Israel-Palestine: Mapping Islamophobia on Facebook by U.S. Presidential Candidates

Published on 30 May 2024


May 2024 marks over seven months of Israel’s bombardment and siege of the Gaza Strip, home to over two million Palestinians. UN experts and rights organizations have described Israel’s military actions in Gaza as a genocide, and the death toll now stands at over 36,000 Palestinians dead, with over 80,000 injured.

Israel’s establishment in 1948 led to the forced expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes and villages, an episode that Palestinians refer to as the Nakba (catastrophe), as well as numerous incidents of Israeli settlers engaging in massacres of Palestinians.  Since its establishment, there have been a number of wars between Israel and Palestinians and the surrounding Arab countries, and following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, Israel began its occupation of the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and the Gaza Strip. This control of Palestinian territories involves “policies of land confiscation, illegal settlement, and dispossession,” rampant discrimination, and settler violence, all of which deprive Palestinians of their basic rights. Israel’s 50+ years of occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank have resulted in what Amnesty International describes as “systematic human rights violations against Palestinians living there.” In a 2021 report, Human Rights Watch concluded that Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory amounts “to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” 

When it comes to the Gaza Strip, in 2007, Israel imposed a blockade on the territory after the Hamas group came to power. Following the October 2023 Hamas attack, Israel “imposed a total blockade on the Gaza Strip on October 9, cutting its supplies of electricity, food, water, and fuel.” Since Hamas came to power, Israel has launched several military assaults on Gaza in an effort to eradicate Hamas.



As per Washington DC-based NGO Population Reference Bureau, “The population of the West Bank and Gaza is almost completely Palestinian Arab. The bulk of these are Sunni Muslims: 92 percent of West Bankers and 99 percent of Gazans, with the rest Christians.” This demographic data point is critical to the theme of this report by The Bridge Initiative, which analyzes subtle but clear narratives of Islamophobia in nearly 300 Facebook posts related to Israel-Palestine by US presidential candidates from October 2023 to February 2024.

Key Context: October 2023 to May 2024

In addition to the daily bombardment, Israel’s blockade has prevented the entry of vital humanitarian and medical aid, which has led to “full blown famine” in northern Gaza. As per Gaza’s Health Ministry, at least 20 people, including six children, have been killed due to dehydration and malnutrition in northern Gaza as of March 2024. 

Israel’s genocide of Palestinians began following the October 7, 2023, surprise attack by Hamas militants, which left about 1200 Israelis dead and wounded another 1,500. Members of Hamas also took 240 Israelis hostage. Hamas * is a Palestinian political and military movement that governs the Gaza Strip. In response to the attack, Israel began an aerial bombardment of the strip along with imposing a complete blockade of the 140 square mile territory. Since October, Israel has dropped over 25,000 tons of explosives in Gaza, a figure that surpasses the explosive yield of the first nuclear bomb ever used in war, dropped by the United States on Hiroshima, Japan. An assessment by the United Nations Development Programme has found that Israel’s bombing and devastation of the Gaza strip “may reduce levels of health, education, and wealth in the territory to those of 1980, wiping out 44 years of development,” and that rebuilding homes in the territory “could take until 2040 in the most optimistic scenario.”


  • As per the April 2024 Associate Press report
    • 1.1 million Palestinians are facing "catastrophic food insecurity.
    • 90% of school buildings damaged, 100% students are out of school.
      • All 12 universities in the Gaza Strip have been either destroyed or damaged (Al Jazera)
    • less than 30% of hospitals remain functional.
    • Over 200 mosques damaged.
    • Targeting of churches including the destruction of St. Porphyrius church, one of the oldest in the world.
  • As of May 9, 2024, the Committee to Protect Journalists recorded at least 97 journalists and media workers confirmed dead: 92 Palestinians, 2 Israeli, and 3 Lebanese.
  • As per United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees,
    • 165 team members have been killed
    • More than 400 people were killed while seeking shelter under the UN flag.

