73% of UK Jews felt they were 'held responsible' by non-Jews for 2021 Gaza conflict

More than half of Jews felt unwelcome here as a result of the media coverage at the time


LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 22: People take part in a Pro-Palestinian protest outside the Israeli Embassy on May 22, 2021 in London, England. Rallies in support of the Palestinian people have taken place across the globe during the recent eleven days of conflict between Israel and Palestine. Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Israel and the two main Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Almost three quarters of Jewish people in the UK felt that they were held responsible in some way by non-Jews for the actions of Israel's government during the May 2021 Gaza conflict, a survey has found.

More than half of Jews felt unwelcome here as a result of the media coverage of the conflict, during which 248 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed, according to research carried out by a think tank.

The survey of more than 4,300 Jews asked participants to what extent they agreed or disagreed  with two statements: "Because I am Jewish, I felt I was being held responsible by non-Jews for the actions of Israel’s government during the conflict” and “Public and media criticism of Israel during the conflict made me feel Jews are not welcome in the UK". 

Among the 73 per cent of respondents who felt that non-Jews held them responsible for the conflict, almost one in five said they strongly agreed with this statement, the survey found.

Overall, 56 per cent of people said they felt public and media criticism during the conflict made them feel that Jews were unwelcome in the UK. The research was carried 2021 by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) and the results were published this week.

The extensive media attention the conflict garnered provoked “considerable unease among many Jewish people”, as did the pro-Palestinian demonstrations that took place in London and the spike in antisemitic incidents recorded in the UK and elsewhere that followed, a report released by the JPR noted.

The larger a problem respondents felt antisemitism was in the UK, the more likely they were not only to say that they felt blamed by non-Jews for Israel’s actions, but also to say that they felt Jews are unwelcome in this country.

“These results make it very clear that public responses to the May 2021 conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, a war in which UK Jews had no direct role nor any control over… made many Jews in the UK feel vulnerable and insecure in their own country,” said the report’s authors, JPR’s executive director Dr Jonathan Boyd and senior research fellow Dr David Graham.

They continued: “The fact that almost three quarters of UK Jews said they felt blamed for the conflict and over half said that public and media criticism prompted them to feel that Jews are [not] welcome in the UK is an arresting finding at the very least, which sheds light both on the tone in which the Israel-Palestinian conflict is sometimes presented and discussed during these types of flare-ups, and how Jews across the UK experience the related discourse.

“The findings in this study should serve as a caution to the mainstream media and leaders in wider British society, as well as to the public at large, about the dangers of equivalising the actions of Israel’s government with Jewish people in the UK, especially when tensions flare up in the Middle East.

“UK Jews are innocent bystanders who can all too easily feel scapegoated for the actions of Israel’s government and, as has been documented, subsequently find themselves under verbal or even physical attack as a result. Any suggestion of guilt by association is prejudicial, and constitutes a red line that should never be crossed.”

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