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Note: This story contains descriptions of racism, as do some of the links.
The United States saw a rise in antisemitism in 2022 and Arizona continued to see more antisemitic vandalism and more incidents of racism than in some previous years, according to researchers.
The Anti-Defamation League released its annual audit of antisemitic incidents that includes reports of harassment, vandalism and violence toward Jewish people and found that nationally, there were 10 antisemitic incidents every day in 2022.
In Arizona, there were a total of 53 reported incidents, down from 56 the year prior but still more than the 23 reported in 2020, the 20 reported in 2019 and 32 reported in 2018. The incidents include an increase in pushes of propaganda by white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups who have been sharing their rhetoric at college campuses across the state.
One of the most prominent groups, according to the audit, is the Neo-Nazi organization Folkish Resistance Movement, formerly known as FolksFront. The small Neo-Nazi group is pro-Hitler, homophobic and traffics in Holocaust denialism as well as racism.
The group distributed antisemitic propaganda in multiple cities including Mesa, Tucson and Gilbert and participated in an anti-vaccine banner drop on a Tucson overpass.
Anti-vaccine sentiment has become popular among white supremacists and Neo-Nazis who have used vaccine skepticism to bolster their ranks and as a way to spread conspiracy theories about the Jewish people. One of those groups, the Goyim Defense League, also has had a major presence in the state.
The group was connected to spreading propaganda at Northern Arizona University and has also been known to litter communities with hate and lie-filled flyers in Tucson.
The white supremacist fascist group Patriot Front, also has a presence in the data and were found to have distributed propaganda, spray painted stencils and hung banners in the cities of Tucson, Yuma, Eloy and Chandler.
Patriot Front split off from the neo-Nazi organization Vanguard America after the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, and has since continued to attempt to recruit young men into its ranks, which in 2019 were estimated to be around 300.
Some of the incidents were far more sinister than propaganda and flyers.
One Tucson Jewish Community Center received multiple calls claiming there was a bomb in the building and a Jewish Community Center in Scottsdale received a bomb threat through an online contact that said “today Tucson k**** will die.”
White supremacists have also been involved in major acts of violence.
Jason Forrester, who is a member of the white supremacist group the Aryan Brotherhood, shot a Pinal County Deputy who was responding to a trespassing call. The Aryan Brotherhood is one of the oldest major white supremacist prison and crime syndicates and is considered the deadliest prison gang in the United States.
Arizona was also the site of the only antisemitism-fueled murder in the country last year.
Professor Thomas Meixner was killed at the University of Arizona by a student who made antisemitic threats because the shooter believed Meixner to be Jewish. Meixner was not Jewish, but his murder was the only one in 2022 directly connected to antisemitism in the country, according to ADL Arizona Regional Director Jolie Brislin.
The ADL data shows that multiple other synagogues got antisemitic emails and threatening emails. Synagogues across the state since 2021 have been vandalized along with mosques.
Antisemitic comments from mainstream figures also appear to have a slight impact as well. The rapper formerly known as Kanye West who now goes as Ye, began espousing antisemitic comments last year and started working with known white nationalist Nick Fuentes.
A flyer distributed around Arizona State University by an unknown individual referenced the infamous “Defcon 3” tweet by Ye and included a Jewish star with a circle-backslash through it.
“We have to remember that this report is only the tip of the iceberg, as many other antisemitic incidents go unreported or are not reported directly to ADL,” Brislin said in a press statement.
In a phone interview with the Arizona Mirror, Brislin implored people to reach out if they experience or see incidents of antisemitism in their community.
“We cannot allow the normalization of hate to go unchecked,” she said. “We need to respond with positive speech, we need to make sure that people are reporting incidents when they are happening and that people are empowered to feel like they can respond to an incident when it happens to them.”
Brislin said that it is important for groups like the ADL to build a more robust set of data to help understand the problem so they and their partners in law enforcement can better address the issue.
If you are looking to make a report of an antisemitic incident you can do so here.
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