On Aug. 9, officials with ADOT say they will be doing a full review of custom license plates in Arizona.
The Jewish advocacy group ‘StopAntisemitism’ first posted a photo of an Arizona license plate to its page on Twitter.
One of the letters in the offending word was replaced with the number ‘1,’ but the word looks similar to a word that, according to the American Jewish Committee (discretion advised), is an offensive, derogatory term for a Jewish person.
The term is “a highly offensive term used to insult and denigrate people of Jewish faith or ethnicity that is widely considered to be a form of hate speech.”
“Not only an antisemitic slur, but a very well known antisemitic slur was, in America, in 2023, approved by Arizona Department of Transportation,” said Liora Rez with StopAntisemitism.
One theory on how the term came to be can be tracked back to the Yiddish word for ‘circle,’ as a reference to how Jewish immigrants signed their entry forms at Ellis Island upon arriving to the United States.
Reportedly, Jewish immigrants would sign their forms with a circle instead of an ‘X,’ which they associate with the cross of Christianity. Immigration officers would later describe immigrants who signed firms with a circle as “kikel,” which was later shortened into the offensive term.
Arizona Department of Transportation officials say they will be conducting a full review of custom license plates in Arizona, after we were alerted to a license plate that contains a known antisemitic slur. FOX 10’s Steve Nielsen reports.
In a statement, ADOT officials wrote: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have confirmed this is an Arizona plate and note that the customization request involved the commonly used diminutive of the given name Enrique. Given the understandable concern raised by a constituent, ADOT will revoke the plate. ADOT reviews proposed plate customizations with a goal of weeding out offensive terms in the letter and number combinations. We use instances such as this to review and improve this process.”
“It could be just a situation where it was just somebody’s nickname, but in the Jewish community and in the world of white supremacists, this is a very well known antisemitic slur, so it’s very important when we see something problematic, we call it out,” said Rez.