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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)


SCoJeC welcomes reports on
Hate Crime and Antisemitism

26 October 2016

SCoJeC welcomes the seriousness with which both Scottish and UK authorities are responding to the recent increase in hate crime in general and to antisemitism in particular. 

The report of the Scottish Government’s Independent Advisory Group on Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion published at the end of September, comes as welcome recognition of a number of the findings of our own Scottish Government funded inquiry into What's Changed about Being Jewish in Scotland, and in particular:

that global events, and the way in which these are reported, have an impact on the Scottish Jewish community. This was the main change from our 2012 report into the experience of Being Jewish in Scotland, which was generally positive.

that isolation reinforces the vulnerability of targeted groups. Some Jewish communities in Scotland are very small, and there are also an estimated thousand Jewish people who live outwith any organised community;

that there is urgent need to address the problem of social media being seen by the perpetrators as a place in which they can abuse their victims with impunity;

that education has an important role in combatting the negative stereotypes that often form a basis for hate crime. Many organisations in the Jewish Community, including synagogues, youth groups, and the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre educate the public about Judaism and the Jewish Community, and SCoJeC’s own JOES Boxes initiative provides schools with accurate, accessible, and authoritative materials about Judaism.

We welcome the recent unequivocal statements by the First Minister that Scotland will have "zero tolerance" of hate crime, by the Lord Advocate that hate crime will be met by the "full force of the law" and by the Chief Constable that hate crime is an "absolute priority" for Police Scotland, and strongly support their efforts to tackle this issue.

Although the report of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee into Antisemitism in the UK, published last week, barely mentions Scotland, it does make important points that SCoJeC has repeatedly urged:

that the “Macpherson definition” – that any incident that is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person must be investigated as such – should be applied to antisemitism as to any other form of race hatred;

that consequently “the perceptions of Jewish people – both collectively and individually, as an alleged victim – should be the starting point of any investigation into antisemitism”;

that a definition of antisemitism is crucial to tackling it, and that is available in the “adopted working definition” of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance included in the College of Policing Hate Crime Operational Guidance, slightly modified to make clear that criticism of Israel is not necessarily antisemitic in the absence of other evidence of antisemitic intent;

that criticism of Israel can be legitimate, but that much political discourse, especially from the left, has crossed the line from rational discussion to outright abuse, much of it using familiar antisemitic stereotypes and terminology;

that social media platforms appear to be an “inert host for vast swathes of antisemitic hate speech and abuse” and that strenuous enforcement measures should be adopted by the responsible companies;

that there is a particular problem on university campuses where Jewish students feel threatened, intimidated, and unsafe, and let down by both university authorities and student unions.

We are also pleased that the Home Affairs Committee recognises that statistics about hate crime must be considered in context of the size of each relevant community, and that, as SCoJeC has previously pointed out, charges for religious hate crimes show that a disproportionately large percentage relate to antisemitism.

We commend the recommendations of both reports, and urge both Governments not only to implement them in full, but to go further and address the emerging hierarchy of “equality strands”, to consider extending the requirement to make “reasonable adjustments” from disability to other protected characteristics, to investigate diversity on university campuses, the risks facing students with protected characteristics, and the opportunities to tackle the roots of prejudice and hate crime, to address the issue of individuals who are targeted because of their nationality or perceived nationality, and to make recommendations about how sport and the arts can bring people together and foster better understanding.


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Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation no. SC029438