Kamala Harris unveils anti-Islamophobia push as antisemitism soars

The US vice president announced the ‘first ever US National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia’ on Wednesday


US Vice President Kamala Harris smiles as she speaks with Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (not pictured) inside 10 Downing Street, in London, on November 1, 2023. (Photo by Daniel LEAL / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House has been criticised after Kamala Harris unveiled an anti-Islamophobia strategy amid soaring antisemitism.

It came a day after FBI director Christopher Wray told senators that antisemitism is reaching "historic levels" in the US and a student at New York's prestigious Cornell University was arrested for threatening to kill and rape Jews.

"For years, Muslims in America and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fuelled attacks," Harris said in a video.  

"As a result of the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, we have seen an uptick in anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents across America, including the brutal attack of a Palestinian-American woman, who is Muslim, and the killing of her 6-year-old son."

Harris said the plan will aim to "protect Muslims and those perceived to be Muslim from hate, bigotry and violence. And to address the concern that some government policies may discriminate against Muslims". 

President Biden’s support among Arab-Americans has fallen to 17% after he backed Israel’s war on Hamas, a poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute found. Forty percent of Arab-American respondents said they would vote for Donald Trump. 

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton, who has demanded that foreigners expressing support for Hamas are deported, criticised the initiative.

"After the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust and a breakout of pro-Hamas activism on campus, the White House is claiming *Islamophobia* is our top concern," he tweeted.

Professor Gad Saad, from the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University, also took aim at the scheme. 

"According to the [FBI] director, Jews make up 2.4% of the US population but are the targets of 60% of hate crimes. This is why it is apparently important to fight Islamophobia according to the White House," he said.

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