REPORT SHEDS LIGHT ON HATE
AN UNPRECEDENTED study of antisemitism has found that views which could be described as hard-core Jewhate are held by no more than 2.4 per cent of the British public.
The UK remains one of the best places in the world for Jews to live with hatred aimed at the community among the lowest recorded internationally, the report published this week by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) found.
Around 70 per cent of the British public have a favourable opinion of Jews and “do not entertain any antisemitic ideas or view at all”, it said.
But around three per cent of people hold multiple antisemitic attitudes but are not confident about expressing them, and the report suggests that a “much larger number of people” believe negative stereotypes and ideas about Jews although they do not realise that doing so could be seen as antisemitic.
Collectively, around 30 per cent of the adult British population showed “antisemitic attitudes at different intensities”.
The authors of Antisemitism in contemporary Great Britain said it provided “a meticulously-researched and detailed assessment of the population’s opinions about Jews and Israel, and addresses the question of the relationship between antisemitism and anti- Israelism using statistical techniques for the first time”.
Jonathan Boyd, JPR’s executive director, said the report established “multiple benchmarks against which to measure antisemitism, in order to help demonstrate whether antisemitism is becoming a more serious problem over
time or not, and to help policy-makers to make sound judgments based on robust evidence”.
Researchers said they wanted to introduce a different way of thinking about the level of antisemitism in British society. What they call the “elastic view” shows that while some people may hold strongly antisemitic views, and others do not, a third group hold attitudes which may make Jews feel offended or uncomfortable.
The report states: “Determining what is, and what is not an antisemitic attitude is not always clear. In keeping with the elastic view, we draw a critical distinction between counting antisemites — people who are clearly antisemitic — and measuring antisemitism — ideas that are commonly perceived by Jews to be antisemitic.
“The prevalence of the former is marginal in Britain; the prevalence of the latter is rather more common.”
More than 4,000 were asked to state whether they agreed or disagreed with a variety of questions, including whether Jews “exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own purposes”, whether Jews “think they are better than other people and “get rich at the expense of others”, and whether the community makes a positive contribution to society.
Questions on Israel related to boycotts of goods and products, whether respondents believed Israel was “committing mass murder in Palestine” and on the democratic values of the country.
JPR said, British Jews were seen “overwhelmingly positively by an absolute majority of the population”.
The 70 per cent favourable figure puts the community in a similar position to other religious minorities, particularly the view of British Hindus.
The report sought to answer three questions: why levels of anxiety among British Jews about the scale of antisemitism appeared to be out of sync with low levels of Jew-hate observed among the general public; whether anti-Israel or anti-Zionist views were actually anti- 87
semitism in disguise; and whether Jewhate was more or less prevalent among political and religious groups including the far-right and far-left, and the Muslim community.
JPR’s work was backed by the Community Security Trust, which collates figures on the number of antisemitic incidents in Britain every year.
While the chance of encountering “strong antisemitism” is slim for British Jews, there is a one in three chance of experiencing someone expressing a “potentially offensive, or at the very least, uncomfortable” view of Jews, the report found.
Just one per cent of people said it would be acceptable to be violent towards Jews because of their religious beliefs, making the Jewish community the least threatened group among minorities. Against Muslims, the response reached around 7.5 per cent, and against immigrants it was around seven per cent.
The research revealed that around 12 per cent hold “hard-core” negative views about Israe. More than half the respondents — 56 per cent — hold at least one negative view of Israel.
Levels of Jew-hatred were higher than average among the far-right and among Muslims. While the far-right remain small in number, this group displayed the highest prevalence of Jew-hate on the political spectrum. Anti-Israel sentiment was shown more strongly on the left-wing of politics as well as within the Muslim community.
Muslims were likely to be two to four times more likely to hold antiIsrael views than the general population, although the report found that 60 per cent of Muslims agreed that “a British Jew is just as British as any other person”. Most people within that community disagreed with, or were neutral on, a series of antisemitic statements read to them.
JPR’s work was the largest population survey conducted on this topic in Britain. The Antisemitism Policy Trust and polling company Ipsos MORI assisted JPR and CST.
The respondents, a random sample of the UK public aged over 16, answered questions face-to-face and online between October last year and February 2017.