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Jewish theater-goers hounded to leave central London comedy venue amid chants of 'Free Palestine' by performer and audience

Comedian Paul Currie at a pro-Palestinian protest (Photo: paulcurriecomedian/Instagram)

A young Israeli who moved to London five years ago was hounded out of a London comedy venue on Saturday night because he was Jewish.

Liahav Eitan and his friend had gone to the Soho Theatre in central London to see a show featuring comedian Paul Currie. At the end of the performance, Currie, who is Irish, unfurled a Palestinian and a Ukrainian flag and asked the audience to rise in “a kind of standing ovation.” Currie noticed that Eitan had not stood up and confronted him about it.

“I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian flag,” Eitan responded. Currie then subjected him to verbal abuse, calling on him to “get out of my show. Get the f*ck out of here. F*ck off, get the f*ck out of here,” according to Eitan, who contacted the British-Jewish organization, Campaign Against Antisemitism. The audience joined Currie in shouting “Get out!” and “Free Palestine!”

“I don't think theatres should book this person. He seemed violent and dangerous,” Eitan told the Daily Mail. “The only way out was through the stage. We had to actually get on the stage quite close to him - and I was quite afraid that he'd throw a punch because he was still cursing and shouting. He got out his Palestine flag again and shouted: 'Motherf***er, you'll have to watch it again on your way out.’”

Eitan and his friend fled from the theater for fear the situation might escalate.

“From the audience, we were mostly scared. We wanted to get out of the situation. It seemed like a bit of a mob mentality that could go sour any second. So we were just afraid of violence… [We were] mostly scared about how that room might turn against us.”

The Soho Theatre apologized for the incident and said Currie would not be welcomed back to their venue.

“On Saturday evening, following the end of Paul Currie’s show "Shtoom," Jewish members of the audience were subjected to verbal abuse and the performer aggressively demanding that they leave the theatre. Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages, now or ever," the statement read.

"We will not be inviting Paul Currie back to perform at our venue. Whilst we robustly support the right of artists to express a wide range of views in their shows, intimidation of audience members, acts of antisemitism or any other forms of racism will not be tolerated at Soho Theatre."

The theater management noted that they would investigate the incident.

"We are continuing our investigation, discussing the incident with that evening’s audience and consulting with the police. We are working with the Campaign Against Antisemitism to meet with members of the audience who were affected. We are taking professional advice to safeguard the much-valued inclusivity of Soho Theatre,” the management wrote in its statement on Tuesday.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism is considering taking legal action following the event on Saturday, according to a released statement.

“What the Jewish audience members have recounted is atrocious, and we are working with them and our lawyers to ensure that those who instigated and enabled it are held to account,” the Campaign Against Antisemitism stated.

“These allegations are of deeply disturbing discriminatory abuse against Jews. Comedians are rightly given broad latitude, but hounding Jews out of theaters is reminiscent of humanity’s darkest days and must have no place in central London in 2024,” the organization concluded.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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