Working together

Jewish and Arab students work on a project together at the Max Rayne Hand In Hand Jerusalem School, where they also engage in current events discussions.

The 2019 “American Muslim Poll,” which was released by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, found that 53% of Jewish Americans reported having favorable views of Muslims and the Muslim faith. Only 13% of Jews reported having negative views.

The poll surveyed American Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Protestants and the non-affiliated to examine their views on politics, religion, sexual and religious violence, minorities and other faith groups. Among the 2,376 respondents, 804 identified as Muslim and 360 identified as Jewish. The poll was conducted in January.

The poll also reported that 45% of the Muslim American respondents had favorable views of Jews, while just 10% reported having negative views. The rest of the respondents remained neutral on the subject.

Personal connections between Jews and Muslims may have influenced the positive feelings toward Muslims. Seventy-six percent of Jewish American respondents said they knew a Muslim, compared to 54% of the general public, and 45% of Jews said they are close enough with a Muslim that they would call them if they needed help. The report also noted that 53% of Jews said that a candidate’s endorsement of the Muslim ban would decrease their support for that individual. 

White evangelicals score the highest on the ISPU’s “Islamophobia Index,” with as many as 44% holding unfavorable opinions about Muslims. That number is more than twice as high as those who hold favorable opinions of Muslims, around 20%. 

The ISPU report said that Muslims were the most likely group to report experiencing religious discrimination. Jews were reported to be the second-most likely. 

Paul Rockower, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix, was not surprised by the report and said that he has seen great examples to bring the Jewish and Muslim communities together.  

“We’re doing a lot of work to engage the Muslim and Jewish communities on a real local level,” Rockower said.

Rockower explained that the JCRC and other local organizations have made continued efforts to help bridge the Jewish and Muslim communities. In December 2018, Jewish teen organization BBYO Mountain Region hosted an interfaith Shabbat that had a large group of Muslim participants. In turn, the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona hosted an interfaith youth Iftar just before Ramadan last April. The Iftar held a large group of Jewish teens. 

“We’re facing similar threats of xenophobia and bigotry, so being minorities in America, we can kind of see the world through their eyes,” Rockower said. “Being minorities in America, Jews often find common cause with other minority groups and see their experience with that similar lens.” JN 

 

 

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