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JPR launched its new and comprehensive report on antisemitism in Great Britain at a packed event in central London this week, run in partnership with the Community Security Trust.
The launch event was introduced by Minister for Faith at the Department for Communities and Local Government, Lord Bourne, and JPR Chairman, Stephen Moss. It drew participants from across the Jewish community, as well as representatives of the Metropolitan Police, the UK government’s Extremism Analysis Unit, the National Counter Terrorism Police Operation Centre, the Crown Prosecution Service, Facebook and the Football Association. Journalists from several media outlets – including the BBC and Channel 4 – were also in attendance.
The report was presented by its author, JPR Senior Research Fellow Dr Daniel Staetsky, and JPR’s Executive Director, Dr Jonathan Boyd. They highlighted several of the key findings in the study, summing them up as follows:
The event also included a panel discussion on the findings, chaired by the Director of Pears Foundation, Amy Braier, with contributions from three key experts on the topic: Dr Dave Rich (CST, author of The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Antisemitism), Professor Rusi Jaspal (De Montfort University, author of Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism) and Sally Sealey OBE (lead official on tackling hate crime, hatred and intolerance, at the Department for Communities and Local Government).
Feedback on the report since the launch, particularly from the academic community, has been overwhelmingly positive. Professor Steven M. Cohen, one of the world’s leading Jewish social scientists, described it as “a terrific piece of research on many levels – overall importance, novelty, communication, methods.” Professor Gunther Jikeli, a leading specialist in the study of antisemitism at Indiana University, called it “the most detailed and comprehensive survey of antisemitic attitudes that has ever been done in any country,” and described the results as “revealing.” Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman, a renowned Judaic Studies specialist at Brandeis University described several of author Daniel Staetsky’s observations as “brilliant.”
Journalists have also been quick to respond, with Stephen Daisley in The Spectator writing: “It is a sober analysis and the researchers tend towards restraint – sometimes a little too much restraint – in drawing conclusions from their data. It is this very interpretive modesty that makes the findings all the more concerning.” Simon Kelner, writing in i News, described the report as “thoughtful and exhaustive,” commenting that it “is especially interesting in positing the idea of “elastic” prejudice.” He highlights the findings that “antisemitism, like all attitudes, exists at different levels of intensity,” and notes that the report “makes the distinction between counting antisemites and measuring antisemitic attitudes. There are very few of the former, and there is a discernible existence of the latter. This survey underlines the fact that we must be constant, vigilant and tolerant as a society to ensure the latter doesn’t breed the former.”
Political responses have also been encouraging. Lord Bourne said that “to develop sensible and intelligent policy, government needs reliable, accurate data, analysed objectively and with precision, and there is always a risk with research about sensitive topics like antisemitism that it either doesn’t get done – precisely because it is so sensitive – or that when it is done, it becomes sensationalised. What is so welcome in this study is both its empiricism and the objective and thoughtful analysis of some of the toughest and most contentious issues.” And Sally Sealey, the lead official on tackling hate crime at the Department for Communities and Local Government, focused on the findings about the relationship between antisemitism and anti-Israelism, arguing that the report showed the need for “better understanding of how anti-Israel attitudes impact on the Jewish community.”