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November 2, 2021 4:53 pm
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Arizona Jewish Community Rebukes ‘It’s the Jews’ Rant at Local School Board Meeting

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Chandler High School. Photo Credit: Tony the Marine (talk) / Wikimedia Commons

An Arizona Jewish group called on a Phoenix-area school district to condemn a bizarre antisemitic rant delivered during a school board meeting last week, drawing a new response from local officials.

Queen Creek resident Melanie Rettle accused “the Jews” of plotting to deploy ineffective COVID-19 vaccines and causing inflation, according to a Jewish News of Greater Phoenix reportduring an Oct. 27 Chandler Unified School District school board meeting.

“If you want to talk about racism, if you want to bring it in, then let’s bring it in. Let’s get to the bottom of it. We’re talking about white supremacy. OK, let’s get to the very bottom of it,” the woman said.

“Every one of these things, the deep state, the cabal, the swamp, the elite — you can’t mention it, but I will — there is one race that owns all the pharmaceutical companies and these vaccines aren’t safe, they aren’t effective and they aren’t free. You know that you’re paying for it through the increase in gas prices, the increase in food prices — you’re paying for this and it’s being taken from your money and being given to these pharmaceutical companies, and if you want to bring race into this: it’s the Jews.”

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After Rettler surrendered the floor amid applause from several audience members, board president Bob Mozdzen said, “Comments really need to be related to what the school board can do something about, and this was not something we can do something about. So please have your comments with something that is within our jurisdiction.”

In an letter the following day, the Arizona chapter of the Anti-Defamation League said that the official’s rebuke of the woman failed to meet the severity of the remarks made.

“The lack of response from Board members to last night’s public speaker who used blatant antisemitic tropes and stereotypes to promote anti-vaccine and anti-CRT views is simply appalling and dangerous,” wrote Marc Krell, Associate Regional Director of ADL Arizona in an open letter.

“When we allow the use of antisemitic tropes to make false accusations and detract from the truth, we are no longer fostering a safe and inclusive climate for students, educators, and administrators.”

Chandler Unified School District spokesperson Terry Locke told Arizona Central on Monday that the board had no time to interrupt Rettler’s most offensive comments, which, he added, were a shocking conclusion to a 90-second rant.

The incident has now touched off a local discussion about the appropriate fodder for school board meetings — the subject of a recent Department of Justice pledge to monitor a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against public school teachers and district officials.

Speaking to the Jewish News Friday, Rabbi Michel Beyo, CEO of the East Valley Jewish Community Center, said he had been contacted by Chandler Unified School District Interim Superintendent Franklin Narducci to help draft a statement to the community, and commended their ultimate response.

“We strongly denounce the antisemitic statement made. All Chandler Unified School District students, staff, and community members deserve to feel safe, respected and valued,” said Narducci’s statement, issued on October 28.

“The district reaffirms its commitment to use its influence as a public educational institution to teach students the value of an inclusive community and give them the tools to engage in our increasingly diverse society.”

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