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The Jews in Britain

Position in society

Jews are active in British political life. In Parliament, Jews compose about 3% and 7% respectively of the membership of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, compared to 0.5% in the general population. Michael Howard, leader of the main opposition party (the Conservatives) at the last election, is Jewish. While it is commonly believed that British Jewry is influential in public life, many of its representatives believe that the community’s influence has diminished.

Although classic anti-Semitism appears to be on the decline, there has been a rise in hooliganism and physical violence, with Muslim Asians committing an increasing proportion of attacks against the local Jewish communities. A total of 532 anti-Semitic incidents were reported by the Community Security Trust in 2004, up from 375 in the previous year.

Hostility to Israel has been translated, in the eyes of many Jewish commentators, into leftist anti-Semitism. The controversial decision in 2005 by the Association of University Teachers to boycott three Israeli universities is a recent example of action that is causing concern.

The UK Holocaust Memorial Day was first held on 27 January 2001 and is now firmly fixed in the national calendar. The main commemorative event rotates between major cities; in 2005, for the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau, it was in London. The commemoration was attended by the Queen, the Prime Minister, and other public figures.

See also:
- David Graham, L. D. Staetsky and Jonathan Boyd, Jews in the United Kingdom in 2013: Preliminary findings from the National Jewish Community Survey, January 2014.
- David Graham, European Jewish identity: Mosaic or monolith? An empirical assessment of eight European countries, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, April 2018.
- D. C. Mashiah, Vital statistics of the UK Jewish population: births and deaths, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, June 2018.

D 11 September 2012    ABrenda E. Brasher AMichael J. Weil

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