Dame Maureen Lipman quits Equity over its call upon members to join pro-Palestinian march

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Maureen Lipman speaking at a demonstration organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism outside the Labour Party headquarters in central London, against alleged prejudice in the Labour Party, amid a row over the party's handling of claims of anti-semitism. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)
Maureen Lipman is resigning from the actors union over its stance on Palestine. (Getty Images)

Dame Maureen Lipman has declared she is quitting Equity over the actors' union's stance on Palestine.

Equity recently put out a call to its members, encouraging them to join pro-Palestinian marches which have been blighted by anti-Semitism.

Lipman told The Daily Telegraph she believed Israel had become an "obsession" for Equity, condemning the union's president, Maureen Beattie, for sharing an online petition calling for sanctions against the country and urged other Jewish actors to "get the hell out!"

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The 75-year-old Coronation Street star said: "I'm going to resign and I'm also going to ask for my £1,000 a year membership fees to be given back to me, and I'm going to send it a charity for the victims on both sides.

FROM ITV

STRICT EMBARGO - No Use Before Tuesday 9th February 2021

Coronation Street - Ep 10249

Monday 15th February 2021 - 1st Ep

As they continue to row over the stolen furniture, Tyrone Dobbs [ALAN HALSALL] suddenly grips his chest in agony and slumps to the floor.  Fiz Stape [JENNIE McALPINE] screams at Evelyn Plummer [MAUREEN LIPMAN] to call an ambulance.

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This photograph is (C) ITV Plc and can only be reproduced for editorial purposes directly in connection with the programme or event mentioned above, or ITV plc. Once made available by ITV plc Picture Desk, this photograph can be reproduced once only up until the transmission [TX] date and no reproduction fee will be charged. Any subsequent usage may incur a fee. This photograph must not be manipulated [excluding basic cropping] in a manner which alters the visual appearance of the person photographed deemed detrimental or inappropriate by ITV plc Picture Desk. This photograph must not be syndicated to any other company, publication or website, or permanently archived, without the express written permission of ITV Picture Desk. Full Terms and conditions are available on  www.itv.com/presscentre/itvpictures/terms
Maureen Lipman currently stars as Tyrone's grandmother Evelyn Plummer in Coronation Street. (ITV)

"I didn't join a political union. I joined a union to protect its members. You don't dictate to artists what they believe in, and don't incite them to join a mob.

"How dare they demand sanctions? Where is Maureen Beattie on the Uyghurs, Rohingyas, the Sudanese, the Yemenites?"

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 11:   Tracy-Ann Oberman attends The Casting Awards 2020 at The Ham Yard Hotel on February 11, 2020 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Tracy-Ann Oberman said Equity's stance has been deeply upsetting for Jewish performers. (Getty Images)

Former EastEnders actor Tracy-Ann Oberman and comedian Dom Joly have also criticised Equity for taking a political stance on the conflict in Gaza.

It's A Sin star Oberman told BBC's Newsnight: "It's been a deeply upsetting couple of days, particularly as the union haven't come back with any sort of apology... 

"The problem that Jewish actors are having is that by dint of Equity's leadership statement it's sort of turning into a political loyalty test for Jews in our industry."

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Equity President Maureen Beattie said in a statement: "Equity has a long, and proud history of standing up for peace and justice around the world – including in Palestine. Violence directed against ordinary working people in both Israel and Palestine is appalling, and it is to be condemned by our movement. 

"The disproportionate actions of the current Israeli government over the past few weeks, both in the policing of Jerusalem and toward Gaza, are particularly horrifying. We stand in solidarity with Palestinians taking industrial action, and workers around the world taking action in support of them.

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"As part of the global trade union movement, and the art and entertainment our members create, Equity will do all we can to support the voices of working people in Palestine and Israel who want a just and lasting peace."

Watch: Tracy-Ann Oberman discusses anti-Semitism on social media

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