Harry Potter star and the 'Israeli Holocaust'

By Leon Symons, November 4, 2010
Andrew Marr interviewing an ‘embarrassed’ Miriam Margolyes

Andrew Marr interviewing an ‘embarrassed’ Miriam Margolyes

Actress Miriam Margolyes was accused this week of "ignorance and moral imbalance" for remarks she made on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

Ms Margolyes, who appears in the Harry Potter films, was asked to speak about her recent visit to West Bank refugee camps with the Action Aid charity. The programme ran a short film clip, supplied by Action Aid, showing her visiting the ramshackle home of a Palestinian family.

She questioned why, as Germany had apologised and made reparations for the Holocaust, Israel could not do the same for the Palestinians, who she said, were not responsible for the Holocaust.

Mr Marr asked her whether being a Jew gave her a "different authority" to talk about the Middle East.

She replied: "I don't think being Jewish or non-Jewish makes a difference. I feel embarrassed because I am a Jew, and I feel ashamed because my lot is doing it to them. That's why I wanted to go there, to see for myself."

Mr Marr asked if she had "understanding and sympathy" with Israeli Jews hemmed in by Iran and missiles, who were "beleaguered" and "had to protect themselves". The actress said she felt "tremendous sympathy and understanding" with those people. But, she added, since Germany had made reparations for the Holocaust: "I wonder why Israel finds it difficult to accept that another group should expect [an apology] from them when they were behaving so cruelly."

When Mr Marr mentioned "lobbing rockets and suicide bombing", she said there were "horrible and true stories of violence and rockets". But she believed the way Israel treated the Palestinians had "fomented" the violence.

She added: "I want the Palestinians back where they belong in their own villages, which is what they want. If you have two states, you immediately have a border and we have the Pakistan-India situation all over again."

Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, said: "Miriam Margolyes' disregard for the actions of Hamas, and her comparison of the treatment of Jews during the Holocaust and the current conditions for the residents of Gaza, reveal ignorance and moral ambivalence in equal measure.

"No-one seriously seeking fair and secure peace regards a one-state solution to be an acceptable or viable answer. We should beware of actors bearing myths."

Last updated: 9:18am, November 5 2010