Call for healthcare community to unite as 70 per cent of Jewish professionals report a rise in antisemitism

02 November 2023

A survey of 293 Jewish healthcare practitioners was carried out by the Jewish Dental Association in collaboration with Alpha Omega. It found that 95 per cent of Jewish healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the UK have reported that the alarming rise in antisemitism since the attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7 has negatively affected their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Additionally, 44 per cent are either modifying or contemplating changes to their professional activities as a direct consequence of this surge in antisemitism. Disturbingly, the source of these antisemitic incidents for 70 per cent of these professionals is within their own circles – their healthcare colleagues, indicating the problem exists within the very heart of the healthcare community.

The authors are calling on healthcare organisations, including regulatory and licensing bodies, healthcare providers, professional associations/ trade unions and healthcare educational institutions, to acknowledge the scale of anti-Jewish racism and enforce a stringent zero-tolerance policy against antisemitism, ensuring rigorous investigation and decisive action against all reported incidents.

The findings of the survey show that 73 per cent of the 293 respondents had experienced at least one antisemitic episode since the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel earlier this month. The average respondent experienced between two to three episodes of antisemitism, including being required to remove a religious clothing item and having personal property damaged by medical colleagues. What’s more, 48 per cent of those surveyed felt unsafe in clinical settings compared to 29 per cent who felt safe around their colleagues. 

In 60 per cent of episodes, respondents chose not to report the antisemitic incident. Only 15 per cent of respondents who had reported an antisemitic incident at work felt it was appropriately managed. In addition, 68 per cent of respondents lack confidence in regulatory/professional bodies to adequately address and act against rising antisemitism targeted at Jewish HCPs. 

Joseph Greenwall-Cohen, who led the survey, says, "Whilst there are many supportive colleagues and environments, trust and collaboration within a healthcare team is paramount. To think that less than a third of us feel safe around our colleagues is a testament to the severity of anti-Jewish racism at this present time and highlights the need for this to be resolved urgently. It’s important to emphasise that this isn’t an isolated or minor issue but rather a widespread concern affecting a significant portion of Jewish HCPs, and without acknowledging the scale, effective countermeasures cannot be implemented. Now is the time for tolerance, kindness and professionalism across all work settings.”

David Katz, executive chair of the Jewish Medical Association UK, commented, "Given the rise in anti-Jewish racism over the past few weeks, a key question to ask now is how does this affect the interaction of the UK Jewish community within the society in which they live and work and also when and how will the UK’s healthcare system devise strategies to combat this unacceptable form of harmful discrimination?"