Within three weeks after the October 7 attack, Israel had killed over 6,500 Palestinians. While Israel’s retaliatory actions were not acknowledged as genocide early on, a group of legal scholars raised concerns regarding the complicity of the U.S. government under international law. The scholars directed their warning to the Biden administration and the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, highlighting the need for attention and action.

Around the same time, after a series of walkouts by students from various universities, the U.S. Senate unanimously approved a resolution denouncing what it perceived as "pro-Hamas, anti-Israel" student organizations nationwide. The walkouts, organized by groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and the Jewish Voice for Peace, took place at Columbia University, Princeton University, New York University, and numerous other colleges. The participants sought to emphasize their calls for a ceasefire in Gaza and an end to American military assistance to Israel. The US government’s efforts to smear these student-led movements as “pro-Hamas” seek to delegitimize their views. This is yet another example of the instrumentalization of the “War on Terror” discourse to discredit and criminalize political movements that bring attention to violence enacted upon Muslim-majority populations by western governments. 

In April 2024, protests at US colleges intensified following the Senate's approval of $26.3 billion in aid for Israel during the month of April. Reuters reported, “On universities, protests have recently grown to encampments that draw students and faculty of various backgrounds, including of Jewish and Muslim faiths, that host teach-ins, interfaith prayers, and musical performances.” A few days later, there were arrests of over 100 students across the country

The movement in support of Palestine and the call for a permanent ceasefire in the US have been called “antisemitic” not just by the Israeli Prime Minister but also by several US-based media outlets and politicians. The Washington Post reported, “At least four Republican committee chairs are now investigating the student-led demonstrations as part of what House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) has described as a House-wide probe of antisemitism in America.”

In response to the growing grassroots movement in support of Palestine's call for a permanent ceasefire, the US, along with many western governments, have demonized these voices, labeling them as antisemitic. Such action not only undermines individuals’ right to free speech and expression but also weaponizes antisemitism (a very real problem today) to shut down criticism of Israel. Further, this narrative engages in Islamophobia, as outlined by a 2023 report by  the Center for Security, Race, and Rights at the Rutgers Law School titled, ‘Presumptively Antisemitic: Islamophobic Tropes in the Palestine–Israel Discourse’. The report notes that Islamophobia in America is a bipartisan problem, and given the pro-Israel stance across the political spectrum, politicians from both the left and right have engaged in Islamophobia when it comes to their position with Israel. They have done this by devaluing Palestinian life due to the Islamophobic belief that Islam is a threat, and thus fail to even acknowledge Israel’s repeated human rights violations of Palestinians. Additionally, pro-Israel voices have repeatedly labelled Muslim voices in support of Palestine as antisemitic. The report notes that the “presumption that Muslims are antisemitic until individually proven otherwise is a component of the so-called “New Antisemitism,” which is strategically conflated with anti-Zionism.” This was recently exemplified in President Joe Biden’s speech, where he claimed that Hamas was driven by an “ancient desire to wipe out Jewish people.” ‘Hamas’ has become a smear wielded on Palestinians and Muslims to delegitimize their voices. President Biden’s accusation plays on the Islamophobic trope that all Muslims are inherently antisemitic. Additionally, it falsely attributes the conflict in the region as a religious issue, despite Palestinian voices saying this is about their land and their human rights.  

Since October 7, criticism of Israel’s genocide has largely been met by two responses:  labeling the critic as a) Hamas sympathizer and/or b) antisemitic. Both invoke Islamophobic tropes that a) all Muslims are terrorists; and b) all Muslims are antisemitic.

On May 4, Israel-based news outlet Haaretz reported, “Hamas was guaranteed by the U.S. for a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and that Israeli forces will not continue fighting once the hostages are released.” However, “An Israeli official told Haaretz that 'Israel will, under no circumstances, agree to end the war as part of a deal' and is determined to enter Rafah.” Two days later, it was reported that Hamas had accepted the terms, but Israel rejected them and continued its bombing in Rafah.

