June 27, 2019

Some Good News Amid the Horrid

Thursday was an unusual news day with two major stories dominating virtually all news outlets—the Malaysian airliner which was “> entered Gaza to prevent Hamas’ rockets from raining down on its population centers.

Pretty much lost amidst those dominating stories were some rather interesting items that speak to the uniqueness of our country and its attitudes towards minorities.

On Wednesday, the Pew Research Center released a study, “>widespread interactions among different religious groupings. 87% of American adults say they know someone who is Catholic, 77% say they know someone who is “not religious”, 61% say they know someone who is Jewish. The latter datum is quite remarkable since only 2%, + or -, of the public identify as Jewish (for comparison purposes, only 44% of the public claims to know a Mormon which, similar to Jews, constitute about 2% of the American public). 

The average American personally knows members of at least four of the eight religious about whom the survey was conducted (Evangelical Christians, Catholics, Jewish, Atheist, Mormon, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu). Americans with college degrees tend to know members of five religious groups while those with a high school diploma or less know, on average, three groupings. 

Another Pew study released this week reveals more encouraging data, “the sympathies of the American public continue to lie with Israel rather than the Palestinians.” With data going back nearly forty years, the “> reports that on the eve of Bastille Day (on July 13th), about 7,000 demonstrators marched toward the Bastille proclaim their solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza. 200 young men broke off from the group and headed toward a synagogue (Abravanel) shouting “death to the Jews” and trapping 200-400 Jews inside the synagogue literally trapped. It took several hours for the police to arrive and allow those trapped in the synagogue to leave. 

President Francois Hollande condemned the demonstration and its anti-Semitic chants with an awkward declaration that, “One cannot make use of anti-Semitism because there’s a conflict between Israel and Palestine.” Despite its inelegance, his sentiment was well intended.

The contrast with the American public and its tolerant, civil sentiments are clear.