Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Crickets

As Jewish Americans experience a horrible wave of antisemitic incidents, we stand in opposition to hate crimes of any kind, against any group.

We absolutely condemn the shooting of three Palestinian American students in Vermont this weekend, an apparent hate crime. We unconditionally reject Islamophobia in any form.

Yet, frankly, in the current moment, doing so leaves many of us feeling naïve.

Every major Jewish organization openly opposes acts of hate against Muslims. Every major Jewish organization would readily condemn an incident – should it happen – where pro-Israel protesters physically threatened others or called for genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Every major Jewish organization joins the Israeli government and army leadership in denouncing Jewish individuals or groups in Israel who perpetrate acts of violence or hate against others. We applaud the Israeli government and army when they punish and remove soldiers who deviate from their strategic mission of combat and defense to commits acts of brutality against Palestinians, and we support Israeli police and courts when they interdict and punish Israelis who take vigilante action against Palestinian civilians. We are saddened by civilian casualties in Gaza and are disgusted by Hamas’ cynical use of their fellow Gazans as human shields.

And then we try to listen, from the mountains to the prairies to the oceans, from the river to the sea, waiting to hear similar sentiments from major American Muslim organizations.

In the aftermath of October 7th, when Hamas terrorists attacked civilians and beheaded, raped, murdered, kidnapped, and pillaged Israeli men, women, and children, where is the clear statement of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)? The United States Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO)? The Arab American Antidiscrimination Committee (ADC)? The Islamic Society for North America (ISNA)? We have heard from wonderful friends and allies, smaller players in the Islamic community, but where are the major Arab and Muslim organizations?


We may be naïve.  We may be devoted to our values and continue to speak out against anti-Muslim discrimination, but we will not be silent about the silence of others. Their deafening silence will not be reciprocated. Hate is hate and its presence in any corner of society is deeply harmful. We must not want done unto others what we would not want for ourselves.

But we do have one expectation, indeed demand: Government and university officials who seek to address antisemitism and Islamophobia must insist that only those who are willing to unequivocally condemn them both may be partners in addressing either.

The White House convened many Jewish organizations as partners in crafting their strategy to combat antisemitism. They deserved to be at the table to the extent they would stand equally firm against other forms of hate, including Islamophobia. That same standard should apply as the White House begins to craft their strategy to combat Islamophobia.

Organizations that cannot unequivocally condemn the barbarism of October 7th have made clear that they are not partners in the fight against hate. That day revealed what Hamas has said all along and expresses in its charter; they are not a resistance movement but a genocidal one, dedicated to wiping Israel and even the earth of its Jewish presence. As Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said 50 years ago, “if the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence. If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.” Whitewashing the actions of the genocidal Hamas should be called out exactly as would Holocaust denial. Neither should be considered acceptable for those who seek a seat at the table in the fight against hate.

We will continue to condemn hate of any kind; that is the right thing, not the naïve thing, to do. But people of goodwill must do more to defend civil society during the current tsunami of hate. Civil society rightly recoiled at Hamas’ barbarism. American Jews will partner with all who will confront hate. We look forward to the day that leading Muslim American organizations will be ready to join us at a common table and bring the peace we yearn for that much closer.