Three times as many British Muslims believe that Jews have greater loyalty to Israel than to the UK than do not, according to a newly released poll commissioned by a British Muslim academic. However, anti-Semitic beliefs plummet by as much as 12 percentage points amongst Muslims whose friendship groups act as a bridge between themselves and non-Muslims – suggesting integration may offer the solution.
The Savanta-ComRes poll of 750 British Muslims was commissioned by Dr Rakib Ehsan, as part of a Henry Jackson Society report which makes a series of recommendations for boosting integration. He warned last night that “too many within British Muslim communities have been willing to indulge in anti-Semitic conspiracies”.
The polling found that 44% of Muslims agree with the statement that: ‘British Jewish people tend to be more loyal to Israel, a holy place for their religion, than to the UK.’ Just 13% of Muslims believe British Jews are more loyal to the UK than to Israel. Amongst Muslims who go to attend a mosque at least three times a week, 55% believe British Jews are more loyal to Israel to the UK, and just 14% believe the opposite to be true.
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism says that “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations” is a form of anti-Semitism.
Contrary to an oft-assumed belief that education alone is a solution to prejudicial attitudes, British Muslims with university degrees are more likely to believe in Jewish dual-loyalty. 47% of degree-educated Muslims agreed with the above statement versus 40% of those who did not attend university.
A December 2019 ICM Unlimited poll found that amongst the public at large, 24% believe that British Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the UK. The disparity in views between British Muslims and the wider population is especially stark amongst young people. 40% of British Muslims between 18-24 believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than the UK, compared to 17% of the general population within the same age range.
The poll finds that anti-Semitic attitudes amongst British Muslims are not limited to questions of national allegiance.
According to the newly released poll, some 34% of British Muslims believe Jews have too much control over the global banking system. The ICM Unlimited poll reports that 18% of GB adults share this view.
The ICM Unlimited poll also found that 15% of the general public believe that Jews have a disproportionate influence in politics. Amongst British Muslims, 33% believe this to be the case. This rises to 38% amongst Muslims who attend a mosque at least three times a week.
Similarly, more British Muslims believe that Jews have too much control over the ‘arms industry’, ‘media’, and ‘entertainment industry’ than do not.
Demonstrating the positive effects of integration, British Muslims who report having proportionally more close friends from non-Muslim backgrounds are less likely to hold anti-Semitic beliefs. The effects of social integration through close friendships are consistent:
British Muslims with integrated friendship groups are:
- Less likely to believe that Jews have too much control of the global media (30.2% compared with 37.7%).
- Less likely to believe that Jews have too much control of the global banking system (30.2% compared with 38.4%).
- Less likely to believe that Jews have too much control of the global arms/weapons industry (26.0% compared with 37.9%).
- Less likely to believe that Jews have too much control over global political leadership the (28.1% compared with 38.1%).
- Less likely to believe that Jews have too control over the global entertainment industry (27.0% compared with 38.6%).
In response, Ehsan recommends a renewed focus from national and local politicians, grassroots community groups, Muslim civil society organisations, and interfaith bodies in connecting groups of different backgrounds.
“For too long, conspiracy theories about Jews have been shared with impunity around the UK’s Muslim communities by those who seek to spread division. Unfortunately, the evidence has shown this has had an effect — I’m sorry to say that too many within British Muslim communities have been willing to indulge in anti-Semitic conspiracies.
When British Muslims such as myself have attempted to raise concerns over antisemitism within our communities, we have all too often been greeted with abuse by co-religionists. But these survey figures must act as a catalyst to take on those who wish to suppress our voices on the matter of British Muslim antisemitism.
There is some good news in the poll, which revolves around those British Muslims who have best integrated through their friendship groups. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that better-integrated British Muslims are still more likely to hold anti-Semitic beliefs when compared with the general population.
The findings provide a degree of direction for both British Muslim communities and the UK Government. To effectively tackle the roots of Muslim anti-Semitism in the UK, local community cohesion plans must be developed and put in place to improve social integration and strengthen interfaith relations. This should be supported by community-based educational initiatives designed to counter anti-Semitic attitudes and anti-Jewish conspiratorial beliefs.”
Dr Rakib Ehsan
Survey data weighted to be demographically representative of all British Muslim adults by age, region, gender and ethnicity. British Muslim polling: Savanta-ComRes (2019). Sample: 750 UK Muslims aged 18+; Fieldwork: 25 November–5 December 2019. UK Population polling:
ICM Unlimited (2019). Sample: 2,011 GB adults aged 18+; Fieldwork: 6-9 December 2019.