Three Palestinian students were shot last night in what appears to be a hate crime. Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdel Hamid, and Tahseen Ahmed were on their way to a family dinner in Burlington, Vermont when an unidentified shooter opened fire, seriously injuring them. The three men were from Palestine but are currently studying at American universities. This attack comes in the midst of a striking rise in Islamophobia directly tied to the Israeli genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.
This violence and harrassment is directly tied to the more generalized anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian rhetoric being put forward by the media and politicians in response to the war. From attacks on pro-Palestine protests — such as when the Senate deemed them all antisemitic — to censuring Rashida Tlaib, the political class has sown the seeds of this violence by painting Palestinians and their allies as violent anti-semites and tying themselves into knots to justify Israel’s genocide. Some politicians have gone further, like Florida State Representative Michelle Salzman who responded to the rhetorical question “how many [dead Palestinians] will be enough?” by shouting “all of them” in the Florida State Legislature. Congressman Brian Mast, also of Florida, questioned whether or not innocent Palestinian civilians existed.
This rhetoric is in keeping with the rhetoric of Israeli leaders themselves who have declared that they are fighting “human animals” and the forces of “darkness.” This type of dehumanization of Palestinians feeds Islamophobia across the world.
This atmosphere of anti-Palestinian rhetoric has already led to hate crimes against Palestinians with the most striking being the murder of Wadea Al Fayoume who was stabbed 36 times by his landlord in an Islamphobic attack. The Council on American-Islamic Relations has reported that they saw a 216 percent jump in requests for help and bias incidents following the start of the Israeli offensive against Gaza.
As hate crimes grow in response to the Israeli war on Gaza, our movement for Palestinian liberation must take a strong stand against these attacks and the politicians who enable them. Our movement is against both Islamophobia and anti-semitism. We must also continue to fight against Israel’s bloody siege and campaign of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, demanding a free Palestine, and an end to all attacks on our democratic right to protest and voice our opposition to the genocide. Justice for Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdel Hamid, and Tahseen Ahmed, and for all victims of bigoted attacks!