In the last week of May, a day after the International Court of Justice issued a ruling on Israel's military offensive, Israel killed over 35 Palestinians and wounded dozens in Rafah, a place designated by Israel as a “safe zone” for forcibly displaced Palestinians. Two days later , Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called it a “tragic mistake.” In response, the White House said that Israel did not cross the Biden administration’s “redline.”

Data and Methodology

The Bridge Initiative conducted content analysis using keyword searches on Facebook posts related to the Israel-Palestine conflict between October 2023 and February 2024 by all presidential candidates (as of March 6). Here’s the list of candidates still in the race. 

The data was extracted using CrowdTangle, Meta’s social media monitoring tool for social media. A total of over 3,000 posts were manually analyzed to focus on posts related to Israel-Palestine. Those interested in the data can access it here

The study focuses on the Facebook accounts of President Joe Biden, Dean Phillips, Marianne Williamson, Nikki Haley, Donald Trump, Robert Kennedy, Jill Stein, and Cornel West. It should be noted that Joe Biden's official account as President of the United States (POTUS) was prioritized over his personal account. Robert Kennedy did not post text related to the conflict. 


Candidate Total Israel-Gaza %
Joe Biden (D) 746 110 14.74%
Marianne Williamson (D) 780 34 4.35%
Dean Phillips (D) 239 3 1.25%
Donald Trump (R) 152 5 3.28%
Nikki Haley (R) 780 116 14.87%
Cornel West (I) 167 40 23.95%
Jill Stein (I) 92 24 26.08%
Robert Kennedy (I) 155 0 N/A


How does The Bridge Initiative describe Islamophobia?

Islamophobia is an extreme fear of and hostility toward Islam and Muslims, which often leads to hate speech, hate crimes, as well as social and political discrimination. It can be used to rationalize policies such as mass surveillance, incarceration (imprisonment), and disenfranchisement, and can influence domestic and foreign policy.

Some of the most frequently occurring words in the data set highlight the harmful Islamophobic stereotypes directed at Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, and those perceived to be Muslim. The language frames all Palestinians as collectively responsible for the actions of a small group of militants, rendering millions of people (including babies and children) as rightful targets of Israel’s military campaign. Further, the words used by these candidates equate support for Palestinians and their human rights with antisemitism, a dangerous smear that puts people's lives in danger and dilutes the very real problem of antisemitism today.

Theme 1: Occurrence of Israel and Palestine in data

As per the data, the term Israel has occurred about 164 times, while the term Palestine has occurred only 18 times. Overall, the term Israel was mentioned about 9 times more than Palestine.

However, a closer look at data shows that out of the 18 mentions of Palestine, 15 were from Cornel West. Joe Biden, Nikki Haley, Donald Trump and Dean Phillips did not mention it once. 


Candidate  Israel Palestine
52 0
Marianne Williamson 24 2
1 0
4 0
61 0
20 15
Jill Stein 2 1
Total 164 18


The occurrences alone are not enough to understand the positive or negative sentiment associated with the term. However, the fact that leading presidential candidates, Biden and Trump, did not mention the term Palestine as the genocide of Palestinians is taking place shows systemic hostility towards Palestinians.

Long before October 7, the erasure of Palestine and Palestinians was a common theme in Israel. In March 2023, Reuters reported Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said, "Is there a Palestinian history or culture? There is none… There is no such thing as a Palestinian people."

This erasure isn’t limited to politicians, as on April 15, The Intercept accessed an internal memo by the New York Times that instructed journalists not to use the word Palestine “except in very rare cases.” It also told reporters “to restrict the use of the terms “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” and to “avoid” using the phrase “occupied territory” when describing Palestinian land”. Additionally, the report said “to steer clear of the term ‘refugee camps’ when describing areas of Gaza historically settled by displaced Palestinians expelled from other parts of Palestine during previous Israeli–Arab wars. The areas are recognized by the United Nations as refugee camps and house hundreds of thousands of registered refugees.”

