| 4 March 2024, Monday |

Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on edge over war in Gaza

Thanksgiving is observed on Thursday in the United States. There are increased security precautions in place, and tensions surrounding the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza may cloud the otherwise happy occasion.

Because of the Middle East conflict, authorities are stepping up security at US airports, malls, and the route of New York’s famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

A quintessential American rite, Thanksgiving brings together family and friends for turkey dinner and watching the parade and American football on TV. It also marks the most intense week of the year for travel and start of the holiday shopping season on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Both are seen as indicators for the health of the economy.

But this year the holiday takes place against the backdrop of a war that has provoked a surge in antisemitism and Islamophobia in the United States. The FBI has warned Congress that the threat of terrorist attacks are at the highest in nearly a decade.

Reflecting the anxiety, a fiery car crash on a U.S.-Canadian border bridge set off alarm bells on Wednesday before officials announced there was no connection to terrorism.

President Joe Biden urged national unity and “decency” in a phone call with NBC television during coverage of Thursday’s parade.

“Today is about coming together,” Biden said. “We can have different political views but … we should focus on dealing with our problems. … And stop the rancor.”

  • Reuters