LONDON (Oct. 31)
One in 10 Britons still do not want to have a Jew as a neighbor, according to the first-ever comprehensive survey of attitudes toward Jews in the United Kingdom.
But the overall picture of Jews in the popular consciousness is “markedly positive,” said David Singer, research director of the American Jewish Committee, which commissioned the poll.
Jews emerged as the least disliked of all ethnic minorities in Britain in the survey, for which 959 respondents were interviewed in 100 areas of the country.
In fact, said Singer, the general level of acceptance of Jews is higher in the United Kingdom than in the United States on certain key indicators.
But the survey showed great antagonism among Britons toward other minorities — Gypsies, Pakistanis, West Indians, Africans, Arabs and Chinese.
A local Jewish leader observed that no solace can be had from the relatively positive attitude toward Jews when one considers the feelings Britons hold toward minorities in general.
Neville Nagler, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, expressed deep pessimism about race relations as reflected in the poll, which was conducted by the Gallup Organization.
Eighty percent of respondents to the survey feel that relations between the races were “only fair” or “poor.”
Jews can only thrive and prosper in a tolerant and democratic society and have “a vested interest in worrying about the general state of race relations,” said Nagler.
“Jews, to the extent that they face enemies, face the same enemies as other minorities,” he added.
The survey presents evidence that the British government is not adequately addressing the problem of race relations. Home Secretary Michael Howard recently said that existing hate legislation in Britain is sufficient.
According to the survey, a large plurality of Britons — 45 percent — want to see that law strengthened.
GYPSIES SEEN AS LEAST DESIRABLE
The Commission for Racial Equality, the Board of Deputies and the Anti-Racist Alliance, a largely black group, have all called upon the government to beef up the laws.
Asked about the perception of different groups’ influence on society, 8 percent thought the Jews have “too much.”
That, too, was markedly less than the response in the United States, where 22 percent thought Jews have too much influence; and in Austria, where 28 percent of respondents thought Jews are too influential.
Of those questioned in the September poll, 12 percent of Britons said they would “prefer not” to have a Jewish neighbor. Only 5 percent of Americans gave that answer in an AJCommittee poll. The number in Poland was much higher, at 40 percent, despite the fact that few Jews live in that country anymore.
In the British poll, Gypsies were the least desirable ethnic group. Some 65 percent of Britons said they did not want a Gypsy living next door.
Arabs were the next disliked, with 31 percent of respondents saying they did not want an Arab neighbor.
Some 30 percent did not want to live next door to a Pakistani.
In all, approximately one in four Britons objected to living next door to non-whites.
According to the survey, those expressing negative attitudes toward Jews tended to be older, less educated and poorer.
The behavior of Jews was considered agreeable by all but 8 percent of those asked. That acceptance level was bested only by the Chinese. Only 7 percent of respondents said they did not consider Chinese people agreeable.
Gypsies, once again, scored highest for provoking hostility. In the area of intermarriage, Britons were also increasingly willing to accept Jews, said Singer.
A separate survey showed that 82 percent of people accepted the idea of a Jew marrying a non-Jew, while 77 percent accepted mixed racial marriages.
In 1967, the figures for this were 50 percent and 29 percent, respectively.