that Jews are safe in Wales and the United Kingdom. This commitment is enshrined in the
Party’s Antisemitism Statement.
The Leadership of the Party is determined that the Antisemitism Statement be incorporated
into the Party’s policies, procedures, structures and culture. To this end, and following
discussion with the Board of Deputies of British Jews regarding a number of antisemitism
complaints made against Party members and representatives over the last two years, the
Leader commissioned a review by the Leader of the Westminster Parliamentary Group.
In this fifth paper drawing on those survey data, we examine the impact of the pandemic on the working lives of Jewish people in the United Kingdom. It begins by studying how the experience of Jews compares to that of the wider population, and explores the issues of employment, redundancy and furlough, as well as other work disruptions such as income reduction, working from home, and caring for children. With very little data on Jewish employment available, this report provides key insights into the ways in which the community was impacted over the first five months of the pandemic, and points to how it is likely to have been affected subsequently. By providing this analysis, we hope to help UK Jewish community organisations and foundations to respond appropriately to the challenges identified.
Of particular note among the findings: the Jewish employment rate had declined at a lower rate than among the general population, but the Jewish unemployment rate had increased at a higher rate. Whilst many Jews have experienced serious work impacts, and many among the high proportions of self-employed Jews have lost income without having the same access to government financial support as the employed, it seems unlikely that the Jewish population as a whole has suffered disproportionately. We found that those who were most likely to experience severe work disruptions (defined as being made redundant, being furloughed, having their pay reduced and/or having their hours reduced) were the youngest workers (aged 16-24), Jewish women (especially regarding furlough and redundancy), single parents, those with household incomes below £30,000 per year prior to the pandemic, and the most religious respondents, especially Strictly Orthodox workers, more than half of whom (52%) experienced one or more of these severe impacts.
A follow-up survey planned for the coming months will determine how things have changed further since July among Jews, but it is nevertheless already clear that communal investment in employment support is needed, since all national indicators tell us that the employment situation has generally deteriorated since that time. Continued monitoring of Jewish employment rates is imperative if we are to determine and understand how the overall picture is changing and whether various endeavours being undertaken to address the challenges are effective. This will require a combination of continued investigations using data gathered within the community, as well as new investments in analysing and interpreting national data sources to shed light on long-term trends.
The report touches on multiple themes, including the economic needs of disadvantaged households, how best to maintain the Jewish charitable sector, the importance of supporting local synagogue communities and Jewish schools, how to address the potential harmful effects of the pandemic on the community’s informal educational infrastructure, health measures that should be considered to help protect lives, intracommunal relations, and issues around the use of technology to help support and bolster Jewish life.
In addition, it considers how the pandemic has impacted data collection work, for good and for bad, and makes important recommendations about the research that needs to be undertaken to support Jewish life going forward.
As well as making specific recommendations, the paper is designed to be a trigger for discussion among community leaders, philanthropists and members, and we welcome feedback from readers.
focuses on four post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe known as the Visegrád Four. Focus group research was conducted in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia to explore how secondary antisemitism is manifested in Holocaust denial and distortion and how secondary and Israel-focused antisemitism (i.e. new antisemitism) can lead to Holocaust denial and distortion in the region.
More specifically, the focus group research was meant to explore: (1) how focus group participants in the Visegrád countries contextualize topics related to Holocaust denial and distortion; (2) how these arguments are framed and justified; (3) how narratives of Holocaust denial and distortion are linked to Holocaust remembrance; (4)
how such narratives are embedded in the discussion on Israel-focused antisemitism; (5) how Holocaust distortion and new antisemitism can reinforce each other in these narratives; and (6) how social settings can give rise to manifestations of antisemitism, including Holocaust denial and distortion.
Drawing on the findings of this research, policy workshops were organized in each Visegrád country to formulate practice-oriented proposals that could inform policy development. The results of the qualitative research and the discussions in these workshops will contribute to the formulation of region-specific survey questions
that can serve as a basis for further research on modern antisemitism in the Visegrád countries.
This report summarizes the qualitative research, its key findings and the resulting proposals to combat Holocaust denial and distortion in the region.
Methods: We conducted an explorative qualitative study using a participatory approach. First, we performed a community mapping to identify relevant stakeholders. Through the active involvement of a community advisory board and based on qualitative interviews with key-informants and community members, we elicited lived experiences, attitudes, and perceptions towards COVID-19. Interviews were conducted both face-to-face and using online web conferencing technology. Data were analyzed inductively according to the principles of thematic analysis.
Results: Government-issued outbreak control measures presented context-specific challenges to the Orthodox Jewish communities in Antwerp. They related mainly to the remote organization of religious life, and practicing physical distancing in socially and culturally strongly connected communities. Key informants described how existing community resources were rapidly mobilized to adapt to the outbreak and to self-organize response initiatives within communities. This included the active involvement of community and religious leaders in risk communication, which proved to be of great importance to facilitate coverage and uptake of pandemic control measures while protecting essential community values and traditions. Creating bottom-up and community-adapted communication strategies, including addressing language barriers and involving Rabbis in the dissemination of prevention messages, fostered a feeling of trust in government’s response measures. However, unmet information and prevention needs were also identified, such as the need for inclusive communication by public authorities and the need to mitigate the negative effects of stigmatization.
