Voices in Focus: Jews Think Better of American Muslims Than of Evangelicals

Here’s what stood out in the ethnic and community press this morning:

* The Iran Times parsed the results of a recent poll showing that American Jews have a more favorable opinion of American Muslims than they do of Christian evangelicals — a result that surprised some, after evangelicals’ vocal support for Israel.

Advocates for improved relations between Jews and Christian evangelicals had hoped that years of working together to support Israel had built bridges between the two otherwise distant communities. But the new poll indicates that mistrust and suspicion still run deep, at least on the Jewish side.

Only one in five Jewish Americans holds a favorable view of those aligned with the Christian right, a category that includes most of Israel’s evangelical supporters.

While other polling data shows that the American public in general views evangelicals more favorably than Muslims and Mormons, The Iran Times reports, Jews seem to hold a more positive opinion of American Muslims than some Christians do.

Asked if “American Muslims are an important part of the religious community in the United States,” 55 percent of white evangelicals said no. 45 percent of white members of mainline churches said no, 42 percent of Catholics said no, 40 percent of black Protestants said no, 34 percent of those with no religious affiliation said no, while just 32 percent of Jews said no.

Asked if “American Muslims ultimately want to establish Sharia or Islamic law as the law of the land in the United States,” 46 percent of white evangelicals agreed, 35 percent of black Protestants agreed, 33 percent of white members of mainline Christian churches agreed, while only 23 percent of Catholics, 22 percent of Jews and 21 percent of the unaffiliated agreed.

The survey, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute and published April 3, suggests that American Jews may feel a certain kinship with American Muslims.

The new survey also found that American Jews distinguish between Muslims in general and American Muslims, finding American Muslims to be a minority religious groups trying to find its way within American society just like Jews.

* Anecdotal reports suggest that many travelers who wear turbans have been detained and subjected to extra security measures at airports since Sept. 11, 2001. But a group representing Sikhs says these incidents have been drastically under-reported — and they have created a phone app to streamline the complaint process, Colorlines reports. “Community reports show that at some airports, a full 100 percent of Sikh travelers must go through secondary screening before they make it to their gate,” the article explains — even though the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights received only 11 official complaints of improper screenings in the first six months of 2011.

Today, the Sikh Coalition unveiled a mobile app called “FlyRights” to help Sikh travelers and others who are subjected to profiling at the airport to report their concerns straight to the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.

The app, which is available for both Androids and iPhones, has been downloaded 5,000 times so far, according to a tweet on its website.

“Up until now, victims of racial profiling at our nation’s airports had no easy way to call attention to this unfortunate trend,” Rep. Judy Chu said in a statement. “The Sikh Coalition’s new app changes that. Travelers now have the power to fight racial profiling right at their fingertips.”

* After investigators brought new public attention last month to the three-decade-old case of the missing SoHo boy Etan Patz, DNAinfo ran this interesting piece on the 14 other young children who have gone missing since Patz disappeared at the age of 6, in 1979. The DNAinfo graphic shows that many of these children are black or Latino.

Image via DNAinfo

These cases, some decades cold, may seem hopeless, but new leads do arise, said Robert Lowery, executive director of the missing children division at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The case of Etan Patz, for example, received a flurry of interest and action last month as NYPD officers and FBI agents ripped up the basement of a building on Prince Street in what was ultimately an unsuccessful search for his remains.

“The fact that this search went under way after 33 years also demonstrates that no one gives up on these missing children, no matter how long they’re gone,” Lowery explained. “We are resolving these long-term cases.”

* The FilAm profiled the Filipino mayor of Ridgway, a northern Pennsylvania town that is 98 percent white. Guillermo Udarbe, a family doctor who still practices, said he and his wife were the first Filipino family to move into the town, and initially they received phone calls warning them to go away and using ugly racial slurs.

The family stayed put, and raised two daughters in Ridgway. In 2009 Udarbe won 65 percent of the vote in a five-way race against four American candidates — despite being a Democrat in a Republican-dominated area. Since his election, he has helped revitalized the town’s depressed commercial downtown.

“I came here because Ridgway is just like my little hometown in Camalaniugan,” he told the FilAm.

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