JLC scores spectacular own goal

On 20 August the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) published a Report containing the results of a survey of British Jews.

Among other things respondents were asked whether they agreed with this statement: ‘In the past two years I have considered leaving Britain due to antisemitism’.

8% strongly agreed and 24% agreed.

As set out in the methodology section of the CAA Report (page 23) the respondents were self-selecting: ‘Our survey was modelled on the National Jewish Community Survey (NJCS) conducted by the Institute for Jewish Policy research. In common with  the NJCS, the sample was self-selecting,and respondents were required to self identify as Jewish and confirm that they lived in the United Kingdom….It was not possible to use a random probability sampling approach for this study because a suitable sampling frame for the Jewish population is not available in the UK.’

But the survey produced 2025 responses. In order to mirror the demographics of the Jewish population, the data were then weighted, according to age, gender, location and degree of religious observance.  Statistically 2025 is a sufficiently large sample to make the results reasonably reflective of the population. Those who suggest it is unrepresentative are in effect saying that those who care about antisemitism were more motivated to respond than those who think it’s overblown. But if anything the reverse is true! Those who think it’s overblown are primarily on the Left. They are constantly visible on social media. The idea that they would not have been motivated to respond to this survey is absurd.

But on 25 August Simon Johnson, the CEO of the JLC, posted a video pouring scorn on the CAA Survey. The video was taken down after a storm of protest. But the JLC said ‘The JLC’s position on the report has not changed’ and although the CAA deserves a public apology from the JLC, none has been forthcoming.

Here are extracts from the video, with comments following:

SJ: 1 in 3 British Jews are thinking of leaving the country or going to Israel because of antisemitism.

Comment: That’s not what the survey found. It found that nearly 1 in 3 had considered leaving Britain in the past two years due to antisemitism. The numbers who ARE NOW thinking of leaving could be very different.

SJ: This sort of hyperbolic scaremongering does nothing to help the Jewish Community. I’m afraid it’s just another attempt to grab attention and appearances on TV by the grassroots organisation that does it.

Comment: For an organisation supposedly representing the Community to rubbish people’s genuine concerns about antisemitism is contemptible – no other word for it. For the JLC to be saying the same thing as those on the far Left – who think charges of antisemitism are false, and are designed to destabilise Corbyn – is utterly despicable and a massive own goal for antisemites. Has Johnson forgotten why Gideon Falter founded the CAA? Because there was such dissatisfaction with the halfhearted and inappropriate response of the ‘official’ Jewish organisations – such as the JLC – to antisemitism. Notice that Johnson did not even have the courtesy to refer to the CAA by its name, instead calling it ‘the grassroots organisation that does it.’

SJ: I contrast that report which is full of slagging off of government and law enforcement agencies with this piece of work published by the CST in conjunction with the DCLG, Tell Mama and the CPS. This gives solutions and suggestions about what’s to be done rather than criticism and scaremongering.

Comment: The CAA’s criticism of the CPS for hardly ever bringing cases of antisemitism to Court is entirely justified. The publication that Johnson refers to is here. It describes the law surrounding Hate Crime and how to report it. It says nothing new and certainly does not offer ‘solutions’. To even compare it to a survey of the experience of Jews of antisemitism is ridiculous. To then laud it as somehow superior to the CAA’s publication is deluded.

SJ: This survey was self-selecting, was in some ways leading the witnesses … I just don’t buy the figures. One third thinking of making Aliya? Really? The Aliya figures are pretty consistent, so why create a scare story?

Comment: I dealt with the ‘self-selecting’ criticism above. There is no indication in the survey that respondents were ‘led’! It did not find that ‘one third are thinking of making aliyah’ – again, it found that nearly one third had considered leaving Britain in the past two years due to antisemitism. Quoting the Aliya data is a red herring: The numbers moving to Israel may not be a reliable indicator of the numbers considering leaving. In any case, one would not have expected the Aliya numbers to have risen – the 2016 Survey found that 28% had considered leaving in the past two years. A rise to 32% is likely within the margin of sampling error.

SJ: The same report said that some 60% didn’t feel welcome in the UK. Really? This is a country where six or seven thousand people celebrate Chanuka in Trafalgar Square. This is a country where the government puts nearly £15 million a year into visible security into Jewish buildings.

Comment: The 60% figure is simply wrong. 40% did not say they felt ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ welcome. But that is still very different from 40% saying they feel positively unwelcome. As for the £15 million figure – how is the fact that the government NEEDS to spend £15 million a year on protecting the Jewish Community supposed to make people feel welcome in the UK?

The JLC has little democratic legitimacy. Only 2 of its 12 Trustees are democratically elected and a maximum of 6 of its 34 Council members. All the more important then that they should be insisting on a public apology to the CAA and an admission that Johnson’s response was crass, ill-informed and counter-productive.

As it stands they support  the JLC’s statement that ‘The JLC’s position on the report has not changed’. Are none of you going to speak out? Seriously?

About the Author
Jonathan Hoffman is a blogger who has written for United With Israel, CiFWatch (now UK Media Watch), Harrys Place and Z-Word.
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