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Study: Scottish Jews Increasingly Hiding Their Identities to Avoid Anti-Semitism

Scottish Jews are increasingly hiding their religious identity, with many choosing to do so in order to avoid discrimination, a study commissioned by the Scottish government has found.

The study, conducted by the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC), found that 17 percent of those surveyed attempted to hide their Judaism, which the study noted was “many more than in 2012.” It also revealed that 32 percent of Scottish Jews expressed increased levels of anxiety or vulnerability due to anti-Semitism. Feeling forced to keep their identities secret “exacerbates their isolation,” the Council wrote, “since hiding their Jewish identity also diminishes their opportunities to connect with other Jewish people and thus to develop strong, resilient and supportive communities.”

“I feel scared to speak in my language or tell people I’m Jewish or from Israel,” an Edinburgh woman in her 20s wrote. “I don’t go to any Jewish gathering unless it’s at somebody’s home, and I try to hide anything about being Jewish when I’m outside my house.”

“There has been a definite change and that is largely due to the increasing level of anti-Israel activity and the derogatory description of being a Zionist,” wrote a female resident of Glasgow in her 60s. “Being Zionist means believing in the right of the Jewish people to have a safe homeland of their own.”

“For the first time in 62 years, I did not attend high holiday services this year due to my security concerns,” another respondent added.

Even non-Jewish parents of Jewish children would prefer that their children not be seen as Jewish, fearing that the perception could endanger them.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Scotland increased dramatically after the war between Israel and Hamas in 2014. That time period saw nearly as many incidents of anti-Semitism as in the entire year of 2013. “Experiences of antisemitism and hate crimes, often masquerading as political criticism of Israel, have increased” since 2012, the report concluded.

Anti-Semitism has been rising throughout the United Kingdom in recent years. The Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism in the UK, found that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2016 was up 11 percent on last year, including 41 violent assaults.

[Photo: Scottish Council of Jewish Communities ]