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'He turned on me and told me to get the f*** out': Israeli theatre-goer describes how comic ‘incited’ crowd against him

14 February 2024, 08:04 | Updated: 14 February 2024, 10:20

Jewish theatregoer Liahav Eitan recounts how he was 'hounded out' of London's Soho Theatre by Paul Currie

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

An Israeli theatre-goer has described how a comic ‘incited’ a crowd against him and eventually forced him to leave a comedy show after being left feeling "unsafe".

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Jewish attendees were "subjected to verbal abuse" after the end of Paul Currie's show at the Soho Theatre in central London on Saturday night, the theatre has said.

Liahav Eitan, an Israeli man, had been attending the one-hour show ‘Shtoom’ by the comedian at the theatre when the incident occurred.

Mr Eitan told LBC: "I hadn't heard about him until that day, it was a pretty spontaneous thing.

"Having experienced London in the last four months, I already know that before heading out I should probably do a background check...because I have been to club nights where a DJ will start hounding Israeli occupation."

Liahav Eitan
Liahav Eitan. Picture: LBC

Mr Eitan, who has lived in the UK for the last five years, told LBC's Nick Ferrari that towards the end of Currie's show, the comic pulled out a Palestinian flag and a Ukraine flag.

"We didn't really say anything, we stayed silent for the rest of the show. Our mind was already elsewhere," he recalled.

"At the end of the show, Paul got the crowd on their feet to clap for him. My friend and I didn't get up and clap for him, and that must of bothered him.

"So, he turned around to us and said to the entire crowd, 'thank you to these two people for not standing up and clapping'."

The comic "lingered" on Mr Eitan and his friend, "hoping" for them to "stand up and clap".

"So I said, 'thank you for the Palestine flag', hoping I would explain to him why I didn't choose to get up and clap, and hoping he would just move on."

"He turned on me, screaming that he was from Belfast and knows about ceasefires...he told me to get the f*** out of the show.

"A lot of the [audience] was shocked...some booed at us. One from the front row shouted 'shame' at us. We had to gather our things and go."

Mr Eitan then explained how the theatre had 'no contingency plan' to deal with such an event.

In the end, Mr Eitan and his friend had to walk past the stage, where Currie was still shouting from, in order to leave.

He claims he was not given any protection by staff and simply left on the street, as hundreds of theatre-goers, some of which were chanting 'Free Palestine', left almost immediately afterwards.

Read More: Comedian Paul Currie banned by Soho Theatre after Jewish audience member 'hounded out’ of his show

The theatre has now confirmed it has banned Currie from their venue, saying "intimidation of audience members due to their nationality, race, or beliefs" is not acceptable.

A spokesperson for the theatre said: "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 they leave the theatre.

"Such appalling actions are unacceptable and have no place on our stages, now or ever.

"We will not be inviting Paul Currie back to perform at our venue."

While the theatre has not been in touch with Mr Eitan, he said he was happy with their apology and decision to ban the comic.

Some audience members left Mr Currie's show as they 'felt threatened'.
Some audience members left Mr Currie's show as they 'felt threatened'. Picture: Instagram

They continued: "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.

"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."

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Recounting the incident, an eyewitness said: “It felt like we were welcome in the theatre as long as our identities [as] Jews weren’t known, and the minute our identities were known, we felt threatened.

“Leaving the theatre, I felt threatened. I didn't know if I was going to get physically assaulted. We were all shaken. We were extremely upset and anxious.”

One of the eyewitness’ friends later received a message from another attendee of the show who claimed the situation became “even more inflamed” after they had left.

Soho Theatre has since launched an investigation and apologised for the incident.

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A spokesperson for CAA said: “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.

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

Mr Currie has been approached for comment.

A Met Police spokesperson said: “We are aware of the incident that took place at the Soho Theatre on Saturday evening.

“We understand why it was upsetting for those involved and we note the venue has issued a statement confirming they are looking into what took place.

“A report was submitted to police on Monday and enquiries are ongoing.”

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