We must ensure that antisemitism gets no foothold in Britain

Polling shows that British Jews are better integrated than their European counterparts; we must not let extremists change this.

Polling shows that British Jews are better integrated than their European counterparts; we must not let extremists change this

Last week’s horrific jihadist attacks in Paris, and in particular the murder of shoppers at a kosher supermarket, have added to already-existing anxiety amongst British Jews about antisemitism.

The journalists at Charlie Hebdo, and the police officers protecting them, were murdered in the line of duty. Those murdered at the Hyper Cacher shop were killed simply for being Jewish.

Many Jews have also noticed that the only woman killed at the Charlie Hebdo office, Elsa Cayat, was the only Jewish woman present.

“We don’t kill women”, Said Kouachi said to one terrified journalist during the attack. Unless they are Jewish, it seems.

This jihadist determination to slaughter Jews is not new. Its French iteration left its bloody mark in Brussels last year and in Toulouse in 2012.

Add in the anti-Jewish riots in Paris and Sarcelles last summer, the regular violent antisemitic assaults on French Jews that go mostly unreported in the media, and remember the kidnapping, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi in 2006: then you start to appreciate the pressure and fear felt by so many French Jews.

This is why the 7,000 French Jews who moved to Israel in 2014 was more than double the number who moved in 2013, itself a large increase on the 2012 figure of 1,923 emigrants. There is also an increasing French presence in the Jewish communities of London and New York.

Events in France do not only affect the confidence of French Jews. Here in Britain, Jewish people also feel increasingly anxious about their safety and about the future for their families.

Britain saw a large, if temporary, rise in antisemitic incidents during Israel’s war with Hamas last summer: over 300 incidents recorded in July 2014 and over 200 in August, an increase of over 400 per cent compared to the same period in 2013. In Britain, too, jihadists have tried, but so far thankfully failed, to kill Jews.

Yet the situation in Britain is not the same as in France. The antisemitic incidents recorded last summer, though large in number, were mostly not violent. Riot police were not needed to keep mobs from burning down synagogues in London, as they were in Sarcelles.

When the new grassroots group the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) took a non-Jewish journalist to spend an entire day last month walking the streets of London wearing a kippah (skullcap) and a hidden camera, hoping to expose the dark underbelly of British antisemitism, he failed to elicit a single hostile comment from passers-by.

Now CAA has released a YouGov poll about British attitudes towards Jews that essentially repeats the findings of last year’s ADL Global 100 Survey: a stubborn minority of British people – between 10 per cent and 20 per cent – clings onto stereotypical ways of thinking about Jews.

This does not necessarily translate into conscious or active dislike of Jews. The same ADL survey found that just five per cent of British people said they have an unfavourable attitude towards Jews (the same as towards Christians, and less than towards Muslims and Hindus).

So much for the numbers. Just as public fear of crime does not always correlate to actual crime trends or patterns, so individual attacks like those in Paris can have a profound impact on Jewish self-confidence and sense of belonging.

When the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) conducted extensive polling of Jewish perceptions and experiences of antisemitism in 2013, they found that British Jews were, on the whole, better integrated, more confident and less fearful of antisemitism than their West European counterparts.

This led the respected London-based think tank, the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, asked whether Britain was an ‘exceptional case regarding European antisemitism.

In contrast, today the CAA has also released the results of an online survey that suggests British Jews feel significantly less secure now than they did in 2013.

That would not be a complete surprise given the wave of antisemitism last summer and the shootings in Paris, which took place during their survey period, although it is likely that differences in methodology explain some of the more glaring variations between the CAA and FRA results.

Meanwhile, British Jewry has just enjoyed yet another successful Limmud festival of learning, Jewish schools keep opening and London’s JW3 cultural centre has transformed Jewish cultural life in the capital.

Government ministers and police forces are queuing up to offer their support to Jewish communities in the wake of the Paris attacks. This alone makes comparisons to the 1930s inaccurate and unhelpful.