Theme 2: Violence by Hamas labelled terrorism but not IDF’s genocide

The word terrorist was used by four candidates. Each time, it was used only in the context of Hamas. It’s important to note that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has substantially killed more Palestinians, not just after October 7, but historically as well. This paradox explains why pro-Palestine supporters across the US have been chanting, “Israel is a terrorist state.” The framing of violence as terrorism by Hamas and the extension of unconditional immunity to the IDF demonstrates double standards and  anti-Muslim racism as the “terrrorist” label is only ascribed to the Muslim entity in the conflict. Further, western political rhetoric often labels all Palestinians under the banner of Hamas, thus rendering over 2 million people “terrorists.”

In 2021, Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, told CNN, “Endorsing these tropes is linked to approval of war, violence against civilians, and anti-Muslim policies. She added, “Fear kills freedom, so Islamophobia is bad for democracy, not just Muslims.” 



Haley (36) and Biden (31) mentioned Hamas the greatest number of times. Williamson mentioned it (9) times. While Trump (2), Phillips (1), and West (1) mentioned Hamas two times or less, Stein did not mention it at all. While most candidates condemned Hamas, only West (6) mentioned the Israeli Defense Force, which has been accused of genocide. From the very onset of the genocide of Palestinians, there has been disparaging content by the members of the Israel Defense Forces mocking the subhuman conditions of Palestinians (Al Jazeera, NYT, Swaddle). However, none of the candidates have commented on this. 

Presidential Candidate  IDF Hamas
Cornel West 5 1
Dean Phillips 1 1
Donald Trump 0 2
Jill Stein 0 0
Joe Biden 0 31
Marianne Williamson 0 9
Nikki Haley 0 36


Right to defend is exclusive to Israel

On October 7,  former President Donald Trump postedThese Hamas attacks are a disgrace, and Israel has every right to defend itself with overwhelming force. Sadly, American taxpayer dollars helped fund these attacks, which many reports are saying came from the Biden Administration. We brought so much peace to the Middle East through the Abrahamic Accords, only to see Biden whittle it away at a far more rapid pace than anyone thought possible. Here we go again.”

Trump, like Haley, in addition to affirming Israel’s right to defend, also politicized the attack by alleging President Biden undid the Abraham Accords passed under his administration in 2020. In doing so, Trump misled the readers about how the Accords affected stability and peace in occupied Palestine. Last December, Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the nonprofit Democracy for the Arab World Now, wrote, “Rather than curbing Israeli abuses, the Accords emboldened successive Israeli governments to further ignore Palestinian rights. In the first year after the Accords, settler violence dramatically increased in the West Bank.” 

In 2014, Palestinian-American human rights attorney and Associate Professor at Rutgers University, Noura Erakat, argued that ​​the settler-colonial state of Israel does not have the right to self-defense under international law—like other states—against occupied Palestinian territory. She said, “Where an occupation already is in place, the right to initiate militarized force in response to an armed attack, as opposed to police force to restore order, is not a remedy available to the occupying state. The beginning of a military occupation marks the triumph of one belligerent over another. In the case of Israel, its occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the Sinai in 1967 marked a military victory against Arab belligerents.”

Hostages vs Prisoners

Another example of double standards is when violence done to Palestinians is framed in a different manner than that for Israelis. This is clearly exemplified in the usage of the term, hostage. President Biden was the candidate who used the word ‘hostage’ the most times (23). As per AP, the number of hostages in Gaza by Hamas who are alive or haven’t been confirmed dead is 98; this includes two who were taken before October 7. On the contrary, as per human rights organizations in Palestine, there are about 9,500 Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank in Israeli “captivity”. The report added, “About 3,660 Palestinians being held in Israel are under administrative detention, according to Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. An administrative detainee is someone held in prison without charge or trial… The administrative detainees include 41 children and 12 women, according to Addameer.”

In 2023, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights stated, “The Special Rapporteur said the occupied Palestinian territory had been transformed as a whole into a constantly surveilled open-air prison.”

