80 percent of British Jews report feeling blamed for Israeli actions

British Jews feel perceived rise in anti-Semitism but aren’t unduly worried; anti-Semitic incidents “spike” when Israel engages in military action.

Demonstrators march in central London July 19 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Demonstrators march in central London July 19
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Despite relatively low levels of anti-Semitism within a European context, British Jews see a rise in inimical sentiments directed towards their community, according to a study on communal perceptions released this weekend.


According to the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, whose report was based on data it collected in 2012 as part of a larger continent wide study commissioned by the European Union’s Agency for Fundamental Rights, British Jews are evenly split in their assessment of the severity of anti-Semitism, with around half of respondents saying that they feel that such sentiments are either a “fairly big problem.”


An almost identical segment of British Jewry, however, indicated that it believed that anti-Semitism is “not a very big problem,” leading researchers to assert that it is “rather a conundrum.”


Anti-Semitism “continues to be one of the top one of the top issues on the Jewish communal agenda, and efforts to combat it generate substantial funding. At the same time, British Jews have arguably never before been so confident about their Jewishness, and so open about displaying it in public.”


British Jews, the researchers added, at eighty three percent, overwhelmingly believe that their feelings of belonging in their country are either “very strong” or “fairly strong.”


Despite this increasing confidence in their place in British society, however, seventy percent of Jews believe that anti-Semitism has “become more acute.”


According to the JPR, anti-Semitic incidents “spike” when Israel engages in military action in the Middle East.


The report cited data from the Community Security Trust, a Jewish organization that provides “physical security, training and advice,” showing an increase of 234 percent over the monthly average in anti-Semitic incidents during Israel’s 2009 Cast Lead operation in Gaza.


At the beginning of the month, the CST issued a warning to communal institutions expressing concerns that “an escalation in the current overseas situation may heighten the risk of antisemitic incidents occurring here in the UK” and calling for strict compliance with recommended security procedures at all Jewish venues.


“The Arab-Israel conflict clearly affects how safe Jews feel in the UK, albeit to varying degrees,” the JPR asserted, with only a tenth of British Jews saying that it affected their feelings of personal safety.


Almost eighty percent of respondents, however, indicated that “they have felt blamed by non-Jews, at least occasionally, for the actions of the Israeli government, purely on the basis of their Jewishness.”


Moreover, around one third of respondents reported being worried about themselves of those close to them “becoming a victim of antisemitic harassment or verbal attack.”


One fifth reported concerns over becoming the victim of a physical assault.


Despite such sentiments, however, the report concluded that Jews in the UK are generally less worried over anti-Semitism than their coreligionists in other European nations and that “there is evidence to indicate that most British Jews feel fully integrated into British society.”