Increased Risk of Hate Crime in the Wake of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
January 19, 2024
- Cultural Centers (e.g. academic, religious, community)
- Culturally distinct sections (e.g. demographic epicenters)
- Establish and/or practice emergency action plans. See CISA’s Physical Security Performance Goals for further guidance on how to prepare your community.
- Appoint an individual to monitor threat trends and relay pertinent information.
- Establish working relations with local law enforcement. Local law enforcement can provide insight into their operations, helping increase the efficiency of
- Avoid retaliation unless faced with immediate and credible danger.
Hate crime: For the purposes of this article, a hate crime shall be defined as one that is motivated by bias against a person’s race/ethnicity/nationality.
Since October 7th, 2023, there has been an increase in reported hate crimes against both Jewish and Muslim targets within the United States. According to a Homeland Preparedness News article, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported 832 instances of bias against Jewish persons and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported over 1,200 instances of bias against Muslim peoples in the first 35 days (Galford, 2023). A Dember 11th article by CNN claims that the ADL’s number rose to 2,031 by the end of the second month, while CAIR’s number rose to 2,171 by December 2nd (Bailey, 2023).
Axios, another news outlet, claims to have identified a trend in data provided by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism – conflicts between Israel and Islamic organizations/countries historically have correlated with an increase in hate crime activity within the United States. In response to the current uptick, law enforcement and security entities in New York City, Seattle, Texas, and Los Angeles have postured themselves to mitigate further incidents (Contreras, 2023). As well, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued statements warning the public of an increase in foreign organizations’ call to action for homegrown and embedded extremists. The FBI reminds the public that ideological extremists can cause harm through both the physical and the cyber domain (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2023).
Organizations and communities that fear becoming a target can do several things to alleviate the issue. The most important step is to establish an emergency action plan. Having a predetermined “best course of action” to take in the event of disaster can mitigate any confusion or panic that would otherwise cloud the mind. Practicing these, such as evacuation procedures with the community will help everyone learn their roles and by extension help others remember their roles when the real incident occurs. Appoint someone to take responsibility for the development of this plan. That same person may choose to take responsibility for or delegate the role of threat monitoring. Staying in-the-know with current events and trends can help an organization decide when to move resources, increase practice frequencies, or add additional measures. Becoming knowledgeable on the facts can help mitigate unnecessary excitement as well, such as community members seeking only confirmatory news on violent hate crimes and then sharing this with other members, when in actuality the current threat level is low.
It is advised that organizations reach out to local law enforcement, as these agencies can be a wealth of knowledge for ongoing threats and assist physically in the form of deterrence. If law enforcement is unable to assist physically, then a local private security entity or appointing some of the community members (this will likely require certifications and contract drafting for legal purposes) can serve as alternatives. One other thing to consider is the negative impact of retaliation. If a community member lashes out against something non-harmful, then this could impact that person or your community legally, and potentially increase the likelihood of [or escalate] further incidents. Having the appointed security manager educate the community on this matter, and if necessary, the local laws, could serve to mitigate complications. For organizations with members connected digitally, it would benefit to educate them on cybersecurity, such as detecting a phishing email, as this can help mitigate network penetration through negligence (Federal Trade Commission, n.d.).
Bailey, C. (2023, December). Reports of antisemitism, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias continue to surge across the US, new data shows. Cable News Network. https://www.cnn.com/2023/12/11/us/adl-cair-hate-crimes-bias-incidents-reaj/index.html
Contreras, R. (2023, October). Israel-Hamas fighting sparks fears of hate crimes in U.S. Axios. https://www.axios.com/2023/10/12/israel-gaza-war-hate-crimes-america
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. (2023). Physical Security Performance Goals for Faith-Based Communities. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. https://www.cisa.gov/sites/default/files/2023-12/physical-security-performance-goals-faith-based-communities-508c.pdf
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2023, October). Director Wray’s Opening Statement to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. News. https://www.fbi.gov/news/speeches/director-wrays-opening-statement-to-the-senate-committee-on-homeland-security-and-governmental-affairs
Federal Trade Commission. (n.d.). How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams. Consumer Advice. https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams