Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

The recent Islamist outrages in France continued to dominate the news last week, being the most noted story for 74% of the 2,070 Britons interviewed online by Populus on 14-15 January 2015. However, the domestic research agenda has now broadened out to include the implications for the Jewish community.

Anti-Semitism (1)

The Campaign against Antisemitism (CAA), a grass-roots movement which started in August 2014, published its Annual Antisemitism Barometer, 2015 Full Report on 14 January 2015, summarizing the results of two surveys which it had commissioned in Britain, one among the public and the other among Jews. These new data led the CAA to conclude: ‘Whilst antisemitism in Britain is not yet at the levels seen in most of Europe, the results of our survey should be a wakeup call. Britain is at a tipping point: unless antisemitism is met with zero tolerance, it will continue to grow and British Jews may increasingly question their place in their own country.’ The report, the preparation of which was funded by the Anglo-Jewish Association and private donors, can be viewed at:

The survey of the general public was undertaken by YouGov among 3,411 adults interviewed online in two separate polls, on 21-22 December 2014 and 5-6 January 2015 (i.e. just before the recent Islamist outrages in France, including an attack on a kosher supermarket during which four Jews were killed). Respondents were presented with a list of seven stereotypical statements deemed by the CAA to be anti-Semitic in nature, and it was found that 45% of Britons believed at least one of them to be definitely or probably true, including 51% of men and 39% of women, the regional range being from 30% in Scotland to 48% in northern England. One-quarter (26%) believed at least two statements were true, 17% at least three, and 11% at least four.  

If the last statistic is taken as some kind of approximation of hard-core prejudice against Jews in Britain, then the proportion is similar to that discovered by Clive Field in his ‘meta-analysis’ of polls on anti-Semitism published in Jahrbuch für Antisemitismusforschung, Vol. 15, 2006, pp. 259-300.Also, more recently, according to The ADL Global 100: An Index of Anti-Semitism, released by the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in May 2014, Britain has one of the lowest rates of anti-Semitism in the world – see BRIN’s coverage at:

Results for each of YouGov’s seven statements are tabulated below, showing highs and lows by demographic sub-groups.

% saying definitely or probably true




Jews chase money more than other British people


39 (UKIP)

18 (LibDem; 18-24)

Jews’ loyalty to Israel makes them less loyal to Britain than other British people


28 (UKIP)

15 (women; Scotland; no religion)

Jews think they are better than other people


27 (UKIP)

11 (women)

Jews have too much influence in the media


29 (non-Christian)

11 (women)

Jews talk about the Holocaust too much in order to get sympathy


23 (non-Christian)

10 (women; Scotland)

In business Jews are not as honest as most people


17 (UKIP)

7 (Scotland; no religion)

I would be unhappy if a family member married a Jew


22 (non-Christian)

7 (LibDem)

The full data tables are at:

For its second survey, the CAA claims to have polled ‘a representative sample of the British Jewish community’, with the assistance of various Jewish agencies. In practice, informants appear to have constituted a self-selecting sample, who responded to an online questionnaire between 23 December 2014 and 11 January 2015, and which they accessed via a weblink distributed via social media and email lists. So, although electronic identifiers enabled duplicate or non-UK responses to be filtered out, and although the British data were weighted to reflect the regional distribution of Jews in the census (it is unclear why other census demographics of Jews were not deployed), the results should still be treated with some caution and may not be representative. As we have noted previously, it is genuinely very difficult to achieve proper cross-sections of minority religious populations. 

In particular, those with a special angst about anti-Semitism and/or who felt particularly protective of Israel may have been more predisposed to reply to the CAA enquiry than other Jews. We may note that social scientist Keith Kahn-Harris is quoted in The Jewish Chronicle as having already dismissed the CAA survey as ‘methodologically invalid. There can be no confidence in its representativeness’. The equally respected Institute for Jewish Policy Research has issued a press release in which it criticizes the CAA study for being ‘littered with flaws’ and ‘rather irresponsible’. The release can be read online at:

With this significant caveat in mind, we should note, for the record, that, of the 2,230 British Jews who replied to the CAA: 

  • 84% agreed that boycotts of businesses selling Israeli products constituted intimidation (11% disagreeing)
  • 82% agreed that media bias against Israel fuelled persecution of Jews in Britain (11% disagreeing)
  • 77% reported that they had witnessed anti-Semitism disguised as a political comment about Israel (13% disagreeing)
  • 69% agreed that the Jewish community had to protect itself because the State does not protect it enough (18% disagreeing)
  • 63% argued that the authorities let too much anti-Semitism go unpunished (19% disagreeing)
  • 58% were concerned that Jews may not have a long-term future in Europe (28% disagreeing)
  • 56% had witnessed or experienced more anti-Semitism in the past two years than previously (26% disagreeing)
  • 56% concurred that the recent rise in anti-Semitism in Britain had echoes of the 1930s (27% disagreeing)
  • 45% were concerned that Jews may not have a long-term future in Britain (37% disagreeing)
  • 45% agreed that their family was threatened by Islamic extremism in Britain (37% disagreeing)
  • 37% avoided showing any visible signs of Judaism when they went out (42% disagreeing)
  • 27% often avoided mentioning their Judaism when they were with new people (57% disagreeing)
  • 25% claimed to have considered leaving Britain in the past two years due to anti-Semitism (63% disagreeing) 

Anti-Semitism (2)

To be fair to the CAA, it had settled upon its own survey of Jews only after approaching ‘major polling organisations’ who ‘advised that they did not have enough Jewish panellists on their databases to conduct an effective or valid survey of the Jewish community’. The CAA will doubtless have been as surprised as everyone else to have read the announcement by The Jewish Chronicle, on the same day as CAA’s Annual Antisemitism Barometer was published, that the newspaper had been working with Survation over several months to develop ‘an extensive targeted database of thousands of Jews across the UK who can be randomly contacted for polling’, each poll to have a sample of around 1,000 Jews.  

