Half of British Jews will not display public sign of Judaism

Harriet Sherwood
·2-min read

Almost half of British Jews avoid showing visible signs of their Judaism in public, such as a Star of David or a kippah (skullcap), because of antisemitism, a new survey has found.

Among the general public, a similar proportion agreed with one or more antisemitic statements put to them, pointing to a “deeply troubling normalisation of antisemitism”, the study’s authors said. The Campaign Against Antisemitism and King’s College London gave 12 statements that participants in the survey were asked to agree or disagree with. More than half (55%) of people did not affirm a single statement, with 45% agreeing with one or more.

Twelve percent showed “entrenched antisemitic views” by agreeing with four or more of the statements. The one that had most backing was “Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated the Jews”, affirmed by almost a quarter (23%) of respondents.

Among the other statements were:

  • “I am just as open to having Jewish friends as I am to having friends from other sections of British society” – 4% disagreed.

  • “Jewish people talk about the Holocaust just to further their political agenda” – 8% agreed.

  • “Jewish people chase money more than other people do” – 13% agreed.

  • “I am comfortable spending time with people who openly support Israel” – 11% disagreed.

  • “Israel has a right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people” – 6% disagreed.

  • “Israel can get away with anything because its supporters control the media” – 16% agreed.

A separate survey of British Jews found they were more optimistic about their future in the UK compared with last year. The end of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party was cited as a reason for renewed optimism, although many Jews felt “scarred” by the experience, and 78% believed politicians did not do enough to protect Jews. Overall, a majority (57%) of British Jews felt welcome in the UK, with 18% saying they felt somewhat or very unwelcome. The proportion who said they avoided visible displays of Judaism in public (44%) was the biggest since 2016.

Two thirds were deeply concerned by the BBC’s coverage of matters of Jewish concern, and 55% by its handling of antisemitism complaints. Nine out of 10 said media bias against Israel was fuelling persecution of Jews in Britain.

Related: Labour reinstates Jeremy Corbyn after suspension over antisemitism remarks

Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Britain’s Jews are back from the brink. This study starkly shows that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn dealt a crushing blow to Jews’ confidence in their very future in this country, and that our community is now beginning to recover.

“But scars remain. Notwithstanding the relief felt by so many, our data shows that nearly half of those who normally wear outwards symbols of their Judaism now feel they have to hide it.”