This contrast sums up the situation for British Jews and antisemitism. The dangers are real enough. Jihadis want to kill us; antisemites shout or tweet their abuse; when Israel fights one of its periodic conflicts against Hamas or Hizbollah, latent anti-Jewish attitudes in some sections of British society cause eruptions of antisemitic hate crime.

Yet most of the time, most British Jews do not encounter antisemitism and are able to live whatever Jewish lives they choose.

As French Jews have found, if terrorists are successful in murdering Jews then this delicate balance can be altered irrevocably. The challenge in Britain is to ensure that they do not get that chance.

Dave Rich is deputy director of communications at the Community Security Trust (CST)

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35 Responses to “We must ensure that antisemitism gets no foothold in Britain”

  1. Zeezus

    London’s war vs Zionism was in 1947, Liverpool, the biggest riots in England’s history.

  2. Johnnydub

    Antisemitisim seems to be alive and well in the LibDems – see Jenny Tonge and David Ward,.

  3. Pellam

    I wonder how much protection Jews would be getting in the UK and France is Israel did not exist. I believe these countries fear Jews leaving for Israel and taking their money with them. Before Israel, they would simply kill or expel the Jews and take their assets.

  4. swat

    Very unlikly to happen, unless they deliberately draw attention to themselves by wearing burkas, or long beards, and praying 5 times a day. Jews are not that easily identifyable.

  5. JoeDM

    The Jewish community is mostly well integrated and very supportive of British culture and way of life unlike certain other ethnic minorities.

  6. JoeDM

    And on the extreme left.

  7. Guest

    And of course YOUR extremist anti-Semitism is fine and dandy, etc.

  8. Leon Wolfeson

    Yes, completely unlike you.

    (Except for a couple of Haredi communities. But you don’t know them)

  9. Leon Wolfeson

    So you think it’s all about identification? Ha.

    You don’t spend much time in i.e. North and North West London, right?

  10. Leon Wolfeson


    You have to be aware at this point that a lot of i.e. minor graffiti and vandalism isn’t being reported to the police either, due to trust issues between British Jews and the Met.

  11. Gary Scott

    I agree. Hatred against people because of their Jewish faith is indefensible. There is more that ties Judaism, Christianity and Islam together than divides it. Of course terrorists and leaders of some countries are happy to have this happen. Their wish is to polarise, turning ‘brother against brother’ as it were to create some kind of civil war. We must remember not to judge by appearance or faith and condemn people for it. The ‘Semites’ of course are a number of ancient peoples including both Hebrews and Arabs. There should be no ‘sides’ as we should only stand against those who would divide us. Many forget to draw a line between faith and nationality and between the faithful and the extremists. If you don’t like what Israel does in Palestine take it up with the Israeli Government, not the Jewish family down the street. Likewise the events of Paris are not to be blamed on the Muslim family who run your local shop. We have to challenge what we feel and what the extremists do.

  12. Just Visiting

    > Before Israel, they would simply kill or expel the Jews and take their assets.

    can you point to a reputable source that says that in, say, the 40 years before Israel was founded, that this killing of Jews was being done by the UK and French governments?

  13. damon

    I don’t agree with what you say about David Ward.
    I think what he said was fair comment. Even if one didn’t like it.
    A bit like Charlie Hebdo.

  14. damon

    The poll is nonsense in my opinion. It’s asked totally leading questions and then made a big deal about that percentage not giving the right answers. You might ask people in the street, do you think one community or other smells? You’d probably get some people to say yes because they remember going into a shop that smelled of curry cooking. Do you think that black young men are too often into the gang/street culture? Say yes and you’re a racist. How about asking do Muslims care more about their religion than this country? It would be fair to answer that many do. Some say they love Mohammed more than their own parents even.

    And from the survey, we get a figure that millions of Brits have antisemitic prejudices.
    Humans have got all kinds of prejudices. It’s part of the human condition.

  15. Pellam

    I was really talking about the Christian world, not the UK and France specifically. As you know, the Christian world robbed the Jews blind in those 40 years, and that includes the Vichy French. But, why limit it to 40 years. The UK expelled its Jews in the late middle ages and took their assets.

