David Mamet: profound taint of antisemitism in UK

By Jennifer Lipman, June 13, 2011
David Mamet

David Mamet

A playwright celebrated for his observations of modern life has criticised the "ineradicable taint of antisemitism" in British society.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the Chicago-born Jewish writer David Mamet said that modern speakers were using the same antisemitic arguments that Charles Lindbergh and Oswald Mosley made in the 1930s.

He said: "The speeches that are the same speeches that are being made today, only slightly more politely: 'The Jews are bringing us to war. Perhaps we should give their state away."

Mr Mamet, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his play Glengarry Glen Ross, said there was a profound taint of antisemitism in British life. He referred to the "stock Jew characterisations" of authors including Anthony Trollope and George Eliot, but said the problem had not gone away.

"I'm not going to mention names because of your horrendous libel laws," he said. "But there are famous dramatists and novelists over there whose works are full of antisemitic filth."

The playwright, whose work has covered sexual politics, crime and the courtroom, also said that the British understanding of the Middle East was based on a fascination with characters like TE Lawrence.

"Even before the oil was there, you loved the desert. It had all these wacky characters," he said. "But there is a Jewish state there ratified by the United Nations and you want to give it away to some people whose claim is rather dubious."

Mr Mamet, who has written a new political book in which he declares his support for Tea Party leader Sarah Palin, also accused President Barack Obama of having "sold out" on Israel.

"The question is can he run on his record in 2012 and the answer is no."

Mr Mamet, who wrote a book on the lynching of Leo Frank by Klu Klux Klan members in 1997, has taken a particular interest in Jewish and Israeli issues in recent years and is the author of a book analysing Jewish self-hatred and antisemitism.

Last updated: 9:23am, June 14 2011