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U.K. Actors Union Equity Accused of ‘Antisemitic Dogwhistles,’ Inciting ‘Fear and Pain’ With New Statement on Israel-Hamas War

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K.J. Yossman A statement by British actors union Equity about the Israel-Hamas war has sparked outrage over its “inflammatory” language, with some accusing the organization of “antisemitic dogwhistles.” Published last Wednesday, Equity’s statement – the second it has published about Gaza in the past four weeks – accused Israel of “bombing, occupation and apartheid” and demanded the U.K.

government “stand up against genocide.” The union also stated its members were “frightened of censorship for expressing opinions on the conflict which are rooted in peace, justice and dignity.” “Equity encourages any members who are worried about blacklisting or censorship to speak to their union for support and advice,” the statement said.

Variety has spoken to more than a dozen people in the U.K. entertainment industry, many of them current or former members of Equity, who have expressed horror over Equity’s declaration, which they fear has made them unsafe and contributes to a growing climate of antisemitism (official figures show incidents of antisemitism have grown by more than 500% in Britain since Oct.

7). One Israeli Equity member, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal, said the union’s “clear, one-sided statement and total dismissal of ‘my side’s’ pain and rights” made them fear for their safety. “I wouldn’t be surprised if people took liberty to act on [their] prejudices, thinking they have the organization’s blessing to discriminate.” Maureen Lipman, who has appeared in films including “The Pianist” and “Educating Rita,” said she resigned from Equity a number of years ago because of their attitude towards its Jewish members.

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