The fighting in Israel and Gaza is prompting concern about a new surge in hate crimes against Jews and Muslims in the U.S., which have soared in recent years. Three decades of data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism show that conflicts in the Middle East involving Israel frequently lead to big jumps in hate crimes in the U.S., particularly antisemitic attacks, Axios reports. Since Hamas' attack on Israel last weekend, police nationwide have been on alert for an uptick in hate crimes and threats. Police in Fresno, Calif., launched a hate crime investigation after windows were broken at a Jewish temple and a bakery. Several synagogues in Utah received bomb threats Sunday and were forced to evacuate. Police searched the facilities and found no explosives. Authorities in New York State, Texas, and Seattle have increased security at Jewish sites, temples, and schools this week, The extremism center documented 27,751 anti-Jewish hate crimes from 1991 to 2020 and 3,895 anti-Muslim hate crimes during the same period.
Muslims also have become targets since Hamas' attack. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights organization, says it's tracking hundreds of social media posts that have promoted racist and violent rhetoric in recent days. Conflicts in the Middle East or those involving Muslims can encourage anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S., said Brian Levin, retired director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University. He's concerned about that happening again since some of Hamas' victims are reported to be Americans. Reports of anti-Muslim crimes in the U.S. skyrocketed in the month after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Afterward, there were similar rises in anti-Muslim crimes during some months of the Iraq war. "In cities across the United States of America, police departments have stepped up security around centers ... of Jewish life," President Biden said Tuesday in a speech in which he vowed U.S. support for Israel. He said the FBI and Department of Homeland Security are working with state and local law enforcement and Jewish groups to identify and disrupt any domestic threat that could emerge in connection with the Hamas attacks.