CLIFTON, N.J. (PIX11) — Palestinians and other Islamic leaders in New Jersey are pushing back against what they said is a rise in anti-Muslim activity since the Hamas terror attack sparked the war in Israel.
They are also calling for Israel to back off its counterattack against Hamas to protect civilians in Gaza better.
“I receive a call saying, ‘We want to come burn you. We are going to come burn your business and family,'” said one salon owner.
“The stories have been coming in nonstop,” said Rania Mustafa, executive director at the Palestinian American Community Center in Clifton. “People being targeted because they’re Palestinian.”
At the press conference in Clifton, there were deeply emotional accounts from neighbors with family members and friends, including Americans trapped in Gaza. They called for a ceasefire at a minimum.
“It has been emotionally draining telling people why we’re human — why we deserve mercy — why we deserve recognition — why our people should live,” Mustafa said.
On the issue of anti-Muslim violence in the United States, Jason Shames, of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, said he sympathizes.
“We are against any forms of hate, and bigotry and racism,” Shames said. “We just want to have the same reciprocity and respect thrown our way as we throw the other way, and that is not evident.”
Shames, who video conferenced with PIX11 News en route to Israel with other American Jewish leaders, points to recent pro-Palestinian protests where there has been open antisemitism.
Shames also vehemently defends Israel’s actions in Gaza, saying the Jewish state must defend itself following the gruesome terrorist attack.
“Getting rid of Hamas is not just good for Israelis and Jews but for Palestinians and Muslims, and if everyone rallied around that notion, then we would have an opportunity for dialogue,” Shames said.