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'Dread to think what would happen if I was actually Jewish'

UK actor faces ‘relentless’ abuse for playing Jewish character in BBC series

Eddie Marsan, who is not Jewish, portrays leader of anti-fascist group in ‘Ridley Road’; Twitter users claim he supports ‘apartheid’ and the show is ‘favoring Zionists’

Actor Eddie Marsan poses for photographers during the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival, in Italy, on September 3, 2013. (AP Photo/David Azia)
Actor Eddie Marsan poses for photographers during the 70th edition of the Venice Film Festival, in Italy, on September 3, 2013. (AP Photo/David Azia)

British actor Eddie Marsan on Thursday responded to what he said was “relentless” abuse he has been facing online apparently for playing a Jewish character in the four-part “Ridley Road” TV series.

Not Jewish himself, Marsan plays the leader of an anti-fascist underground movement known as the 62 Group in the show. The series, which debuted October 3 on the BBC, is set in early 1960s Britain and presents a fictionalized version of a real surge in fascism in London at the time, and the young Jewish men and women facing down the extremists.

“F**k me, this is relentless, all I did was play a Jew, I dread to think what would’ve happened if I was actually Jewish,” Marsan tweeted on Thursday.

Marsan shared screenshots of several tweets addressed to him, including one from a user who wrote: “Facts are facts Eddie, you are a crap actor and I’ll never watch shite with your Apartheid loving bake in it.”

“Why does the BBC do so many programmes favouring the Zionists ‘return’ and so few favouring Palestinian’s Right of Return? Just asking,” another user wrote to Marsan on Thursday.

Firing back, the actor said he “did a series about British Jews facing antisemitism, nothing to do with Israel or Palestine. But if you think they’re linked you probably think one justifies the other & the irony is, that’s exactly why Ridley Rd got commissioned.”

Marsan has been outspoken against antisemitism on social media in the past.

“Antisemitism gives the myth that it’s punching up to some mythical all-powerful Jewish elite… so quite often, young people are taken in by antisemitic tropes on social media,” Marsan said this month. “They don’t see it as racism, they see it as anti-capitalist, and they feel more inclined to support it.”

Chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock, said the abuse that Marsan has been facing is “shocking, disgusting, [and] exhausting all at once,” the Algemeiner news site reported.

“Thanks for all the kind responses about this but honestly, I’ve been in this game for 30 years & I think I’m the dogs bollocks [a UK slang term that means ‘really good’], I’m fine,” Marsan tweeted on Friday, after many came to his support and condemned the abuse.

“But the point is, what if I wasn’t. What if I were a young kid just starting out & I had to deal with this level of abuse. It’s unacceptable,” he added.

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