Antisemitism prompts Scottish Jews to consider leaving the country


Scottish Jews experienced almost as many antisemitic incidents in one month last year as in the whole of 2013, prompting some to consider leaving the country.

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) put the spike down to the conflict in Gaza last summer, reporting that it led to “unprecedented expressions of fear, anxiety, insecurity, and alienation.”

Initial findings released this week from the nationwide survey ‘What’s Changed About Being Jewish in Scotland’ showed that a majority of the 6,000-strong community blamed the Gaza conflict for rising antisemitism, with 60 per cent saying the war had “negatively affected” them.

The full study will be published in full during the summer.

Unlike the last report in 2012, several participants were thinking for the first time about abandoning Scotland, while SCoJeC also discovered that “many more people” actively hide their Judaism to avoid discrimination.

One response, held up as typical by the body, said that “the conflation of the Israeli and Jewish identities within mainstream Scottish society has created a sense of collective accountability; that the Scottish Jewish community is somehow partly complicit and hence accountable for Israeli responses”.

Paul Morron, president of the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, agreed that this conflation was “dangerous,” adding that the findings formed “a warning that the nature of the anti-Israel case and the extremity of some of the language used is having an adverse effect on the confidence of some Jews.”

Paul Wheelhouse, who is Minister for Community Safety, promised that his government would not ignore the threat of antisemitism.

He said: “There is a clear commitment, from within all our communities, to counter prejudice and bigotry and the ignorance that fuels it. However, to eliminate such prejudice, it is therefore crucial that we gain and share widely a fuller and more rounded knowledge of each of our communities. That is why we supported this follow-up report to Being Jewish in Scotland”.

Fiona Frank, who led the research for SCoJeC as the organisation’s projects and outreach manager, said: “We have been disturbed by the extent to which Jewish people’s experience in Scotland has changed as a result of the wider community’s attitudes towards events in the Middle East.”

However, she said the results were not all negative, explaining that “Scottish Jews in general say they feel at home here,” and welcoming the government’s willingness “to work with us to ensure that Jewish people in Scotland feel safe, secure, and supported.”

During the Gaza conflict pro-Palestinian protesters forced the closure of a stall owned by the Israeli Kedem company in a Glasgow shopping mall.

Both Edinburgh and Glasgow councils raised the Palestinian flag over their city chambers.

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond was an early supporter of an arms embargo on Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

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