A study funded by the Scottish Government has found that the Scottish Jewish community is feeling increasingly isolated and fearful. SCoJeC, a charity which advocates for Scottish Jews, was commissioned to undertake the research which included a survey and focus groups.
Researchers discovered that it was becoming relatively common for Scotland’s 5,887 Jews to keep their Judaism secret, and that many of the 400 Israelis living in Scotland hide their nationality and do not speak Hebrew in public. Noting that a growing number of Scottish Jews could name nothing positive about being a Jew in Scotland, the study reported that some Scottish Jews were considering leaving Scotland due to rising antisemitism.
One Jew summed up the change in two quotes given two years apart, saying in 2014 that Scotland was a “darn good place to be a Jew”, but reporting this year that “I feel alienated, and no longer Scottish first then Jewish, I feel Jewish only.”
Numerous respondents told SCoJeC that they had stopped attending synagogue services due to fear of antisemitism, were the victims of antisemitic jokes or social media posts and felt victimised for being Jewish.
Much of the prejudice directed at Scottish Jews was due to the bigotry of Scots opposed to Israel, who expressed their views by bullying, intimidating and abusing Jews. Respondents said that they were singled out for their cultural and religious ties to the Jewish state, and that Zionism, the movement for Jewish self-determination, had become socially unacceptable. The Scottish Government came in for criticism in the report for its “disproportionate obsession” with Israel and respondents said that Police Scotland was losing the confidence of Scottish Jews by failing to tackle blatant antisemitism amongst the ranks of Scottish anti-Israel activists.
The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance, responded by saying: “I will give full consideration to [this study] and 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.”
Nothing in the report gave any indication that the situation for Scottish Jews was likely to improve.