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March 27, 2019 2:08 pm

Arizona Chabad House Defaced With Swastikas by Unidentified Vandals

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Antisemitic graffiti (illustrative photo). Photo: CIDI.

A Chabad center in Flagstaff, Arizona, was the target of a nighttime hate crime last weekend, with the premises vandalized with Nazi symbols.

Unidentified individuals broke into Chabad of Flagstaff’s Molly Blank Jewish Community Center, which is currently under construction, and vandalized the premises, smearing swastikas on to the windows and etching them into the walls.

Sergeant Charles Hernandez, a police spokesman, said the incident was “defiantly alarming.” Police are treating it as a hate crime.

Democratic Congressman Tom O’Halleran, whose district includes Flagstaff, tweeted, “I’m appalled to see this despicable attack against the Jewish community in Flagstaff. This hatred has no place in AZ or in any community in our nation. We must come together to support our neighbors & ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.”

“With the shock that comes with it is the resolve that it brings,” Rabbi Dovie Shapiro of Chabad of Flagstaff told the Arizona Daily Sun, “This is not going to deter us, it’s only going to make us stronger and bring the community together even more. This facility is very open, we are here to be a positive light in the community and open our doors to everyone, it doesn’t matter what your background is.”

“It was extremely disturbing,” Shapiro said of the incident. “I always thought that it wouldn’t happen here in Flagstaff. It was just sad to hear. We all know that there are people who have hate in their hearts and its antisemitism is still out there in the world.”

Defending the Flagstaff community, Shapiro said, “We have never experienced antisemitism. Not as an organization, not as individuals, and Flagstaff is just such a welcoming, warm community. Hearing this, that people came through vandalizing the place, threw things all over the place, made swastikas, that was a shock.”

Asked about the importance of security for the Jewish community, Shapiro stated, “It’s been a concern for all of us in the community. We take security very seriously.”

Connecting the incident to a larger phenomenon, Shapiro added, “There’s been a rise of antisemitism and it’s pretty clear. It’s unfortunate and it’s sad to see a culture like that rising in America, but again I like to believe Flagstaff is different.”

“It’s a reality, there is hate out there,” he said. “People hate for no reason whatsoever. We try to come up with reasons why people hate and I think it’s a disease, a spiritual disease. People have an inner hatred for people that are not like them, for people they don’t understand. Unfortunately, we live in a culture where killing and even vandalism, it’s part of the culture. It’s entertainment.”

“How do you combat that?” he asked. “You combat that with love for no reason. We are so used to loving for something in return, giving for something in return. If we can just love for no reason whatsoever, that’s how you combat the forces of hate in the world.”

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