GLASGOW NEWS
Jews 'don't feel safe' in Scotland

JEWS in Scotland are feeling insecure and alienated, according to a new report.

The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has discovered a major downward shift in feelings of wellbeing in Scotland since the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict.

The latest report, funded by the Scottish government, is a follow-up to the 2012 Being Jewish in Scotland report.

SCoJeC obtained the views of more than 300 people for the What's Changed About Being Jewish in Scotland report, through a combination of surveys, interviews, focus groups and discussions.

Three-quarters of respondents said that events in the Middle East had a significant impact on the way they were treated as Jews in Scotland while 80 per cent claimed events in the Middle East during summer 2014 had negatively affected their experience of being Jewish in Scotland.

Approximately one in six respondents told SCoJeC they now keep their Jewish identity secret, as opposed to just a handful in the previous survey.

Other changes since the last report included the overall experience of Jewish people in Scotland being much more negative.

A small number said that, for the first time, they were considering leaving.

There was also a sense of insecurity resulting from increased levels of antisemitism that caused many people to feel isolated and very vulnerable.

And those of Israeli origin were more concerned about making their identity known to others, while significant numbers of Jewish students had been subjected to antisemitic abuse.

Thirteen per cent told ScoJeC they did not believe in the impartiality of public authorities, including the police, when it came to complaints involving antisemitism.

SCoJeC has called the report "sobering" and "very perturbing".

The vast majority of the Jewish community supported Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state (90 per cent of respondents) and said it formed a central part of their identity as Jews and described themselves as Zionists.

They said that seeking to prevent them expressing these views was antisemitic.

Whenever Jews were subjected to abuse and harassment or denied the same rights as others, whether as individuals or as a collective, that was antisemitism.

When Jewish people in Scotland were attacked because of their views - or presumed views - on Israel, it was SCoJeC's place to represent and support them and their right to express their views without intimidation.

Communities, Social Security and Equalities Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance said: "While there is much to celebrate, we do, of course, share the concerns raised about a heightened level of anxiety within the Jewish community.

"Our vision of a nation free from fear, prejudice and discrimination is one the Scottish government will continue to work for. That is why we continue to support the Jewish community, for example, through funding of around 55,000 to SCoJeC this year."

She added: "My message to the Jewish community is clear.

"Scotland is your home, you are welcome and your contribution to our economy, our society and our culture is valued.

"I look forward to working with the Jewish community to ensure that Scotland continues to be one of the best places in the world for people from all backgrounds to live, work and raise their families."

SCoJeC director Ephraim Borowski said: "Although many of these findings are very perturbing, it is reassuring that the Scottish government has listened to the concerns of Jewish people throughout Scotland and is taking them seriously by increasing its support for our work to ensure that Jewish people in Scotland feel safe, supported and well integrated.

"While we can only be seriously concerned by the negativity and level of discomfort expressed by many respondents and the extent to which Jewish people's experience in Scotland has deteriorated, it remains the case that the vast majority of Scottish Jews are here to stay."

Part of the report reads: "Sadly, this second inquiry was entirely dominated by expressions of insecurity and alienation.

"Most tellingly, the person who said in 2012 that Scotland is a 'darn good place to be a Jew' told us less than two years later that 'I feel alienated, and no longer Scottish first then Jewish. I feel Jewish only'."

The full findings of the report can be read at www.scojec.org/resources/files/bjis2.pdf


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