Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Freedom of Religion and Belief

Antisemitism is on the rise across the Western world, as followers of Jesus we must actively challenge the attitudes that allow it to flourish in Scotland. On behalf of the Public Theology Group I commend to you the following article from Brian Miller, BUS representative on the Freedom of Religion and Belief group, and invite you to consider ways in which you can help our Jewish neighbours feel secure and accepted in our society.

Rev Norman Graham, Chair of Public Theology Group

At the February 2018 meeting of this group there was a presentation by Ephraim Borowski of the Scottish Jewish Community on the nature and origins of “antisemitism” and the incidence of this in Scotland today. Although the extent and nature of antisemitism in Scotland is mild relative to the experiences of the Jewish community in some other parts of the world, it was noted that the recent trend is on balance towards a greater sense of alienation within Scottish society.

This is considered to be influenced by changing attitudes towards the different factions in Israel and Palestine. There has been increasing sympathy in Scotland towards Palestinians in their struggle with Jewish settlers and a hardening of attitudes towards the policies of the Israeli government. This has resulted in Jewish people in Scotland being randomly challenged and held accountable for the actions of the Israeli government – regardless of whether the individual is supportive of, strongly opposed to or does not know or care about Israeli government policy.

As a family of churches which strongly supports the right of people to express and practice their own beliefs, what can we do to assist in tackling this sense of alienation? It would be helpful to encourage behaviour that respects people for themselves without assumptions about their views or positions based on race or religion and behaviour that does not define or ‘stigmatise’ people by automatically associating them with views they may not hold. To do so would be a contribution to allowing Jewish people to go about their business without fear of being verbally abused for who they are.

Brian Miller