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Many cite rise in hatred against Jews, Muslims during Israel-Hamas War, study says

Pew Research study chart

WASHINGTON (BP) – Many Americans believe antisemitism and Islamophobia have increased during the past three years and are especially driven by the Israel-Hamas War, Pew Research said in a study released April 2.

Concurrently, most Americans believe rhetoric supporting or opposing Israeli statehood or Zionism should be allowed, Pew said. But an overwhelming majority, 73 percent, oppose calls for violence against Jews and Muslims.

The share of Americans who believe antisemitism is prevalent doubled from 20 percent in 2021 to 40 percent in 2024; while similar perceptions of Islamophobia rose from 39 percent to 44 percent during the same period.

Jews and Muslims themselves say they sense the hatred, Pew said. Ninety percent of Jews, 70 percent of Muslims and 64 percent of Arabs expressed an increase in discrimination against their respective groups since the war began. Numbers have supported their feelings.

Specifically, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported an “unprecedented” rise in antisemitic incidents – 2,031 – in the first two months of the war, compared to 465 in the same time frame in 2022. At least 1,411 of those incidents could be clearly linked to the war, the ADL said. Similarly, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) received 2,171 requests for help and reports of bias between Oct. 7 and Dec. 2, 2023, a 172 percent increase over a similar period the previous year.

Dan Darling, director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, describes the rising hatred as offensive to God.

“Christians believe every human being is made in the image of God and worthy of dignity and respect,” said Darling, who is also an assistant professor of faith and culture at Texas Baptist College. “To strike out at an image-bearer is to strike out at the image-giver. Christians should show the love of God by respecting our neighbors, especially those with whom we shared deep religious differences, even as we communicate God’s love in Christ toward them.”

Darling expressed dismay at rising antisemitism, saying it reflects an “ancient and persistent” bigotry, and called rising hostilities against Muslims dispiriting to see.

More than 32,900 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip during the war, the Hamas-run Health Ministry said April 3, including seven World Central Kitchen aid workers that Israel said it mistakenly killed April 2 in attacks on Gaza. Other aid groups have suspended food deliveries to the area that the United Nations warns is on the brink of famine. Israel’s death toll includes the 1,200 killed in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that sparked the current war.

Pew conducted its survey Feb. 13-25 among a nationally representative sample of 12,693 adults in the U.S., including an oversample of American Jews and Muslims.

Most respondents said they believe Americans should be free to voice their views, regardless of where they fall, on whether Israel and Palestine should have separate states. The highest percent, 70 percent, said Americans should be allowed to voice opinions in favor of Israeli statehood; followed by 58 percent who approve of free speech for those opposed to Israeli statehood, 66 percent who support free speech for those in favor of Palestinian statehood, and 61 percent favoring free speech for those opposed to Palestinian statehood.

While 73 percent said calls for violence against either group should not be allowed, 10 percent said calls for violence against Jews should be allowed, while 11 percent said calls for violence against Muslims should be allowed; 15 and 16 percent, respectively, were not certain whether calls for violence should be allowed.

The full study is available here.