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British Actor Eddie Marsan: Antisemitism Now a ‘Seductive and Trendy Racism’


avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Eddie Marsan at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards (BAFTA) at the Royal Albert Hall in London, Britain, on February 10, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls.

British actor Eddie Marsan spoke about antisemitism and his devotion to speaking out against it in a podcast interview last week.

“There isn’t only a blindspot against antisemitism. In some ways, I think antisemitism is a trendy racism,” the former “Ray Donovan” star explained to Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA).

Marsan told CAA he thinks those with prejudice against Jews, in particular those on the left, “believe that they’re shooting up to this all-powerful Jewish cabal that runs the world and it’s quite often sold as a form of egalitarianism, anti-capitalism [and] anti-imperialism.”

“And so you have lots of very, very experienced left-wing intellectuals that are telling younger people, ‘This isn’t racism, this is anti-capitalism. Then morally, it’s OK to do.’ So that’s why I say it’s a very seductive and trendy racism,” he added. “And it goes against my culture.”

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The actor, who is not Jewish, received online abuse in October for playing a Jewish character in the new UK drama series “Ridley Road,” a BBC show that itself faced backlash for chronicling the rise of antisemitism and fascism in London’s East End following World War II. He tweeted at the time, “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.”

The “Mission: Impossible III” actor said on Monday he again faced “a lot of abuse” for doing the CAA interview, but that “the best way to confront hate and bigotry is to shine the light of truth on it.” He hopes the interview “inspires more people to call out racism, even if comes from our own side” and said that despite the criticism he received for speaking with CAA, he also saw support from “some brave souls who stand up to antisemitism.”

He concluded by noting that the interviewer could not disclose his last name to Marsan “for fear of reprisals from antisemites. That’s how bad it is.”

Frequently outspoken about his solidarity with the Jewish community, the lifelong Labour Party voter noted that he had stopped voting for the British political party and publicly lambasted its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, over allegations of antisemitism in the party. The actor also shared that he has always celebrated diversity since his childhood growing up in a multi-racial and multi-cultural neighborhood in London’s East End, and said he was raised with a diverse group of friends, including Jews and Muslims.

Marsan has played a number of Jewish characters in the past, including former Israeli President Shimon Peres in the film “Entebbe,” and told CAA he has learned a lot about the Jewish community from research for the roles. When he spent time with British Jews and attended synagogue services ahead of his role in the British film “Sixty Six,” the actor said he felt like he was again among the neighbors of his youth.

Watch Eddie Marsan’s full interview with Campaign Against Antisemitism in the video below.

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