Jewish actress told not to leave London theater due to pro-Palestinian rallies

Tracy-Ann Oberman, who campaigns against antisemitism, reveals she was advised to stay indoors after performance; security has already been boosted due to death threats against her

Screen capture from video of Jewish actress Tracy-Ann Oberman speaking with Sky News, February 2024. (Sky News. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of Jewish actress Tracy-Ann Oberman speaking with Sky News, February 2024. (Sky News. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Jewish actress Tracy-Ann Oberman has revealed that she was advised not to leave a London theater after a performance where she is playing the lead role, due to pro-Palestinian rallies in the area.

Security has already been increased at the Criterion Theatre in the capital’s West End area due to threats against the actress, who is outspoken against antisemitism and has expressed support for Israel in its ongoing war against the Palestinian terror group Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Oberman is playing Shylock in “Merchant of Venice 1936” at the Criterion.

In a Saturday evening tweet on X aimed at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Opposition Labor Party leader Sir Keir Starmer, she wrote: “Another Saturday post matinee and I have been asked not to step out the theatre because of all the demonstrations and marches going on.”

“London 2024 — ridiculous isn’t it,” added Oberman, who did not say who had told her to stay indoors or the nature of the apparent danger.

It came after, earlier Saturday, Sunak said that extremism against the backdrop of the Gaza war was undermining the UK’s democracy.

Regular marches protesting Israel’s military response to Hamas’s October 7 devastating attack have seen dozens arrested for antisemitic chanting and banners, inviting support for Hamas, a banned terror organization, and assaulting emergency workers.

Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak addresses the media at Downing Street in London, Friday, March 1, 2024. The prime minister used the address to warn that democracy is being targeted by extremists. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

In an unusual address from outside his Downing Street home, Sunak said that the protests, a regular occurrence on Saturdays in the capital, “had descended into intimidation, threats and planned acts of violence.”

Matters came to a head last month when the speaker of the House of Commons said he had bucked procedure during a debate due to concerns about the safety of MPs.

British lawmakers last week were given funding for new security provisions after some faced threats for expressing support for Israel in its war with Hamas. One MP has said he will not run again for office due to fears for his safety.

The Gaza war began on October 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israel to kill nearly 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and took more than 250 hostages.

Israel responded with a military campaign to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza, destroy the terror group, and free the hostages, over half of whom still remain in captivity.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism told the Guardian newspaper that anti-Israel activism has become a significant source of intimidation against British Jews.

“It has now reached a point where a Jewish actress starring in an adaptation of a Shakespearean play about antisemitism is being told to stay indoors for her own safety,” the spokesperson said. “Which other demonstrations are having this kind of effect?”

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrators wave Palestinian flags and hold placards as they protest in Parliament Square in London on February 21, 2024, during an Opposition Day motion in the House of Commons calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. (HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP)

“These protests are why a staggering 90 percent of British Jews say that they would avoid traveling to a city center if a major anti-Israel demonstration was taking place there, according to our polling,” the spokesperson said. “Our urban centers have become no-go zones for Jews.”

“If Britain is to remain a bastion of tolerance and decency, the authorities must restore order on our streets,” he said.

Speaking to Sky News in an interview published Sunday, Oberman said, “We’re living in very febrile times… I don’t understand how we’re living in a time where a Jewish actress who is putting on a production of The Merchant Of Venice is needing to have all this security, it just feels extraordinary.”

“Jewish people in Great Britain are suffering hugely for what is going on in a foreign country,” she said. It’s not right.”

She urged other members of her industry to do more to counter the antisemitism.

Screen capture from video of a theater in London’s West End showing a poster for Jewish actress Tracy-Ann Oberman, February 2024. (Sky News. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Oberman plays Shylock in “Merchant of Venice 1936.” In Shakespeare’s original Shylock a greedy Jewish moneylender owed money from a merchant. The play controversially depicts Shylock in a manner considered antisemitic.

The new version of the performance is set in the 1930s as fascism sweeps across Europe and into London. Oberman has said she based Shylock on her grandmother, depicting the character as female and heroic, rather than an antagonist.

Police were deployed secure the play’s opening night in February due to online threats Oberman had received.

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