By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday separately met US leaders from the Jewish as well as Arab and Palestinian-American communities amid war in the Middle East between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, the State Department said.
Blinken’s community outreach comes amid fears and warnings of a rise in Islamophobia, antisemitism and anti-Palestinian threats and hate speech in the United States due to the war in the Middle East.
President Joe Biden called on Americans to denounce such sentiments in an Oval Office address Thursday night.
Blinken on Monday “strongly condemned racist, antisemitic, Islamophobic, and anti-Palestinian incidents,” and “underscored that hate has no place in America or anywhere else,” the State Department said.
In the meetings, Blinken condemned Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that left 1,400 people dead and reaffirmed the United States’ “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s security, the State Department said.
The State Department added that Blinken made clear in the meetings that Washington supported “the Palestinian people and a two-state solution and reiterated that Hamas does not represent Palestinians.”
Israel has bombarded Hamas-governed Gaza with heavy airstrikes that have killed over 5,000 Palestinians, local Gaza officials say. Gaza, a 45 km-long (25-mile) strip of land that is home to 2.3 million people, has been ruled politically since 2007 by Hamas, an Iran-backed Islamist group, but faces a blockade from Israel.
The U.S. Justice Department has been monitoring an increase in reported threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab communities.
The FBI said earlier this month it was investigating the stabbing death of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old Muslim boy, in Illinois as a hate crime. Authorities said the boy and his mother were targeted because they were Palestinian Americans.
Last week, authorities charged a North Carolina man for allegedly sending a threatening message to a Jewish organization.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Michael Perry)