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As hate crimes spike in NYC, the bitter divide over Israel and Hamas tears at the city's fabric

Josephine Stratman, New York Daily News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — A teacher in Queens shelters as students storm the halls because she went to a pro-Israel rally.

A father in Brooklyn shields his son from a Palestinian-hating coffee thrower.

Three Jewish men are beaten in an antisemitic spurt of violence.

A man spews anti-Islamic remarks at a halal food cart vendor.

A surge in hate crimes has plagued New York City since the brutal terror attacks of Oct. 7 sparked a war between Israel and Hamas, the volume more than doubling in October as deep political divisions erupted onto college campuses and city streets.

But, for many, the divide runs far deeper than politics. Though the conflict lies 6,000 miles to the east, it is intensely personal for many New Yorkers.

 

The pro-Palestinian protest movement is a broad coalition made up of many younger people, including a large number from communities of color. They tend to lean progressive, with a worldview shaped by a focus on social justice and anti-racism spotlighted since the protests over the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

On the other side of the divide stands much of the Jewish community, who feel increasingly isolated and fearful as antisemitic hate crimes spike. To many who stand by Israel, the horrific terror attacks of Oct. 7 on innocent civilians exposed the true goal of Hamas: Eliminating the Jewish state forever.

With passions running deep, the schism is not just fueling hate crimes but tearing at the very fabric of New York.

Many New Yorkers feel like they live in parallel realities as fear and emotion spill into the streets in the form of protests, vigils and skirmishes over “Kidnapped” posters that are put up and then torn down. Relationships are fraying. The conflict is surfacing not only political differences, but dragging race and class divisions into the crucible of a deadly and volatile conflict.

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