Fighting anti-Semitism: Arizona’s Ducey signs Holocaust education bill into law

Ducey called the bill “a step in the right direction to fight antisemitism.”
Doug Ducey

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation requiring students to learn about the Holocaust and other genocides at least twice between the seventh and 12th grades.

“Arizona will continue to stand with and support the Jewish community,” Ducey said in a press release. “This bill works to educate our youth on the atrocities of the Holocaust and other genocides. Tragedies like this must never be allowed to happen again.”

Ducey called the bill “a step in the right direction to fight antisemitism” and wrote that the state would continue to fight against the recent rise of anti-semitic violence. He cited the incidents of antisemitism in Queen Creek, Chandler, and the Chabad on River Synagogue in Tucson.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were over 2,000 incidents of antisemitism around the country and 23 incidents in Arizona in 2020, with 10 more in Arizona this year.

The governor’s office referenced a 2019 Pew Research Center study that revealed that fewer than half of respondents could correctly answer multiple-choice questions about the 6 million lives tragically lost during the Holocaust.

Signed Friday, the bill was introduced by state Rep. Alma Hernandez, D-Tucson, and passed the Legislature on June 30.

“This legislation is an important step to honor both those lost in the Holocaust and the survivors who have worked tirelessly to tell their stories,” Hernandez said. “Knowing that all Arizona students will learn about the Holocaust gives me hope. We must teach the atrocities of the past to ensure it never happens again.”

Hernandez said the passing of the bill was her proudest moment as both “an elected official and a Jew in Arizona.”

Sheryl Bronkesh, president of the Phoenix Holocaust Association (PHA), said in a press release that the goal of HB 2241 was to teach Arizona students “to become upstanders, not bystanders, so that when students see bigotry and hatred, they will understand what those ramifications could mean down the road.”

“Many Holocaust survivors testified over the past three years before various state committees about the importance of teaching the lessons of the Holocaust,” Bronkesh told The Center Square. “PHA worked with all three state universities to develop resources for teachers which can be accessed via the Arizona Department of Education website.”