Survation has published the following description of its methodology: ‘SAMPLING METHOD: Respondents were sampled based on a modelled probability of residents identifying themselves as Jewish. This was done using a range of demographic indicators selected by Survation in consultation with Jewish community leaders and academics. Respondents were asked to confirm whether they were Jewish before completing the survey, this includes both secular and non-practicing Jews. Only those who identified themselves as Jewish were asked to complete the survey.’  

‘DATA WEIGHTING: Data were weighted to the profile of all Jewish adults aged 18+ in the UK … by age and sex … Targets for the weighted data were derived from Office of National Statistics 2011 Census data.’ 

The Jewish Chronicle had originally planned to publicize this panel of adult UK Jews towards the end of January 2015 but rushed it forward in the light of recent events in France, and commissioned its first poll, with 555 respondents contacted by telephone on 12-14 January 2015. Topline results for the four questions (excluding don’t knows) are shown below, but data tables (with breaks by gender, age, and region) have also been posted at: 

  • Thinking about personal safety, how safe or unsafe do you feel as a Jewish person in Britain? – very safe 17%, quite safe 58%, quite unsafe 19%, very unsafe 3%
  • Do you feel life in general is getting better or worse for Jewish people in Britain, or is it about the same? – better 9%, about the same 45%, slightly worse 34%, much worse 9%
  • Have last week’s events in Paris made you more concerned about your safety in Britain or have they made no difference? – much more concerned 32%, slightly more concerned 41%, made no difference 27%
  • Have last week’s events in Paris made you consider leaving Britain? – yes 11% (16% among under-35s), no 88%  

An article in The Jewish Chronicle about the survey is at: 

Anti-Semitism (3)

Further evidence that hard-core prejudice against Jews in Britain may not exceed 10% of the population came in a second YouGov poll for The Sunday Times on 15-16 January 2015, among 1,647 adults. Data tables are at:

The survey revealed that, although 13% considered that, as regards other people, there was more prejudice against Jews than ten years ago (compared with 61% saying the level of prejudice was unchanged or lessened), the overwhelming majority of the public had a favourable personal view of Jews, with only a small minority (disproportionately located among UKIP voters) unfavourable. In particular: 

  • 10% disputed that British Jews are well integrated into British society, against 71% thinking they are and 18% uncertain
  • 8% denied that British Jews make a positive contribution to British society, with 73% believing that they do and 20% expressing no view
  • 7% admitted to having a negative opinion of Jewish people in Britain, 77% being positive, and 17% undecided 

Islamophobia (1)

The fall-out from the recent Islamist outrages in France has also negatively impacted Muslims in Britain, and matters are not helped by the fact that the population at large harbours an exaggerated notion as to how many Muslims there actually are in the country. According to the 2011 census, the proportion is just under 5%, yet only 9% of 1,782 adults interviewed by YouGov online on 12-13 January 2015 knew this, with the mean guess being 17%, more than three times the reality. Moreover, 26% of this national cross-section (and 54% of UKIP voters) also felt that ordinary Muslims needed to apologize when people claiming to be acting on behalf of Islam committed terrorist acts, with 63% considering that ordinary Muslims had nothing to apologize for, and 11% undecided. Data tables were published on 14 January 2015 at:

Islamophobia (2)

YouGov’s poll for The Sunday Times on 15-16 January 2015, published on 18 January, also probed Islamophobic attitudes, as well as reactions to the latest edition of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, whose front page showed another cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The majority (53% overall, 68% of UKIP voters) agreed that this had been the right thing for the newspaper to do, and a plurality of the whole sample (43%) and majority of men, Liberal Democrats, and UKIP supporters still took this line even though it would make further terrorist attacks more likely. On British Muslims, there were some sharp divisions of opinion: 

  • 58% (and 84% of UKIP voters) contended that most British Muslim leaders could be doing a lot more to combat radicalization and terrorism, against 27% accepting they were doing all they reasonably could
  • 46% thought that all, most, or a majority of British Muslims shared British values and the identical proportion that only a minority, hardly any, or no British Muslims did so, peaking at 73% of UKIP voters
  • 42% believed that British Muslims were well integrated into British society but 50% said that they were not, including 79% of UKIP voters and 59% of over-60s
  • 41% assessed that British Muslims were usually friendly to non-Muslim Britons but 20% judged them usually unfriendly, with a high of 39% among UKIP supporters
  • 33% agreed with the suggestion of UKIP leader Nigel Farage that ghettoes had sprung up in Britain where Sharia law prevailed and from which the police and other legal authorities had withdrawn, a view shared by 75% of Farage’s own backers, with 41% denying the statement (63% of 18-24s)


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