London: Jewish actress threatened; heavy police surveillance at the premiere of his play

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Due to anti-Semitic threats received online by the lead actress, who is Jewish, police were deployed outside the London theater where she is performing a Shakespeare play.

Tracy-Ann Oberman’s representatives asked London police to intervene at the premiere of “The Merchant of Venice 1936,” which took place last week at the Criterion Theater in the West End district, a friend of hers said. the actress to the British newspaper Daily Mail.

“Tracey is particularly nervous at the moment – like many other Jews – about the resurgence of anti-Semitism, an anti-Semitism which is growing and mixes anger towards Israeli actions in Gaza and anti-Jewish attacks” in Britain, added this friend whose identity the newspaper does not reveal. “She is very grateful to the police for taking their place in front of the theater on the night of the premiere.”

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The United Kingdom has seen a real upsurge in anti-Semitism since October 7, when the Hamas terrorist group carried out a deadly assault in southern Israel that left nearly 1,200 people dead, mostly civilians. Israel responded with a military campaign in the Gaza Strip with the stated aim of destroying Hamas, removing it from power in the Gaza Strip and freeing the 253 hostages kidnapped by the terrorists at the time of the attack.

Oberman, who strongly denounces anti-Semitism, plays the role of Shylock who, in Shakespeare’s original text, is a Jewish loan shark with a greedy temperament. The play has always sparked controversy because of this character with anti-Semitic traits.

This brand new version of “The Merchant of Venice” takes place in the 1930s, when fascism spread across Europe and arrived in London. Oberman explained that she was inspired by her grandmother to interpret Shylock, a character who became a heroic woman, the antithesis of the figure of the enemy.

The play was performed at the Swan Theater in Stratford before moving to London’s theater district.

According to the same source, after the performances given in Stratford and the interviews given by Oberman before the Premiere in London last week, the actress received a torrent of insults online.

Friends told the Mail that his representatives had contacted London police to raise concerns and request a police presence around the theater on opening night. No incidents have been reported.

On Saturday, Oberman tweeted about . This message of tolerance and unity is more necessary than ever right now, in our capital. »

Last Thursday, she retweeted a message from X user Stephen Gilchrist, a spectator of the play who deplored the need for a high-profile police presence.

Gilchrist wrote: “This is what we are reduced to. The police, to ensure the safety of spectators waiting to enter the Criterion Theater to see The Merchant of Venice by Tracey-Ann Oberman, for fear of anti-Semitic violence. Let’s face it, T-A O is a tragic heroine. »

Last week, a British Jewish advisory body released a report showing that anti-Semitism had increased significantly since October 7, making 2023 the worst year for anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom since 1984, when the incidents began. to be recorded.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom is 4,103, more than double the 2022 toll, in a context of an increase in threats, hate speech, violence and damage to Jewish institutions and property, said the Community Security Trust.

The CST, which advises Britain’s approximately 280,000 Jews on security issues, said two-thirds of these incidents occurred from October 7 onwards.

The CST recorded 266 cases of violent attacks last year, another historic record, half of them in areas with large Jewish communities, notably in north London and Manchester, in the north of England. .

In 2023, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak awarded an additional £3 million in grants to the CSE, which is responsible for the security of Jewish institutions.

London police have pledged to take strong action against hate crimes linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas and made more than 400 arrests in this regard last month.

Also in 2023, the British government announced the allocation of £7 million over three years to combat anti-Semitism in schools and universities.

This article is originally published on fr.timesofisrael.com

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