Actress, Tracy-Ann Oberman spoke movingly at an event today to celebrate women fighting antisemitism.
Speaking at the House of Lords event co-ordinated by Lord John Mann and the Antisemitism Policy Trust, she spoke about the role women have historically played in the fight against antisemitism – as well as her own experiences.
Figures including Dame Louise Ellman, Baroness Ruth Deech and Luciana Berger were joined by charity heads and activists at the afternoon tea on Tuesday, attended by around 100 women. Tory MP Andrew Percy also attended the event.
Describing herself as an “accidental activist”, Oberman spoke about the antisemitic and misogynistic abuse she has received on social media for speaking out against Jewish-hatred. She said attackers claimed that she was only “anti Jeremy Corbyn because I didn’t want to pay Jew tax” and accused her of working for a “foreign agency”.
Still, she said was determined to fight antisemitism – as women have through the generations, including her own ancestors, who came to the UK after fleeing the pogroms.
Noting that “females are at the front”, she spoke about her family’s role fighting fascists during the Battle of Cable Street.
“My grandmother, my great grandmother stood there on the front line with other working class communities and said: ‘you shall not pass’.”
An actress and writer, Oberman also spoke about her play which is set to launch next year – an adaptation of the Merchant of Venice, which reimagines Shylock as a working class Jewish woman from London’s East End.
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, spoke about antisemitism directed towards Jewish women on social media. Noting that “online is the new frontline”, she said: “Trolls know women are targets… [but] if they think women are going to be quiet, they are wrong. Women are tenacious and are going to fight the good fight.”
Lord Mann, the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, said: “When you have got a little bit of power, as I have, it is my view that you should use it to maximum effect. That is precisely why today’s event has taken place.”
He added: “The aim of today was to bring over a large group of women battling antisemitism in the country. What I could say is: the antisemites would be nervous at what they’re seeming… the role you play is critical. You are the street fighters in the battle against antisemitism. Please keep doing what you’re doing.”
Amy Wagner, who runs Lord Mann’s office, spoke about the organisation’s work, including antisemitism training workshops in men and women’s football clubs.
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