Sunday, May 30, 2021

UK: Jewish actors fear being ‘blacklisted’ for connection to Israel

Via Jewish Chronicle:

Jewish actors have told the JC that they are terrified of being “blacklisted” for having any connection to Israel and are hiding their identity in order to make sure they get work.

There is also deep concern that far from supporting its Jewish members, the actors’ union, Equity, is “fanning the flames of antisemitism”.

Dame Maureen Lipman this week resigned from the union in fury after it called on members to join Saturday’s pro-Palestinian march in London, at which protesters burned Israeli flags and held up antisemitic placards.

Actress Tracy-Ann Oberman — who also voiced her outrage over the Equity statement — 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 they had family in Israel.

“Jewish actors are frightened of owning their identity, and they are scared that they will be blacklisted.”

One young actor told the JC: “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, having had very little acting work due to the pandemic, 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’.

“I felt sick. Like the two are somehow connected and I had to feel the weight of responsibility to defend myself against something that had nothing to do with me or my own family’s lived experience, that our own personal horrors were somehow being dismissed and diminished. The Chinese actor in the same cast was not made to feel the same fear in having to speak about the Uyghurs.

“So it’s hard not to feel unsafe as a Jewish actor — and it’s made me feel that I won’t be talking about my heritage or Jewish identity going forward.”

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