Nearly a quarter of Brits unwilling to accept Jews as family members, poll finds

Nearly a quarter of Brits unwilling to accept Jews as family members, poll finds

Pew Research centre’s report finds that 23% of UK respondents wouldn't want Jewish people in their family, which is the second highest in Europe

Groom breaking a glass at Jewish wedding
Groom breaking a glass at Jewish wedding

Almost one in four Brits would not accept a Jew as a member of their family, according to a new poll conducted by the prestigious Pew Research Center.

The report ‘Being Christian in Western Europe,’ published this week, contains results from interviews with 24,000 randomly-selected adults in 15 European countries, including the UK.

Asked whether they would accept Jews as members of their family, Brits were the second least tolerant, with 23 percent saying they wouldn’t. In Italy, 25 percent said ‘no Jews,’ whereas only three percent of Dutch or Norwegians saw it as a problem.

In Germany, 19 percent said they would not accept a Jewish relative, and in Austria, non-acceptance was at 21 percent. The mostly Catholic nations of Spain, Portugal and Ireland also had high non-acceptance levels at 13, 18 and 18 percent, respectively.

However, in every country, far more respondents said they would be unwilling to tolerate a Muslim member of the family. In Italy this was as high as 43 percent, while in the UK it was 36 percent.

Even in Scandinavia, a region known for its tolerance, up to four times as many people said they would draw the line at Muslims, as compared to those who would not welcome Jews.

The authors say that respondents’ religiousness mattered, and that “Christians at all levels of religious observance are more likely than religiously unaffiliated adults to say they would not be willing to accept Jews in their family”.

They add that Christians are also “more likely to agree with highly negative statements about Jews, such as ‘Jews always pursue their own interests and not the interests of the country they live in.’”

In Italy, 12 percent said they wouldn’t want a Jewish neighbour, with 10 percent of Irish and Portuguese in agreement. Nine percent of Brits said they wouldn’t like to live next to a Jew.

The statement that “Jews always pursue their own interests and not the interest of the country they live in” got support in Portugal and Spain from 36 and 31 percent respectively, while in Italy, Belgium and Norway, a quarter or more of respondents agreed.

The survey found that those who held negative views of Jews were also more likely to hold nationalist, anti-immigration and Islamophobic opinions.

Testing levels of knowledge about Judaism, the highest levels of confessed ignorance were found in Spain and Portugal, where 83 and 82 percent of respondents respectively admitted knowing “not much” or “nothing at all”.

Elsewhere Brits were found to be the most likely to “personally know” a Jewish person, with 55 percent saying they had a connection.

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