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Peace advocate working to bridge divide to reduce threats against Jews, Muslims

Peace advocate working to bridge the divide to reduce threats against Jews, Muslims
Peace advocate working to bridge the divide to reduce threats against Jews, Muslims 03:32

MIAMI - As the conflict between Israel and Hamas intensifies, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a stark warning of increasing antisemitic and Islamophobic hate attacks. Specifically, the department said, "Escalations in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas almost certainly will increase the threat of terrorism and targeted violence" in the United States.

CBS News Miami talked with a passionate advocate for unity and peace in times of war.

"Unity is absolutely necessary right now, Nikki Morse said.

Morse proudly displays the Palestinian flag in support of the Palestinian people, even though they are Jewish. They actively collaborate with Jewish Voices for Peace, emphasizing, "For me personally, the experiences I have organizing with Palestinians, Muslims, Arabs, and others who are in solidarity with Palestine have been some of the most affirming, life-giving experiences I've had in the last 10 years."

Morse and others stress that without attempts to bridge the divide, there is a legitimate concern that hate will continue to grow. The FBI is already tracking an increase in threats against Jews and Muslims, making it a pressing issue.

Sarah Emmons of the Anti-Defamation League Florida notes that antisemitic incidents were surging even before the start of Israel's declaration of war on Hamas. In 2022, the FBI reported 1,124 anti-Jewish hate crimes, marking a 36% increase from 2021.

Emmons stated, "What we do know nationally is that in the period between October 7th and October 18th, we've already seen a 54% increase in antisemitic incidents reported."

"We're getting two different calls, the main ones are from people being intimidated, or even assaulted.  We've received calls of vandalism," Omar Saleh, CAIR Civil Rights Managing Attorney said.

The surge in hate crimes also affects Muslims. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Florida reports an increasing number of daily incidents, highlighting the need to address the issue.

Saleh pointed out that some are expressing prejudices towards members of the Islamic faith and wrongly associate Palestinians and Arabs with terrorists. Reports include intimidation, assault, and vandalism.

FBI data also reveals that anti-Muslim crimes were on the rise even before the conflict erupted, with 158 incidents in 2022, marking a 3% increase from 2021. However, CAIR emphasizes that the number of cases they handle is higher than these official statistics.  Saleh told CBS News Miami, it was 378 in 2022.

"What's in our report is really an underestimation of the actual calls we get," Saleh added.

Experts attribute this increase to various factors, including politics and economic downturn. They also point to the proliferation of misinformation and conspiracy theories online as contributing to rising tensions.

In these challenging times, Nikki Morse collaborates with Jews and Muslims to transform conflict into hope for a resolution. They believe "Within living memory, Jews, Palestinians, Arabs lived together in the land that we call Israel, Palestine, in peace, in harmony. That was possible."

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