means to press his charge that the election had been fraudulent.
On Wednesday, however, he utterly destroyed his claim to be upholding constitutional order against those who threaten it. Urging people to "take back the country," as he did at his morning rally for thousands of already wound-up supporters, was an open call to insurrection.
His belated exhortation to obey the rule of law was risible considering he had set these unlawful events in motion. And even after he finally called on his supporters to go home, he actually justified and excused the violence.
The results of his behavior are incalculable. It has made it unlikely that any Republican will now have the stomach to subject the evidence of election fraud to proper investigation.
And with the Republicans having lost control of the Senate in this week's Georgia runoffs—for which, absent proof of further claims of election fraud, Trump's behavior must take the blame—an ever-more extremist Democratic Party will no longer be constrained by congressional checks and balances.
All decent people should now be alarmed. Jews have particular cause to be so. For the party that now has untrammeled power poses a threat to the security of both Israel and American Jews.
Not that most American Jews see it that way. They are, however, part of a gathering tragedy for which the Georgia run-offs provided a cameo.
One of those elected to the Senate, Rev. Raphael Warnock, has a record of supporting hateful and irrational positions on Israel. The other new senator, Jon Ossoff, belongs to the majority section of the Jewish community which supports the Democratic Party despite its increasing toleration of such positions.
It is disturbing, for example, that the Democrats ever selected Warnock as their candidate.
In 2019, he signed a letter by faith leaders which referred to "the heavy militarization of the West Bank, reminiscent of the military occupation of Namibia by apartheid South Africa."
In a 2018 sermon, he said after a visit to Israel: "We saw the government of Israel shoot down unarmed Palestinian sisters and brothers like birds of prey." Brushing off Palestinian violence, he referred to young Palestinians "struggling for their very lives, struggling for water and struggling for their human dignity" against Israel.
These are boilerplate lies on the left that incite murderous hatred of Israel and Jews around the world. Warnock subsequently doubled down on his remarks by claiming that he was "speaking to the issue of activists and human rights and the ability of people to be heard."
Moreover, he has supported the extremist pastor Jeremiah Wright, who infamously said "God damn America," blamed "them Jews" for not being able to be in contact with his former congregant, former President Barack Obama, and stated that "ethnic cleansing is going on in Gaza."
Yet in 2008, Warnock said: "We celebrate Rev. Wright in the same way that we celebrate the truth-telling tradition of the black church, which when preachers tell the truth, very often it makes people uncomfortable."
Given all this, his subsequent protestations that he loves America, supports Israel and believes in its security appeared opportunistic and disingenuous.
Tragically, though, as so often in Jewish history, there are Jews who are actively helping this onslaught against truth, justice and decency. Liberal American Jews have supported Warnock with the Jewish Democratic Council of America circulating a petition claiming that he was the victim of "baseless claims and attacks."
Such Jews have continued to support the Democrats regardless of Obama's hostility to Israel or his empowerment of Iran. They continue to support them regardless of their embrace of the poisonous Jew-hater, Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan, and "The Squad" of Democrat Congresswomen who are given to anti-Israel or anti-Jewish statements.
And now, with the Democrats unconstrained, we will all be forced to watch as the arguably criminal conspiracy to destroy a president is buried; as the anti-white, anti-West, anti-Jew Black Lives Matter movement is invited to set the social agenda; as the Palestinian Arabs are again empowered and incentivized to resume their campaign to exterminate Israel; and as America allows two of the most lethal threats to the free world—Iran and China—to walk all over it.
The moral case against the Democrats had been solid and overwhelming. But now, with Trump having betrayed the rule of law and constitutional order, those trying to defend these principles against the left have been grievously undermined.
What a disaster. What a tragedy—for America, for the West and for decent people everywhere.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for "The Times of London," her personal and political memoir, "Guardian Angel," has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, "The Legacy." Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.
Initial Pfizer study suggests vaccine works against UK virus variant
Research, which hasn't yet been peer-reviewed, indicates vaccine could also work against South African strain, but more testing needed; Israeli health official welcomes news
A Pfizer Global Supply Kalamazoo manufacturing plant sign in Portage, Michigan, December 11, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
New research suggests that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in two highly contagious variants of the coronavirus that erupted in Britain and South Africa.
Those variants are causing global concern. They both share a common mutation called N501Y, a slight alteration on one spot of the spike protein that coats the virus. That change is believed to be the reason they can spread so easily.
Most of the vaccines being rolled out around the world train the body to recognize that spike protein and fight it. Pfizer teamed with researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for laboratory tests to see if the mutation affected its vaccine's ability to do so.
They used blood samples from 20 people who received the vaccine, made by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech, during a large study of the shots. Antibodies from those vaccine recipients successfully fended off the virus in lab dishes, according to the study posted late Thursday on an online site for researchers.
The study is preliminary and has not yet been reviewed by experts, a key step for medical research.
But "it was a very reassuring finding that at least this mutation, which was one of the ones people are most concerned about, does not seem to be a problem" for the vaccine, said Pfizer chief scientific officer Dr. Philip Dormitzer.
Viruses constantly undergo minor changes as they spread from person to person. Scientists have used these slight modifications to track how the coronavirus has moved around the globe since it was first detected in China about a year ago.
British scientists have said the variant found in the UK – which has become the dominant type in parts of England — still seemed to be susceptible to vaccines.
That mutant strain has now been found in the US and numerous other countries, including Israel, where the deputy director of the Health Ministry, Itamar Grotto, welcomed the new study Friday in an interview with Army Radio.
But the variant first discovered in South Africa has an additional mutation that has scientists on edge, one named E484K.
The Pfizer study found that the vaccine appeared to work against 15 additional possible virus mutations, but E484K wasn't among those tested. Dormitzer said it is next on the list.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, recently said vaccines are designed to recognize multiple parts of the spike protein, making it unlikely a single mutation could be enough to block them. But scientists around the world are conducting research with different vaccines to find out.
Dormitzer said if the virus eventually mutates enough that the vaccine needs adjusting – much like flu shots are adjusted most years – that tweaking the recipe wouldn't be difficult for his company's shot and similar ones. The vaccine is made with a piece of the virus genetic code, simple to switch, although it's not clear what kind of additional testing regulators would require to make such a change.
Dormitzer said this was only the beginning "of ongoing monitoring of virus changes to see if any of them might impact on vaccine coverage.