Last week Campaign Against Antisemitism published a thorough and professional “antisemitism barometer”.
We commissioned YouGov to poll the British public’s attitudes towards Jews and surveyed the Jewish community’s reactions to antisemitism ourselves.
Released days after the Paris attacks, when the focus was on free speech and Islamic extremism rather than Jewish security, our survey focused the debate on antisemitism.
It immediately became the source of intense concern in the national media. Countless newspapers, radio stations and television channels, who are known for their scepticism, took it seriously, as did many politicians.
Some Jewish communal bodies and even the JC, however, reacted negatively, both to our findings and CAA itself.
They attacked our methodology and the results of the survey and instead assured the community and population at large that everything was fine.
The JC had its own polling to promote, but at least the other communal bodies should have responded by recognising and dealing with the threat of rising antisemitism. Mere “reassurance” is the least reassuring response. Concrete plans conquer fear, not soothing sounds.
Campaign Against Antisemitism formed last summer. We demonstrated outside the Tricycle Theatre for boycotting the UK Jewish Film Festival. We rallied thousands for zero tolerance law enforcement against antisemitism outside the Royal Courts of Justice in August during the outpouring of vile antisemitism on the streets and social networks, the like of which has not been seen in this country in many people’s lifetimes.
CAA has since met with the government at the highest levels. Last week our initiatives were singled out for praise by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, both in Parliament and in speeches. She recognised our survey as a sound insight into antisemitism in our country, as did countless others.
Our decision to instigate a thorough survey was based on several prior government meetings. Our survey was designed as a powerful tool with which to fight antisemitism and put it on the national agenda. It did that.
The survey had to be bulletproof so we commissioned YouGov to poll twice the required sample of the British public (3,411 people) and we surveyed twice the required sample of the Jewish community (2,230 people), the largest ever poll of British Jews on antisemitism.
This compares with the JC’s front-page poll of 150 people on Golders Green Road last summer, and last week’s four-question mini-poll of 555 people representing the regions of “London” and “Other”.
Our survey and theirs were not directly comparable. For example we found that 25 per cent of British Jews had considered leaving due to antisemitism whereas they found only 11 per cent, but they asked whether people had considered leaving in the past week, whereas we asked about the past two years.
Our methodology is in the full report available at www.antisemitism.uk and we are happy to answer questions.
We found that within our Jewish community, 45 per cent feared they might not have a long-term future in the UK, while 25 per cent had considered leaving in the last two years. They are not packing their suitcases, but the mere fact that they have thought about leaving shows that antisemitism is taking its toll.
Among the British public, 45 per cent agreed with at least one of the seven antisemitic statements they were shown, such as “Jews chase money more than other British people”. They may well not be antisemites, but they voiced a stereotype that has haunted the Jewish community for hundreds of years.
If we had asked: “Do you feel differently about Jews than other British people?” I suspect that few would say yes, but those who agreed with two (26 per cent) or three (17 per cent) statements are, however, less likely to be accidental antisemites.
Last year was the worst ever for antisemitic incidents and we must not wait for antisemitism to get as bad here as in France before we highlight the problem and fight back. Our survey succeeded both in pinpointing antisemitism and raising it in the national discourse.