A group of 300 protestors, many of them members of the Jewish community, sent a letter to Equity, the UK actor’s union, demanding that it retract statements made by its leadership during pro-Palestinian demonstrations in May.
The group of anonymous theatergoers, who wore sashes emblazoned with the phrase “Equity’s Inequity,” hand delivered the letter to the union’s offices, reported the Jewish Chronicle.
They stand in opposition to positions taken by Equity’s general secretary, Paul Fleming, and its president, Maureen Beattie, both of whom called for the union’s members to attend London Pro-Palestinian demonstrations relating to the May conflict between Israel and Hamas.
During May pro-Palestinian demonstrations across Britain, there were multiple calls for violence against Jews and ensuing incidents of anti-Semitic harassment and vandalism.
The situation became so dangerous that the Luton United Synagogue in Luton, a town in southeast England, recommending to its congregants to stay away from the area during a pro-Palestinian rally.
A few days later, at the end of May, British media reported that police were searching for a masked protestor who screamed for “Jewish blood” during a recent pro-Palestinian demonstration in London.
A significant number of union members reportedly resigned from Equity to protest its position, including well known actress Dame Maureen Lipman. There were also various accounts of Jewish members of the union saying at the time that they no longer felt safe as Jews in their professions.
“How can we enjoy the theatre knowing there are creatives on stage and behind it whose union Equity has made them unsafe?” Judith Ornstein, one of the organizers of the protest group, told the Chronicle.
She noted that five days after Hamas began firing what turned out to be over 4,000 rockets at Israel, Beattie was calling for sanctions against Israel.
Both union leaders also released a May 20 statement accusing Israel of using “disproportionate actions” to defend itself.
Ornstein said that a union should “protect and support its members.”
She urged Beattie and Fleming to undertake anti-Semitism awareness training, and to admit “how ill-judged and partisan their intervention has been, and also its role in escalating the upsurge in anti-Semitism in the UK.”