The Associated Press says in an annual FBI report that hate crimes in the United States have increased by 7% in the last year, and a Quad-City rabbi says two Muslim families have been victims of acts of hate.

Linda Bertenthal is a rabbi in Davenport. “We all have each other’s backs. This is a hard and sad time,” Bertenthal said. “We love our Muslim brothers and sisters. We want them to be safe. We want them to feel safe.”

Rabbi Bertenthal spoke of the nightmare scenario for two Muslim families in the Quad Cities, involving trespassing and vandalism. “There was an implied threat of harm by coming onto someone’s private property and demolishing their children’s play structure,” Bertenthal said. “There was an explicit threat of harm that was really graphic and gross. The perpetrator had stripped a doll and mutilated it and written threats of physical harm with red ink on the body of the doll.”

Bertenthal said both instances happened to two separate Muslim families, saying the Israel-Hamas war is a contributor to recent acts of hate. “We’re just speaking out against any acts of hatred,” Bertenthal said. “We know that in our nation, Islamophobia, acts of hatred against Muslims has gone up while we’re in the midst of this horrible, horrible situation. I, myself, am never going to actually be quite the same again as I was before October 7.”

Despite the war in Israel, Jewish community members say the Quad Cities need to band together to stop acts of hate. “We don’t stand for that here in our community,” Bertenthal said. “We don’t think any of our fellow Quad-Citians would want to stand for it either.”