Charedi ‘segregation’ may breed ‘intolerance and prejudice’

Charedi ‘segregation’ may breed ‘intolerance and prejudice’

Leading experts on demography warn that strictly-orthodox communities lack interaction with other social groups

A Haredi family in the Satmar community in New York
A Haredi family in the Satmar community in New York

The country’s leading experts on demography have said that the relative segregation of strictly-Orthodox Jews may contribute to their increased prejudice towards other social groups, for lack of knowing them.

The observations were made by Professor Eric Kaufmann at Birkbeck, University of London, who has co-authored a new report with Professor Ted Cantle, who first investigated community cohesion after a series of race riots 15 years ago.

Cantle warned that segregated societies “breed intolerance and prejudice” and this week Kaufmann suggested this may apply to Charedi communities, although further research would be needed to confirm it.

“Ted’s statement reflects, I think, research on contact theory, which shows more positive attitudes to other groups where there is a higher presence of other groups and/or lower segregation,” said Kaufmann.

“Of course this depends on how large a group is, so even if Jews were concentrated, if they were small enough so as not to dominate entire areas, then they would still meet others and so not have increased prejudice. But for the ultra-Orthodox, I would have thought that segregation might contribute to these very attitudes.”

In their study, which found increasingly ethnic polarisation across the country, the pair also observed the “like-with-like attraction of groups toward their own concentrations,” with Kaufmann adding: “This drive is stronger for some groups than others… I would expect Charedim to have the strongest own-group attraction.”

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