A damning new report has found that public attitudes have changed dramatically in the past two years, with many Scots now scared to reveal their Jewish identity.
Disturbingly, some second or third generation Holocaust survivors even compared modern Scotland with Germany in the 1930s due to the growing sense that Jewish people are not safe or welcome here.
The study blames “unbalanced political comment”, a lack of confidence in the police and widespread anti-Israel sentiment for the rapidly worsening situation.
One Jewish man in his 60s, living in Glasgow, said: “When people are murdered just because they shop in a kosher deli in Paris or attend a batmitzvah in Copenhagen, it’s natural for everyone who goes to the equivalent venues in Scotland to think that it could just as easily have been a Glasgow deli or an Edinburgh batmitzvah, and to change their behaviour.
“It’s not paranoid to be fearful when the threat is real.”
Another man in his 30s, living in Edinburgh, said: “I have come to realise that identifying myself as a Jewish Israeli, or just identifying my wife as Jewish or our house as one where Jewish people live, might pose a risk to our lives and our property.”
A woman, in her 50s living in the Highlands, asked: “Is it safe to advertise a Jewish event in a local newspaper?”
The two-year study, What’s Changed About Being Jewish in Scotland, was commissioned by the Scottish Government and carried out by The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC).
Director Ephraim Borowski said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was trying to make Jewish people in Scotland feel safe but the report questions the lack of support from some in her party.
There were concerns about the rise in nationalism, with one Glasgow man in his 50s saying the “indyref [was] encouraging nationalists feeling it was acceptable to be anti-Semitic.
The SNP has a Friends of Palestine group but is the only major British party not to have a Friends of Israel group, while many SNP MPs and MSPs are staunch supporters of the Palestinian cause.
Deputy leadership candidate Tommy Sheppard is among those calling for a boycott of Israeli goods and was recently accused of promoting a group linked to Hamas.
One Israeli man in his 30s, living in Edinburgh, said: “With members of the parliament supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) and other bodies that support an embargo on Israel, one day Jewish blood will be spilled in Scotland, and the Scottish Parliament will be directly responsible for not stopping the spread of anti-Semitism.”
And an Edinburgh woman in her 30s said she had been “upset and unnerved” after receiving an “aggressively worded” email from her local MP after she challenged him over Gaza.
She added: “I began to fear that anti-Semitism was being legitimised by such attitudes within Government. It is incredible that police had to attend our synagogue to reassure us of their support at that time.”
Many Jews are now considering leaving Scotland, with one woman in Glasgow even comparing the current mood to Germany in the 1930s.
She said: “I’m not feeling personally threatened, I’m not coming across people who make anti-Semitic comments, but I feel slightly unsafe.
“Should we be thinking, ‘Should we go to Israel in the end?’ I’ve been thinking a lot about what happened in Germany, and those who didn’t think about it.”
Mr Borowski said: “While we can only be seriously concerned by the negativity and level of discomfort expressed by many respondents and the extent to which Jewish people’s experience of Scotland has deteriorated, it remains the case the vast majority of Scottish Jews are here to stay, and we welcome the Scottish Government’s willingness to listen to their concerns and to ensure their safety and wellbeing.”
Communities Secretary Angela Constance “will give full consideration” to the report, adding: “I look forward to working with the Jewish community to ensure Scotland continues to be one of the best places in the world for people from all backgrounds to live.”