Experts have cast doubt on the assumption that anti-Semitism in the UK is rising, despite fast-increasing concern among Jews.
The latest report from Jewish Policy Research (JPR) notes the huge disparity in results from various organisations conducting polls and surveys on anti-Semitism, with “different sources suggesting different trends”.
Authors say: “Some support the more alarmist claims that anti-Semitism is reaching intolerable levels; others support the conflicting claims that the UK remains one of the safest places in the world for Jews to live.”
Researchers Jonathan Boyd and Daniel Staetsky admit that concern rose after attacks in Paris and Copenhagen, and after the Community Security Trust reported a huge increase in anti-Semitism following Israel’s war in Gaza.
“The Jewish community is beset with questions and concerns,” they write, before describing “puzzling” data. “Many Jews feel anti-Semitism is on the rise in the UK, yet on this measure, the data indicate no change,” the say.
The problem, say Boyd and Staetsky, is that researchers use different approaches to measuring anti-Semitism, asking different questions, using different samples and surveying on different scales – all the while making it virtually impossible to compare levels of anti-Semitism over time.
In the UK, the authors say a proliferation of organisations seeking to measure anti-Semitism has exacerbated the problem, with the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) the latest to appear. Among those measuring are researchers, pollsters, parliamentary and pressure groups, security sources, Israel advocates, news outlets, focus groups and community organisations.
One of the few common features in polls surveying anti-Semitic attitudes are answers to questions about Jewish power/influence and the Holocaust, with the authors left asking whether this implies “latent anti-Semitic attitudes”.
Last year the CST recorded 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, an increase of 118 percent from 2013. It was the highest annual total ever recorded by the group, but an extended police liaison programme and the inclusion of comments made on social media added to the numbers.