Saturday, 13 August 2016

Two years on, Scotland’s Jews concerned over Gaza – but for all the wrong reasons

When it comes to antisemitism and the impact of Israel-Palestine on our daily lives, the Jewish community in the UK asks the wrong questions, counts the wrong data and debates the wrong issues.

That’s what comes to mind when reading What’s changed about being Jewish in Scotland” research published this summer by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities following an upsurge in reports of antisemitism during and following Israel’s summer 2014 assault on Gaza.

There are around 6,000 Jews living in Scotland and 300 of them took part in the research via a questionnaire or focus groups. If the findings are representative, then Scotland’s Jews were certainly dismayed by Gaza in summer 2014 – but for all the wrong reasons.


According to the report’s authors, the findings show a heightened level of “anxiety, discomfort or vulnerability” among 32% of those surveyed as a direct result of Scottish public reaction to the Gaza conflict. In addition, 80% of respondents said that events during the summer of 2014 had negatively affected their experience of being Jewish in Scotland. In short, say the authors:

“…the decline in people’s confidence and increase in their feelings of insecurity that we found were striking and extremely concerning.”


What’s not asked by the researchers, or the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, is how we have reached this state of affairs, or whether the Scottish public’s criticism of Israel has any validity, nor what role our Jewish leadership has played in creating such a toxic atmosphere for ordinary Jews?

Of course not.

It wasn’t part of the researchers’ brief because we’re not up for having that debate.

Instead we prefer to count incidents of antisemitism, chart our growing discomfort as Jews, demand a proactive response from the police and politicians and propose more public education about Judaism.

None of this will do the slightest good. Not for Jews living in Scotland or anywhere else in the world.

Without a more open, honest, and above all moral debate about Zionism and Israel, we will continue to flounder in our response to antisemitism and fail to understand what’s enabling such hatred to flourish.

Read the rest of this post at my patheos page Writing from the Edge