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JPR Senior Research Fellow, Dr Daniel Staetsky, explores contemporary antisemitism in Great Britain as part of the Woolf Institute's podcast series, drawing heavily on JPR’s recent-published study on the topic.
In the podcast, Staetsky shares his measured and insightful thoughts on the research, bringing new clarity to the subject. In his comments, he highlights the important distinction between ‘antisemites’ and ‘antisemitism’, saying:
“About 2% of people can be called classic antisemites, hard-core antisemites, whose view is mature, quite elaborate and rich in details… We also found that the diffusion of antisemitic ideas is wider than 2%; it’s about 30%. It would be unjust to call 30% of people antisemites, that is not so, but it would be necessary for us to switch attention from the hardcore antisemites to people who may have just one two antisemitic ideas, they may hold them rather weakly, but they have them. And this means that they exist, that they vocalise those ideas and they are heard by Jews. Jewish lives are impacted by these people as well.”
Commenting on antisemitism and more specifically anti-Israelism, on the left of the political spectrum – a particularly acute issue at present – he says:
“Our survey findings tell us that the Left is ahead of all political groups in relation to its criticism of Israel. Why is this so? Maybe it has something to do with the Soviet influences on the Western left in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. At that time, the Soviet Union tried to export its own revolution, and with that came anti-Zionism. So the Left needs to ask itself does it want to pursue this criticism of Israel agenda, how much of it is due to inertia, and is it worth doing, given that it alienates a particular ethnic group on the domestic front?... I think the Left owes itself an answer. Why is this so important? Is it out of proportion slightly? And does the view of the Jewish community play into this? Is it a price worth paying? Alienation of an entire ethnic group – is this a price worth playing?”
Staetsky also addresses the link between anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment, noting the innovative statistical work on this topic in JPR’s study:
“If you look at the classic historical books written by great minds in the study of antisemitism, for example, Yehuda Bauer, Robert Wistrich and others, very often they analyse, rhetorically, present antisemitism and anti-Zionism next to each other, and very often because they own the subject very well, they have no problem saying these things look a lot like each other, but we cannot give you the proof that they are the same. We presented – not for the first time in the history of the subject, but one of the rare times – where the connection between the two types of sentiments could be demonstrated, that it exists.”
You can listen to the podcast in full here