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Trump Has Brought Jews and Muslims Even Closer Together

Do you have a Muslim friend? Do you have a positive view of Muslims? Well, if you answered “yes” to both you are likely Jewish.

Those are just some of the findings of the new poll released this week by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) in partnership with Georgetown University’s The Bridge Initiative.

In fact, despite Donald Trump’s goal of dividing Americans in every way his small diabolic brain can conjure up, the ISPU poll makes it clear that Jews and Muslims in America have more in common than ever on issues ranging from U.S. politics to how we both view each other in a very positive light.

But first let’s start with something I’ve been saying for years: People with a Muslim friend tend to hold a far more positive view of Muslims. It makes sense. If you know a person in a minority group, you typically will have a more favorable view of that group — unless of course the person you know is a real jerk. (It’s for this very reason I open my SiriusXM radio show by offering to be people’s “MBFF” (Muslim Best Friend Forever) and it’s also why my new podcast is titled simply, “I Want to Be Your Muslim Friend.”)

Well, the new ISPU report backs up my theory with actual statistics. As the study explains, “It is striking to note that the biggest improvement in someone’s opinion of all Muslims results from simply knowing a Muslim.” Stunningly, the poll found the favorable view of Muslims “doubles from 21% favorable to 47%” among people with a Muslim friend. And if a person reported they had a “good friend” who was Muslim (Or an “MBFF” as I like to call it), the favorable rating of Muslims jumped to 57%.

If only I could assign everyone in America a Muslim friend, my community would be beloved!

The study also found that of all the faith groups in our country, the one that had the highest percentage of Muslim friends were Jews, at 76%. And 45% of Jews report they are “close” friends with a Muslim — again the highest percentage of any religion. (In contrast, white Evangelicals had the lowest percentage of Muslim friends and not surprisingly they hold the highest unfavorable views of Muslims.)

Given the Muslim-Jewish friendship fest, it’s no surprise that Jewish Americans hold the most positive view of Muslims of any faith group, at 53%, with only 13% having a negative view.

And American Muslims views of Jews essentially mirror those very numbers with a majority of Muslims viewing Jews in a positive light, while only 10% hold an unfavorable view.

I doubt these numbers surprise too many Jews and Muslims. And I would predict that the good vibes between our communities will be even higher after the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is resolved justly (Inshallah).

But that’s not all Jews and Muslims share, per the report. Both Jews and Muslims hold very similar political views in the time of Trump.

Of all the religious groups in America, Muslim approval of Trump is the lowest, at 16% (Who are these 16%?!). Not far behind and the second lowest faith group that approves of Trump is Jewish Americans, clocking in at a paltry 27%.

Even the way we vote matches up. In the last election, 76% of Muslims cast a ballot for Democrats, with the next most support for Democrats among Jews at 71%.

On a less positive note, Jews and Muslims have something else in common: We’ve both endured a well-documented spike in hate crimes in the age of Trump. Tragically, both communities have seen people killed simply for our faith. Heartbreaking examples include the despicable white supremacist terror attack at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018 and the recent deadly attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California and the mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. That doesn’t even include the foiled terror attacks by self-professed white supremacists, and in some cases Trump supporters, plotting to slaughter Muslims in our country.

The result of this uptick in hate has been, as I’ve seen firsthand, an increase in interfaith work between Jews and Muslims, as well as some sects of Christianity. That has clearly increased the ties between our two communities as we toil together in pursuit of our common goal to combat bigotry.

Now I don’t think if the terrorists who targeted our communities had a Muslim or Jewish friend it would’ve changed their views. Self-professed right wingers have responded to my podcast title “I want to be Your Muslim friend,” with comments like, “I don’t want a Muslim friend,” “All Muslims are terrorists” and “Go back to your country,” which in my case is New Jersey.

But excluding the true bigots who can’t be reached, Trump’s drumbeat of intolerance has brought many communities together to stand united against his bigotry, racism and sexism. That of course very much includes uniting Jews and Muslims.

And in the long run, that is both great for our nation and great for our respective communities.

Dean Obeidallah is the host of SiriusXM Progress’ The Dean Obeidallah Show. He co-created the stand up comedy show “Stand up for Peace” to foster understanding between Jews, Muslims and Christians. And he’s a frequent contributor to CNN and The Daily Beast.


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