When US presidential candidates exclusively use the term "hostages" when discussing Israelis, it favors the Israeli narrative by employing selective language that portrays Israelis as innocent victims and Palestinians as aggressors. This imbalanced focus diverts attention from the larger systemic issues faced by Palestinians, such as occupation and human rights abuses. It also disregards the structural violence and institutionalized discrimination Palestinians experience daily, while ignoring the illegality of Israel's administrative detention practices. Furthermore, it reflects a lack of contextual understanding of the conflict, hindering efforts for a just resolution. Overall, this approach perpetuates an imbalance in discourse and undermines comprehensive understanding and justice.

Theme 3: Refusal of ceasefire and denial of genocide

In January 2024, Reuters reported that US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller stated that the United States has not witnessed any actions in Gaza that could be classified as genocide. This statement came in response to South Africa's initiation of genocide proceedings at the International Court of Justice, regarding Israel's military operation in the Palestinian enclave. After vetoing three times, in March, the United States abstained during a United Nations Security Council vote calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

Between all candidates, the posts that included the word genocide (28) were nineteen less than those that included ceasefire (47). Out of the 28 posts that call the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Palestine a genocide, 17 were by West, eight by Stein, and one by Williamson. The remaining two were by Biden and Haley. However, it was in the context of the attack by Hamas. 



Cornel West and Marianne Williamson posted the greatest number of requests (17 times) for a ceasefire. Jill Stein posted 8 times, followed by Dean Phillips, who posted twice. No other candidate posted for a ‘ceasefire’. 

Haley was the only candidate who posted asking for ‘no ceasefire’ four times; the last post was on November 15. By then, the death toll in Gaza had been 10 times higher than that of the October 7 attack (AP). She used the phrase “finish them” or a phrase with the word finish while talking about Hamas 12 times. 

Haley said, “This is not just an attack on Israel—this was an attack on America. Finish them, Benjamin Netanyahu - בנימין נתניהו. They should have hell to pay for what they have done.” Phrases like “finish them, Benjamin Netanyahu” by US politicians extend Israel's complete immunity to carry out massacres in Gaza. Haley also posted the phrase “Never Again,” a slogan associated with the Holocaust, five times. At the same time, she made no comment on the rising death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

To further demonstrate hypocrisy by US politicians when it comes to Israel’s war in Gaza, President Biden used the phrase “humanitarian assistance” 12 times without using “ceasefire” even once. In March, five Palestinians were killed, and 11 were wounded by humanitarian airdrops carried by the US and Jordan. Around the same time, Refugees International reported that the actions of the Israeli government have consistently and without justification hindered the progress of aid operations in Gaza, obstructed lawful relief efforts, and shown reluctance in adopting measures that could truly improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the region. As early as December 2023, New York-based nonprofit Human Rights Watch reported that the Israeli government has been using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare in the Gaza Strip, which is a war crime.

In contrast to the US government’s refusal to describe Israel’s actions as a genocide, a  number of rights organizations have noted that Israel’s bombing campaign and complete blockade of Gaza amounts to genocide. On October 18, the New York-based NGO Center for Constitutional Rights posted an emergency legal briefing paper titled ‘Israel’s Unfolding Crime of Genocide of the Palestinian People & U.S. Failure to Prevent and Complicity in Genocide’. 

The Law for Palestine (L4P), a UK and Sweden-based youth-led, non-profit human rights organization, has documented over 500 instances of Israeli incitement to genocide. L4P stated, “What makes this evidence all the more disconcerting is its origin, emanating from the upper echelons of the Israeli government, including the President, Prime Minister, Knesset members, military personnel, and law enforcement.” Below are some instances that demonstrate anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim racism: 

  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Calls Civilians Deaths in Gaza "Collateral Damage"
    • The Israeli Prime Minister's comments come as the Palestinian death toll soars over 11,000 (Video Statement)
  • Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich said, "I don't see a big difference between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. The Arabs are the same Arabs."
  • Yair Lapid, Member of the Israeli Knesset (Yesh Atid), said, "the majority of the 12,000 dead Palestinians were terrorists. [...] Good riddenance."
    • The L4P pointed out that the majority are, in fact, innocent women and children.

