Rising tensions: Israel-Palestine conflict sparks global concern and division

774 reports of Islamophobia and 388% increase in antisemitic events: UCO students speak out

Jake Ramsey & Sam Kozlowksi

Managing Editor & Reporter

This is a locator map of Israel and the Palestinian territories. (AP)

It has been one month since the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel from Hamas, and with that event, as well as further attacks from Israel, both Jewish and Muslim groups all over the world have faced threats to their communities leaving them scared and with a feeling of uncertainty towards their neighbors.

“Personally, I’ve noticed a shift in the public attitude towards me because I am obviously Muslim,” said a UCO student who preferred to remain anonymous, “And I have been sent hate and death threats online.”

“Everyone knows someone so we’re all being affected,” said Rachel Johnson, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City, an organization that provides programs and services to the Jewish community and helps build bridges with other interfaith communities. “There’s a sense of helplessness. This is the biggest attack that the Jewish community has seen since the Holocaust,” Johnson said.

According to a study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, a center for antisemitic research, there has been a 388% increase in antisemitic incidents since Oct. 7. With that, a study conducted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations found that the foundation had received 774 reports of anti-Muslim incidents in the U.S. from Oct. 7 to Oct. 24.

The increase in antisemitism is alarming to the Jewish community, but security and safety have been an issue for many years. As a result, the Jewish Federation of Greater Oklahoma City has kept a solid relationship with local and federal law enforcement in the state.

“I’ve noticed an increase of fear and unsettlement in my community, family and friends,” said a student at UCO and member of the Muslim Student Association who preferred to remain anonymous due to safety reasons. “I fear the irreparable damages that will be caused by ignorance,” said the student.

“This isn’t a new situation for the Muslim community,” said another UCO student who preferred to remain anonymous. They go on to discuss the fears faced on campus even having said, “Even the thought ‘Am I safe walking across campus?’” When talking about experiences during these times.

“As a Muslim, they are our brothers and sisters in Islam, and we are all one body,” said the student, “So when one part of the body hurts, the whole body is affected.”

“I’m always against the killing of innocent people and children. A lot of people think that because I’m Jewish, I’m automatically pro-Israel. It’s unfair,” said another UCO student who preferred to remain anonymous. 

With the rising increase in antisemitic and anti-Muslim sentiment across the U.S. it has left both groups feeling alienated, as described by several members of the communities.

While groups in the U.S. are under threat of hate and antisemitic and anti-Muslim attacks, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has continued.

On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Iraq, Turkey and the West Bank. A State Department spokesperson said Blinken made it clear that Palestinians must not be forcibly displaced. He also warned Iran and its proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthi rebels in Yemen and Shia militias from Iraq that the Biden administration is committed to defending its allies and military personnel. 

Along with a $14.5 billion aid for Israel passed on Thursday, the United States military may now be gearing up to enter the war. The U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower and the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford aircraft carriers have been strategically planted in the Eastern Mediterranean, along with three guided-missile destroyers, each with their own squadrons.

As the war in Gaza rages on, the conflict is beginning to expand to other regions. With artillery and tanks on the ground, Israeli jets and Hezbollah militants have started engaging in combat South of Lebanon. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the recent attacks against the IDF “won’t be all” Hezbollah does.

With no formal military, armed factions in Palestine are left defending the 2,324 square miles of the small nation which is slightly smaller than Delaware, the second-smallest state in the United States. 

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is the second strongest militant group in the country behind Hamas, and they share similar ideologies. They have been fighting together and alongside a third group, the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine against Israel’s military. 

“Israel is also fighting on behalf of its people, they wanted to show the Israeli people that we are doing something about it,” said UCO professor of political science Husam Mohamad. “But at the same time they are confronted with the reality that there are 2.2 million people living in Gaza.”

Approximately 10,000 Palestinians, mainly women and children, have been killed since the combat escalated in October. About 1,400 Israelis have been killed since October, mostly civilians from Hamas’ initial attack.

“Yes some Palestinians can leave, but they need a permit,” said Mohamad, “Gazans have no future.”

“You’re cheated out of life,” said Mohamad.

The impacts of the war are continuing to harm both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Jewish and Muslim people across the world.

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