British Jewish social workers left ‘scared’ over colleagues response to antisemitism

Jewish social workers have admitted they are being left “scared” and “uncomfortable” by the response of their colleagues to their attempts to combat antisemitism.

A motion tabled for debate at this week’s British Association of Social Workers (BASW) conference, backed by the Social Workers Union, (SWU) calls for the body to “suspend the decision to endorse the IHRA definition of antisemitism.”

Meanwhile, a podcast in which two Jewish social workers discussed their experiences of antisemitism, produced in conjunction with the Community Security Trust, was taken down by BASW officials, in response to a complaint from a Palestinian campaigner suggesting the recording “seeks to confuse criticism of apartheid Israel with antisemitism.”

In a response to last October’s podcast dispute, the newly former Social Worker Jewish Group, set up to represent those from the community who practice the profession, issued a statement saying:”Sadly, we expected these types of complaints because the podcast was the first to ever talk about antisemitism and social work, with two Jewish people talking about their experiences.

The podcast was eventually aired again, but a section in which Jewish voices explained how the chant “Free Palestine” could leave them concerned on occasions, was cut from the podcast.

Dr Paul Shuttleworth, a lecturer and tutor for Sussex University an an independent social work practitioner, tweeted on Wednesday: “It’s uncomfortable being a Jewish social worker at the moment.

“We are not being listened to and non-Jews are deciding whether we are allowed to define antisemitism. Yes this is real.”

Shuttleworth also referred to the motion at this week’s conference calling for the IHRA definition to be dropped.

A CST spokesperson also confirmed:”CST stands by everything we said in the podcast. Last May was a frightening time for British Jews, and on far too many occasions the slogan ‘Free Palestine’ was used to harass and abuse Jewish people on the streets.

“This is the reality of how antisemitism played out at that time and rather than censoring Jewish voices, social workers would do better to listen and learn.”

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