General Antisemitism

Toxic mix: The Guardian, British actress Miriam Margolyes and antisemitism


On Oct. 28th the Guardian published an article focusing on British actress Miriam Margolyes and her views on antisemitism and the recent war in Gaza. (Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes: Israel lets people vent antisemitism)

headlineThe Guardian quotes Margolyes from a recent interview on Radio Times thusly:

Actor Miriam Margolyes has criticised Israel for “allowing people” to vent prejudice against Jews, who she claimed: “I don’t think people like”.

The Harry Potter star, 73, who is Jewish, said there had been a “troubling backlash” against Jews following the recent, 50-day Gaza conflict.

She told the new issue of Radio Times: “I loathe Hamas, but they were democratically elected and Israel’s behaviour is not acceptable. There’s been a troubling backlash.”

The actress said: “I don’t think people like Jews. They never have. English literature, my great love, is full of greasy and treacherous Jews.

“I’m lucky they like me, and one always needs a Jewish accountant. Antisemitism is horrible and can’t be defended, but Israel is stupid for allowing people to vent it.”

While Margolyes predictably blames Israel for causing antisemitism, a brief look at the actress suggests a troubling blind spot about her own contribution to legitimizing such Jew hatred.

In addition to the fact that Margolyes supports the cultural boycott of Israel (and signed a letter, published in the Guardian in 2012, protesting the decision by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London to invite Israel’s National Theatre, Habima to perform The Merchant of Venice), she opposes the continued existence of a Jewish state and has participated in a reading of Seven Jewish Children, a play which vilifies Jews and Judaism.

As Anthony Julius observed:

In this play, Jews confess to lying to their own children and killing Palestinian children. They also confess to something close to a project of genocide. And they freely acknowledge the source of their misanthropy to be Judaism itself.

Additionally, Margolyes has suggested that Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza was sub-human and morally comparable to the Nazi treatment of Jews during the Holocaust.

Margolyes also delivered a recorded speech to an extremist-affiliated anti-Israel rally in London in 2007, a gathering which included a speech by Ismail Haniyeh – political leader of Hamas, the antisemitic movement Margolyes claimed to “loathe”. 

In short, when you evoke Israel-Nazi analogies, participate in a play which vilifies Jews and Judaism and are willing to share a stage with the leader of an extremist movement that explicitly calls for the murder of Jews, you forfeit the assumption of good intentions when condemning the rise of antisemitism.

35 replies »

  1. She really can’t complain about antisemitism AND help stoke it up at the same time! What kind of blindness is that?

  2. ““I’m lucky they like me” is a Freudian slip that projects terrible neediness and fear of rejection. It also explains why she goes out of her way to demonize Israel and Jews. In an antisemitic social milieu the only way to “survive” and retain your meager achievements is by assimilating to that antisemitism.

    Here is how the late Norman Geras framed her stupidity:

    “Two Margolyesian responses

    The actor Miriam Margolyes is in Australia and will take part in a production of Caryl Churchill’s Seven Jewish Children at the State Library of Victoria. Some people think the play is anti-Semitic, but Margolyes has a complex and subtle argument to allay their worries. ‘That’s bollocks’, she says. And that’s freedom of speech and no mistake; no need to get too wordy about it. Following her lead, JewishCare in Melbourne has exercised its own freedom – its freedom of choice – by disinviting Margolyes, who had been scheduled to entertain residents at a JewishCare home. In response, she’s put together a somewhat longer argument:

    I think they’re quite wrong, I would never get involved with anything which was either anti-Semitic or critical of Holocaust survivors… I feel they’re making a terrible mistake and I am very sad because I was truly looking forward to appearing there. I support JewishCare in the U.K. both in appearances and with donations. And I will continue to do so.

    A ‘terrible mistake’ is perhaps overstating things a bit, especially when the supposed mistake is the cancelling of an invitation to the person who was its recipient. But at least Margolyes has now come up with a reason for thinking that Seven Jewish Children isn’t anti-Semitic: she would never have got involved in it (don’t you see?) if it were that.”

    http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2009/05/two-margolyesian-responses-.html

    • “Here is how the late Norman Geras framed her stupidity”

      The world is a much poorer place for his passing.

      Requiescat in pace.

      • I regularly regret the fact that he is no more, but many of the targets for his posts still breathe.

  3. “English literature, my great love, is full of greasy and treacherous Jews.”

    In the case of Margolyes that would be an accurate description.

