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U.S. Politics and Policy During the Israel-Hamas Conflict: Part 1

November 21, 2023 by Scot Wilson

This is the first in a series of posts that will explore complex domestic policy, foreign policy, and global issues connected to the Israel-Hamas conflict. In the United States, there has been significant discussion and debate about what to do, both in terms of foreign policy and on the domestic front. In this series, we will examine rising antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate in the U.S., evaluate what the United States could and should do in the Middle East from multiple perspectives, and examine the impact the conflict is having on the United States as it navigates issues in the region and around the world.


It has been over a month since Hamas executed a terrorist attack in Israel that killed over 1,200 people.1 (Initial reports put the death toll at over 1,400, but in early November, the Israeli government revised “the official number of people” killed by Hamas.2) In addition to those killed, Hamas took at least 150 hostages whom they are now holding in Gaza.3 Footage and reporting from October 7—including footage shot by Hamas itself—shows that Hamas militants committed rape and other acts of sexual violence during the attack.4 In the weeks since the terrorist attack, Israel has conducted a military campaign against Hamas in Gaza that has included bombing; blockading the city to cut off food, medical supplies, power, and communication; and sending ground troops to raid suspected Hamas strongholds.5 Gaza’s Health Ministry, which is run by Hamas, claims that over 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, with the majority of those killed being women and children.6

The conflict has spurred antisemitic and anti-Muslim responses in the United States and many other nations around the globe. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, antisemitism is defined as prejudice against or hatred of Jews.7

For more resources that explain and explore antisemitism, see:

Islamophobia, or anti-Muslim hate, is “an extreme fear of and hostility toward Islam and Muslims which often leads to hate speech, hate crimes, as well as social and political discrimination,” according to Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative.

For more resources that explain and explore Islamophobia, see:

Both antisemitic and anti-Muslim hate speech have been on the rise on social media platforms since the October 7 terrorist attacks. According to the New York Times, “Antisemitic content soared more than 919 percent on X and 28 percent on Facebook in the month since Oct. 7, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group. Anti-Muslim hate speech on X jumped 422 percent on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8, and rose 297 percent over the next five days, said the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based political advocacy group.”

In addition to the online hate and incivility, biased anti-Muslim and Jewish incidents are also increasing in the United States. It is difficult to track bias incidents and hate crimes at the national level because of the ways that local law enforcement agencies gather and share such information. However, organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, organizations that track antisemitic and anti-Muslim bias respectively, both report significant increases.9 Additionally, major police departments, such as the New York Police Department, have reported substantial increases.10

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a warning that hate crimes against Jews, Muslims, and Arabs are likely to increase in “the near-to-medium term.”11 DHS warned that houses of worship, political demonstrations, and memorial services are all potential targets.12

WATCH: “Antisemitic and Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes on the Rise in the U.S.,” from NBC News

Discussion Questions

  1. What have you seen or heard about the Israel-Hamas conflict in your community? On your social media accounts?
  2. Have you seen or heard incidents of hate speech or bias in your community or online?
  3. How do you think institutions like schools and universities should respond to antisemitic or anti-Muslim speech and behaviors?
  4. How, if at all, do you think social media companies should respond?

As always, we encourage you to join the discussion with your comments or questions below.



Featured Image Credit: Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press
[1] Close Up Current Issues Blog: https://www.closeup.org/the-israel-hamas-war/
[2] NPR: https://www.npr.org/2023/11/11/1212458974/israel-revises-death-toll-hamas-attacks-oct-7
[3] Washington Institute for Near East Policy: https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/international-reactions-hamas-attack-israel
[4] Times of Israel: https://www.timesofisrael.com/police-start-building-oct-7-rape-cases-focusing-on-footage-and-testimonies/; Haaretz: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/podcasts/2023-11-14/ty-article-podcast/why-is-the-cruel-sexual-violence-of-the-october-7-hamas-attack-being-ignored/0000018b-cdbe-d423-affb-ffbfe0d20000
[5] New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/article/israel-gaza-hamas-what-we-know.html
[6] Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2023/gaza-rising-death-toll-civilians/
[7] U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum: https://www.ushmm.org/antisemitism/what-is-antisemitism
[8] Bridge Initiative, Georgetown University: https://bridge.georgetown.edu/about-us/what-is-islamophobia/; New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/11/15/technology/hate-speech-israel-gaza-internet.html
[9] ABC News: https://abcnews.go.com/US/anti-muslim-anti-jewish-incidents-rise/story?id=104760450
[10] Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-antisemitic-islamophobic-incidents-surge-with-war-advocates-say-2023-10-25/
[11] ABC News: https://abcnews.go.com/US/department-homeland-security-warns-spike-hate-crimes-israel/story?id=104208227
[12] Ibid.


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