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JPR Executive Director, Dr Jonathan Boyd, spoke about the role of social research in community development at a major European conference on community resilience in Barcelona this week.
The conference, organised by the European Council of Jewish Communities, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the European Jewish Congress, brought together the leadership of Europe’s Jewish communities to explore how to build and maintain Jewish community resilience in a context of Islamist terrorism and rising right-wing nationalism.
Boyd explored some of the most common responses today to research data about antisemitism, highlighting alarm at rising antisemitic incident counts, confusion about data that seem to conflict with lived experience, complacency driven by data showing that attitudes towards Jews in many countries are overwhelmingly favourable, and cynicism about data as a whole.
He argued that there is some legitimacy in all of these responses, and that it is incumbent upon Jewish researchers and community leaders to analyse research findings carefully in order to read them accurately. He further maintained that utilising high quality research data as a basis for developing community plans not only leads to more effective policy, but can also serve as a key tool in building understanding between people with diverse views.
Other speakers at the conference included Fania Oz-Salzberger (Professor of History at the University of Haifa), Carles Puigdemont Casamajó (President of the Government of Catalonia), Dr Barry Kosmin (Research Professor of Public Policy and Law, Trinity College, Hartford, and former executive director of JPR), British journalist Jonathan Freedland, and Katharina von Schnurbein (European Commission specialist in antisemitism).