Conclusion: The experiences of Orthodox Jewish communities in Antwerp demonstrate a valuable example of a feasible community-centered approach to health emergencies. Increasing the engagement of communities in local decision-making and governance structures remains a key strategy to respond to unmet information and prevention needs.
The countries of the Former Soviet Union (FSU) are the home today for a substantial number of Jews, many of whom live in poor, economically disadvantaged communities. Throughout the FSU, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has supported the development of Hesed welfare and Jewish community centers to assist in the provision of services to Jews in need and to support the renewal of Jewish life after years of suppression. The present report is designed to review the current economic, health, and social conditions of these elderly Jews in need in the FSU and to compare their circumstances, as best possible, to their counterparts who live in western countries such as the United States.
Data from a large number of sources are reviewed and analyzed, including national statistics, national and local surveys, and client-level data. The data indicate clearly that, in view of demographic composition, as well as economic and social conditions, elderly Jews in the FSU have tremendous needs for supportive services funded by philanthropy compared to their peers in the United States. The comparisons also highlight the disparities in available care among those most in need.
There is a clear need for external support for basic health and social services for elderly Jews in the FSU. Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there is not an adequate safety net for the elderly. The situation is in flux and there are unique challenges associated with understanding service delivery in societies that are in transition. The available data on pensions and living circumstances make clear that the economic situation for elderly in the FSU who seek Hesed services is dire. Faced with increasing costs for basic needs such as utilities and food, along with health services including essential medicines, quality care and homecare, the pension amounts that Hesed clients rely on are inadequate to meet their needs.
Methods We performed a household-focused cross-sectional SARS-CoV-2 serosurvey specific to three antigen targets. Randomly-selected households completed a standardised questionnaire and underwent serological testing with a multiplex assay for SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibodies. We report clinical illness and testing before the serosurvey, seroprevalence stratified by age and gender. We used random-effects models to identify factors associated with infection and antibody titres.
Findings A total of 343 households, consisting of 1,759 individuals, were recruited. Serum was available for 1,242 participants. The overall seroprevalence for SARS-CoV-2 was 64.3% (95% CI 61.6-67.0%). The lowest seroprevalence was 27.6% in children under 5 years and rose to 73.8% in secondary school children and 74% in adults. Antibody titres were higher in symptomatic individuals and declined over time since reported COVID-19 symptoms, with the decline more marked for nucleocapsid titres.
Interpretation In this tight-knit religious minority population in the UK, we report one of the highest SARS-CoV-2 seroprevalence levels in the world to date. In the context of this high force of infection, all age groups experienced a high burden of infection. Actions to reduce the burden of disease in this and other minority populations are urgently required.
Funding This work was jointly funded by UKRI and NIHR [COV0335; MR/V027956/1], a donation from the LSHTM Alumni COVID-19 response fund, HDR UK, the MRC and the Wellcome Trust. The funders had no role in the design, conduct or analysis of the study or the decision to publish. The authors have no financial relationships with any organizations that might have an interest in the submitted work in the previous three years; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work.
Evidence before the study In January 2020, we searched PubMed for articles on rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst ethnic minority groups and amongst the Jewish population. Search teams included “COVID-19”, “SARS-CoV-2”, seroprevalence, “ethnic minority”, and “Jewish” with no language restrictions. We also searched UK government documents on SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst minority groups. By January 2020, a large number of authors had reported that ethnic minority groups experienced higher numbers of cases and increased hospitalisations due to COVID-19. A small number of articles provided evidence that strictly-Orthodox Jewish populations had experienced a high rate of SARS-CoV-2 infection but extremely limited data was available on overall population level rates of infection amongst specific ethnic minority population groups. There was also extremely limited data on rates of infection amongst young children from ethnic minority groups.
Added value of the study We report findings from a population representative, household survey of SARS-CoV-2 infection amongst a UK strictly Orthodox Jewish population. We demonstrate an extremely high seroprevalence rate of SARS-CoV-2 in this population which is more than five times the estimated seroprevalence nationally and five times the estimated seroprevalence in London. In addition the large number of children in our survey, reflective of the underlying population structure, allows us to demonstrate that in this setting there is a significant burden of disease in all age groups with secondary school aged children having an equivalent seroprevalence to adults.
Implications of the available evidence Our data provide clear evidence of the markedly disproportionate impact of SARS-CoV-2 in minority populations. In this setting infection occurs at high rates across all age groups including pre-school, primary school and secondary school-age children. Contextually appropriate measures to specifically reduce the impact of SARS-CoV-2 amongst minority populations are urgently required.
