The number of anti-Semitic attacks across Manchester and the UK are at an all-time high, according to shocking research published last week.
In 2014, the UK recorded the highest number of anti-Semitic attacks in three decades.
YouGov opinion polls also revealed 45% of population agreed with statements deemed ‘anti-Jewish’, forcing members of the Jewish community to feel ‘fearful’ of staying in Britain.
Following the tragic attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in central Paris earlier this month, UK police have now stepped up patrols across the country after the top counter-terror officer claimed there was a ‘heightened concern’ over the terror risk.
But do Mancunians’ real experiences of being Jewish or living around Jewish people reflect these shocking statistics? MM took to the streets to ask:
Have you ever witnessed anti-Semitism in any form?
Orthodox Jew Ryan Mason, a 31-year-old property developer from Broughton, said: “You definitely see it, and hear about it. Friends of friends or whatever.
“I’ve never seen anything worse than verbal abuse, but when you read about targeted attacks in the papers it does make you nervous in public. You never know if somebody’s going to take it even further.”
Many media reports are saying many British Jews are leaving the country to escape the threats and violence. When asked if this was enough to persuade Ryan to leave the UK, he said that idea was ‘ridiculous’ to him.
“The UK is my home, and there is ignorance in every community,” he said.
PhD student Taras Nakonecznyj, 26, living near Salford Quays, said: “Have I ever witnessed it? No. Ethnic abuse though? Plenty. I was pulled for years for having a funny name rather than for religion.
‘FLAVOUR OF THE MONTH’: Taras believes anti-Semitism has increased since the Paris attacks
“Manchester has a thriving Jewish community, I think they’ve been picked on more since the attacks in France, not because they’ve particularly done anything but just because they are different.
“Racism has always been there, this is just the flavour of the month.
“You’d like to think we were a bit more accommodating to people by now.”
However, Donna Black, 45, a retail assistant from Irlam and also Jewish by birth, said: “I’ve never felt removed from society in any way.
“I had a normal upbringing, like anyone would if they were brought up in a Christian household, and I’m just like anyone else.
“I don’t make a big deal out of my religion but I’ve never been attacked or abused in public, and never felt scared to go outside because of the supposed risk.”
Engineering student Nick Dixon, 24, said: “I would say I have witnessed anti-semitic behaviour, but not an attack or anything like that.
“This is an area with a massive Jewish community. You hear people on the streets when you’re walking around, you see Orthodox Jews being stared at or laughed at by chavs.
“I think anti-Semitism may be too strong a word for it, though they shouldn’t be doing it anyway.
“Overall I think people are pretty tolerant, but there’s always some people who want to make their prejudices known.”
Herbal biology student Chris Reardon, 23, said: “I’ve never seen it myself, but you do read a lot about it – I don’t know how much of its hype by the media, there’s racism everywhere that’s not being reported on.”
Salford University student and Dutch-national Willemijn van Gerven, 20, said: “I’ve never witnessed anti-Semitic behaviour myself.
“But I think anti-Semitic behaviour has increased over the past few years, definitely now with the Palestine and Israel issue going on in the East.
“And only last week the hostage situation in a Jewish supermarket in Paris. I honestly don’t know why it is getting worse now.”
BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS: Sean believes the government’s attacks on ‘the other’ such as the vilification of immigrants provokes discrmination insociety
Sean Core, 25, a data-entry clerk from Cheetham Hill, said: “I think discrimination against gay people and disabled people is also on the rise.
“I think it could come from the way the government attacks ‘the other’ with their vilification of immigrants.
“That could make people think it’s okay to lash out at people in society that their afraid of.”
Image courtesy of Robert Tewart, with thanks.