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Jewish actress loses gig over play

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A Jewish organization in Melbourne canceled a performance by an award-winning Jewish actress because of her participation in a controversial play about Israel.

Miriam Margolyes, a British-born stage and screen star, offered to entertain elderly residents Tuesday at JewishCare, a major facility in Melbourne. But she was told Monday that her appearance may offend some of the residents who are Holocaust survivors because she is scheduled to be the headline act next week in "Seven Jewish Children," a play that has been branded by some critics as anti-Semitic.

“I think they’re quite wrong, I would never get involved with anything which was either anti-Semitic or critical of Holocaust survivors,” Margolyes, who splits her time between Australia and Britain, said in a statement issued by Australians for Palestine. “I feel they’re making a terrible mistake and I am very sad because I was truly looking forward to appearing there. I support JewishCare in the U.K. both in appearances and with donations. And I will continue to do so.”

The 10-minute play, subtitled “A Play For Gaza,” is scheduled to be staged May 18 during a fund-raiser for Australians for Palestine at the State Library of Victoria. It traces the history of Israel, beginning with the Holocaust and ending with Israel’s recent offensive in Gaza.

Margolyes, 67, visited Gaza with the United Nations 12 years ago and signed a controversial petition by Independent Jewish Voices in 2008, but said she was a proud Jew and wanted Israel to survive.

She won a British Academy of Film and Televison Arts award in 1994 for her role as Mrs. Mingott in Martin Scorsese’s "Age of Innocence," and was awarded the Order of the British Empire by the queen in 2001 for services to drama.

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