Monday 20 November 2023

Which Statements Are Antisemitic And Islamophobic? On Differences in Sensitivity.

Hargreaves and Staetsky (2019) analysed differences between British Jewish and Muslim respondents in terms of sensitivity towards antisemitism and Islamophobia. Statements designed to reflect antisemitic attitudes were shown to ca. 1,500 Jewish people living in the U.K., and statements designed to be Islamophobic were shown to 1,000 Muslims (via and via).

a) Attitudes towards Jews

Israelis behave "like Nazis" towards the Palestinians
Does not consider Jews living in the UK to be British
Jews are not capable of integrating into British society
The interests of Jews in the UK are very different from the interests of the rest of the population
Jews have too much power in British economy, politics, media
The Holocaust is a myth or has been exaggerated

b) Attitudes towards Muslims

Most Muslims sympathise with terrorists
British Muslims do not share western values
British Muslims have no interest in integrating into British society
The interests of Muslims in Britain are very different from the interests of the rest of the population
Muslims have too much influence in Britain
Muslims often overreact to criticism of their religion

- - -

Within the Jewish group, there was more certainty about what constituted antisemitism. Only 1% to 3% of Jewish respondents chose "don't know" for the antisemitic statements while 15% to 22% of Muslim respondents answered "don't know" when the Islamophobic statements were presented.

The groups also differed in their sensitivity. The most offensive anti-Jewish statement was the one about the Holocaust being a myth or exaggerated (96% of Jews agreed it was antisemitic). Large absolute majorities (82% to 94% of the Jewish respondents) perceived other statements as antisemitic, The smallest absolute majority (73%) was observed when presenting the description of Isrealis being Nazi-like towards Palestinians. "In stark contrast, none of the statements about attitudes towards Muslims were seen as Islamophobic by a majority of Muslim respondents."

In addition, age was a factor in the Jewish group whereas it was of no significance in the Muslim group. Jewish respondents aged over 40 were 80% to 90% more likely to be sensitive to antisemitism than those aged between 18 and 39. The authors explain the findings with the role of memory around the Holocaust and events in the 1940s and 1960s, and pivotal events shaping Islamophobia taking place in the 1990s and more recently. "When it comes to British Muslims and Islamophobia, perhaps the present matters more than the past."

Being born in the U.K. had an impact in both groups. Jewish respondents born in the U.K. were 40% less likely to be sensitive to the linking of Israelis and Nazis than those born in other European countries. UK-born Muslims respondents, however, were more or less twice as likely as those born in Asia to be sensitive to all Islamophobic statements. The authors speculate that the present conditions in the U.K. might be more likely to shape sensitivity towards Islamophobia than antisemitism. The study was carried out before the Hamas attack on Israel on 7th of  October, findings might differ now.

Education played an important role for both groups, but seemed to push sensitivity in opposite directions. Muslim respondents with degrees were 63% more likely to find all statements offensive. They were 70% more likely to be sensitive about Muslims not sharing western values. By contrast, Jewish respondents with degrees were 35% less likely than those without to be sensitive towards the linking of Israelis and Nazis. Jewish respondents in education were 66% less likely than those in employment to be sensitive to all the statements. They were 56% less likely to be sensitive to the linking of Israelis and Nazis.

The main conclusion of the study:

The study shows that assuming all Jews and all Muslims react to antisemitism and Islamophobia in the same way is likely to be inaccurate.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- Hargreaves, J. & Staetsky, L. D. (2019). Antisemitism and Islamophobia: Measuring everyday sensitivity in the UK. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 43(12).
- photograph (UK, 1970s) via


  1. Interesting, many thanks!

    1. Indeed, I found the results highly interesting, too. Thanks, Kenneth!