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January 14, 2015 11:42 am

New Poll Reveals Widespread Antisemitism in UK Society, 84 Percent of British Jews Regard Anti-Israel Boycotts as ‘Intimidation’

avatar by Ben Cohen

British Jews demonstrating in solidarity with Israel: 84 percent regard boycotts of Israel as "intimidation," according to a new poll. Photo: Twittertts

A new opinion poll released by the UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) has revealed worrying levels of prejudice in British society towards the Jewish community, demonstrating as well that an overwhelming majority of British Jews regard the public debate about Israel as stained by antisemitic beliefs and expressions.

The 2015 Annual Antisemitism Barometer discovered that 45 percent of respondents believed to be true at least one of several antisemitic statements shown to them. A full 17 percent believed three or more antisemitic statements – among them the claims that “Jews chase money more than other British people,” “Jews loyalty to Israel makes them less loyal to Britain than other British people” and “Jews talk about the Holocaust too much in order to get sympathy” – to be true.

The poll was carried out for the CAA by YouGov, which posed the statements to a nationally representative sample of 3,411 adults.

The findings showed that Britain was at a “tipping point,” the CAA said. “Unless antisemitism is met with zero tolerance, it will continue to grow and British Jews may increasingly question their place in their own country,” the report, issued a few days after the murderous antisemitic attack at a kosher supermarket in Paris, warned starkly.

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The poll also surveyed Jewish responses to antisemitism, through a sample of 2,230 British Jews covering a spectrum of opinion from the anti-Zionist “Jews for Justice for Palestinians” to the mainstream United Synagogue movement, as well as other denominations like the Reform and Spanish & Portuguese congregations.

A full 45 percent of Jewish respondents agreed with the statement, “I am concerned that Jews may not have a long-term future in Britain.” When asked about the long-term future in Europe, 58 percent believed that there wasn’t one.

Arguably even more significant, though, are Jewish perceptions of antisemitism in public debate and activism around the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. A huge 84 percent of respondents said that boycotts of businesses selling Israeli products constituted “intimidation.” 82 percent agreed with the statement that “Media bias against Israel fuels persecution of Jews in Britain.” And 77 percent said that they had “witnessed antisemitism that was disguised as a political comment about Israel.”

Jonathan Sacerdoti, the CAA’s Communication Director, told The Algemeiner that he was “surprised by those figures,” especially as such a wide range of Jewish views had been sampled.

Sacerdoti noted that “often people are told that it’s the other way around – that Jews silence criticism of Israel by invoking antisemitism.” What the CAA survey demonstrated, he explained, is that “there are people who use a legitimate debate about Israel to prevent Jews from speaking out when they feel they have been the victims of antisemitism.”

The CAA poll also showed that fear of Islamist terrorism is not confined to the Jewish community in France: 65 percent of British Jews agreed with the statement that, “My family and I are threatened by Islamic extremism in Britain.”

“France is further along the scale than we are, and there is a larger exodus of Jews from France,” Sacerdoti said. “Jews in Britain are keeping a close eye on the rest of Europe, to remain aware of any shift towards the French direction over here. However, there’s time for us to turn the tide: That requires the coming together of all parts of British society to make clear that Britain is a tolerant and safe place for Jewish people and Jewish life.”

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