Over the past three days in Brooklyn, where large numbers of the city's Jewish and Arab populations live, the worst acts of violence have included the slashing of a man with a knife and the burning of a bus for Jewish schoolchildren.
After a meeting with Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at City Hall, dozens of representatives of Jewish and Arab groups told a news conference about their "commonality" and "unity" as New Yorkers who want to prevent the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians from spilling onto city streets.
Sixty people, including 48 Palestinians, have been killed in six days of Mideast violence that has left the peace process in tatters. Hundreds of Palestinians have been hurt.
New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik said at the same City Hall news conference that police were investigating 10 incidents possibly related to bias. No arrests have been made.
Kerik said "our concern is more rumor control than anything else." He cited the example of a Jewish youth who cut his hand on a soda can only to have a false story quickly spread through the community that he had been stabbed.
Describing the overall situation as "relatively benign," Kerik nevertheless said police officers would be placed on duty at mosques and synagogues, and he ordered the deployment of more officers in Jewish and Arab neighborhoods.
Emira Habibi-Browne of the Arab-American Family Support Council told reporters that it was not well known that her group and others had worked "very closely" with Jewish organizations over the years.
"Unfortunately we are very stereotyped," she said. "We need to hear both sides of the story because emotions are running extremely high right now, and we cannot but expect a spillover.
"But the immigrants who come here, come here because this is a wonderful city and a wonderful country with freedoms, and they want to express themselves. But they should do it in a legal way," Habibi-Browne said.
Michael Nussbaum, president of the American Jewish Congress for the New York region, said Wednesday's gathering "demonstrates that the leaders of our communities are willing to work for the unity of New York, and it is also important that the children of the city as well as the adults understand that there is a message that needs to be explained to them."
Giuliani, who relied on the strong support of conservative Jewish voters to help him win two four-year terms as mayor, said the various groups were working together to release a joint statement.