Governor Newsom’s Open Letter to California’s Muslim, Palestinian American, and Arab American Communities

To California’s Muslim, Palestinian American, and Arab American communities:

California is a better place because of you—our Muslim, Palestinian American, and Arab American neighbors and friends who contribute so much to our state’s sense of faith and belonging. From countless achievements in literature, civil rights, arts, entertainment, government, business, medicine, and science, to the daily contributions to your communities, you form an essential part of California’s spirit. And now, as many of you observe the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, we can all extend our heartfelt wishes and be reminded of the value of introspection and renewal. I am grateful and proud that each of you call the Golden State home.

That’s why it pains me so deeply to see the ways your communities are suffering, bearing the weight of lost family and friends in Gaza while facing a rise in discrimination and hate here at home. As I’ve met with leaders from your communities in recent months, I’ve heard stories of unimaginable loss and widespread fear.

My heart broke when Wadea al-Fayoume, a 6-year-old child, was stabbed to death in Chicago—he and his mother viciously attacked because they were Palestinian and Muslim. I grieved not just for Wadea and his family but for all who felt less safe after that devastating tragedy, who wondered whether they or their children might also be targeted because of their Muslim faith or Palestinian heritage. This sort of horror doesn’t just inflict violence on one life or one family—it tears at the safety and belonging of whole communities. Here in California, too, we’ve seen bigotry rear its ugly head. In November, an Arab Muslim student at Stanford University was injured in a hit-and-run by a driver who is alleged to have shouted hateful vitriol as he sped away, an incident authorities are rightfully investigating as a possible hate crime. We’ve heard too many stories of violence and discrimination—too many Californians fear being treated differently in school, excluded at work, or risking harassment just by walking down the street.

These are not isolated incidents. Hateful acts targeting those who are or are perceived to be Muslim or Arab American are becoming more common. In California, reported anti-Muslim bias events rose 44.4% from 2021 to 2022. Reports also indicate a spike in reported anti-Muslim and anti-Arab incidents following the October 7th terrorist attack on Israel—the largest documented surge of its kind since late 2015 and early 2016, amidst calls for a Muslim ban. And now, many Muslim and Arab American communities report a level of fear comparable to the months following 9/11.

The Muslim and Arab American leaders I’ve sat with stressed that these numbers reveal only a fraction of the problem. They’re right. Out of fear and historically rooted distrust, we know that hate crimes and hateful incidents too often go unreported by many Muslim Californians, Arab Americans, Palestinian Americans, and other groups who have endured suspicion and alienation in this country. We in government must earn back your trust.

Your communities are not alone. Our history teaches that each swelling tide of bigotry will target more than just one group and that it will too often threaten all who have known discrimination. We are living through such a moment now, with African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, Jews, and LGBTQ+ Californians all experiencing greater vitriol and hate. California will continue to lead the way in defending those under attack for who they are, how they look, or what they believe.

This work isn’t new. When former President Trump announced his patently hateful “Muslim Ban” to bar travel from Muslim-majority countries, California took him to court to stop him. When right-wing extremists tried to block refugees from resettling in their communities, California passed laws to strengthen protections and expand opportunity for refugees in California. When incidents of hate rose across the country during the pandemic, California made a historic investment in community-based services that promote healing for victims and their families and help prevent future hate incidents. California stands tall—and we always will—in the fight for justice and belonging.

Our efforts must continue amidst the current conflict in the Middle East. On top of the pain of discrimination and fear of violence, I have also heard from Muslim, Arab American, and Palestinian American leaders that many fear speaking out against the deaths of civilians in Gaza. Know that I will always defend your right to take part in the California tradition of peaceful protest—to publicly express your opposition to any war or government decision you oppose, including the war in Gaza.

None of us should be able to witness the deaths of thousands upon thousands of civilians in Gaza without our hearts breaking. The scale of suffering in Gaza is so vast that it seems few Palestinians across the world have been spared personal loss. Here in California, one leader in the Palestinian American community told me of his work counseling community members who have lost family members—but now, after losing 23 of his family members, he is left searching for his own counselor. Others have shared similar devastation with me. I have spoken publicly about a close friend of mine who has lost nine of her family members. I’ve listened to stories of entire families in Gaza killed and multiple generations wiped out. These losses are staggering. And now burgeoning disease and starvation threaten to deepen the devastation, especially among children. This is unacceptable.

So let me be clear—I condemn the ongoing and horrific loss of innocent civilian life in Gaza. I support President Biden’s call for an immediate ceasefire as part of a deal to secure desperately needed relief for Gazan civilians and the release of hostages. I also unequivocally denounce Hamas’s terrorist attack against Israel. It is time to work in earnest toward an enduring peace that will furnish the lasting security, autonomy, and freedom that the Palestinians and the Israeli people both deserve.

While we continue to call for peace and freedom in the Middle East, here in California, my administration remains focused on building a California for All. As part of that effort, we are fighting back against Islamophobia and Anti-Arab hate—working to keep communities safe while uplifting Muslim and Arab American heritage and culture.

Building on our anti-hate agenda, in October, I authorized the immediate expansion of funds for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to bolster safety and security at places of worship across the state—including mosques, churches, and synagogues—amid heightened fears of violence at the state’s religious institutions. I’ve also worked closely with colleges and universities to promote student safety, mental health, and belonging in the face of rising reports of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias incidents. After I convened a meeting with leaders of the UC, CSU, and community colleges, and after I wrote a letter urging universities to enforce campus safety policies and cultivate spaces for affinity and dialogue, we are now seeing progress across the state’s universities. At the K-12 level, California’s first-in-the-nation ethnic studies course requirement will contribute to a climate of inclusion, including through lessons dedicated to Arab Americans. And beyond our borders, in November we shipped a field hospital and vital medical supplies to support humanitarian relief for civilians in Gaza. In recent weeks, the California National Guard has continued participating in efforts to deliver aid. Still, these contributions are no substitute for the enormous surge of aid that Gazan civilians desperately need. And while our anti-hate efforts here in California are an important start, there is more work ahead.

As we chart a path toward a California for All, I ask that we continue the dialogue we’ve already begun. I am committed to deepening our partnerships at every level of state government, including through the California Civil Rights Department’s ongoing anti-hate work. Let us confront hate together.

To every Muslim, Palestinian American, and Arab American who calls California home: please know that you belong here.


Gavin Newsom

Governor of California



The CA vs Hate Resource Line and Network is a non-emergency, multilingual hate crime and incident reporting hotline and online portal. Reports can be made anonymously by calling (833) 866-4283, or 833-8-NO-HATE, Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT or online at any time. People who report can get access to resources and care coordination services. For individuals who want to report a hate crime to law enforcement immediately or who are in imminent danger, please call 911. For more information on CA vs Hate, please visit