Statement of Principles:


“How serious is the threat of antisemitism” – revisited

A damaged gravestone in Rainsough Jewish Cemetery in Prestwich, Greater Manchester. Source BBC, 27 July 2017

Response to questions on our article How serious is the threat of antisemitism in Britain today?

Dr Alan Maddison
18th November 2017

I would like to thank you very much for all the polite comments and interest expressed in our article. I am sorry to report having received some unnecessary insults too but will not respond directly to those attacks. I will simply address the most frequent questions that have been raised including in these abusive attempts to dismiss my arguments. Though interesting none of these questions or comments change the findings nor the conclusions we documented.

 1. What is the source of the population sizes?

We used the latest census (2011) data for population sizes defined by race by religion the 2.7m Muslims are the largest of the religious group and Jews the smallest (0.26m). Some of the groups are illustrated below.

The LGBT population figure of 3.6m, which represents 6% of the population, is that proposed by the Treasury (reported in the Guardian 2005). Other estimates vary significantly between 2-10%.

The figure for Disability of 11m is the Government estimate (Disability facts and figures, 16 January 2014).

2. Why do you need a pro rata assessment?

We did explain this in our text as shown below:

3. Why not correct population sizes for “visibility of potential victims” in the pro- rata estimation?

The point was made by one person about reducing the Jewish population figure of 263,000 to remove those not “visibly Jewish”, in order to provide a more favourable pro rata risk result.

This is not feasible for several reasons. Firstly, we have used robust police hate crime data for all hate crime incidents and this is the topic of our article. If we started making adjustments to the Jewish data, similar adjustments have to be applied to all victim groups, including LGBT, EU Immigrants and Disabled (physical and mental disorders). Secondly there is no reliable basis upon which to apply such an adjustment. Thirdly, the CST reports that over half of the face to face verbal abuse incidents in 2016 involved Jewish victims that were “not visibly Jewish”, so the number of antisemitic hate crimes would have to be modified too, if we adjusted the population to only “visible” Jewish individuals.

We did refer to the effect of “victim visibility” on hate crimes as shown in the extract from the article below:


We recognised the importance of a “visibility” variance (difficult to quantify) but then advised that the lower prejudice (6-8%) against Jews than, for instance, Muslims (28%), will probably also contribute to the lower incidence of antisemitic hate crimes generally.

4. Aren’t Jews less often victims to hate crime assaults or general assaults because of where they live, their education and their life-style?

Those who ask this question need to be careful not to feed the antisemitic stereotype of the “rich Jew”, and not to underestimate those Jewish families struggling or in poverty.

I did look into the CST locations for antisemitic incidents. Only 10% of assaults occur near the home, but the risks are in areas of work, travel, social activity etc., and I suppose are usually nearby.

The CST reported antisemitic incidents for 2016 by location are illustrated below. The CST reported that 78% occurred in Greater London or Manchester. The relative risks for crimes and general assaults, according to police data, are slightly higher than the national average for both. For incidents where location information has been reported, I have listed and marked those with lower than average risk in blue, and those with higher risk in red.

In total there is very similar overall risk for assault in these locations as found for the national average, perhaps slightly higher. So this does not support the idea of lower risk for assaults for Jewish people as determined by their place of residence. We estimated that a Jewish person could on average have a fifty times greater risk for a general assault than one motivated by antisemitism, and given the above data this seems reasonable.

One critic stated that I had failed to point out that a British Jew was at risk both from a general and an assault motivated by antisemitism. The corresponding figures were clearly provided in the table. The average combined risk for Jews was only 21.4 (21.0 +0.4) as opposed to the 21.0 for the risk for a general assault alone, but the point was to discuss the fifty times greater average risk for a general assault for all.

If the suggestion on better education, life-style etc., and their impact on assaults were true, then so much the better for the Jewish communities. Once again this is difficult to validate and quantify, and the same consideration would need to be applied for other victim groups in order to compare risks correctly. So it seems best to document average national risks as we have done.

The main point being made was that if the media headlines that “British Jews were considering emigration because of intolerable levels of hate crime” then what of the British population in general, including Jews, enduring much greater crime risks?

5. Wouldn’t antisemitic hate crimes be higher without the security protection offered to Jewish sites and events?

This may be true, but there are many other factors at play. Less than 20% of antisemitic hate crimes were reported to take place at Jewish sites or events; such security protection should have had some impact on this 20%, but not the other 80%.

The Government allocated £13 million to protecting Jewish sites/events in 2016 yet only £2.3 million for other religious groups who suffer more attacks. So the logical conclusion is that other groups need to be provided the same degree of pro rata protection as offered to the Jewish community in order to reduce their hate crimes too.

6.    We proposed to unite with other victim groups in order to combat all forms of abuse.

One person complained that at no point did I cover the threat of antisemitism or targeting of Jews. This is completely untrue. In the introduction I wrote:

Our objective in the article was to examine the evidence behind alarmist headlines regarding antisemitic hate crimes. Despite the findings of relatively low risk compared with other victim groups, we recognised the fear and anxiety caused by antisemitism and planned to fight it. We proposed to join forces with other victim groups in this combat as seen below:

The conclusions of this article are valid and our fight against antisemitism will also be evidence-based. Thanks again for expressing so much interest.

















3 comments to “How serious is the threat of antisemitism” – revisited

  • Mike Scott

    I do in general agree with the main thrust of this, which certainly accords with my experience and that of my Jewish friends and relatives, but wonder if the figures might be affected by the definition of “Jews” used in the study?

    The references are to adherents of the Jewish religion, but there is of course a much larger group who are not religious at all, but still identify as Jewish. Has their (our!) experience been taken into consideration?

  • Dr Alan Maddison

    You raise an interesting point Mike.

    We have used the 2011 census figure of 263 000, but as you know not all Jewish respindents will have identified their religion when completing that Census.

    The Jewish Virtual Library gives an estimate of 290 000 including secular and non-secular Jews, which they believe compensates for this Census underestimate.

    If we applied this higher population figure to the 1,078 antisemitic hate crimes, or the 107 assaults, we would reduce the pro rata risk by about 10%, to about 0.36 for assaults rather than the 0.4 per 1,000 reported in our article.

    Then you have the complication of finding out how many secular Jewish victims of hate crimes report these to the police as motivated by antisemitism. This would increase the pro rata risk.

    Finally, the same variables would apply to other victim groups, and we would need to make the same adjustments in order to compare relative risks.

    Your question is very relevant, but the adjustments are difficult to apply. As with so many other variables for which we find no reliable data, the best is just to be aware of them and the extent to which they might affect,in particular, the pro rata estimates. So thanks for raising awareness about the “larger” Jewish population.

  • John

    I have a culturally Jewish friend, who told me some rabbis advise their synagogue attendees not to declare their religion as Jewish in censuses.
    I therefore believe the “official” figures represent an under-estimate.
    On that basis, specifically anti-Jewish actions are even lower than most.
    Nevertheless, all forms of racism, hate and bigotry must be opposed.

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