A new study funded by the Scottish Government and conducted by The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) has found that Jews in Scotland are feeling more isolated and fearful.
The organisation conducted a similar survey in 2012 called “Being Jewish in Scotland” where they were hopeful that if a similar survey happened in twenty years from now there would be a reduction in the levels of intolerance and a greater sense of mutual understanding between Jewish and non-Jewish people.
Unfortunately, just a few years later their latest survey, titled, “What’s changed about being Jewish in Scotland” has found the anti-Semitic attitudes and intolerance are increasing.
Researchers discovered that it was becoming increasingly common for Scotland’s Jews to keep their Judaism secret, and that many of the Israelis living in Scotland hide their nationality and do not speak Hebrew in public.
The study found that 11% of Scottish Jews could not think of anything positive about being a Jew in Scotland, with many now questioning their future in the country. All of this is because of an increase of anti-Semitic attitudes and behaviours within Scotland.
Over 30% of respondents explicitly talked about a heightened level of anxiety, discomfort and vulnerability, despite not having been directly asked.
The main reason for this heightened feeling of isolation was revealed by 80% of those surveyed who said that events in the Middle East, especially around Summer 2014 (during the Gaza conflict) had negatively affected their experience of being Jewish in Scotland. And in relation to that, 18% of respondents expressed the actions of some local authorities raising Palestinian flags (presumably in solidarity with the Palestinian people during the war) as contributing to their general sense of unease. Some 13% went as far as expressing that they no longer have confidence in the impartiality of public authorities, including the police.
Here some of the comments made by Scottish Jews that clearly show the the growing anxiety within the community:
“I would never before have considered it risky to show my Jewish identity in public. However that is changing.” (F, 20s, Glasgow)
“For the first time in 62 years I did not attend high holiday services this year due to my security concerns.” (M, 60s, Edinburgh)
“I’m scared to tell people at work that I’m Jewish – I talk about going to church instead of synagogue.” (F, 60s, Edinburgh)
“My wife and I have completely stopped going to services.” (M, 30, Edinburgh)
“As a child and teenager growing up in Edinburgh, I was proud to say I was Jewish and it was viewed positively by Edinburgh people who often had memories themselves of growing up alongside Jewish people and spoke enthusiastically of that. I am very wary now to be upfront about being Jewish in certain circles, and especially after the events this summer .” (F, 60s, Edinburgh)
“I suppose in the last summer I probably kept my profile a little lower than usual. I was incredibly angry at the council buildings in Scotland taking sides (flying a Palestinian flag). I did try to advocate, explain, and debate points with people, but it was then that I was met with some prejudice, and suddenly people’s true colours came through.” (F, 30s, Borders)
“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… being Zionist means believing in the right of the Jewish people to have a safe homeland of their own.” (F, 60s, Glasgow)
“I used to be much more open about telling people that I’m Jewish, until the onset of… anti-Semitic comments and jokes, which only got worse as they started being aimed at me. I now only tell people that I’m Jewish when I’ve known them for quite a while and it comes up unavoidably in conversation.” (F, under 21, Fife)
To read the full report, please click here.
We must pray for our Jewish friends in Scotland and throughout the United Kingdom and do all we can to show them that we Christians are on their side.
To take a more active role in combating the rise of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom, please sign our “Christians Against Anti-Semitism” petition here.