Two of Britain’s most high profile Jewish actresses have taken to the media to express their views on the state of Israel. Maureen Lipman has publicly stated she will not vote Labour because of Ed Miliband’s opposition to the country, whilst Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes has branded Israel “stupid”.
The comments expose the left’s split on how to respond to the Jewish state’s actions against Hamas. Margolyes claimed to “loathe” Hamas but defended them on the ground they were “democratically elected”. The 73-year-old said “stupid Israel” had caused a “troubling backlash” by attacking terrorists on the Gaza strip during Operation Protective Edge.
She went on to say “I don’t think people like Jews. They never have. English literature, my great love, is full of greasy and treacherous Jews.” But the United With Israel Website pointed out that Margolyes was unwise to offer tacit support to the Islamists. They said: “Margolyes would be in grave danger if she were to enter Hamas-controlled Gaza or, for that matter, any territory ruled by Islamists — for two reasons: She is Jewish and she is a lesbian.”
Lipman went in the opposite direction, publicly rebuking the Labour leader for his attacks on Israel. Ed Miliband, who is the son of the Jewish refugee from Belgium, has regularly supported Palestinian calls for statehood. This is a departure from British government policy, which has always been to insist on security for Israel before the Palestinian area is recognised as a separate country.
The actress was damming about Miliband, writing in StandPoint she would vote for “almost any other party” until Labour is “once more led by mensches” – the Yiddish word for a person of integrity. The self-styled socialist, who supported Neil Kinnock’s campaign to take the premiership off Thatcher, was angry that Miliband had forced his MPs to vote to recognise Palestine.
The opposition day vote was not binding on the government but was an important statement of support for the anti-Israel campaign. Lipman said: “I’m an actress, Ed, and I am often commended for my timing. Frankly, my dear, yours sucks.
“The world is exploding around us. Isis is beheading our civilians while raping and pillaging across Syria and Iraq. Presidents (Vladimir) Putin and (Bashar) Assad are playing such heavy-handed games that we don’t know which rebel group to support.
“Hong Kong may be about to see a replay of Tiananmen. Islamist terrorism in every spot on the globe and if one Jew had been responsible for any of those bombings, there would, I am afraid to say, have been another Kristallnacht.
“At this point in our history you choose to back these footling backbenchers in this ludicrous piece of propaganda?”
She continued: “May I remind you that no one is tunnelling into Dover or sending rockets into Coventry, yet we seem to have every right to bomb the living daylights out of Iraq. Again. Conclusion: one law for the Israelis, another law for the rest of the world. Plus ça change.”
Neither Lipman nor Miriam Margolyes have ever stood for public office but are known to use their celebrity status to push political causes.