By: Justin Zulu
Since Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, anti-semitism and Islamophobia have risen about 400% in the United States in the past month.
In Illinois, a landlord stabbed his tenants, 6-year-old Wadea al-Fayoume and his mother Hanaan Shain over a dozen times for being Muslim.
At Cornell University, former student Patrick Dai was expelled and faces federal charges after posting online threats on an online Greek forum late last month to kill Jewish students on campus.
On Oct. 24, the Anti-Defamation League, the main source of tracking anti-semetic incidents, released a statement stating that there were 312 anti-semitic incidents in a two week period (Oct. 7-23), 190 of which were directly linked to the war in Gaza. For comparison, the organization received reports of 64 incidents during the same period last year.
When will the discrimination end?
It all unfortunately serves as a disgusting reminder that our nation’s identity is more divided and fractured than ever. Events such as the murder of George Floyd and the January 6 insurrection have caused further hatred and division between the American people. Instead of bringing us together to achieve a common goal of eliminating hate, community members continue to pit themselves against each other.
The Israel-Hamas war has been no different. The conflict should have given Americans the impetus to ensure that members of our Jewish and Islamic community in our country feel safe and supported. Instead, as we have seen in some schools and college campuses, any form of discrimination towards them is unwarranted and unjustified.
Somehow, still, many people fail to see past barriers such as race, gender, religion, and creed. They easily forget that we were all made equally and that just because there are many people in the world who have differences; ones that make them unique and should never provide the grounds for discrimination.
What has transpired? How have we gotten here?
In early October 2023, war broke out between Israel and Hamas, the militant Islamist group that has controlled Gaza since 2006. Hamas fighters fired rockets into Israel and stormed southern Israeli cities and towns across the border of the Gaza strip, killing and injuring hundreds of soldiers and civilians and taking dozens of countries.
One day after the October 7 attack, the Israeli cabinet formally declared war against Hamas, followed by an order from the defense minister to the Israeli Defense Forces to carry out a “complete siege” of Gaza.
Since then the two sides have constantly traded rocket fire, and the war escalated so much that Israel ordered over one million Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate ahead of a possible ground assault.
Friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor, community against community. The conflict has only worsened tensions between Jewish people and Muslims. But the war is just the latest event in a long and complicated history between the groups.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict dates back to the end of the 19th century. In 1947, the United Nations adopted Resolution 181, which sought to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into Arab and Jewsih states. On May 14th the State of Israel was created, sparking the first Arab-Israeli war. The war ended in 1949 with Israel’s victory, but 750,000 Palestinians were displaced, and the territory was divided into 3 parts.
Over the following years tensions rose in the region, primarily between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The following decades have seen invasions, surprise attacks, and the rise of terrorist groups, worsening the conflicts between the two sides.
The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
It is our job as Americans to ensure that our community members are enjoying these God-given rights. Hate takes away the happiness that everyone deserves. The only way we can be a strong unified nation is if we band together to condemn hate. Setting up hotlines for those receiving hate, signing petitions, and supporting human rights organizations like UNICEF, are all great starts, and there are so many that already do, but we also must be willing to consider our own individual humanity and assess the extent to which we act that perpetuates or dismantles hate and discrimination.