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After Years of Security, Scottish Jews Newly on Edge Over Anti-Semitism

A third of Scottish Jews are anxious about a rise in anti-Semitism in the last two years, a new survey found.

The report, by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC), also found that 17% of respondents said they keep their Jewish identity a secret and over 10% of respondents said they were hard-pressed to say anything good about being a Jew in Scotland.

SCoJeC began the latest survey in response to an increase in anti-Semitic activity in the summer of 2014, during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. During August 2014, SCoJeC received nearly as many complaints of anti-Semitism as it had received in all of 2013.

The survey responses came from both the online questionnaires and extensive focus groups run by the organization throughout Scotland.

In the focus groups, people said they are more likely to keep their Jewish identity to themselves, and a majority of people said that events in the Middle East “have a significant impact on the way they are treated as Jews in Scotland.”

A fifth of survey respondents expressed concern that the Palestinian flag is being displayed more across Scotland.

SCoJeC, an umbrella organization of Jewish groups in Scotland, received survey responses from 119 Jews both online and from paper surveys.

The survey built on data and responses taken from a 2012, “Being Jewish in Scotland,” also undertaken by SCoJeC.

Overall, a disproportionately high number of respondents were Jews in their 50s and 60s, and 40% of respondents were from the Greater Glasgow area, where most of the country’s Jews live.

It was also widely expressed that the Scottish government is “obsessed” with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The study noted that the Scottish government released eight official statements about the war in Gaza during August 2014, and released four total statements about Syria over 2013 and 2014.

Few Jews immigrated to Scotland until the end of the 19th century, by which time there was close to 5,000 Jews. The Jewish population peaked in the mid-20th century at an estimated 80,000, and has been dwindling since then. According to a 2011 census, 5,887 people identify as Jewish in Scotland.

Contact Ari Feldman at feldman@forward.com or on Twitter @aefeldman

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