Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
 
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

Link to Being Jewish in Scotland survey Link to online Being Jewish in Scotland survey
 

Government support for study of
how Being Jewish in Scotland has changed

 
13 November 2014

In direct response to this summer’s unprecedented surge of antisemitic incidents, which came as an unwelcome shock, not only to the Jewish Community, but to civil society at large, the Scottish Government has agreed to fund a short-term study of how this has affected the Community. 

At the height of the unrest, the First Minister pledged that “we will not tolerate any form of racial or religious prejudice, and the full force of the law would be brought down on the perpetrators of any antisemitic incidents in Scotland", the Chief Constable described the situation as “completely unacceptable to any decent person”, and the Lord Advocate assured us that “the Crown Office and procurator Fiscal Service has a zero tolerance approach to any crimes motivated by prejudice and hate."

In the last 3 months more than 50 antisemitic incidents have been reported to the police, exceeding the total for the previous 3 years, and this has naturally caused an unprecedented level of anxiety in Scotland’s Jewish community, with people from all parts of the country contacting us to tell us that they felt threatened and vulnerable, that they were targeted for their presumed support for Israel, that they were so upset and distressed that they could not sleep, or that they felt they had to deny their Jewish identity; several even said that they felt the time had come to leave Scotland. 

This was in stark contrast to the findings of our Scottish Government funded survey of the experience of Being Jewish in Scotland, less than two years ago, which painted a generally positive picture of Jewish life in Scotland.  SCoJeC therefore proposed to the Scottish Government that they should enable us to conduct a short-term snapshot survey in order to gauge how widespread these negative experiences have been, and how deep has been the effect on the Community’s attitudes to living in Scotland, and they have now agreed to provide a grant of £10 500 to update our the earlier study.

We are very grateful for this award, and recognise it as an indication of how seriously the Scottish Government is taking the current situation, particularly at a time of  very tight budgetary constraints.  Commenting on the grant, Rosanna Cunningham MSP, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs said:

Roseanna Cunningham MSP

“I fully recognise the valuable contribution that the Jewish community makes to Scotland and Scottish public life and am delighted to be able to support further work on the ‘Being Jewish in Scotland’ project allow us to better understand the experiences of the Jewish community. Our vision is to build a Scotland where people of all faiths and backgrounds can live together without fear, prejudice or harassment. There is no place in Scotland for such behaviour and we are committed to building safe and strong communities to allow everyone in all of our communities to flourish.”

The new study, to be called How Being Jewish in Scotland has changed, will again be led by our very experienced Projects and Outreach Manager, Fiona Frank, and will report at the end of March. It will go back to same people who contributed in 2012 to ask how and why their experiences and opinions have changed, and will also seek to reach an even wider range of contributors. As before, there will be a combination of on-line and paper and surveys, focus groups, and informal discussion at events in locations throughout Scotland, which we know from experience themselves serve to provide support and reassurance, and build a sense of community and engagement.

We hope that by exploring the current experiences and attitudes of Jewish people in Scotland, we will be able to assess how typical are the views that have been expressed to us by participants, and how they have changed since the original Being Jewish in Scotland project. We intend then to ensure that these messages are disseminated widely in the public sector, in order to press for better and more inclusive provision of services for a diverse population, and thereby to help counter increasingly negative perceptions by Jewish people of public services in Scotland, and indeed the feeling that Scotland may no longer be a comfortable home for Jewish people.  

When we launched the original report SCoJeC said,

“If, twenty years from now, a future Scottish Government were to commission a future SCoJeC to conduct a similar study, we would hope to be able to report a drop in levels of intolerance, a greater sense of mutual understanding between Jewish and non-Jewish people, and as much joy in ‘Being Jewish in Scotland’ as was expressed by the great majority of the people we spoke to during this inquiry.” 

Sadly, less than two years later, the signs are not encouraging, but we hope that this update will not only reveal the extent of the current negativity, but go some way towards restoring a more positive outlook.

Whether or not you have experienced any antisemitism, and whether or not you have changed your view of Jewish life in Scotland, we would urge you to contribute to our project.

Link to Being Jewish in Scotland survey Link to Being Jewish in Scotland survey

Please contact us at scojec@scojec.org if you would be prepared to host a 'parlour conversation' for a small group of local Jewish people to get together to discuss these issues. 

 

   
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