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U.S. sees "unprecedented," "staggering" rise in antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents since start of Israel-Hamas war, groups say

College leaders on antisemitism, Islamophobia
How colleges are dealing with antisemitism, Islamophobia on campus 05:06

Reports of antisemitic incidents across the United States have soared in the two months since the deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on Israel sparked a brutal war in the Gaza Strip, according to new data released Monday by the Anti-Defamation League. The group calls the rise "unprecedented."

Reported incidents of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate have also spiked in the U.S. over the same period, according to data from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The Anti-Defamation League said it recorded 2,031 antisemitic incidents nationwide between Oct. 7 and Dec. 7, which is up significantly from 465 incidents during the same two-month period in 2022. The latest numbers represent a 337% increase in reports compared with last year. It is also the highest number of any two-month period since the ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in in 1979. 

Most of the incidents — at least 1,411 — "could be clearly linked to the Israel-Hamas war," according to the group, which describes its mission as working to "stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all," including combatting extremism and other forms of hate both online and offline.

Antisemitic incidents recorded by the ADL over the last two months included 40 reports of physical assault, 337 reports of vandalism, 749 reports of verbal or written harassment, and 905 rallies that involved "antisemitic rhetoric, expressions of support for terrorism against the state of Israel and/or anti-Zionism," the group said, noting that Jewish people across America have experienced an average of almost 34 antisemitic incidents each day since Oct. 7. 

"This terrifying pattern of antisemitic attacks has been relentless since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7, with no signs of diminishing," Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, said in a statement. "The lid to the sewers is off, and Jewish communities all across the country are being inundated with hate. Public officials and college leaders must turn down the temperature and take clear action to show this behavior is unacceptable to prevent more violence."

The Council on American-Islamic Relations released data last week showing that it has received a "staggering" 2,171 complaints of bias incidents or requests for help between Oct. 7 and Dec. 2, amid what it called "an ongoing wave of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate."  

"From Burlington to Chicago to DC and elsewhere, innocent Americans are suffering the consequences of this wave of bigotry," CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. "Until our nation stops the violence in Gaza and rejects bigotry here in America, we fear that both Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian racism will continue to spin out of control."

In Burlington, Vermont, three Palestinian-American college students were shot and wounded on Nov. 25 in what authorities are investigating as a possible hate crime. In the Chicago area, a landlord is charged with murder and hate crimes for a stabbing that killed a 6-year-old Muslim boy and wounded his mother.

Protests and tensions tied to the Israel-Hamas war have divided college campuses, leading to a congressional hearing last week where three university presidents were grilled about how they are handling antisemitism at their schools. Claudine Gay of Harvard University, Liz Magill of the University of Pennsylvania and Sally Kornbluth of MIT testified before lawmakers who pressed them on action to condemn anti-Jewish sentiment. Magill tendered her resignation over the weekend.

The ADL's new data includes 400 incidents on college and university campuses over the last two months, compared with 33 incidents during the same period last year. 

The group recorded 250 antisemitic incidents that specifically targeted Jewish institutions, like campus Hillels and synagogues. 

The ADL data also noted the case of a Jewish man who sustained a head injury and died following an encounter with a pro-Palestinian demonstrator at a protest in Los Angeles last month. The other man is facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter and has pleaded not guilty

The ADL cited an increase in reports of vandalism and harassment targeting Jewish or Israeli businesses, as well, including an incident in Philadelphia earlier this month where a crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters chanted outside an Israeli-Jewish owned restaurant accusing the establishment of "genocide." Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro denounced the demonstration as "a blatant act of antisemitism."

"Vandalism of a Jewish business isn't political protest — it's antisemitism and it's criminal," said Greenblatt. "Boycotts have historically targeted the Jewish community at times of crisis, and it's alarming that it's happening again now."

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