Palestinians living in NJ say they have been harassed, threatened since Israel-Hamas War began
Palestinians in New Jersey say they've been targeted for acts of hate and bigotry since the fighting began between Hamas and Israel earlier this month.
From the Palestinian American Community Center, the owner of a barber shop in Paterson said that someone called him over the weekend threatening to burn down his building.
Raed Odeh says someone left a message on the phone at his business, the Palestine Salon.
“The individual said they want to come burn me burn my business and burn my family,” Odeh said.
The Council on Arab and Islamic Relations says he’s not alone when it comes to harassment.
They point to a doctor at Jersey Shore Medical Center who was fired for posting a pro-Palestine message on social media. They also say that students have been harassed at a school in Fair Lawn.
At the same time, members of this community are worried about loved-one's who are in Gaza. Duaa Abufares spoke of her father who is an Amercian citizen in northern Gaza.
“We need him safe, we need him home and we need this violence to end,” she said. “The events of Oct. 7 were absolutely tragic, but this is not unprovoked. This didn’t come from nowhere. It’s the result of 75 years of anger.”
Members of the Palestinian American Community Center say there are 500 Americans in Gaza with 87 actively trying to leave.
Others say they have not appreciated what they have considered to be one-sided reporting by major media outlets.
“Report the truth. Tell them that Israel has had a brutal chokehold on Gaza for 16 years. Tell them Israel has upheld an illegal violent occupation of Palestine and Palestinians for 56 years,” said Jenan Matari. “We are not sleeping. We are not eating. How can we when our brothers and sisters in Gaza are being collectively starved to death.”
Hackensack Meridian Health released a statement and said:
"Hackensack Meridian Health is committed to individuals exercising their freedom of speech. However, we have a responsibility to our patients and team members to ensure a safe and healing environment. Several team members expressed their concern to us about the inflammatory social media post made by a contracted physician working at an HMH hospital. The physician identified himself as a Hackensack Meridian Health professor and network physician. The physician is not an employee of HMH, but rather a contractor with Envision Physician Services. We requested that the physician not report to HMH until Envision completes a full investigation."