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UK Jews Feel They're 'Held Responsible' for Israel's Decisions

Study reveals that while British Jews feel safer than communities elsewhere in Europe, anti-Israel feeling spilling into anti-Semitism.
By Sarah Leah Lawent
First Publish: 7/24/2014, 6:11 PM

Anti-Israel demonstration outside Israeli embassy in London
Anti-Israel demonstration outside Israeli embassy in London
Reuters

A study on anti-Semitism in the UK has shown that an overwhelming majority of British Jews have expressed that they feel they are being held responsible for the decisions of the Israeli government.

According to a survey conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, only 6 percent of the Jewish population thought that criticism of Israel by a non-Jew was an indication of anti-Semitism, but close to a third thought that a non-Jew calling for a boycott of Israeli products was a definite sign.

According to the Institute’s findings, half of Jews were highly perturbed at parallels made by non-Jews in comparing Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian population to the way the Nazi regime treated Jews, and was a completely anti-Semitic stance. More than 75 percent of those included in the survey noted that they had heard this comparison made at least once.  Only 10 percent of the survey participants said they felt that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not impact their feelings of personal security in the UK.

The survey concluded that Israel holds a “deeply personal” place within the British Jewish community.

“Israel does not simply represent a place or a conflict, but is rather a fundamental component of Jewish identity,” the document states.

The institute, which conducts studies of contemporary Jewish communities not only in the UK, but throughout Europe, attained their findings through a 2012 survey which included 1,468 adults who openly identify themselves as Jewish, and was conducted prior to Israel’s latest Operation Protective Edge campaign. The group surveyed was comprised of Jews from diverse sectors, giving a broad representation of the Jewish community as a whole.

Whereas it was shown that, in general, Jews in the UK feel safer than in many other countries, orthodox Jews felt more vulnerable to attack, likely due to the fact that they are the most visibly Jewish of any other group. Half of those interviewed said they hesitated to wear any kind of public display of their Jewishness, while the other half said they never wore anything in public that would identify them as Jews.

Orthodox and younger men were shown to be the most vulnerable to attack, and those most likely to attack them were extremist Muslims and left-leaning teens, according to the study.

This survey was a part of a larger study conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights to assess Jewish communities in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Romania and Sweden.

Comparatively speaking, the UK is perceived to have a relatively low level of anti-Semitism, compared to Belgium, France, Germany and Italy, where recent anti-Israel marches have rapidly descended into violent anti-Semitism.