Many say that Islamophobia and antisemitism is on the rise since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.
When Hamas attacked Israelis on Oct. 7, Israel responded quickly attacking people and places in the Gaza strip.
As a result, hateful rhetoric has ratcheted up with Jews and Muslims fearing for their safety all around the world.
From innocent children dying at the hands of bigots to students on American campuses fearful to venture out, the Israel-Hamas war has shown to many that bigotry is still prevalent on the world stage.
Fabiola Cineas of Vox reported, “Deadly violence in the Middle East is spurring attacks and heightening fear in Muslim, Jewish, and Arab (especially Palestinian) communities across the United States.
“In Illinois, about a week after Hamas militants attacked Israel, a landlord stabbed his tenants, 6-year-old Wadea al-Fayoume and his mother Hanaan Shahin, more than two dozen times for being Muslim, according to police. Only the mother survived and told a relative that the landlord yelled ‘you Muslims must die!’ as he choked her.
“Police opened a hate crime investigation this week after a man in Los Angeles was yelling ‘free Palestine,’ ‘kill Jews,’ ‘brown people matter,’ and ‘Israel kill people,’ and kicked in the back door of a Jewish family’s home and entered.”
Over the past three weeks, Israel’s airstrikes on Gaza have killed over 8,000 Palestinians.
The Gaza Health Ministry says that the majority of those killed were women and children.
Hamas has killed over 1,400 Israelis.
Additionally, Hamas is still holding approximately 200 people hostage.
As the war rages, American law enforcement officials expect hate crimes to increase in number.
Last week, the FBI said, “the volume and frequency of threats to Americans, especially those in the Jewish, Arab American, and Muslim communities in the United States, have increased, raising our concern that violent extremists and lone offenders motivated by or reacting to ongoing events could target these communities.”
A man pulled a gun at pro-Palestinian protestors at the Pennsylvania state capitol, yelling Islamophobic and racist slurs.
Synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in California have experienced vandalism since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war.
In Orange County, Calif., flyers that read “Jews wage war on American freedoms!” were found on vehicles.
In Illinois, a man faces hate crime charges for threatening to shoot two Muslim men and yelling Islamophobic slurs at them.
Additionally, an all-female Muslim school went into a “soft lockdown” after the school got a “threatening hate letter” that celebrated the killing of al-Fayoume.
The letter also included “racist, anti-Palestinian, and anti-Muslim language, and discussed killing Muslims and Palestinians.”
Moreover, a Palestinian-owned restaurant in New York City disconnected their telephone after receiving threatening voicemails for calling for an end to Israel’s apartheid.
Furthermore, the restaurant has gotten flooded with one-star reviews since the Israel-Hamas war began.
A man entered the restaurant over the past week shouting “terrorist” at the restaurant’s employees.
Vox reported, “The FBI’s national hate crimes data is reported on a yearly basis, and the agency has not released specific numbers about the increases they’ve seen in threats and hate crimes against Palestinians, Jews, or Muslims have risen in the past few weeks. Even so, the FBI’s latest hate crimes report, released on October 16, showed that hate crimes were already on the rise in the past year.
“Hate crimes increased by 7 percent in 2022 compared to 2021. Anti-Jewish attacks, the second highest hate crimes category after anti-Black, rose to 1,124 incidents. There were 158 reported anti-Muslim incidents and 92 reported anti-Arab incidents.”
In addition to the increase in hate crimes, experts believe that those numbers are actually an undercount because many police departments opt out of submitting hate crime data to the FBI.
Furthermore, it is sometimes difficult to prove something is in fact a hate crime even though it might seem on the surface to be a hate crime.
Elite college campuses that are often a safe space for debating controversial issues like racism, bigotry and foreign policy have seen many students, Jewish and Muslim, afraid for their safety and fearing for their own mental stability.
Frank S. Pezzella, a criminal justice associate professor at John Jay College, said, “I won’t be surprised if there’s a spike in antisemitism and Islamophobia during this period. When these kinds of world events take place, whether here or abroad, people feel strongly about them. And when people have strong beliefs, they act out. They look at people in their neighborhoods and blame them for what is happening in the Middle East, or they blame all Asian people for what started in Wuhan, China.”
Some say the apparent current increase in hate crimes might lead to a more permanent increase.
Brian Levin, founder of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said, “These kinds of spikes in hate crimes are unlike 20 years ago because they are elongating. We aren’t only seeing a higher number occur, but that increase is resilient and plateaus for longer. Or, after a period when hate crimes have gone down, we sometimes see them reignite like wildfire.”
Many people have compared the Islamophobic rhetoric to the vitriol that many in the Muslim community faced after Sept. 11.
“It is very reminiscent of the early days of post -9/11, where people didn’t want to go outside, they didn’t want to send their kids to school. They’re just worried about being in public and being approached,” said Abed Ayoub, national executive director for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).