MK Amit Halevi Member of the Israeli Knesset, endorsed, “There should be 2 goals for this victory: 1. There is no more Muslim land in the Land of Israel… After we make it the land of IL, Gaza should be left as a monument, like Sodom…"

Theme 4: Use of antisemitism to justify violence against Palestinians

As the earlier Rutgers report noted, this Islamophobic trope is common in the US when it comes to conversations about Israel and the rights of Palestinians. The phrase antisemitism was used by Haley (16) and Biden (5). Other candidates that mentioned antisemitism were Stein (2) and Williamson (1). Furthermore, Haley also stated anti-Zionism six times and argued, “Anti-Zionism is antisemitism.”

Many academics and rights organizations have warned about the dangers of conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism. Antisemitism is prejudice towards and/or hatred of Jewish people solely based on their Jewish identity. Anti Zionist means opposing the political ideology of zionism, which argues that Jews need their own ethno-state. Jewish Voice for Peace states that being an anti-Zionist means “standing against the creation of a nation-state with exclusive rights for Jews above others on the land. Anti-Zionism supports liberation and justice for the Palestinian people.” Further, conflating the two means that criticism of Israel (a nation-state) amounts to antisemitism, which means individuals who call attention to Israel’s discriminatory policies could be labeled as antisemitic. Such accusations can result in individuals losing their jobs, facing harassment, and even experiencing violence, and it also leads to chilling of free speech.

Earlier this year, Pulitzer winning author Benjamin Moser wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post outlining the history of Zionism. He said, “Before World War II, Zionism was the most divisive and heatedly debated issue in the Jewish world. Anti-Zionism had left-wing variants and right-wing variants — religious variants and secular variants — as well as variants in every country where Jews resided. For anyone who knows this history, it is astonishing that, as the resolution would have it, opposition to Zionism has been equated with opposition to Judaism — and not only to Judaism, but to hatred of Jews themselves. But this conflation has nothing to do with history. Instead, it is political, and its purpose has been to discredit Israel’s opponents as racists.”



The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported a 178% rise in complaints of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate during the last three months of 2023 compared to the same period a year earlier. Employment discrimination, hate crimes/incidents, and education discrimination were the most often reported issues. Additionally, the Anti-Defamation League noted a 360% increase in U.S. antisemitic incidents in the three months after October 7th, 2023, compared to the previous year. A Washington DC-based journalist at a leading news outlet told The Bridge Initiative that several journalists in multiple newsrooms are having difficulty taking data provided by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)** to be reliable after their defamatory classification of pro-Palestine protests as inherently antisemitic. 

In April 2024, President of the American Federation of Ramallah Terry Ahwa wrote how ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt discredited Palestinian culture and vilified the Palestinian people by making an offensive analogy between the Palestinian keffiyeh and the Nazi swastika. She wrote, “The Palestinian people and their supporters are not spouting hate, despite the hate they encounter daily. They are fighting for their freedom like all other human beings. Mr. Greenblatt has every right to side with the Israeli government but has no right to silence me or manipulate my culture to suit his purpose.”

Over the past few months, incidents of harassment and violence targeting Palestinian Americans have increased. Many of these attacks have involved perpetrators shouting Islamophobic rhetoric, calling the Muslim victims “terrorists” and/or “Hamas.” These include the stabbing and killing of a 6-year-old Palestinian American child by a former US Air Force veteran. Additionally, there were  two high-profile incidents: a shooting involving three American students of Palestinian descent in Vermont and a stabbing of a Palestinian American man in Texas. Fortunately, all the victims of the previous two incidents survived. Last November, 69-year-old Paul Kessler from the Jewish community died after a confrontation at a pro-Palestinian demonstration. It’s unclear if antisemitism played a role in the incident, and the aggressor was charged with involuntary manslaughter and battery.

