'Sometimes I would just like to be a mere citizen — an actress, not a Jewish actress'
I spoke at a rally against Anti-Semitism outside the Labour Party headquarters in Victoria last month. I hadn’t intended to spend my only day off from the theatre this way but when I saw the huge march against Israel, mounted in days, to oppose the carefully-staged uprisings in Gaza over Passover, I knew I had to stand up and be counted. Twenty-nine people, including known Hamas terrorists were, sadly, killed in Gaza. It has taken seven years for Assad to slaughter tens of thousands of his own people, and 24 hours the day before I spoke to chemically gas 70 women and children, but to organise a protest against this genocide held no interest for our busy activists for the Palestinians. As ever, the heinous crimes committed against humanity in the rest of the world pale into insignificance for those who wish to marginalise and destroy the Jewish state.
I certainly didn’t expect to be a speaker. That happened because I had submitted my take on Jeremy Corbyn’s “apology” following his attendance at an alternative Passover Seder but the newspapers all pleaded overkill. My hackles were taut; my head was teeming with insult and injustice. In other words I had the perfect mindset for a rallying speech at an organised protest.
I said that the name Jewdas has a horrible ring to it and asked whether anyone, let alone the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, should attend a Seder, on the wrong night in the Jewish calendar, with radicals who call themselves by an offensive name, whose followers refer to Israel as “a steaming pile of sewage” and believe that Jews should only live in the Diaspora. (I’ll never understand why the Jews must be content with the Diaspora but the Palestinians must have the right to return.) After a week when the Labour Party has been shown repeatedly to encourage, or certainly not discourage, anti-Semitism, would you break matzos with Jewdas?? Would you smile through cries of “F**k royalty! F**k the Army” during a religious ceremony?
No, me neither.
Yet this is precisely where Comrade Corbyn chose to spend his night off. Then, knowing the accusation that has been levelled at him for supping with Jewish anti-Zionists, he said he was delighted to speak to young Londoners and to learn more about Passover. Good luck with the learning, Jezza; you might have learned more about hating the outcast by watching Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs at the Screen on Islington Green.
How much more proof do the Labour Party and the country need to hear than this cynical stunt, on top of the 2,000 examples of online racism — yes, let’s call it that because that is what it is — uncovered by the Sunday Times and the baiting and trolling of the Jewish Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman because of their heritage? Would Corbyn not have been better advised to follow up his apologetic words with a single deed of apology, like sacking Ken Livingstone, rather than deliberately staging a controversial gesture to all sides of Judaism?
Or is he just, as Monty Python might have said, a very naughty boy? Does his reading of Elijah’s prayer at this so-called Seder, re-envisaged as “Fill this cup with the hope that socialism and revolution will be upon us soon,’’ correlate with his failure to notice that the East London mural was anti-Semitic? Or not to observe when he logged on to the website Palestine Live over a period of two years, that some of the contributors spoke about Jews in a manner contradictory to his “lifelong opposition to racism”, a phrase used by Momentum founder Jon Lansman on the Today programme as an excuse for his boss’s behaviour.
Corbyn has spent many months preaching on the very campuses where Jewish students are being bullied and Jewish speakers are routinely no-platformed. Seumas and John got on with running the party and Jeremy did what he’s good at: spouting his 40-year-old Marxist beliefs, which, like ballroom dancing, cookery, allotments and talent shows have miraculously come back into fashion just by standing still. Did he perhaps, while promising free tuition to tomorrow’s voters in exchange for marks on the ballot paper, mention the plight of Jewish students on campus, the barracking of philo-Semitic speakers or the global injustice of BDS?
Meanwhile, Momentum are calling to account any Labour councillors who attended the first march against anti-Semitism. For attending a protest! In a land of free speech. Deselection is going on behind closed doors and moderate Labour supporters are being pushed out. It is a bloodless coup and I wouldn’t be surprised if we are blamed for the blood. I called out Ed Miliband five years ago for his negativity towards Israel. It became a big story. Little did I know how much worse it could get — and what does he have to say on the subject?
Sometimes I get so tired of world domination. It gets in the way of acting, caring for family and going to Waitrose. Sometimes I would just like to be a mere citizen — an actress, not a Jewish actress. For my books to be in the Humour section, not in Jewish Humour. Oftentimes I get mortified by hearing the word “anti-Semitism” in the news because I can hear the bigots saying,“Oh, it’s the bloody Jews AGAIN — why are they always the ones in the middle of the trouble?” Well, we’ve asked the same question, mate, for hundreds of years — why us? We are so few, a mere 240,000 in Britain, and compared to others, so law-abiding. So why?
Almost 6,000 jihadist crimes, torture, beheading, bombing, driving into civilians, trafficking of young women, stabbing, suicide bombing have NOT been committed by Jews. And anti-Semitism all over Europe is rising. Why?
Jeremy, you maintain you are anti-racist and I believe you probably are — but it is perfectly possible to be anti-racist and anti-Semitic in a far-left and, indeed, far-right mindset. Don’t you see that by not acting you condone? I wonder if you paused for thought when you heard these words at the Seder — read from the Hagaddah, in every Jewish home, for 4,000 years — “In every generation there are those who rise up against us and seek to destroy us.”
“Make the lie a big one. Tell it enough times and eventually it will be believed,” said the monstrous architect of the Holocaust. The Jewish population must stand up and tell our story again. And again.