Paul Rockower addresses rising antisemitism in Arizona

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Arizona and the rest of the nation have seen a significant increase in incidents of antisemitism. Why is this happening, and what can be done about it? We asked Paul Rockower, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix.

“It’s a good question, and it’s a question that the Jewish community is grappling with, but I don’t think that the statistic can really quite share the degree of insecurity and vulnerability that we’re feeling,” Rockower said. “It’s a difficult time for the Jewish community with the increase in anti-Semitic acts.”

Rockower stressed that it’s not only the Jewish community that is being affected by this.

“We’re not the only vulnerable community here in Arizona. It’s been a hard time for a lot of communities,” Rockower said. “We band together with a lot of vulnerable communities to deal with antisemitism, islamophobia, and various racist systemic issues. ”

Antisemitism has seen a steady rise for years, but increasing political polarization around issues like COVID has “supercharged” it, Rockower said. Additionally, the growth of white nationalism, and the spread of conspiracy theories and radical ideologies through social media have contributed as well.

“Really, the Jewish community is the canary in the coal mine when it comes to civil society,” Rockower said. “When we see spikes in antisemitism, it’s really a sign that civil society is in a more dangerous, more precarious place, and you see that through conspiracy theories, and you see that through all sorts of things related to COVID.”

According to Rockower, antisemitism “never really quite went away,” but there have been several recent victories for the Jewish community in Arizona, such as a Holocaust education bill that requires the Holocaust and other genocides to be taught at least twice in grades 7-12.




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