Western media coverage of the movements in support of Palestine and calling for an end to the genocide has generally resorted to describing these mass protests as being full of “terrorists,” “extremists,” and namely antisemitic. Accusations of antisemitism not only seek to discredit these actions but also play on Islamophobic tropes, accusing Muslims of being inherently antisemitic.  As Dr. Hatem Bazian from U.C. Berkeley Ethnic Studies points out, “The fallacy that all Muslims are presumptively antisemitic is increasingly deployed by Zionist groups to eliminate critical debate inclusive of Palestinian experiences. Muslims or Arabs criticizing Israel’s state practices are presumed to be motivated by antisemitism, not a commitment to universal human rights or social justice principles. The consequence is twofold: the marginalization of Muslim and Arab voices from public discourse on U.S. foreign policy affecting Palestine and Israel and undermining solidarity efforts between Jewish and Muslim communities.”


In the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Islamophobia is evident in the differential treatment and framing of Palestinians in political rhetoric and media coverage. This includes the portrayal of all Palestinians as inherently violent or terrorist, minimal recognition of Palestinian humanity or rights, erasure of Palestine, and a significant underrepresentation of Palestinian voices in discussions about their own fate. Additionally, there is a clear double standard when it comes to US politicians and their views on Israel and Palestine, as they provide unconditional support to Israel despite the leading human rights organizations concluding that Israel is an apartheid state and is currently carrying out a genocide in Gaza. In regards to Palestine, leading US presidential candidates fail to even acknowledge Israel’s violence on Palestinians and the tremendous loss of life (as of May 26, 2024, Israel has killed over 36,000 Palestinians, about 72 percent of whom are women and children). This illustrates how the western political and media discourse surrounding Israel-Palestine is one that frames Palestinians as collectively responsible for any and all violence and/or as deserving of the violence inflicted upon them by the Israeli government. Further, efforts to smear and delegitimize any movement in support of Palestinians and calls for a ceasefire have been made by leading US politicians who wield Islamophobic tropes and accuse these groups of antisemitism. 

The dehumanization of Palestinians, along with systemic Islamophobia, has influenced both domestic and foreign policy in the U.S.

Cornel West Stands Out: His prominence in advocating for Palestinian rights is significant. Unlike his counterparts, the West has consistently highlighted the plight of Palestinians, addressed the imbalance in how violence and terrorism are characterized, and called for a more humane and just treatment of Palestinians. His perspective is crucial as it introduces a critical viewpoint to the mainstream narrative, urging consideration of the Palestinian experience of occupation and conflict.

Similarities between Biden and Haley: Both Joe Biden and Nikki Haley share a similar stance of strong support for Israel, often focusing on Israel’s right to self-defense and framing the conflict in terms of combating terrorism. While one has rejected the call for a ceasefire, the other has not advocated for one — the end result being the same. Both have refused to acknowledge the on-going genocide of Palestinians. This perspective minimizes the complexity of the conflict and largely ignores the systemic issues faced by Palestinians, reflecting a common theme in U.S. political discourse that aligns closely with Israeli interests.

Phillips, Trump, and Kennedy let it play out: As per the data, Dean Phillips, Donald Trump, and Robert Kennedy have refrained from posting related to Israel-Palestine on Facebook.

*The US Department of State has listed Hamas as a terrorist organization since 1997. On February 15, 2024, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said, “Just to clarify: Hamas is not on the list of groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council” and clarified that he has been stating that this classification does not justify their acts of terror on October 7.
**ADL’s conflation of anti-zionism with antisemitism also calls into question its documentation of antisemitism. A number of rights organizations have noted that the ADL has engaged in “right-wing activities undermining the rights of black, immigrant, queer, Muslim, Arab, and other marginalized communities.” Further, reports have said that ADL has undermined its civil rights work by advocating for Israel, has equated anti-zionism with antisemitism, and has a history of defaming students who support the rights of Palestinians. Recently, its director, Jonathan Greenblatt, compared the Keffiyeh to the Nazi swastika.


Archit Mehta, Research Intern, MA Communication, Culture, and Technology 2023-25, Georgetown University

Mobashra Tazamal, Associate Director

This report does not reflect the views of Georgetown University.