Orthodox Jews are more than twice as likely to have experienced anti-Semitism during the past year, new research has shown, writes Justin Cohen.

A new report published today by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research reveals a huge divide in perceptions and experience of Jew-hatred between religious and non-religious Jews in Britain.

A total of 62 percent of Orthodox or Charedi Jews believe anti-Semitism is a very big or fairly big problem in the UK while 45 of non-Orthodox community members believe this to be the case, according to analysis of data gathered by the JPR and Ipsos MORI for the Union Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Around four in 10 of the former reported having experienced at least one incident of anti-Semitic harassment in the past 12 months and more than half worry about falling victim, compared to 17 and 24 percent for the non-Orthodox respondents. A staggering 42 percent of Orthodox respondents avoid visiting Jewish events or sites.

While the report shows levels of anti-Semitism in the UK are significantly lower than elsewhere in Western Europe, report co-author and JPR executive director Jonathan Boyd said: “When, we compare Orthodox Jews, as a group, to the French Jewish population as a whole, they are more likely to have experienced anti-Semitic harassment, and equally likely to feel the need to avoid certain locations out of fear.

1 bus stop graffiti

Hate graffiti on a bus stop in Temple Fortune

Given that the UK Jewish Orthodox sector will become an ever larger proportion of the community as a whole, this should be an issue of grave concern.”

The report also reveals that younger people are considerably more likely than their parents or grandparents to have experienced discrimination or harassment recently, but less likely to believe that anti-Semitism has increased in recent years.

Meanwhile, 58 percent said the Arab-Israeli conflict impact greatly or a fair amount on how safe they feel in the UK. When it came down to the frequency of respondents feeling that people in the UK accuse or blame them for the actions of the Israeli Government, the biggest proportion (42 percent) said this only happened occasionally compared to never (21 percent) and ‘frequently’ (26 percent).

Just six percent of respondents would consider non-Jews to be “definitely anti-Semitic” if they criticised Israel, although that figure jumped to a third when it comes to those pushing a boycott of Israeli goods.

Almost half said non-Jews who draw any parallels between Israelis and Nazis are definitely anti-Semitic and another third suggested they are probably so.

  • Analysis: the facts behind the stats

By Dr Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research

These new anti-Semitism research results are very consistent. Recent stats from surveys by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Anti-Defamation League and Pew Research Center differ from one another, but they all show the situation here is significantly better than in countries such as France, Hungary and Belgium.

But JPR’s new report demonstrates that not all Jews in the UK are equal in this regard. Strikingly, Orthodox Jews – i.e. those who are visibly Jewish – are considerably more vulnerable than others.

So, while the general situation for Jews in the UK is better than all other countries in Europe (and indeed, most other countries in the world), Orthodox Jews in the UK live with a day-to-day reality that is comparable, in some respects, to the Jewish populations of France or Belgium as a whole.

This is of considerable concern, not least because the most Orthodox sectors of the UK’s Jewish population are growing at a dramatically faster rate than all other sectors.

So anti-Semitic incidents may be more prevalent in the UK simply because a growing proportion of Jews will be more visible to those liable to perpetrate anti-Semitism.