  16. ForeignRedTory

    Didn’t know they had ’em in Britain too.
    But to reconstruct Joe, then:
    Haredim are a wart – which may be unsightly, but is very much to be preferred over bleeding ulcers.

  17. ForeignRedTory

    Anti-Zionism is the micro-aggression of anti-Semitism. Britain ought to take the French lead and deal with anti-Zionism on the basis of zero tolerance.

  18. Leon Wolfeson

    No surprise you think of people in those terms.
    It’s not Joe, it’s you. Don’t hide.

  19. Just Visiting

    It was you that named UK and France – so those are the countries being talked about.

    You stated:
    > Before Israel, they would simply kill or expel the Jews and take their assets.

    I asked you to show a reputable source that gives evidence of that.

    You failed to provide any such source.

    If you post once more, and again fail to name a course: everyone reading will take that as proof that you have no such source.

    Which is evidence that your statement was quite wrong: which leaves anyone still reading: wondering what was your motive for posting it.

  20. Pellam

    I was talking about Christian Europe and both of those countries are part of that. You do not get to decide how I slice and dice my point. After all, if that muppet Tim Willcox from the BBC can conflate the killing of Jews in Paris with events in Gaza, I can lump all of European Christianity together. Such collective responsibility has been placed on Jews since time immemorial. So don’t start whining because of my one post.

  21. ForeignRedTory

    All I notice from you is trolling. The ony question is WHICH kind of troll – a liberal or a trotter.

  22. Guest

    Ah yes, of course your constant trolling is fine because you engage in right-wing political correctness like that, and not left wing.

  23. Leon Wolfeson

    Let’s talk about the Evian Conference.
    Let’s talk about the Mandate for Palestine.

  24. Keith M

    What is the problem some people seem to have with Jews?

  25. Just Visiting

    > I was talking about Christian Europe and both of those countries are part of that. You do not get to decide how I slice and dice my point.

    You’re right – I don’t decide how you make your point.

    But any reader here is able to criticise someone if they make a claim and then not defend it, but move to a different one!

    You yourself set the geographic scene in your first point:
    > I wonder … in the UK and France…

    So you have a choice.
    Either make yourself look stupid by trying debating tricks to avoid admitting what everyone reading now knows, that your first claim was false.

    Or show that you are a credible, logical debater, with enough balls to admit an error: and withdraw your claim about the UK and France – and make a new one that you do have evidence for – which we can then discuss.

    I guess your next posting will tell us which way you’ve decided.

  26. Pellam

    Are you serious? Why are you ignoring the examples I gave of France and the UK? Read my previous post again.

  27. Just Visiting

    before I do – are they the strongest examples you have of the french and uK government “killing or expelling the Jews and taking their assets”.

    I’ll give you some more time, so you can wield the most convincing evidence you’re aware of.

  28. Pellam

    As I said, I was referring to Christian Europe, of which france and uk are part of. Notwithstanding, I gave an example of each taking life and property from jews. You then have the temerity to say that actions by Vichy France are not convincing . You have demonstrated the concept of the loser declaring victory as well as I have ever seen.

  29. Leon Wolfeson

    Short version? We’re different.

  30. Just Visiting

    I’m out.

    You’re using the cheating debating style (one known as as a straw man attack): as I did not say what you claim:
    > You then have the temerity to say that actions by Vichy France are not convincing .

  31. Pellam

    I it call like I see them.

  32. Keith M

    Spot on Gary.

  33. Keith M

    You have obviously not been to parts of Manchester and North London. It’s what a person is not what he/she wears.

  34. Guest

    No surprise you make excuses for your anti-Semitism – really does explain why you hate me, after all.

    You care for your wealth before Britain and your parents, after all, and your hate no doubt the same. Your ideology, after all.

  35. littleoddsandpieces

    Jews, Moslem, Christian, Buddhist or whatever religion is irrelevant.
    Terrorists do not care who you are. They want to impose a narrow ideology that tolerates no other opinion, even fellow Islam believers.

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