During the recent war between Israel and Hamas, the British actors’ union issued a statement of “solidarity” with Palestinians, condemning Israel’s “disproportionate actions,” and called on members to attend a London demonstration—where Israeli flags were burned and protestors displayed and chanted anti-Semitic slogans. Dame Maureen Lipman, a prominent actress and staunch defender of the Jewish state, resigned in protest. But Jewish performing artists in the UK face greater problems still, writes Jenni Frazer:
The actress Tracy-Ann Oberman . . . said Jewish actors were beginning to hide their Stars of David at auditions. “We are terrified of being thought of as Zionists,” she said. “One actor was turned on when it was found that he had family in Israel.
One young actor told [reporters]: “It was the first day of a Zoom read-through for a possible new theatre show. We all introduced ourselves online, which is standard practice—who we are, where we are from, what we have been up to professionally. When it was my turn, . . . I explained that I had been working on a treatment, hopefully for TV, based on my own family’s experience and history of fleeing pogroms in Russia.
“In front of the whole cast and director, an actor sneered on the screen and told me, ‘look what you’re doing in Palestine. That’s a pogrom.’”
The agent Emma Engers said: “I’ve worked in the entertainment industry for 25 years and for the first time in my experience, Jewish actors are telling me that they’re frightened of identifying as being Jewish upon joining a new cast or in the rehearsal room. Young Jewish drama students are terrified . . . of repercussions.”