Thursday, May 21, 2020

Public Challenge to Alan Dershowitz


Dear Attorney Dershowitz:

There is a recent video interview circulating in which you argued that the state has the right to literally seize you and "plunge a needle in your arm" to "protect public health." You also insist that Judaism doesn't defend one's right to decline a vaccine.

You espoused this extreme position last year too during the measles outbreak. You may recall that you had made a public challenge to any rabbi who'd be willing to debate you on the topic of mandatory vaccine policy vis-à-vis Jewish law. At that time, I accepted your challenge and sent you a message (below). You never responded to me.

For the sake of truth, I hereby publicize my acceptance of your challenge. Here is my letter to you last year:


Dear Attorney Dershowitz,

Peace and blessings.

You wrote: "I challenge any rabbi to debate me on the Jewish religious law regarding vaccination and communicable diseases."

As a musmach of Rav Pinchas Hirschsprung with twenty-five years in the rabbinate, I happily accept your challenge.
Judaism arguably recognizes the benefit of vaccination at least with regards to specific disease, vaccines, locations, and time periods. However, Judaic Law is squarely opposed to mandatory vaccination and to the shocking elimination of religious exemption in New York State. Halacha acknowledges the parent's (or any adult individual's) right to choose.

As a scholar of Jewish religious law, I welcome the opportunity to discuss and/or debate this topic with you face to face. I'm right here in Massachusetts, so it shouldn't be hard to arrange a meeting. If you are open-minded and intellectually-honest, I will gladly present you with objectively "coherent religious argument against mandatory vaccination." Needless to say, I am quite confident that your position will change significantly.

If you wish, our meeting can be just the two of us, without fanfare or publicity, so that neither you nor I feel the defensive need to save face and be perceived as winning an argument. I'm happy to engage in public dialogue as well. I'd urge you to consider the actual halachic sources with an open mind, and not as an exercise in polemics.

I welcome your reply.

Respectfully yours,
Rabbi Michoel Green
Westborough, MA

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