Israel issues global travel warning, telling citizens 'to avoid displaying any outward signs of their Israeli or Jewish identity when traveling'

A Star of David necklace and a blue ribbon
A Star of David necklace and a blue ribbon, a symbol of support for the safe return of hostages held by Hamas. (Julia Nikhinson/AP)

The government of Israel issued a global travel warning for all of its citizens in response to what it said was a rise in antisemitic violence in the wake of Israel’s military response to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants.

“Today, the National Security Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs put out an unusual global travel warning. We are calling on all citizens of Israel to exercise heightened caution when traveling anywhere abroad,” Israeli Government spokesman Eylon Levy said in a message posted to social media on Friday.

“We are also asking citizens — and truly I cannot believe that we are doing this — we are asking all citizens to avoid displaying any outward signs of their Israeli or Jewish identity when traveling anywhere in the world,” Levy continued. “If you must travel, please make sure that you have the numbers of emergency services and the local Israeli embassies on speed dial. Keep away from anti-Israel, pro-jihad protests and remain alert and vigilant about your surroundings at all times.”

In a separate post Friday, the feed on X operated by the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel said that there has been a “significant rise in antisemitism and anti-Israel incitement, alongside life-threatening violent attacks on Israelis and Jews around the world” following the Oct. 7 attack.

Global threats

People shout antisemitic slogans at an airport in Makhachkala, Russia
People shout antisemitic slogans at an airport in Makhachkala, Russia, Oct. 30. (AP)

Last week, a violent mob of more than 100 Russian citizens in the Caucasus region stormed an airport in the republic of Dagestan hunting for Israeli citizens after a rumor was spread that a flight was arriving from Tel Aviv, Israel, France24 reported. In his message, Levy singled out “Arab and Middle Eastern states, the Northern Caucasus and countries bordering Iran,” but said the government was “urging all Israelis to consider whether any foreign travel anywhere in the world is necessary at this dangerous moment.”

More than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, were killed during Hamas’s brutal incursion into Israel on Oct. 7. In the raid, more than 200 people were taken hostage and brought back to Gaza. Since then, Israeli military attacks on Gaza, where Hamas fighters and Palestinian civilians are enmeshed, have killed more than 9,000 people, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and laid waste to whole neighborhoods.

The violence has caused further divisions among U.S. lawmakers, with some Democrats calling for a pause in Israel’s military actions in Gaza and other Republicans expressing the view that Israel should press forward with its campaign against Hamas.

A wave of antisemitic incidents have been reported in recent weeks in Paris, where the killing of a teacher last month was deemed an act of Islamic terrorism by government officials. Jewish university students in the United Kingdom have reported hiding yarmulkes and Star of David necklaces for fear of being targeted, the Telegraph reported.

Unease in the United States

Posters on the campus of New York University show images of people kidnapped by Hamas have been vandalized and covered with pro-Palestinian graffiti
In New York City, posters of people kidnapped by Hamas have been vandalized and covered with pro-Palestinian graffiti. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

In the U.S., tensions between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinain demonstrators have roiled college campuses. Citing antisemitic threats, Cornell University canceled classes on Friday. On the streets of New York, people have clashed over the posting and removal of posters seeking to draw attention to hostages still held in Gaza by Hamas.

Last week, the Anti-Defamation League said it had recorded 312 antisemitic incidents between Oct. 7 and Oct. 23 compared with just 64 incidents over the same period in 2022. The new incidents were attributable “to the war in Israel and Gaza,” the group said. The Council on American-Islamic Relations reported receiving 774 complaints linked to Islamophobia between Oct. 7 and Oct. 24, the highest number since December 2015, when then presidential candidate Donald Trump announced a plan to ban Muslims from entering the U.S.

FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Wednesday that the Hamas attacks and U.S. support of Israel could lead to terrorism in this country.

“Here in the United States, our most immediate concern is that violent extremists — individuals or small groups — will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives,” he told the Senate Homeland Security Committee, NBC News reported. “That includes not just homegrown violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization, but also domestic violent extremists targeting Jewish or Muslim communities.”

In an intelligence assessment released this week, the Department of Homeland Security said antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents in the U.S. had risen since Oct. 7, and warned that the Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza would likely result in another uptick, ABC News reported.

“Targeted violence attacks may increase as the conflict progresses,” the report said.