Key UK findings of EU antisemitism survey

14 Dec 2018 by Mark Gardner

Previously, CST blog carried overall European findings from the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) survey, ’Experiences and perceptions of antisemitism - Second survey on discrimination and hate crime against Jews in the EU.

This survey, conducted by London’s Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) and Ipsos MORI,  repeats and expands upon the Agency’s landmark 2012 survey on how Jews in eight European countries, including Britain, experience and perceive antisemitism. This new 2018 survey covers 12 European countries (97% of the EU’s Jewish population), including Britain. It is the largest ever study of its kind worldwide and should, like its predecessor, be a key tool in the understanding of modern antisemitism. JPR stress the report’s methodology to ensure that it did not “over-sample Jews with a particular interest in antisemitism” and methodological details are on pp. 73-78 of the report.

CST is proud to have played a leading role in both surveys, continuing its close relationship with the FRA, which is the leading provider of fundamental rights expertise to the EU; and also with the JPR Institute’s survey experts, with whom we last year conducted the largest ever study of UK antisemitism.  

The FRA survey provides sober, independent expert evidence of the growing problem that antisemitism poses for Jews throughout Europe, including Britain. Overall, the problem of antisemitism has worsened. Hungary shows some improvements, but these occur in the context of the prominence of the far-right party Jobbik at the time of the 2012 survey.  

CST’s summary of key UK findings

There were 4,731 self-identified British Jewish respondents.

Three-quarters (75%) think antisemitism is a “very big” or “fairly big” problem. In 2012, less than half (48%) thought it was. This is the largest such perception increase in the countries covered by both surveys. Crucially, it is clear that most British Jews are now relatively concerned about antisemitism.

Almost one in three (29%) British Jews have considered emigrating due to safety concerns, 11% up on 2012.

One in four (25%) suffered antisemitic harassment in the last year, nearly the lowest of any country. About one in three (34%) suffered such harassment in the last five years, the lowest of any country.

Where respondents identified a political motive for the perpetrator of antisemitism they experienced, twice as many reported the perpetrator as “left-wing” (25%) or “Muslim extremist” (22%), than “right-wing” (11%).  

Almost one in four British Jews (24%) had witnessed antisemitism in the last year. Almost one in five (18%) had a family member suffer antisemitism. These figures are similar to 2012 and are on, or very close to, the European average.

Six in ten (60%) sometimes avoid displaying or wearing Jewish items, similar to 2012.

When asked where antisemitism is manifest, over four-fifths (84%) of British Jews included “political life” as an answer, the highest of all countries surveyed. In 2012, about one-third (34%) had said this, the second lowest of all countries surveyed. The total reversal is surely an appalling indictment of the growth in Labour Party antisemitism and of the leadership’s failure to take it seriously. (The Internet was Britain’s equal highest 2018 ranking for where antisemitism is manifest, also at 84%.)

The UK findings

There were 4,731 British respondents. UK findings include the following:

Survey section 1 “Manifestations of Antisemitism”

  • 75% of British respondents believe antisemitism is a ‘very big’ or ‘fairly big’ problem, up from 48% in 2012. By comparison, France rose from 85% in 2012 to 95% now. Belgium went from 77% to 86%, Germany from 61% to 85%, Sweden from 60% to 82%, Italy from 60% to 73%. Hungary showed a decline, from 90% to 77%. Britain has the largest increase of the countries covered by the 2012 and 2018 surveys, moving from under a half believing antisemitism to be problematic, to three-quarters saying it is. Poland shows 85% believing antisemitism to be problematic, Austria is 73% and Denmark is lowest at 56%. (These countries were not in the 2012 survey.) 
  • 89% believe antisemitism has increased ‘over the last five years’, up from 65% in 2012. The 24% rise from 2012 to 2018 is the largest in any country surveyed.  By comparison, France rose to 93% from 88%, Sweden to 91% from 80% and Germany to 89% from 68%. Hungary is the only country to show a fall in this perception, at 70% from 91%. 
  • 84% believe “in political life” to be a place where antisemitism is manifest and problematic, up from 34% in 2012. No other country has such a high statistic for “in political life”. The 12 country average for “in political life” is 70%, with Poland and Hungary the next highest at 77% and 74% respectively. Denmark is lowest at 37%. In 2012, Hungary polled 84% for “in political life” and next highest in 2012 was Belgium at 51%.    
  • 84% believe “the internet including social media” to be a place where antisemitism is manifest and problematic, up from 61% in 2012. The media is 61% (up from 52%) and “in the street or other public places” is 52% (up from 35%). Vandalism of Jewish places, antisemitic graffiti and cemetery desecrations all score 45%, up from 31%, 26% and 35% respectively.   
  • “Negative statements about Jews” in the last year were mostly in the “context” of the Internet, at 77% (the equal lowest of any country surveyed). The next highest contexts are “media, other than internet” at 60%, “in political speeches or discussions” at 50% (the highest of any country surveyed) and 44% “at political events”. 33% occurred “in a social situation” (the lowest of any country), 29% “in public space” (the lowest of any country), 28% “in academia”, 17% “at cultural events” and 9% “at sports events”.  The 2012 figures were 68% Internet, media was not listed, 38% “political speeches/discussions”, 37% political events, 41% social situation, 33% “among the general public”, 37% academia, 25% cultural events and 6% sports events.

