New York – With the New York area’s Jewish community still facing repercussions and acts of hostility because of the latest measles outbreak, a new report has identified a wealthy Manhattan couple as a significant source of funding for the anti-vaccination movement.
According to a report today by the Washington Post (https://wapo.st/2XmaY8W), Bernard and Lisa Selz have been contributing large sums of money to groups that question the MMR vaccine’s safety and success for the past seven years, with $3 million donated to the cause since 2016.
A 79 year old philanthropist with four decades of experience in the securities business, Bernard Selz runs Selz Capital, which holds a portfolio valued at upwards of $500 million.
His wife Lisa has been involved in managing the Selz Foundation for over 25 years, supporting humanitarian, environmental, cultural and artistic causes. Their support of the anti-vaccination movement has given the small but vocal group that opposes immunizations the ability to spread their message to the masses, a factor that has played a key role in the latest outbreak that has soared to record numbers, with 868 measles cases confirmed in New York City and Rockland County since October.
Since 2016, the Selz Foundation has been the main funding source for the Informed Consent Action Network, whose stated mission is to eradicate man made disease by “exposing shortcoming with our vaccine program” and promoting parental choice. Tax records show that the Selzes donated $100,000 to ICAN when it was first launched in 2016, upping their support considerably in 2017 when they donated $1.05 million, an amount that comprised approximately 75 percent of the organization’s annual budget.
The Selzes were also among the primary funders of an anti-immunization documentary charging the CDC with destroying information linking vaccinations and autism whose producers included ICAN founder Dell Bigtree. A self-proclaimed expert on immunization safety, Bigtree has been the featured speaker at two recent anti-vaccination events aimed at the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn and in Monsey. Speaking to reporters in Brooklyn about parents who refuse to vaccinate their children Bigtree said, “They should be allowed to have the measles if they want the measles. It’s crazy that there’s this level of intensity around a trivial childhood illness.”
Numerous measles-related anti-Semitic incidents have been reported in recent weeks. A Chasidic woman found herself subjected to obscenities by an Uber driver who made a comment about “measles people,” as previously reported on VIN News (http://bit.ly/2XnCAu6), while a B57 bus driver was placed on limited duty after making a measles-related remark to a Chasidic passenger.