Nearly half of British Jews fear the community may not have a long-term future in the UK and one in four have considered leaving the country in response to rising hatred, shocking new figures have revealed.
A poll of more than 2,200 community members also suggested more than half see “some echoes” of the 1930s in the recent rise in anti-Semitism here.
However, while the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council acknowledged “the anxiety articulated is real”, they were quick to question the “methodology” of the poll conducted by the Campaign against Antisemitism. Senior communal figures were also understood to be angry at the timing of the poll, believing it would achieve nothing but further panic among community members in the wake of the Paris atrocities.
Among respondents, 45 percent agreed with the statement ‘I am concerned that Jews may not have a long-term future in Britain”, with 37 percent disagreeing. Fears about Europe were even greater, however, with 58 percent overall concerned there may not be a future for the community on the Continent.
Fifty-six percent feel the situation has some echoes of the 1930s, rising to 64 percent among those who responded in the North of England where anti-Semitic attitudes were also more prevalent than average. Just 27 percent disagree there are any parallels.
A staggering one in four of those who took the online survey over the past three weeks said they had considered leaving the country over the past two years because of anti-Semitism.
“This is a shocking wake-up call that shows that Britain is at a tipping point,” said CAA chair Gideon Falter. He said that anti-Semitism is not “yet” at a level seen elsewhere in Europe but that unless it’s “met with zero tolerance, it will grow and British Jews will increasingly question their place in their own country”.
The results from the online survey come after the CST reported a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in July – against people, property and online – during the height of the war between Israel and Hamas.
While the CAA said the Government was “clearly” taking the scourge seriously after he presented a five-point plan to tackle the scourge during a meeting with Home Secretary Theresa May last week, a huge majority – 63 percent – believe the authorities let too much anti-Semitism go unpunished.
Several sources said the results of the poll – distributed on social media and by synagogue movements across what some described – came from a self-selecting sample. Communal sources accused the CAA of being “irresponsible” for releasing the survey now rather than holding it back in the wake of last week’s attacks and said such surveys were not required for the authorities to take the scourge seriously – pointing to David Cameron’s words when meeting community leaders on Tuesday.
A statement from the Board and JLC said: “Even when allowing for the methodological flaws of the research, the anxiety articulated is real and we should not be complacent about the re-emergence of anti-Semitism in the past year, as highlighted by many CST reports.
“However, it is important to remember that the current level and nature of antisemitism in Britain is not as bad as we have seen in France and other European countries and incidents of a violent nature are much lower than they have been in previous years.” It added that the facing faced “are being confronted by the highest levels of government in meetings with major Jewish organisations. This reflects the commitment to ensuring Britain remains a safe place for Jews to live, of which it unquestionably is”.
The results were released at the same time as a national YouGov poll of national attitudes towards Jews, commissioned by the CAA.
Of more than 3,400 respondents, 45 percent said they believed at least one statement described as “anti-Semitic” by CAA to be “probably or definitely” true when presented with a list of seven – with that figure rising to 51 percent among. That figure was 39 percent among female who took the survey in the two weeks up to 6 January. Overall, eleven percent believe at least four of the statements – relating to money, power, honesty and loyalty – to be true.
One of the most disturbing findings was that a quarter of adults believe ‘Jews chase money more than other people’. Seventeen percent believe that members of the community have too much power in the media, while twenty percent take the view that Jews’ ‘loyalty to Israel makes them less loyal to Britain than others’. Thirteen percent believe that Jews talk about the Holocaust too much in order to gain sympathy.
The survey also pointed to a worrying trend among UKIP supporters. The report says: “Of those polled, people who said they intend to vote for UKIP consistently believed more anti-Semitic statements to be true than average, by an average margin of nine percent.”
The survey was weighted by age, gender and region to ensure a representative sample of the British population.
In a foreward to the Annual Anti-Semitism Barometer, Falter and CAA communications director Jonathan Sacerdoti said: “Anti-Semitism is usually most visible during crises involving Israel but the sentiment behind it does not simply disappear when the crisis ends.”
But they added: “Some anti-semitic views may be totally unintentional but are no less offensive for it. Many people in the UK have simply never met Jewish people and might have stereotypical views of them.” In such cases, they argue, further education and discussion is needed “so that people can appreciate that, as with any minority groups, Jewish people are not defined only by their religion or race. Unintentional stereotypes should be highlighted more often”.
The CST’s Mark Gardner said: ” The broader social attitudes towards Jews repeats the findings of previous surveys of antisemitic attitudes, most notably by the Anti-Defamation League and the Pew Global Survey. These show that a stubborn minority of people in Britain cling onto outdated antisemitic stereotypes.
“We are working closely with the Police and Government to ensure that British Jews can continue to go about their lives with pride and confidence.”
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: “Jews are an important part of the British community, and we would be diminished without them. Anyone who peddles antisemitic views is attacking Britain and British values.
“This Government has done much to enhance Britain’s status as a safe, tolerant place for Jewish people but we are not complacent. We remain committed to tackling it wherever and whenever it occurs and continue to take a zero-tolerance approach. Those who commit hate crimes will be punished with the full force of the law.”
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism, said she had not been approached by anyone considering leaving Britain because of just anti-Semitism. She said: “Britain is not an anti-Semitic country. The survey reflects that many Jews feel fear, but that we should be brave and avoid fortress Judaism. Instead of being tempted to turn in, we must continue to turn outwards, to continue to proactively build positive relationships with our friends, colleagues and neighbours.”