BBC actor eats “humble pie” over Labour anti-Semitism smear

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Actor Tracy-Ann Oberman has apologized for smearing a left-wing academic as anti-Semitic.


A British actor has admitted to falsely accusing a left-wing academic and activist who supports Palestinian rights of anti-Semitism.

Tracy-Ann Oberman, a household name due to a former role in the long-running BBC soap opera EastEnders, will pay “substantial” damages and legal costs to Philip Proudfoot.

He is a research fellow at the University of Sussex and leader of the Northern Independence Party.

“It is harmful to allow the fear of false accusations to prevent us from speaking out against apartheid in Israel,” Proudfoot said in a statement released by his lawyers on Tuesday.

“We must defend our rights, defend Palestinians, and never allow defamation to scare away solidarity.”

On Twitter last year Oberman falsely accused Proudfoot of operating “a Jew blocklist,” saying that his party was a “continuation [of] Corbyn.”

Oberman apologized in a statement she posted to Twitter on Tuesday.

She admitted that her attack on the academic was “a mistake” and “hurtful” and accepted that “Dr. Proudfoot has at no time had a Jew blocklist.”

Former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was incessantly bombarded with false allegations that he and his supporters were anti-Jewish racists. Corbyn is also longtime supporter of Palestinian rights and critic of Israeli policies.

These allegations were mostly disseminated by Israel’s lobby in Britain and supported by the Israeli state.

But several high-profile TV personalities like Oberman also played a part in the defamation campaign against Corbyn.

She campaigned against Labour in the 2019 election, claiming that “a vote for Jeremy Corbyn would be an endorsement of a man who has allowed so much racism to fester on his watch.”

Oberman has more than 106,000 followers on Twitter. TV game show host Rachel Riley – whom Oberman calls her “ally” and who also incessantly smeared Corbyn as anti-Semitic – has almost 700,000.

Oberman has also appeared in Channel 4’s It’s a Sin and this month’s The Great Celebrity Bake Off.

She also starred in Ridley Road, a recent BBC drama about the British anti-fascist movement.

In an article for The Electronic Intifada, contributor David Miller explained how the program whitewashed historic infiltration of the anti-fascist movement by hard-right Zionist extremists.

Ridley Road “tends to legitimize both anti-Palestinian racism and Islamophobia, and to overemphasize the role of anti-Semitism in society,” Miller explained.

The left-wing Northern Independence Party, led by Proudfoot, is running eight candidates in next week’s local elections.

Former Labour MP Thelma Walker joined the party and ran in a by-election last year, but failed to win a substantial number of votes.

The party says it is “a democratic socialist party founded to combat the injustice of the North/South divide in the UK and to oppose all forms of ideology based on hatred and bigotry.”

Proudfoot’s lawyer Zillur Rahman called the outcome a “fantastic win for our client” and said Oberman would now be eating “humble pie.”

Rahman said it was unfortunate that people like Proudfoot “who show solidarity with the Palestinians in their struggle for freedom from Israel’s oppression, have been falsely accused of anti-Semitism.”

He said that he hoped this case “empowers others to continue to make legitimate criticism of Israel’s apartheid and occupation, particularly at a time when the Palestinians are being terrorized once more.”

Rahman’s firm called on others who may have been similarly defamed to get in touch.


Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).