Survey section 2 “Safety and security”

  • 24% witnessed other Jews being harassed or attacked for being Jewish in the last year, up from 21% in 2012. 24% is also the 12 country average. Poland and Germany are worst at 32% and 29%, then Belgium and Sweden, both at 28%. Spain is best at 17%.  
  • 18% had “a family member” harassed or attacked, down from 19% in 2012, when the question included “or close friends”. 20% is the 12 country average. Belgium, Germany and Poland are worst at 28%, 27% and 25% respectively. Italy is best at 12%.
  • 40% fear someone close becoming a victim of antisemitism, up from 36% in 2012. France, Belgium and Germany are worst at 74%, 68% and 63% respectively. Hungary is best at 29%, then Italy at 38%. 
  • 29% “have considered emigrating because of not feeling safe as a Jew”, up from 18% in 2012. 65% have not considered emigrating, making it the fourth best country of the 12 surveyed. The UK, Sweden and Germany were the only countries to show significant rises in answer to the emigration question. Sweden rose to 35% from 18% and Germany rose to 44% from 25%, becoming the equal worst country in this regard, alongside France at 44% (a fall from 46% in 2012).
  • 27% occasionally avoid Jewish events or sites, or certain parts of their neighbourhood, because they do not feel safe there as Jews. The 12 country average is 34 %. The highest avoidance statistics are in the Netherlands, France, and Belgium at 43 %, 41 %, and 37 %, respectively. The lowest proportion is Italy at 17 %. 
  • 60% sometimes avoid displaying items in public that could identify them as Jewish, up from 58% in 2012. This is the second lowest avoidance rate, with Hungary best at 57%. The average is 71%. The highest avoidance rates are France, Denmark and Sweden at 82%, 56% and 52% respectively.
  • 27% think the UK Government combats antisemitism effectively. Poland is lowest at 7%. Hungary, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands are at 14%. Denmark is best, at 33%.
  • 62% think the UK Government responds adequately to the UK Jewish Community’s security needs. Italy, Denmark and Belgium are highest at 79%, 78% and 75% respectively. Sweden is lowest at 21%.
  • 55% think the Arab-Israeli conflict impacts “a great deal” or “a fair amount” on their feeling of safety. (58% in 2012.) Belgium, France and Spain are highest at 88%, 85% and 77% respectively. Hungary is lowest at 17%.
  • 26% never feel “blamed for something done by the Israeli Government”. (21% in 2012.) This is the third highest, after Hungary (56%) and Poland (40%). Belgium and Italy have 14%,

Survey section 3 “Violence against Jews: experiences of harassment, physical violence and vandalism”

  • 25% (up from 21% in 2012) had experienced at least one of six types of offensive or threatening antisemitic harassment in the last year, the equal second lowest in any country surveyed. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands were highest at 41%, 39% and 35% respectively. Hungary was lowest at 23%.
  • 34% (up from 29% in 2012) had experienced at least one of six types of offensive or threatening antisemitic harassment in the past five years, the lowest in any country surveyed. Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands were highest at 52%, 51% and 47% respectively. Hungary, Italy and France had 35%, 36% and 37% respectively.
  • 16% (15% in 2012) had “experienced anti-Semitic offensive or threatening comments in person” in the last year. Germany, Belgium and Sweden were the highest at 29%, 25% and 19% respectively. Italy was the lowest at 13%. Germany showed the largest increase, from 21% to 29%. Hungary was the largest fall, to 17% from 27%. 
  • For those who did suffer antisemitism, perceptions of the perpetrator were:
    • 29% “someone else I cannot describe”
    • 25% “someone with a left-wing political view”
    • 22% “someone with a Muslim extremist view”
    • 11% “someone with a right-wing political view”
    • 3% “someone with a Christian extremist view” 
    • 15% “teenager or group of teenagers”
    • 12% acquaintance or friend
    • 11% work, college or school colleague
    • 4% work customer or client  
  • 21% reported the most serious antisemitism they had suffered in the past five years (to Police, CST etc), the third highest reporting rate. 76% did not. Austria and the Netherlands had 28% and 25% respectively. Hungary had approximately 8%. 
  • Due to “the relatively low numbers of respondents who experienced antisemitic physical violence” in the year, or five years, before the attack, no single country figures are listed for this. Overall, across the 12 countries, 3% of respondents suffered physical violence in the five years before the survey and 2% in the year before it. In 2012, these figures were 7% and 4% respectively. In 2012, the UK figures were 3% and 5%, these being the lowest and second equal lowest totals of any country. 

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