Ten times more Britons support Israel than Hamas

Our country is one where all communities who accept values like our own play an important and welcome role

November 09, 2023 15:07

The last few weeks have probably been the most difficult our community has faced in over seven decades.

There have been other times when we have felt deeply anxious about events in Israel. But this is different.

On October 7, we saw the manifestation of what we knew Hamas had threatened to do for decades. A pogrom of such barbarity, resulting in the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.

Since hearing about these heinous acts in Israel, many of us have, once again, felt less secure, less confident and worried about our own safety here.

And how could we not when CST tells us there has been a 514 per cent increase in the number of antisemitic incidents compared to the same period last year. We have all had to deal with pictures of people in the heart of London celebrating the killing of Jews and calling for the “intifada” to spread around the world.

Those of us with children in Jewish schools have been anxious about them wearing their school uniform or seeing the extra security in place at the gates. Those with children in non-Jewish schools fear how other pupils may target them.

We all know people who have felt safer removing their kippah in public and those who have changed their plans out of fear. We might have had to bite our tongues at work when a loudmouth says something about “Zionists” — and we know, in the pit of our stomachs, that they actually just mean Jews.

Our anguish and sorrow for Israel mixes with the age-old fears of the diaspora. Are we safe here? How can we be certain? Should we think about where we could go if our lives become difficult or even impossible here?

This is not an attempt to say those worries are hysterical or groundless. I know they are baked into who we are. How could they not be? But I do want to say that I believe British Jews should feel we do still belong here, and that the overwhelming majority of our fellow citizens agree.

Since the Hamas attack, the JLC has worked with experts in public opinion to gauge how the British people overall feel about the crisis. For most people, foreign affairs are a long way from their concerns.

People have enough of their own worries to trouble themselves too much with what seems like an intractable problem.

There is a sizeable portion — about one in five — of the public who sympathise more with the Palestinians than with Israel. But almost ten times as many sympathise with Israel more than with Hamas.

Twice as many members of the public say Hamas carried out the attacks simply to murder Jews rather than to defend Palestinians.

There are some sections of society where attitudes are a real problem. There is also an issue, long-neglected, with views among young people.

But the reaction of the public overall has been to support Israel’s right to defend itself. And when it comes to attacks and threats on British Jews, their reaction has been one of horror that such a thing should happen in a country like ours.

The vast majority of the ordinary, decent British public have felt an innate revulsion towards those who seek to target Jews.

It is very easy to look at social media or recent demonstrations and imagine these alienated fringes represent the view of the whole country. But I plead with you not to believe that. As we saw with the decisive rejection of Jeremy Corbyn, the British people loath and despise those who call Hamas their “friends”.

Our community is a success story. And our country is one where all communities who accept values like our own play an important and welcome role.

But we are facing some difficult times, just as generations before faced them. Our resilience and solidarity as a community — the single thing we should be proudest of — will define how we meet this test. The community’s leadership will do everything we can to help.

Claudia Mendoza is chief executive of the JLC

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November 09, 2023 15:07

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