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28 Jan, 2015 17:09

Rising anti-Semitism: ‘The Pianist’ actress considers leaving UK

Rising anti-Semitism: ‘The Pianist’ actress considers leaving UK

Acclaimed actress Maureen Lipman says she could leave Britain because of the growing number of attacks on Jews in recent months.

She says she has spoken about her fears for a “long time,” but recent events have prompted her to think about moving abroad.

Anti-Semitic attacks in the UK reached a record high last year, according to the Jewish charity, Community Security Trust.

Some 304 incidents were recorded in the first six months of 2014, a 36 percent increase on the previous year.

Lipman, who featured in the award winning film The Pianist, rejected the notion that rising anti-Semitism was related to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

When the economy dries up, then they turn on the usual scapegoat. The usual suspect. The Jew,” she said.

There is one school of thought that says it’s because of Israeli policies in the West Bank – it isn’t. There’s been anti-Semitism for the past 4,000 years.”

When the going gets tough, the Jews get packing ... it's crossed my mind that it's time to have a look around for another place to live.”

BBC’s director of television Danny Cohen voiced similar concerns last December.

I’ve never felt so uncomfortable being a Jew in the UK as I’ve felt in the last 12 months. And it’s made me think about, you know, is it our long-term home, actually? Because you feel it. I’ve felt it in a way I’ve never felt before,” he said.

Speaking in an interview with LBC radio, Lipman said she had considered going to New York and Israel in recent months.

Director Steven Spielberg visits the former Nazi German concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz in Oswiecim January 27, 2015.(Reuters / Jakub Porzycki)

I’ve been talking like this for a long time, and my kids are very bored with me I can tell you, but it’s only in the last few months that they’ve begun to say, ‘Mum, you may have something’.”

Lipman says she is baffled why people would be afraid of Jewish people.

There are 245,000 Jews in this country. What’s to fear? What’s to fear? We don’t proselytize, we don’t fly planes into buildings, [and] we generally keep on the right side of the law. What is it? What is it?

I think we give and give and give. We give in science, we give in art, we integrate, we help, we try, we’re philanthropic, and still they start. And it starts. And it’s very, very depressing.”

Speaking on Holocaust Memorial Day, Lipman also mentioned how she had met Holocaust deniers before.

That is pretty scary,” she said.

Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland was the world’s focal point for Holocaust commemorations on Tuesday.

Survivors of the death camps attended a ceremony there, with many urging the world not to forget the atrocities.

We don't want our past to be our children's future,” said Roman Kent, an Auschwitz survivor and president of the International Auschwitz Committee in New York.

We must teach that hate is never right and love is never wrong,” he added.

In London, survivors gathered at a national commemoration in Central Hall, Westminster, where Prime Minister David Cameron promised £50 million towards a British Holocaust memorial and learning center.

It is time for Britain as a nation to stand together and say ‘We will remember’. To say ‘We will not allow any excuses for anti-Semitism in our country’,” said Cameron.