Maureen Lipman says artists should feel shame for stance on Gaza

Actors have urged for there to be humanitarian support in Gaza.

Charlotte McLaughlin
Monday 23 October 2023 00:28 BST

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Dame Maureen Lipman has said artists should feel “shame” for advocating for Palestinians following the Hamas attack on Israel.

Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton, Game Of Thrones star Charles Dance, I’m Alan Partridge star Steve Coogan and Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes are among more than 2,000 artists to back an open call for humanitarian support in Gaza.

The letter, written by Artists For Palestine UK, calls for “an immediate ceasefire and the opening of Gaza’s crossings to allow humanitarian aid to enter unhindered”.

It has also urged governments to “end their military and political support for Israel’s actions”.

On the front page of Monday’s Daily Telegraph, Dame Maureen said liberal artists have espoused the Palestinian “cause at the expense of every other oppressed people of the world”.

She added: “The Palestinians are not Hamas, I agree; they just elected them. And, 17 years later, Hamas has done nothing for the Palestinians save stealing the millions donated in aid money while keeping them in penury.”

Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 and has not held a public vote for representatives in Gaza since.

Dame Maureen also said: “I would love the signaturists to answer me this question: If your beloved country had been under attack for 70 years… how angry and exhausted and how determined to defend your country against any future attacks would you be?”

The 77-year-old actress, known for 1983 comedy-drama Educating Rita and 2002 drama The Pianist and most recently appearing on Coronation Street, said other artists should feel “shame” for their support of Gaza.

According to The Daily Telegraph, she also signed a declaration from the British Friends of Israel alongside playwright Sir Tom Stoppard, composer Sir Tim Rice, presenter Vanessa Feltz and Countdown star Rachel Riley to highlight concerns about antisemitism in the UK.

Called the October Declaration, it urges the media, public figures and political parties to label Hamas a “terrorist organisation” and criticised the way the police have handled protests.

On Monday, Scotland Yard chief Sir Mark Rowley is set to meet with Home Secretary Suella Braverman during a pre-scheduled meeting where she is expected to ask about the handling of pro-Palestine protesters chanting “jihad”.

The force said no offences were identified in a video of a Hizb ut-Tahrir protest showing a man chanting “jihad” in London on Saturday.

On Sunday Coogan released a statement to the PA news agency, before Dame Maureen’s comments came to light, in which he condemned “the recent Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel; their deliberate murder of civilians and their taking of hostages”.

He also said: “The Jewish people have been uniquely the target of hate and prejudice for millennia and anyone who cares about human rights should be vigilant and call it out when they encounter it.

“It goes without saying that what Hamas did is evil beyond imagination. It was horrific and brutal.

“It is in no way inconsistent with condemnation of the Hamas atrocity, to express grave concern for the lives and welfare of innocent Palestinian civilians facing a humanitarian disaster, deprived of food, water, medicine fuel and shelter.”

In a Thursday statement to X, formerly Twitter, Outlander star Sam Heughan said he “inadvertently” signed the Artists For Palestine UK letter and it does not reflect his “beliefs”.

Heughan added: “I believed it was a simple call for peace… It wasn’t.

“I condemn violence in any form. I stand against terrorism and evil and am heartbroken and appalled by the recent horrific actions by Hamas. It’s haunting to the core, my heart goes out to all affected.

“I don’t know nearly enough and (I am) trying to educate myself on the conflicts in the Middle East.”

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