Study: Scottish Jews Increasingly Keeping Identity Secret to Avoid Antisemitism
Scottish Jews are increasingly keeping their identity a secret for fear of being the target of antisemitism, a new study reveals.
According to “Being Jewish in Scotland” — commissioned by the Scottish government and carried out by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) — 17 percent of respondents said they take steps to hide their Jewish identity, which the study noted is “many more than in 2012.”
One Glasgow woman in her 20s told SCoJeC, “I would never before have considered it risky to show my Jewish identity in public. However, that is changing.”
In addition, non-Jewish parents of offspring with Jewish heritage said they are concerned about their children being publicly perceived as Jewish, which would pose a threat to their safety and security.
“This exacerbates their isolation, since hiding their Jewish identity also diminishes their opportunities to connect with other Jewish people and thus to develop strong, resilient and supportive communities,” the authors of the study wrote, pointing to the 32% of Scottish Jews who expressed heightened levels of anxiety, discomfort or vulnerability, due to antisemitism.
“For the first time in 62 years, I did not attend high holiday services this year due to my security concerns,” a male respondent in his 60s from Edinburgh told SCoJeC.
Many other respondents said they felt victimized after being the target of antisemitic jokes or social media posts.
According to the study, there was a spike in antisemitic incidents in Scotland in late 2014, following Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza that summer. SCoJeC said it received during that period almost the same number of reports of antisemitic incidents as in the whole of 2013.
“Experiences of antisemitism and hate crimes, often masquerading as political criticism of Israel, have increased since our first ‘Being Jewish in Scotland’ Inquiry,” the authors of the report wrote.
“There has been a definite change and that is largely due to the increasing level of anti-Israel activity and the derogatory description of being a Zionist,” an unidentified female respondent in her 60s from Glasgow wrote. “Being Zionist means believing in the right of the Jewish people to have a safe homeland of their own.”
An Israeli female in her 20s living in Edinburgh said, “I feel scared to speak in my language or tell people I’m Jewish or from Israel. I don’t go to any Jewish gathering unless it’s at somebody’s home, and I try to hide anything about being Jewish when I’m outside my house.”
The 2016 “Being Jewish in Scotland” study is a followup to an identical SCoJeC inquiry in 2012. According to a 2011 census, 5,887 people identify as Jewish in Scotland.