Arizona saw high level of antisemitic incidents in 2022, ADL says


Data: Anti-Defamation League; Note: The count includes criminal and non-criminal incidents (defined as vandalism of property, or as harassment or assault on individuals and/or groups) reported to the ADL by victims, law enforcement, the media and partner organizations; Chart: Axios Visuals

Antisemitic incidents reported to the Anti-Defamation League remained alarmingly high last year, according to a new report.

Why it matters: In 2021, ADL reported 56 incidents in Arizona — a 155% jump from 2020 and the highest count since the ADL began tracking in 1979.

  • Last year, 53 incidents were recorded.

The big picture: The surge in antisemitic cases comes as the FBI and human rights groups express concern about the rising number of hate crimes across the U.S. — and amid concerns that some public officials and social media influencers are fueling the problem by normalizing incendiary rhetoric, Axios’ Russell Contreras reports.

  • The reported figures are likely an understatement: A rising number of law enforcement agencies are opting not to share hate crime statistics with the FBI.

Of note: The ADL found activity doubled among organized white supremacist groups nationwide, which were linked to 852 incidents of distributing antisemitic propaganda.

What they’re saying: “We have the data to show that antisemitic language can and does normalize other acts of violence against the Jewish community,” ADL Arizona community manager Sarah Kader tells Axios Phoenix.

By the numbers: Last year, 35 cases of harassment, 17 acts of vandalism and one assault were reported in Arizona.

Zoom in: The only fatal antisemitic attack in the U.S. last year occurred in Tucson when UofA professor Thomas Meixner was shot and killed on campus.

  • The former student accused of killing Meixner allegedly targeted him in part because he believed the professor was Jewish. The student had expressed conspiratorial antisemitic beliefs online, according to the ADL.

What’s next: ADL Arizona and the Arizona Faith Network are pushing a state bill that would establish a $5 million grant program to offer security for nonprofits at risk of hate crimes — notably synagogues, churches and mosques.

  • SB1713 passed the Senate with bipartisan support and is awaiting action in the House.
  • Kader says she hears regularly from Jewish clergy who receive legitimate threats but don’t have the money to provide security at synagogues.

Flashback: A British national held four people hostage in a Texas synagogue in January 2022 after the synagogue’s 10am Shabbat services.

  • The 10-plus-hour standoff resulted in more anxiety within the Jewish community across the county, just a few years after the Tree of Life synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.

The bottom line: “No city or state is immune to hate. There is a critical need for Jewish and non-Jewish people to rally and speak out and show strength in face of antisemitism and hate,” Kader says.