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JPR Executive Director, Dr Jonathan Boyd, spoke at a seminar launching a major new study of antisemitism in Greece hosted by the British Embassy in Athens on March 19.
The seminar took place under the auspices of the UK International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), which has been chaired by the UK for the past year, until being passed on to Hungary for 2015. The research was conducted by a team at the University of Macedonia and co-funded by the British, Canadian and Romanian Embassies in Athens. Supporting the findings of other recent studies, it concluded that “antisemitic attitudes and negative perceptions of the Holocaust are worryingly high among Greek public opinion.”
Researchers Professor Nikos Marantzidis, Professor Elias Dinas and Dr Giorgos Antoniou presented the findings, and in a striking challenge to a common theory, argued that the evidence from the study appears to indicate that national pride in Greece does not bolster ethnocentrist or antisemitic views, but rather reduces the sense of Greek victimhood that exists in society, thereby reducing antisemitism.
Responding to the research findings and examining comparisons with the situation in the UK, Jonathan Boyd noted that data from multiple sources indicate that levels of antisemitism in the UK are among the lowest in Europe. He maintained that this is almost certainly a result of “the extensive efforts that have been made by the UK government, the police, educational institutions, sporting organisations, civil society and Jewish community organisations to try to tackle the problem.”
He commended the UK Government for its “multi-disciplinary approach” to combating antisemitism, noting that “multiple different UK government departments are all involved in multiple ways.” He said: “It is not uncommon elsewhere for the issue of antisemitism to sit in one particular government office, something that is very much not the case in Britain. The official government response to the challenges comes from the Department for Communities and Local Government, but policies designed to address antisemitism can be found in the work of the Home Office, the Department for Education, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, among others. What this means is that antisemitism is being tackled by multiple bodies in multiple arenas – higher education, sport, police training, the media, the judiciary, online, etc. – all of which is a tacit acknowledgement of the complexity of the issue itself.”
However, he noted that “in spite of everything the UK Government has done, 2014 still saw more antisemitic incidents than any previous year since records began, according to Community Security Trust data. So if we want to tackle antisemitism, if we want to tackle racism in general, we have to work to create and sustain a context in which it is given no oxygen whatsoever, and where we maintain a constant watchful eye for any signs of renewal.”
His presentation has been featured on the 'True Vision' website, the Association of Chief Police Officers' online facility about hate crime, and can be accessed here