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Anti-Arab And Islamophobic Hate Crimes On The Rise In The US

Above photo: Three Palestinian students were shot in a hate crime in Vermont on Saturday. Institute for Middle East Understanding.

Amidst Israel’s War On Gaza.

Across the United States, Arabs, Palestinians, and Muslims are experiencing a rise in racist attacks, fueled by mainstream rhetoric.

This Saturday, three young Palestinian men, ​​Hisham Awartani, Tahseen Ali, and Kenan Abdulhamid were shot in Vermont. The three men, all college students, were shot at four times by 48-year-old Jason J. Eaton. They were speaking Arabic and two of them were wearing Palestinian keffiyehs. All three of the shooting victims are 20 years old.

This comes shortly after three separate videos went viral of former State Department official Stuart Seldowitz harassing an Egyptian halal cart worker with vile Islamophobic and racist remarks. “Did you rape your daughter like Mohammed did?” Seldowitz asked the worker. Seldowitz also threatened to report the worker to the Egyptian intelligence services, telling the worker that the Egyptian government will “get your parents.”

“Does your father like his fingernails? They will take them out one by one,” he told the worker. In a separate video of Seldowitz harassing a worker at the same halal cart, he says, “if we killed 4,000 Palestinian children, you know what, it wasn’t enough.” Seldowitz previously served as deputy director of the US State Department’s Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs.

Seldowitz has since been arrested and charged with aggravated harassment, hate crime and two counts of stalking. The former US government official claimed in a New York Times interview that the food cart vendor had expressed support for Hamas, although he mentioned no such claims in any of the three recorded videos.

These two incidents take place in the context of increased anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian being propagated in the mainstream media, say pro-Palestinian groups. In a recent statement of the Shut It Down for Palestine Coalition, the People’s Forum, Palestinian Youth Movement, and the ANSWER Coalition write, “This is the latest in a series of escalating harassment and attacks against Arab and Muslim people across the United States that is being instigated by the White House, mainstream media, and universities, all of which have supported the US-backed genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

The Party for Socialism and Liberation stated, “We are outraged at this attack, and cannot avoid the conclusion that this crime is a result of the climate of anti- Palestinian hate perpetuated by corporate media and politicians.”

According to these groups, the White House’s and mainstream media’s statements around Hamas “terrorism,” such as circulating unsubstantiated stories of mass rapes or baby killings, have contributed to whipping up racist sentiments in the US public.

The families of the three young men shot in Vermont also released a statement, saying “As parents of Palestinian children, we fear for the safety of our families as US media and even elected officials from the highest levels of the government have repeated racist and dehumanizing language in recent weeks, contributing to an environment of heightened racism and violence towards Palestinians and Arabs. This hateful rhetoric emboldens people to act with violence.”

These two incidents, including the fatal stabbing of a 6-year-old Palestinian boy by his landlord in Illinois, a hate crime which happened in October, are some of the more high profile anti-Muslim and anti-Arab attacks that have occurred since the beginning of Israel’s war on Gaza. From October 7 to October 24, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported a 182% jump in reports of bias incidents and requests for help from Muslims across the country, from the average 16-day period in 2022.

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