Committee condemns antisemitism, mulls what Arizona legislators can do

Jewish faculty college students at Arizona
universities have confronted elevated antisemitism on campus within the two
months since Hamas’s brutal Oct. 7 shock assault on Israel that left greater than 1,400 lifeless and 240 kidnapped prompted a violent response from Israel. 

On Tuesday, a gaggle of Republican and Democratic Arizona legislators who make up the Committee on Anti Semitism in Training
heard from native and worldwide members of the Jewish neighborhood
about what’s occurring presently in Ok-12 faculties and universities within the
state — and potential avenues to fight antisemitism. 

Arizona State College pupil
Aleeza Feffer shared her expertise strolling on campus on the afternoon
of Oct. 18, whereas carrying a shirt that learn “I really like being Jewish,” which
she mentioned she’d worn on campus many occasions earlier than. 

Feffer mentioned she was approached by a
group of males who started chanting “Free Palestine” and “Allahu Akbar” and
different phrases in Arabic that she didn’t perceive, Feffer advised the

She put her head down and stored strolling to keep away from confrontation. 

“From that time on, I felt it was unsafe to stroll alone on campus as a Jewish girl,” Feffer mentioned.

Feffer mentioned she emailed Lance Herrop,
ASU’s affiliate dean of scholars, to debate learn how to hold Jewish
college students secure on campus, however obtained a response from his intern that
she mentioned was stuffed with grammatical errors and he or she felt like her points
had been “tossed to the facet” and never taken severely. 

She contacted him a second time, however mentioned she had not obtained a response. 

Throughout a pupil walkout that included College students for Justice in Palestine in addition to different teams, college students met on the middle of the Tempe campus and chanted “from the river to the ocean” and known as for an intifada, Feffer mentioned. 

She added that this made her really feel
unsafe, as a result of in her eyes, in addition to these of many different Jewish
folks, these statements name for the elimination of Israel and its

After the protest, she met with
Cassandra Aska, deputy vice chairman and dean of scholars at ASU’s
Tempe campus. The 2 spoke for about an hour, however Feffer mentioned that Aska
advised her there was nothing she may do. 

Throughout a Nov. 14 assembly of ASU’s
pupil Senate, Feffer mentioned that different college students heckled her and laughed
when she shared that she was afraid to put on her “I really like being Jewish”
t-shirt. That very same assembly ended after somebody threw rocks at a window and Jewish college students needed to be escorted out by ASU Chief of Police Michael Thompson. 

Feffer mentioned she later spoke with
Thompson about her experiences on campus since Oct. 7 and her issues
about security for Jewish college students. 

Whereas she mentioned that Thompson was
in the end useful and supportive of Jewish college students, he additionally advised her
that if she wore her “I really like being Jewish” repeatedly, she ought to count on
to obtain flak and that she was “asking for it.” 

Jerry Gonzalez, an ASU spokesman,
advised the Arizona Mirror Tuesday afternoon that the college was nonetheless
working to grasp the complete story surrounding Thompson’s remark, however
that it appeared “that it’s out of context.”

Gonzalez advised the Mirror that any pupil with security issues ought to contact campus police. 

“ASU opposes antisemitic rhetoric and
acts of intimidation whether or not they happen on our campuses, or within the
neighborhood,” Gonzalez advised the Mirror in an emailed assertion. “The
college and President Michael Crow have been very clear about this

Gonzalez added that ASU is conscious that some protesters chanted “free Palestine” after seeing Feffer’s shirt. 

“The college doesn’t know the
identification of the protesters concerned,” Gonzalez mentioned. “We’ve got offered
help to and can proceed to satisfy with the involved college students.”

Feffer mentioned it’s troublesome for her
and different Jewish college students to give attention to their research after they don’t really feel
secure on campus, and he or she requested the legislators to assist Arizona
universities draw the road between free speech and hate speech. 

