Talk about false advertising.
In the title, I made it sound like I'd tell you what's missing in that recent Associated Press story on America's Little Syria.
But here's the deal: I'm not entirely sure I know what's missing. Or if something really is. How's that for wishy-washiness?
I've read the AP report three times — going on four — and each time at the end, I find myself going, "Hmmmmm."
Maybe you can help me figure this out?
Let's start at the top:
ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — A few days ago, a pastor asked Syrian-born restaurant owner Marie Jarrah to donate food to a welcoming event for recently arrived Syrian refugees. Jarrah, who said she regularly helps people in need, declined.
Like many of Allentown's establishment Syrians, she doesn't think it's a good idea to bring refugees to the city. She clung to that view even before last week's terrorist attacks in Paris. "Problems are going to happen," said Jarrah, co-owner of Damascus Restaurant in a heavily Syrian enclave.
As debate intensifies nationally over the federal government's plan to accept an additional 10,000 refugees from war-ravaged Syria, a similar argument is taking place in Allentown — one with a sectarian twist.
Pennsylvania's third-largest city is home to one of the nation's largest populations of Syrians. They are mostly Christian and, in no small number, support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — a dynamic that's prompting some of them to oppose the resettlement of refugees, who are Muslim and say they fled violence perpetrated by the Assad regime.
First off, I love the story angle. Amid all the headlines focused on Syrian refugees this week, I'm extremely interested in what the folks quoted in this story have to say.
Up high, it sounds like the Christian Syrians are anti-refugee, while the Muslim Syrians are pro-refugee — the unidentified pastor planning a welcoming event notwithstanding.
In the middle of the story, readers learn that local Muslims are helping the refugees:
The Muslim Association of Lehigh Valley, a mosque and school outside Allentown, has been working with the refugees, integrating them socially, sorting through donations of clothes, appliances and school supplies, and enrolling them in English-language classes.
"There's a lot of rhetoric, but we try not to even acknowledge the rhetoric, because right now there's a crisis," said Sherrine Eid, refugee coordinator at the Muslim Association. "We have much bigger fish to fry."
But later, the story suddenly switches to Christians welcoming the refugees:
Some Syrian Christians say they welcome the refugees.
"I don't have a problem with anyone coming here. I came to America as an immigrant. That's what I am," said Osama Dayoub, 23, who was raised in Syria but moved to Allentown in 1999 and gained citizenship. "You're going to make them feel uncomfortable? No. Let them live."
An Orthodox church where many pro-Assad Syrians worship — and which recently sent a delegation to the Russian embassy in Washington to express gratitude for Russia's backing of Assad and its airstrikes in Syria — is hosting a benefit next month for Syrian refugees locally and abroad. The church has already directly assisted a Muslim refugee family in Allentown.
"We are concerned like everyone else," said Nasser Sabbagh, a board member of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church and brother of the pastor. "We are concerned about the safety of the Lehigh Valley community and the Syrian community." But, he said, the refugees "are not terrorists. . I don't think we should isolate them and push them way."
So now I'm a little confused.
Maybe it's a matter of generalizations where there needs to be much more nuance and context. Maybe it's a matter of a wire service trying to tell a story that ought to be 2,500 words in only 800. Maybe something else entirely is throwing me off and I just can't put my finger on it.
Or maybe the story is fine and my mushy brain just really needs the weekend to get here.
I'm open to all those possibilities. By all means, click the link and help me solve the mystery. Please?