A new report has established a clear link between antisemitism and hostility towards Israel, finding that the strongest holders of antisemitic views tend to support boycotts of Israel or consider it an apartheid state.
Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research and the report’s co-author, said that people who hold “traditional antisemitic views” about divided Jewish loyalties or the nefarious use of power are more likely to back ideas of boycott or apartheid than those who do not hold them.
“That does not mean that everyone endorsing these ideas [apartheid and boycotting] is necessarily an antisemite,” Dr Boyd added.
“Indeed the data also indicate that some people who hold these views about Israel exhibit no particular hostility towards Jews at all.
“But it does indicate that Jewish people, the majority of whom are broadly supportive of Israel, are right to be cautious here.” The paper — jointly published this week by JPR with the Community Security Trust — was based on a survey of 4,000 people in Britain carried out by Ipsos Mori between late 2016 and early 2017.
Among people who strongly agreed or tended to agree with five antisemitic ideas presented to them, 58 per cent viewed Israel as an apartheid state: while of those who identified with six or more antisemitic ideas, 52 per cent were in favour of a boycott.
When shown seven negative statements about Jewish people — such as “Jews get rich at others’ expense” or “Jews have too much power in Britain” — only 16 per cent of those who distanced themselves from all of them considered Israel an apartheid state, while only six per cent favoured a boycott.
Boycotting Israel or considering it an apartheid state was supported only by a small minority of British people overall, according to the report, The apartheid contention and calls for a boycott, which was co-authored by JPR research fellow David Graham.
Just over a fifth, 21 per cent, agreed that Israel was an apartheid state — five per cent strongly — compared with 19 per cent who disagreed.
The majority were either neutral or did not know. More people, 46 per cent, rejected a boycott than backed it — 10 per cent.
Among those with a political allegiance, Scottish Nationalists were the most likely to consider Israel an apartheid state — 37 per cent against 15 rejecting the notion.
Labour voters supported the idea by 27 per cent to 16, LibDems 30 per cent to 25. Only among Conservatives did more reject the idea than support it, 26 per cent to 18.
Among ethnic groups, Arab respondents were “most likely to agree with both the apartheid and boycott contentions about Israel”.
The report said the evidence showed that “the greater the level of anti-Jewish sentiment held by members of the British public, the more likely they are to agree with the idea of boycotting Israel. This is also the case for the apartheid contention, although here, the relationship is weaker”.
Those surveyed were shown a number of statements about Israel as well as about Jews.
“Those who harbour anti-Jewish sentiment are rather more likely to believe contentions that Israel is exploitative, overly powerful and the cause of many ills than they are to believe that it should be boycotted or that it is an apartheid state,” the report concluded.
“Nevertheless, agreement with either the apartheid or boycott contentions tends to align with antisemitic feeling.”
In an earlier version of this report, we wrote: “No fewer than 58 per cent of those who consider Israel an apartheid state strongly agreed or tended to agree with five antisemitic ideas presented to them, while 52 per cent of boycotters identified with six or more.”
Those figures were taken from the JPR’s report. Prior to publication, the JC checked with the JPR that the figures were correct - which was confirmed by JPR.
Today the JPR have clarified that the figures are in fact incorrect and consequently the sentence is inaccurate. We have amended our story accordingly.