'We’re leaving Britain - Jews aren’t safe here any more’
After watching the rise in anti-Semitism in this country, the Gould family has taken the radical decision to emigrate to America. They tell Angela Epstein why
Honey and Simon Gould with their daughter Angel, 16, at home in Crumpsall, Manchester.Photo: Guzelian
By Angela Epstein
7:05AM GMT 06 Feb 2015
Simon and Honey Gould, married for more than 20 years and with two children, live a seemingly peaceful life in their handsome five-bedroom house in a quiet British suburb.
Simon, 52, is a successful businessman running his own property company. Honey, 49, has pursued a career in marketing, while also raising son Arron, now 18, and daughter Angel, 16. Their wide circle of friends, close family and other relatives lives nearby.
Yet this summer the Goulds will leave everything behind – their north Manchester home filled with memories, their lovely, rambling garden, their busy social life – and leave the UK for good.
It may sound dramatic – incomprehensible, even. But the family, who are Jewish, no longer feel safe in this country. They believe they have no choice.
“It’s a terrible wrench,” says Honey, who admits that even emptying a single drawer “takes hours” as, bit by bit, she packs away the pieces of their life, ready for transit to their new home in the US state of Arizona.
“I’m proud to be British. My parents live in London. Simon has lived his whole life in two streets of north Manchester. Our house is the only home our son and daughter have ever known. But we have to do this, not least for the sake of our children.”
A poll by the Campaign Against Antisemitism last month found nearly half of Britons thought that at least one anti‑Semitic view presented to them was “definitely or probably true”.
Then, yesterday, annual figures from the Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors anti-Semitism in Britain,showed a record number of anti‑Semitic incidents in 2014 (1,168 incidents were recorded, more than double the 535 incidents logged in 2013).
London and Greater Manchester bore the brunt of the increase, with Manchester seeing a 79 per cent rise. One incident cited in the report involved the daubing of swastikas and the term “Jewish slag” on gravestones at a Jewish cemetery in Manchester. Greater Manchester Police says it has stepped up patrols.
The findings are borne out by the Goulds’ experience. “The other week, I was standing in the queue at a large supermarket in Manchester when the man in front of me said, 'F------ Jews, they’re all over the place. They’re thieves, they are taking over our property. They’re everywhere,’ ” says Honey. “I’ve no idea if he knew I was Jewish or not, but I was absolutely terrified, and fled.”
Then a Jewish neighbour’s son who was wearing his kippa (skull cap) was slapped in the street by a white Polish man, who “just sprang forward and hit him”.
Honey says: “I know there are plenty of people who simply want to live a peaceful coexistence. But there is so much anti‑Semitism in Britain, and it’s coming from all sides. Our local Jewish schools look like prison camps. They’re surrounded by wire fences. There are guards on patrol, some with dogs. On Saturdays, you see police walking the street with members of the CST. I don’t want to sit at home panicking when my husband goes to the synagogue. I just want to live in peace.”
Radical Islam, agrees Simon, is not the only driving force behind the rise in anti‑Semitism. The far‑Left habitually conflates Jews with Israel and Zionism, he says. The far‑Right, meanwhile, may be “happy firing salvos at the Muslim population, but I know we are only one step away from their wrath,” he says.
Having spent 10 years on the northern board of the CST, he is acutely aware of how bad things have become. “I’ve been exposed to, and become familiar with, spiralling anti‑Semitism,” he says. “Eggs hurled from passing cars, swastikas on Jewish headstones, messages of hatred. Last summer, central Manchester – a place I love and have always lived in – became a flashpoint for virulent anti-Israel demonstrations. It was terrifying to see this on the streets of my home city.”
He praises the Government’s response to the problem, but doubts its ability to stop it.
But how does a family like the Goulds start a new life where they know almost no one? (Honey has a grandmother in California, but the family will be living many hundreds of miles away from her.) One wonders why they don’t make Israel their home. Instead, they are relocating to Scottsdale in the Arizona state capital of Phoenix. Home to more than 100,000 Jews, it is a community they believe is large enough for them to feel comfortable in.
The Goulds admit that moving to America is far from easy, however, not least because of the need for a visa and subsequent Green Card. It was only after long hours of research that Simon discovered a little-known scheme called the EB-5 Visa. This awards a Green Card to those who invest in projects in rural regions or areas of high unemployment. Simon is meeting the requirements by making a five-year loan to help fund a large hotel development in Vermont.
“There seems to be a tacit belief that the only place for Jews to thrive and flourish is Israel,” says Honey. “But in America you get every kind of American: African-American, Chinese-American. We’ll be British-American. I’m taking my patriotism with me.”
In fact it will not be the first time Honey has been uprooted. Born in Manchester, she moved at the age of eight to Iran, where her father had a job as a commodity broker. The family occupied an airy apartment in Tehran and mixed freely among the vibrant Jewish community. But life changed overnight with the overthrow of the Shah in 1979 and the introduction of martial law. Arriving at school one day, 12-year-old Honey and her nine-year-old brother were told they had to go home immediately. Their mother was waiting in tears at the front door and had already started packing their belongings. Within hours, the children were on a flight to London, where they were sent to boarding school. Honey didn’t see her parents for a year.
“I’ve known what it is to flee in fear,” she says. “I don’t want to do that again. I want to leave the UK now on my own terms.” But she adds sadly: “This was the place where I finally felt safe, that I could finally call home.”
Now her own daughter will also be uprooted. But Angel, a thoughtful and circumspect teenager, is in favour of the move. “Of course it will be hard, but there’s always Facebook to keep in touch,” she observes. “I’m looking at the bigger picture, how things are changing. I want to live in a place where I won’t be judged by my religion, where I can hold my head up high.”
Arron, meanwhile, has already taken a place to study political science at the University of California, Berkeley. Honey will use her marketing background to look for work, while Simon will pursue business opportunities in the US. He admits he is taking a chance financially, but he is so evangelical about the move that he has set up a website, www.emigrate-to-america.co.uk, offering advice to others on how to make the move.
“I am the fourth generation of Jew in my family to live in Britain,” he says. “Britain offered a safe haven, a chance for them to raise a family, build a home. I am eternally grateful for the refuge Britain and its government has given to the Jews. But I can’t help feeling that the future is no longer here. The grandfather of one Jewish friend said 'It’s time to leave when you are no longer free to sit on a park bench’. I think that time is fast approaching. I’m leaving before I’m told that I have to go.”