CHICAGO — Governor JB Pritzker, state officials and lawyers took a stand on Monday against the rise in anti-Arab and antisemitic feelings sparked by the conflict in the Middle East.
Pritzker joined the Arab American Bar Association to share concerns about the rise in hate crimes and discrimination within Illinois communities, workplaces and educational institutions.
“In the last two weeks since the Israel-Hamas war began, here in Illinois, we’ve seen an alarming increase in anti-Arabism, in Islamophobia, in antisemitism; but not just here but throughout the nation and across the globe.”
Among the incidents mentioned were the killing of a 6-year-old Palestinian boy in Plainfield and the injuring of his mother. Prosecutors allege that the stabbing was a hate crime.
William Haddad, the founder of the Arab American Bar Association of Illinois, is among the many still lamenting the events unfolding in the Middle East and locally.
“Nineteen hundred reportedly were killed overseas,” he said. “Terrible Hamas raid that killed children. We all grieve for the children who died in the dawn of life.”
“It is up to us, those left grieving in the wake of this tragedy, to stand together in the very hatred that took them hostage or killed them — to reject the notion that Muslims, Jews, and Palestinians, here, are responsible for the actions of governments thousands of miles away,” Pritzker said.
The Arab American Bar Association of Illinois announced several proposals for the Biden administration to local government to take into consideration amid sensitive times.
“Develop preconstructed strategies to protect the constitutional rights of Arab, Muslim, and Jewish Americans,” Haddad said. “Another … proposal is that Chicago and other local governments accelerate their efforts to practice inclusion and diversity by including more minority representation in their administrations now more than ever.”
While Pritzker adds that the protection of free speech will not subside, the state will not “protect violence,” adding that anyone who intends “to go out and cause violence, do not even think of it. We have law enforcement on hand and paying attention.”
Officials are reminding people to stay vigilant and report any hate crimes they may have witnessed or may have been a victim.
“I will remind everyone that keeping the temperature down is very important as we go through this period,” Pritzker said.