In last week’s JC, sociology researcher Keith Kahn-Harris welcomed the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s latest research into antisemitism in the UK, and British Jews’ responses to it, but he raised questions about our charity’s approach to the answers. I am happy to answer them.
Our Antisemitism Barometer research is the product of three years’ work. We undertook five polls and analysed 10,567 responses. We commissioned YouGov to survey attitudes towards Jews amongst British people in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Separately, we worked with partners in the community to poll British Jews’ responses to antisemitism in 2016 and 2017, hiring a former associate director at YouGov to ensure our results accurately represented the national Jewish community. As Dr Kahn-Harris recognised, “the report’s findings need to be considered seriously”.
Our charity seeks to educate against antisemitism whilst simultaneously working to inflict criminal, professional and reputational sanctions upon antisemites. To succeed, we must pinpoint the problem, and that is why the accuracy of our research is crucial: if it contains mistakes, we could find ourselves fighting the wrong battles.
We found British people are becoming less antisemitic. Today, 36 per cent hold at least one antisemitic prejudice, compared with 45 per cent in 2015. Only 54 per cent have ever met a Jew.
We pinpointed the worst regions, age groups, political persuasions and more. Amongst Jews, we found that in the past two years, nearly one in three of those who took part in our survey has considered moving abroad due to antisemitism. That does not mean they are busy packing their suitcases, but Jews are asking themselves alarming questions about their future here, and that is significant.
In public, 39 per cent of us are concealing our religion, while 64 per cent of us think the authorities do too little to punish antisemitism, and 52 per cent think the Crown Prosecution Service does too little.
Three-quarters — 76 per cent — say political developments have caused more antisemitism and 83 per cent say Labour is harbouring antisemites. We use this information to target our work, including drawing up recommendations that we are discussing with the government.
Dr Kahn-Harris asks about our research, focusing on the speed of our analysis and what he called our lack of “collegiality”. He might just as well have asked us by email as in a newspaper column.
It is hard to characterise a three-year study as hasty. Rather than being disconcerted by the speed of our analysis, he should understand that CAA operates like a start-up. Instead of salaried nine-to-five functionaries, we are powered by dedicated unpaid volunteers working all hours when needed.
By the time we had concluded our 2017 polling, we had already built the data models to analyse it and discussed previous years’ findings. All that remained was to analyse the latest results, and how they compared to what we had found previously.
I suspect Dr Kahn-Harris most objects to what he perceives as our lack of “collegiality”. He explains that we are rarely to be seen at conferences or at communal symposia, and he blames us. The fact is CAA is excluded from the Jewish community’s cosy club of established bodies, but we will always be willing to collaborate constructively against antisemitism. Next time there is a conference, if he invites us, we will be delighted to come.
Gideon Falter is chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism