'Israel treats Palestinians like Nazis treated Jews' - 24% of UK adults

Survey by Campaign Against Antisemitism reveals deeply troubling normalization of antisemitism in the UK.

 Demonstrators take part in protests outside a meeting of the National Executive of Britain's Labour Party which will discuss the party's definition of antisemitism, in London, September 4, 2018 (photo credit: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS)
Demonstrators take part in protests outside a meeting of the National Executive of Britain's Labour Party which will discuss the party's definition of antisemitism, in London, September 4, 2018
(photo credit: REUTERS/HENRY NICHOLLS)

A new UK poll reveals that 24% of British adults agreed with the following statement: “Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews.” Campaign Against Antisemitism's latest Antisemitism Barometer, conducted with King’s College London. It comprises a YouGov poll of the British public’s views toward Jews and a CAA poll of the Jewish community, to be published on Thursday. 

The Barometer’s poll of the British public’s views towards Jews utilises the Generalised Antisemitism Scale. The survey was designed and analyzed by Dr. Daniel Allington of King’s College London, with fieldwork carried out by YouGov.

Using the 12-question Generalised Antisemitism Scale, the survey shows that 57% of British adults do not harbor any antisemitic views; they did not affirm a single one of the 12 statements.

The other side of the coin, however, is that there is a deeply troubling normalization of antisemitism, as 43% of British adults did affirm at least one antisemitic statement, although over half of them only agreed with only one or two antisemitic statements.

Eleven percent of British adults have entrenched antisemitic views, affirming four or more antisemitic statements. 

The Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom. (credit: Rian Ree Saunders/Wikimedia Commons/JTA)The Union Jack, the flag of the United Kingdom. (credit: Rian Ree Saunders/Wikimedia Commons/JTA)

The most popular antisemitic statement was that “Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews,” with which 24% of British adults agreed. That view is antisemitic under the International Definition of Antisemitism adopted by the Government.

The Barometer also includes a separate survey of British Jews designed and analyzed by Allington and carried out by Campaign Against Antisemitism and Jewish community partners. The survey reveals that:

The events of 2021, when antisemitism surged on British streets and campuses, online, in workplaces, schools and hospitals and in other institutions, have left their mark. British Jews are now less optimistic about their future in the UK, and a record 46% decline to display visible signs of their Jewish identity due to antisemitism.

The antisemitism that arose during the conflict between Hamas and Israel weighed particularly heavy with British Jews, almost eight in ten of whom disclosed that the various demonstrations in the UK during the conflict caused them to feel “intimidated as a Jew.”

British Jews’ confidence in the criminal justice system is lower than ever: The Crown Prosecution Service has always performed poorly in our polling, but for the first time ever, a majority of British Jews do not believe that the police or the courts do enough to protect them either.

British Jews reserve significant opprobrium for political parties: over eight in ten British Jews still feel that Labour is too tolerant of racism against Jews, belying Sir Keir Starmer’s claim to have “shut the door” on antisemitism in his party. For the first time, a majority of British Jews also believe that another party is too tolerant of antisemitism: the Green Party.

In the first-ever poll on the subject, almost all British Jews believe that antisemitism in universities (92%) and on social media (96%) is a problem, underscoring the need for urgent action.

Gideon Falter, CEO of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “The events of 2021 have left their mark on Britain’s Jews. Antisemitic incidents broke new records, particularly during the conflict between Hamas and Israel, with almost eight in ten British Jews feeling ‘intimidated as a Jew’ and many now questioning our community’s future in the UK.

“It is not just the perpetrators who are faulted by the Jewish community, but also those tasked with protecting us. For the first time, a majority of the Jewish community now does not trust the police, CPS and courts to protect them. If the next commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and Director of Public Prosecutions wish to restore the confidence of British Jews in their institutions, they should urgently adopt the recommendations set out in our report.

“British Jews also point the finger at political parties, with over eight in ten British Jews still feeling that Labour is too tolerant of racism against Jews, belying Sir Keir Starmer’s claim to have ‘shut the door’ on antisemitism in his party.

“Jewish life on campus is thriving, but there is no excuse for Jewish students or faculty to be forced to think twice about their educational or professional trajectory because of concerns over antisemitism. As our polling demonstrates for the first time, there is a clear consensus that British Jews are alarmed by antisemitism in universities. Given the strength of sentiment, it is vital that a minority of universities stop refusing to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism, and that all institutions actually apply the Definition when allegations of racism toward Jews arise.

“Britain cannot be content when almost half of a long-established minority community avoids disclosing identifying signs in public, or when a broad majority considers one of the two major political parties to be too tolerant of racism. It is not too late to make the right changes in politics, at universities, online and to criminal justice, but our recommendations are increasingly urgent.”

A spokesperson for UJS said: “These statistics are not to be taken lightly. It is critical that institutions work with their students and the national student voice of UJS to take proactive measures to educate their communities on antisemitism.”