An individual from the community, who identified herself as Melanie Rettler, accused “the Jews” of being responsible for COVID vaccines and running a shadow government in Washington, D.C. during an October 27th Chandler Unified School District board meeting.
Speaking about critical race theory and vaccines — topics not listed on the meeting agenda or discussed by the board — Rettler talked discursively for over a minute before blaming a number of the country’s problems on the Jewish “race:”
“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. 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.”
Rettler walked away and board president Barb Mozdzen addressed everybody in the room: “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.”
Some Jewish organizations expressed outrage that Mozdzen and other board members didn’t respond more strongly.
Immediately after Interim Superintendent Franklin Narducci learned of what happened at the board meeting, he got in touch with representatives of the Jewish community. Rabbi Michael Beyo, CEO of the East Valley Jewish Community Center, said he is pleased and grateful that Narducci sought to collaborate.
“An ignorant person made an antisemitic comment. That’s not newsworthy. What is important is that the superintendent canceled all of his meetings yesterday, in order to deal with this. I dealt with this. I got other people involved to deal with this; this is what is important,” Beyo said.
Narducci collaborated with Beyo to craft a statement that condemned hate speech and denounced the antisemitic statements. “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. Chandler Unified School District denounces hate speech at all levels.”
Beyo’s statement applauded the district governing board, administration and Narducci for “leading by example and speaking out against the hatred of all people.”
Paul Rockower, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, was also in direct contact with Narducci and praised the district’s outreach to and collaboration with the Jewish community.
“The school took ownership of the issue and was in touch immediately with the Jewish community to immediately take a stand on this issue,” he said. “We are grateful for taking this issue seriously and handling it directly and we appreciate their partnership in fighting against hate.”