The Israel Heritage Foundation today called on Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs to dismiss a member of her cabinet who has aligned himself with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and whose social media posts are anti-Israel and antisemitic.
In January 2023, Governor Hobbs named Martin Quezada, who is a former member of both the Arizona State Senate and House of Representatives, as the Registrar of Contractors, which is the agency that licenses and regulates residential and commercial contractors.
As a state lawmaker, Quezada voted against Arizona’s first anti-BDS legislation in 2016, thereby opposing a bill that would prohibit companies with state government contracts from taking part in efforts to boycott the State of Israel.
In addition, Quezada helped organize a screening at the Arizona State Capitol of the 2021 documentary “Boycott,” which is about efforts in three states to challenge anti-BDS laws. Despite criticism from several fellow Democratic lawmakers who urged their colleagues not to attend the screening, noting that BDS is a hate movement aimed at demonizing Israel and that the lawsuits spotlighted in the film were all unsuccessful, Quezada pushed ahead and facilitated the film being shown. In attempting to rationalize his actions, Quezada offered a feeble explanation, claiming that the film “provided some much-needed context of this issue,” while failing to directly address the fact that the underlying premise of the film was blatantly anti-Israel.
Furthermore, Quezada voted against a Holocaust and antisemitism education bill which cited the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and mandated that Arizona schools teach students that claiming Israel does not have a right to exist is antisemitic. Referring to the bill, Quezada minimized its importance by calling it “a strong and a well-funded lobbying effort that’s underway right now to take advantage of this crisis to redefine ‘anti-Semitism’ to include any criticism of the nation-state of Israel.” Quezada also attempted to justify his opposition to the bill by discussing what he termed the “human rights abuses that are happening in Israel right now.”
Moreover, Quezada retweeted a video of Rep. Rashida Tlaib in May 2021 in which she accused Israel of engaging in “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing.” Using the hashtag “#FreePalestine,” which is a slogan through which people call for the elimination of Israel and maintain that Jews have no right to their own state, Quezada urged his Twitter followers to “take 10 minutes” and listen to Congresswoman Tlaib’s remarks. On another occasion, Quezada noted on Twitter that he was “proud to be present today as a friend and an ally to the Palestinian people,” and once again used the hashtag “#FreePalestine,” in response to a tweet that referred to a rally at the Arizona state capitol “to demand that our tax dollars do not go to fund the killing and the forced displacement of the Palestinian people.”
“When it comes to issues pertaining to Israel, Martin Quezada’s troubling track record includes supporting boycotts against Israel and siding with those who openly denigrate the Jewish state,” said Farley Weiss, chairman of the Israel Heritage Foundation. “The anti-Israel sentiments displayed by Martin Quezada and his association with, and approbation of, movements and individuals that unjustly malign Israel should have been a giant red flag and a disqualifying factor in being considered for a cabinet position in Arizona’s executive branch of government. Governor Hobbs needs to make it clear that antisemites have no place in her administration, and we therefore call upon her to dismiss Martin Quezada and replace him with someone who does not harbor feelings of bigotry towards one of the United States’ most important allies.”
Weiss noted that Quezada’s rejection of the IHRA’s working definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted and endorsed by over 1,100 entities around the world, including the United States Department of State, flies in the face of a global effort to combat antisemitism. “By promoting individuals and entities that call for Israel’s elimination, as well as the inherently racist BDS movement that unabashedly applies a double standard when it comes to Israel, Martin Quezada is perpetuating antisemitism and propagating hatred towards Jews. Someone like that should not be given a seat at the table in the Arizona governor’s office.”