  4. Margolyes is an irrelevance; culturally, artistically and politically. A good illustration of the parochial self-importance of the Guardian. When your average Guardian reader looks in the mirror, they see a reflection of Margolyes. She represents the self-righteous, middle-class demographic of its readership perfectly. Outside of this domain (and the odd Jewish care home gig or Christmas pantomime), she has zero impact or interest.

  5. I’m lucky they like me, and one always needs a Jewish accountant.

    Well, some luck, achieved by derogatory remarks on Israel) But anyway, is this a well known notion of the English mentality, a Jewish acountant? Seriously put, as I don`t know.

  6. So Hamas was democratically elected…. but Israel’s government wasn’t?

    Is that why it’s okay for Hamas to shoot missiles into Israel?

    It’s amazing how much energy is wasted on the same stupid arguments that are meant to ignore one side and get us absolutely nofuckingwhere.

    This woman is a fruitcake. She’s a hate monger. And she’s a tool

    • Hamas was democratically elected to govern for four years… ten years ago.
      This is democracy for Ms. Margolyes microscopic brain and extra-orbital ego.

  7. In the RT interview, she relates how she ticked off Will.i.am because he kept saying like: “I’m incensed when people don’t use our language properly.It’s the greatest gift we’ve given to the world.” Isn’t that racist/colonialist for her to dictate to Will.i.am how he should use “our” language which “we” have given him?
    She goes on that she worries she is not clever enough.. but has some strong views, particularly about Israel. I loathe Hamas but..” as quoted above. When I read the whole paragraph, I thought: either this has been very badly edited, or in this incoherent passage blighted with disjointed non sequitors, she is guilty of the most egregious mangling of both language and logic which by comparison makes Will.i.am sound like F.R Leavis. No, she is not clever enough.

    I tried to engage her in civilised dialogue about Israel at a reception after a JfJfJfJfp event some years ago, and it became apparent that she has the mind of a bulldozer. Not interested in hearing other views, just bellowing forth her own.

    • I would only disagree with ‘bulldozer’: I have seen JCBs with a higher IQ. Perhaps ‘the mind of an amoeba’?
      And yes, she spews racist statements by the bucket-load.
      Love JfJfJfJfp 🙂

  8. While Margolyes predictably blames Israel for causing antisemitism

    Actually she didn’t. She blames Israel for “allowing people to vent it.”

    That doesn’t stop her being full of it, though.

    • I guess she blames Israel for allowing free speech. Although, since her ideas are based on what’s selling today. I personally would like her to keep her mouth shut!

  9. “I loathe Hamas, but they were democratically elected ……….” : Delirium Margolyes

    Democratically elected in 2006! It’s now 2014! What’s the typical length of a democratic mandate in a democratic society, Miriam? Or are genocidal maniacs held to a different standard from the rest of us?

    • Exactly. The clue that Gaza is not a democracy is that democracies invariably have more than one election.

    • I believe Hitler was also elected. I think what this women is trying to do, is to walk both sides of the road. Can’t be done. No matter what side you are on, people can see thru this charade . Perhaps she just isn’t very smart.

    • I am not the only moshe in the world but as a long-time poster on this blog I think I am entitled to keep my identity without someone else adopting it. I use this name because it is my Hebrew name. No one called themselves moshe on BTL Cifwatch commments until I started commenting on here. I am pretty sure peterthehungarian or pretzelberg or koufaxmitzvah would complain if a poster started using their names.

  10. Ans since they were elected “democrately” ….let them bomb Israel and let them build tunnels! My dear Miriam , some times it’s better to be quiet and let people think that you are smart..

  11. So, to Miriam, it’s right to blame the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras for homophobia? She’s totally and utterly crazy. I mean, I’ve listened to this woman talk, and frankly, it’s like listening to the ocean.

    There’s nothing of any intelligence in there.

  12. I notice the fact that Miriam Gargoyles doesn’t actually blame anti-Semites for anti-Semitism.

  13. What I always hated about the G was this shaming they continuously attempt at Jews…..

    “Hey Israel, here’s a good Jew we love here in England….and she hates what you do”

    “Hey Israel. the Jews we know despise your leaders”

    “Hey Israel, good English Jews hate the IDF”

    And so on…..

  14. Ugh! Why is anyone surprised? She is like so many anti-Israel Jewish luvvies who is terrified that Israeli strength in the face of adversity will affect their careers. She’s another (female) equivalent of Jews who enabled the slaughter of their people in Europe. I wish that there could be a cherem imposed on her and those like her

  15. A Jew who speaks like an antisemite from the worst kind. A classical technique which had been popular among Jew-haters for centuries. Those people are sick.