Last Tuesday the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in London published a research paper with the title Antisemitism in Contemporary Great Britain. It seemed to come up with some interesting results. Here are statements from the coverage in another Jewish weekly:
The level of anti-Semitism on the political left is consistent with the general population, a major new study has found.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism, said: “This rigorous research confirms that despite totally unacceptable attacks, anti-Semitism in Britain is at very low levels…..
And here are five statements from the paper:
(1) ….only 3-4% of the far-left are strongly anti-Semitic.
(2) The very left-wing, and, in fact, all political groups located on the left, are no more antisemitic than the general population.
(3) The prevalence of antisemitism on the far-right is considerably higher than on the far-left.
(4) …about 70% of the population of Great Britain have a favourable opinion of Jews and do not entertain any antisemitic ideas or views at all.
(5) The existence of strong, sophisticated, perhaps internally coherent and at times even ‘learned’ antisemitism, where open dislike of Jews is combined with developed negative ideas about Jews, does not exceed 2.4% of British adults.
The problem is, these five statements are all wrong. The reason they are wrong is that the definition of ‘anti-semitism’ in the paper excludes all Israel-based anti-semitism.
Focusing on the IHRA definition of anti-semitism – the definition adopted by the UK government and the most commonly used definition internationally – it is anti-semitic to:
* Deny the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour;
* Apply double standards by requiring of Israel a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation;
* Use the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (eg claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterise Israel or Israelis;
* Draw comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis;
* Hold Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
All the quantitative estimates of anti-semitism in the paper are therefore too low. And none of the relative statements (eg ‘the prevalence of anti-semitism on the far-right is considerably higher than on the far left’) can be trusted.
Unfortunately it gets worse still. The paper does test for eight ‘anti-Israel’ attitudes, as follows:
* Israel is committing mass murder in Palestine;
* Israel is deliberately trying to wipe out the Palestinian population;
* Israel is an apartheid state;
* The interests of Israelis are at odds with the interests of the rest of the world;
* Israel has too much control over global affairs;
* Israel exploits Holocaust victimhood for its own purposes
* Israel is the cause of all the troubles in the Middle East;
* People should boycott Israeli goods and products.
But one cannot simply add the results of these tests to the results of the quasi-anti-semitism test to get a genuine measure of anti-semitism, for two reasons. First there would be a high degree of double-counting. Many who hold non-Israel-based anti-semitic opinions also hold Israel-based anti-semitic opinions (a finding of the paper but hardly new – anyone on the frontline in social media or at hostile meetings knows it). But second, we are not told the split of those polled among the anti-Israel opinions. While the first seven are anti-semitic, the eighth (BDS) is not (unless Israel is the only State in the world the subject wishes to boycott).
The consequences of this elementary, fundamental flaw in the research can most easily be seen by examining the three statements above concerning the left:
(1) ‘Only 3-4% of the far-left are strongly antisemitic’: But the proportion of the far-left holding 6-9 anti-Israel attitudes – all but one of which are anti-semitic (counting an overall ‘unfavourable opinion’ as anti-Semitic) – is 22-23%! Five times the stated number in the paper! (see Figure 24B in the paper).
(2) ‘The very left-wing, and, in fact, all political groups located on the left, are no more antisemitic than the general population’. But the proportion of the very left-wing holding at least one anti-Israel attitude (seven out of eight of which are anti-semitic) is around 78-79%, way above that for the general population (47%).
(3) ‘The prevalence of antisemitism on the far-right is considerably higher than on the far-left’. True for the non-Israel based ‘quasi-anti-semitism’ definition adopted by the report – but patently untrue for the anti-Israel attitudes. 78-79% for the far-left (holding at least one anti-semitic attitude) versus only around 60% for the far-right (see Figure 24A).
But the majority of the other conclusions are also wrong. We illustrate this with reference to statements (4) and (5) above:
(4) ‘About 70% of the population have a favourable opinion of Jews and do not hold any antisemitic views’. No! This refers only to the non-Israel-based quasi-anti-semitism measure! If one looks – more realistically – at the proportion holding neither an unfavourable view of Jews nor of Israel and also holding no anti-Jew or anti-Israel attitudes, it comes out at just 37% (1500 out of 4005, see Table 1 – though remember the BDS caveat). So much for Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner’s statement that ‘antisemitism in Britain is at very low levels’.
(5) ‘The existence of strong, sophisticated, perhaps internally coherent and at times even ‘learned’ anti-Semitism … does not exceed 2.4% of British adults’. Wrong too. It ignores Israel-based antisemitism. The corresponding figure there is five times as big, at 12% (Figure 11).
Sir Eric Pickles – who moved heaven and earth to get the IHRA Definition adopted by the government – is surely incandescent at this report. Not only does it fail to acknowledge that Israel-related hate is anti-semitic, it fails even to mention the IHRA Definition, in 82 pages. Getting the IHRA Definition adopted was a huge advance. Why on earth does the JPR then shoot us in both feet by ignoring it, in the process severely underestimating the prevalence of anti-semitism? The way this research has been written up does a vast disservice to the Jewish community – most particularly, those in the trenches fighting the anti-semites – and is an open goal for the Corbynite far left – where anti-semitism is concentrated. Already it has been trumpeted on the far left website The Canary (just look at the Finlay quote).
Corbyn’s Labour Party Conference speech is even now being rewritten:
“They accuse us of ‘antisemitism’. But it’s just the Zionists and Blairites trying to undermine my leadership by weaponising antisemitism – the leading Jewish think-tank – together with the CST and consulting with Professor Stephen Miller OBE – says we are no worse than the general population!”
Towards the start of this year, the new UN Secretary-General insisted that Richard Falk’s slanderous report on Israel was removed from the UN website. The Chairman and Directors of the JPR must follow suit immediately. This misbegotten ill-conceived fatally flawed work should never have seen the light of day.