Scottish Jewish groups row over racism

By Stephanie Brickman, June 3, 2010

A row is raging between two key communal organisations over the level of antisemitism in Scotland.

In a letter to the JC, Glasgow Jewish Educational Forum's Michael Samuel, Jeremy Stein and Tony Tankel expressed concern "at the repeated attempts of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities to exaggerate the threat of antisemitism, which will only cause harm to the interests of Jews living in Scotland".

At SCoJec, public affairs officer Leah Granat countered that the council was not trying to exaggerate matters. "The Jewish community is absolutely not under siege in Scotland, but it's ridiculous to deny that incidents do happen. Clearly we need a piece of research to find out what isn't reported." She added that she was waiting for the police to arrive to investigate threatening hate mail received that morning.

The council is planning research to deepen understanding of the experience of being Jewish in Scotland, with particular focus on antisemitism.

"It might be antisemitism in the playground, it might be in the classroom, it might be some form of institutional antisemitism," said SCoJeC director Ephraim Borowski.

We need research to find out what isn’t reported

"Everybody has got stories to tell about things that have happened that made them feel uncomfortable or vulnerable."

According to the Community Secur-ity Trust, just 10 out of 541 reported incidents in 2008 occurred in Scotland.

Despite a relative upsurge around the time of Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, the figures remain low compared to elsewhere in the UK.

But Mr Borowski said SCoJeC was aware of six incidents the CST did not know about. "Three were described as racist and three as religious.

"We need to make sure that when things are reported, they are properly categorised and properly handled."

The educational forum writers also reject any suggestion that antisemitism is the reason for the decline in numbers of Scottish Jewry.

Last updated: 3:01pm, June 3 2010