The listening to, which lasted round 5
hours, featured a variety of audio system and material, together with
the historical past of Israel and corresponding worldwide legislation, state Rep.
Barbara Parker’s harrowing expertise hiding out in a secure room in
Israel on Oct. 7 and within the days that adopted, and the ways in which Hamas
reportedly works to infiltrate pupil teams in the US to
help organizations like SJP and promote antisemitic rhetoric. 

However a lot of the main focus of the listening to
was on strolling the high-quality line that lots of the legislators agreed that
separates free speech and hate speech. 

Rep. Alexander Kolodin, a Scottsdale
Republican who’s Jewish, mentioned whereas he hates the individuals who spew
antisemitic rhetoric, as a free speech absolutist, he’ll at all times combat
for his or her proper to take action. 

“This can be a nation the place, so as
for me to be free, I’ve to guard their proper to say issues that I
hate,” he mentioned, making it clear that he believes hate speech is
protected by the First Modification. 

Kolodin added that he could be open
to pulling funding from pupil teams who specific antisemitism as properly
as not permitting pupil exercise charges to go to these teams. He additionally
espoused the controversial view that college students needs to be free to hold
weapons on campus to guard themselves. Arizona legislation presently bans
firearms on faculty grounds.

Rabbi Pinchas Allouche, who based Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, advised the committee there was a 388% enhance in incidences of antisemitism
in the US in comparison with the identical time a yr in the past. And a few of
these occurred in Arizona, together with to Jewish pupil at Desert
Mountain Excessive Faculty who was attacked on campus due to his religion and
lineage, Allouche mentioned. 

“We’re hated for our race,” Allouche mentioned. “We’re hated for our state. However make no mistake, anti-Zionism is antisemitism.” 

He inspired the members of the
committee to do every thing of their energy to “eradicate most cancers of
antisemitism,” asking folks of all faiths and backgrounds to step up. 

He known as chants of “from the river
to the ocean” “genocidal” and mentioned even the questioning of Israel’s proper
to exist was “nothing however pure evil, disgusting and insupportable

He urged the committee members to
cross laws that bans antisemitism and Jewish hatred from each
platform in Arizona, together with from campuses, newspapers and social
media — even in conversations.

He added that it wasn’t Jews alone who suffered below Hitler and Stalin. 

“Antisemitism is the world’s most
dependable warning signal of a significant risk to freedom,” Allouche mentioned,
quoting Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. 

Kolodin notably didn’t reply
on to Allouche’s name for censorship of hate speech in newspapers
and on social media. Earlier this yr, because the chair of the state Home’s Committee on Oversight, Accountability and Large Tech, Kolodin contemplated whether or not the legislature may cease the federal government from censoring free speech
on social media, in response to an effort by then-Secretary of State
Katie Hobbs to work with social media shops to cease the unfold of
election misinformation. 

Emily Winkler, a Jewish American who
now lives in Israel, spoke to the committee in regards to the enhance in
antisemitism everywhere in the world up to now 15 years, in addition to the
steep spike since Oct. 7. 

“The world right this moment could be very totally different in our eyes than it was only a few months in the past,” she mentioned. 

Winkler mentioned that, after dwelling in
Israel post-Oct. 7, it was a battle to hearken to committee members
speak in regards to the line between free speech and hate speech. 

“It’s been very troublesome to swallow
right this moment,” she mentioned. “Whenever you so blatantly threaten to harm, to homicide, to
rape, to destroy a complete folks group, it’s truly not a query,
not in our minds and never in accordance with the laws that already
exists on this nation.”

She added that the FBI definition of
terrorism consists of making threats of violence, and he or she believes that
anybody making threats of violence towards Jewish folks needs to be held

All through the listening to, not one of the members talked about the 17,487 Palestinians
who’ve reportedly been killed in Israel’s response to the Oct. 7
assault, in accordance with the Gaza Well being Ministry, which is run by Hamas. 

The committee’s chairman, Rep. David
Livingston, R-Peoria, requested his colleagues and people current to mull
over what sorts of laws they wish to see come out of the
assembly, specializing in freedom of speech and guaranteeing everybody in Arizona
is handled equally no matter their race or faith.