Surveys Show Spike in British anti-Semitism

More than half of U.K. Jews fear for future of community.

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Protests against anti-Semitism outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on August 31, 2014.
Protests against anti-Semitism outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on August 31, 2014.Credit: AFP

Forty-five percent of all Britons hold anti-Semitic views, according to a new survey carried out by the Internet-based market research firm YouGov for the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA.)

According to a separate CAA survey (not conducted by YouGov), 54% of British Jews fear that Jews have no future in Great Britain and a quarter of British Jews have considered leaving.

Ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust (on January 27), the YouGov survey revealed that one in eight Britons believe Jewish people use the Holocaust as a means to garner sympathy.

The two surveys also found that one in four British people (25%) believe that Jews chase money more than other British people (YouGov); one in six people (17%) believe that Jews think they are better than other people and that Jews have too much power in the media (YouGov); more than half of all British Jews feel that anti-Semitism now echoes the 1930s (CAA); well over half of British Jews (58%) believe Jews may have no long-term future in Europe (CAA); 45% of British Jews questioned feel their family is threatened by Islamist extremism (CAA); and 77% of British Jews have witnessed anti-Semitism disguised as a political comment about Israel (CAA).

Only 269,000 Jewish people live in Britain, comprising just 0.4% of the population. Jewish people have lived in Britain since Oliver Cromwell permitted their readmission to the country 360 years ago, but this report shows that many British people still harbor anti-Jewish opinions. Some anti-Semitic views may be totally unintentional, but are no less offensive for it: Many people in the U.K. have simply never met Jewish people.

The year 2014 saw the most anti-Semitic incidents since records began 30 years ago. In July 2014, London suffered its worst ever month for hate crimes, 95% of which were directed against Jews.

“The results of our survey are a shocking wake-up call straight after the atrocities in Paris,” said Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism. “Britain is at a tipping point: Unless anti-Semitism is met with zero tolerance, it will grow and British Jews will increasingly question their place in their own country. Britain’s Jews must be shown that they are not alone. The government is clearly taking this seriously and in light of these figures we expect that the police and CPS [Centre for Policy Studies, a British think-tank] will want to accelerate discussion of the five-point plan presented at our meeting with the Home Secretary last week.”

“Jewish people have contributed to almost every part of British life, yet rising anti-Semitism here and across Europe means that now more than ever Jews are afraid,” said CAA spokesman Jonathan Sacerdoti. “Some are even reconsidering their future here. British values of tolerance and pluralism must be upheld, so that minority groups like Jews feel comfortable and protected.”

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