Unlike antisemitic incidents of violence, vandalism, or insults, the political use of antisemitism does not target Jews themselves. Instead, antisemitic propaganda targets domestic or foreign audiences as a means of gaining political support. Demonstrating tolerance for antisemitism is another tactic of attracting political support. Polling data shows that these strategies have a rational basis. ADL’s 2019 Global 100 survey of antisemitic attitudes found that one in four Europeans polled harbored antisemitic beliefs.
Antisemitic propaganda has as its goal to energize and attract followers. Antisemitic propaganda is also used to tarnish political opponents in the eyes of a specific audience by intimating that someone is Jewish, supportive of Jewish causes or of the State of Israel. Other times, political opponents are slandered as antisemites or Nazis to diminish their reputations with specific audiences. Each of these techniques will be covered in this report, which focuses on the conscious choice of instrumentalizing or tolerating antisemitism for political gain. Antisemitic rhetoric by political actors as an indicator of bias is a much broader topic, and this report does not cover those instances.
The broad categories of the politicization of antisemitism include (1) politically motivated accusations of, or uses of, antisemitism against political opponents; (2) political appeals to antisemitic beliefs among the public, including the conspiracy theories about Jewish control of government, economy, media; and (3) tolerance of antisemitism within political movements as a strategy for increasing popular support. This list not exhaustive of the political instrumentalization of antisemitism, but this report provides illustrative examples from recent years in these broad categories.
Why is this report important? While violent antisemitic attacks receive wide publicity – and rightly so – the politicization of antisemitism can also severely impact Jewish communities. The British Jewish community provides a compelling example.
In January 2015, 11% of British Jews were considering emigrating, according to a poll by the UK’s Jewish Chronicle. That survey was conducted before Jeremy Corbyn, widely regarded within the British Jewish community as an antisemite himself, was even a leadership candidate for the Labour party. In September 2018, after antisemitism had become a serious problem in the Labour party under Corbyn, the Jewish Chronicle poll found that 39% of British Jews were considering emigrating. And in an October 2019 poll by the UK’s Jewish Leadership Council, just prior to the UK General Election, 47% of British Jews said they would “seriously consider” leaving the UK if Jeremy Corbyn were to win the election.
Had Jeremy Corbyn won, leading a major party widely recognized as tolerating antisemitism among its members, and had even 30% of British Jews emigrated as a result of that single event, that number of roughly 90,000 Jews would have been similar to the total of all the French Jews who left France over the past 20 years.
The sections below are select examples of the different ways in which antisemitism has been instrumentalized for political gain by various actors. The purposes and tactics vary substantially, but have the common element of politicizing antisemitism:
The Russian government instrumentalized antisemitism in the forms of propaganda and “false flag” operations to influence domestic and foreign public opinion in its conflict with Ukraine.
Polish political campaigns used overt antisemitic rhetoric during elections to win votes.
The Hungarian government used coded antisemitism in political campaigns against EU migration policies.
The UK Labour party consciously tolerated antisemitism to widen its political support from far-left radicals.
Ukrainian nationalists glorified World War II era fighters to promote nationalist narratives, while trivializing their involvement in the Holocaust.
The far-right Alternative for Germany party trivialized the Holocaust as part of their appeal to “Holocaust fatigue” among German voters.
Other political actors have engaged in similar acts of politicization, and their absence from this report is not indicative of any assessment. The cases below are simply the most blatant examples of the types of politicization to be highlighted.
Due to the present political crises we lost our vision as one Jewish people, we became divided. It was clear Project Kesher needed to take action. We started with International Skype calls. Every evening one woman from Russia, one from Ukraine, one from Belarus, one from Israel called a woman in another country: talking, sharing our love and support, wishing peace. When women started calling each other again and restoring broken relationships we saw that “KESHER” – connection – is working.
One day when there was a serious military clash in the area where she lived one of our leaders proposed to read Tehilim (Psalms), as prayers for peace. Soon more than one hundred women were reading Psalms, creating a chain of peace. Such a spirit of peace prevailed even at a time when the air was filled with war.
In Russia there are refugee families from different regions of the Ukraine. Sometimes they lost everything. Project Kesher women’s groups in cooperation with other Jewish organizations collected clothes, foot-wear as well as school-bags, school record books, sketchbooks, colored paper, paperboard, plasticine, pencil boxes, paints and markers for refugee children. Project Kesher activists also actively participated in organizing camps for refugees in Kharkiv and the Dnipropretrovsk region (Ukraine).
In times of conflict the wish to live in peace is not enough. Women needed instruments for conflict resolution. Project Kesher developed a unique leadership training program with the aim to enable the participants to conduct trainings in conflict resolution themselves in Jewish communities and partner organizations and to engage in mediation. These trainings are often based on Jewish tradition and text study.
A special event is Project Kesher’s Global Women’s Seder that was celebrated in 2015 for the 21st time. No less than 2500 members of 140 Project Kesher women’s and youth groups in 110 cities and five countries – Belarus, Georgia, Israel, Russia and the Ukraine – participated this year. The participants spoke about peace and declared that they intended to do everything possible to maintain peace in their families and in society. With the energy it sets free Project Kesher continues to initiate positive changes.