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Spike in Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents and crimes

By Jack Levy, Staff Writer

Courtesy of Wally Skalij

Since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas War on Oct. 7, the amount of crimes and incidents motivated by antisemitism and islamophobia have noticeably increased.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, there were 312 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23, with 190 of those incidents being directly related to the war in Israel and Gaza. This has added up to a 388 percent increase since the start of the conflict.

There have also been a notable amount of Islamophobic crimes and incidents since the start of the war. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported 1,283 requests for help or reports of bias since Oct. 7, which reflects a 216 percent increase from 2022.

One specific example of ongoing antisemitic incidents has been the removal of posters of various hostages taken by Hamas during the war. 

“There’s no valid reason to take down posters of hostages regardless of what side you’re on,” junior finance major Jake Shaw said. “Why would you want to hide the fact that hostages were taken unless you want to cover up what Hamas is doing? A lot of these posters are being put up by the families of hostages to raise awareness and regardless of what you think about Israel, it’s really hateful to take them down. Those hostages have no say in what Israel does.”

Organizations in support of Palestine have used imagery of men hang gliding in reference to the Hamas militants who landed at a music festival in Israel and killed more than 260 Israelis. Though many have since deleted these images and apologized.

Additionally, on Nov. 6, Paul Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man, was hit with a megaphone at a Pro-Israel rally by a counter-protester. Kessler hit his head on the sidewalk as a result of the hit and died.

Islamophobic crimes have also occurred in alarming numbers. On Oct. 16, a 6-year-old Muslim child was stabbed over 20 times and killed by a 71-year-old man in Chicago. According to authorities, the boy was stabbed because he was Muslim and the man has been arrested for a hate crime.

“Nobody should be killed for their religion anywhere. This is America and we have freedom of religion. And a 6-year-old probably doesn’t even know what Israel and Palestine are,” Deniz Kavi, a Muslim student from the University of Connecticut said. “This war has brought out the worst in people and we’re seeing how hateful people can be.”

Additionally, on Oct. 14, a man pulled up to a Pro-Palestine rally at the Pennsylvania Capitol Building and shouted Islamophobic and racist slurs before pulling out a gun and pointing it at protesters.

Many more anti-Muslim crimes have also occurred since the start of the war. This spike in Islamophobic crime is similar to the spike in unjustified Islamophobic and anti-Arab crimes that occurred after the 9/11 Terrorist Attack.

These crimes have prompted an increased police presence at mosques and synagogues and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has stated that “Targeted violence attacks may increase as the conflict progresses.”

Since the start of the war, both the Muslim and Jewish communities have had to deal with constant threats. Violence against both groups has occurred in the United States and abroad.

In response to these incidents, the Biden Administration has announced the National Strategy to Counter Anti-Semitism and the National Strategy to Combat Islamophobia. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement, “Moving forward, the President, Vice President and our entire Administration will continue working to ensure every American has the freedom to live their lives in safety and without fear for how they pray, what they believe and who they are.”

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