Anti-semitism on the rise in Arizona

Photo by marcoverch | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

For the third year in a row, Arizona has seen an increase in anti-semitic incidents, according to the most recent data released by the Anti-Defamation League.

From 2015 to 2018, Arizona has seen a 700-percent increase in the number of anti-semitic incidents across the state. Nationally, there has been a 99-percent increase.

In 2015, there were only four recorded incidents of anti-semitism reported. Last year, there were 32, ADL reported.

Anti-semitism is not anything new to the United States or even to Arizona, with ADL’s newly updated hate and extremism mapping tool documenting 120 incidents since 2004 in the state.

The majority of incidents recorded by the ADL happened in the Phoenix area, and 21 percent of the incidents reported last year happened at schools.

Incidents include swastikas being drawn, teachers making anti-semitic comments and students mocking their Jewish peers.

In one incident at a Glendale middle school, one student yelled at another, “You’re a Jew. I’m going to burn you!”

Half of the incidents reported in 2017 also happened in schools.

In one incident in February 2017, a group of students were said to have joked about concentration camps and preformed a Nazi salute at a Paradise Valley school.

In 2018, a photo from Paradise Valley High School showed a group of students laying on the ground in a way that created a swastika.

Just a year prior and only three miles down the road, swastikas and the phrase “white power” were painted on the walls of Pinnacle High School

The last three months of 2018 were the most active, with 12 incidents in October, November and December, all of which reported the use of swastikas. In December, there were six incidents involving swastikas leading up to Hannukah.

This year didn’t start off great either, with the ADL reporting on two incidents early in the year involving white supremacist groups distributing fliers in Mesa and Scottsdale. In one incident in Mesa, fliers with swastikas were distributed that read “love your folk” and “you are not alone.”

Fliers and stickers are another emerging trend among white supremacists, many of which have been found on college campuses.

The ADL is currently trying to combat the hateful narratives in hopes that it will slow down the increase in anti-semitic incidents in the state, ADL Arizona’s Regional Director Carlos Galindo-Elvira told Arizona Mirror.

Galindo-Elvira suggested that if people see hateful stickers or fliers, they should photograph them and alert the ADL as it helps them quantify and track hate in Arizona.

unicorn riot
Screenshot from leaked chat conversations between members of the white supremacist group Identity Ervopa.

ADL has also worked with local law enforcement to help identify and track extremist groups in the state. In the wake of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, ADL tracked and identified many of the extremists present.

But tackling propaganda posters is not the only thing the ADL is doing in Arizona to combat anti-semitism and other forms of hate.

Its No Place for Hate initiative, which helps schools learn how to combat hate and bullying, is currently in 58 Arizona schools, Galindo-Elvira said.

ADL is also pushing nationally for states to take a second look at their hate crime statutes.

Galindo-Elvira would ask that lawmakers add descriptors to the current statutes to include gender identity to Arizona’s hate crime statutes, as it is under federal law.

He said he’d also ask them to look at lowering the bar to prove intent when it comes to designating a crime a hate crime.

“While it may start with the Jews, it never ends with the Jews,” Galindo-Elvira said about the need for educating children and the public on the rise of anti-semitic and hateful incidents.

Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joins the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. Jerod has also won awards for his documentary films which have covered issues such as religious tolerance and surveillance technology used by police. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.


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