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Rabbi slams ‘blatant display of bigotry’ after Jews ‘hounded out’ of comedy show
13 February 2024, 14:18 | Updated: 13 February 2024, 14:23
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A rabbi has said the actions of comedian Paul Currie were ‘utterly deplorable’ after Jewish people were ‘hounded out’ of the comedian's show at Soho Theatre.
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Liahav Eitan, an Israeli man, was attending the theatre on Saturday when he and a group of other Jewish people in attendance were allegedly hounded out of the theatre by the comedian.
Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of the Mill Hill Synagogue in North West London has now slammed the comedian for a “blatant display of bigotry”.
Speaking to an LBC reporter, Rabbi Schochet said of the comedian: “Disappointed would be a gross understatement, concerned would be a gross understatement, shocked beyond extreme would be a more accurate measure of how I’m reacting at the moment.”
He continued: “Congratulations, Paul Currie, you can now add yourself to the sadly growing list of anti-Semites, especially in the performing arts.
“His actions are utterly deplorable, his actions are deserving of the strongest condemnation, and his decision to eject this audience member for not standing during the display of a Palestinian flag is a blatant display of bigotry, discrimination and outright antisemitism.”
Mr Currie is alleged to have produced a Palestinian and Ukrainian flag on stage at the show on Saturday and invited the audience members to applaud, an anonymous eyewitness told Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA).
After the audience, made up of 200 people, applauded the flags, the eyewitness said: “When we all sat down again, [Currie] looked towards a young man sitting in the second row and said: ‘You didn’t stand, why? Didn’t you enjoy my show?’
“The young man, who we discovered soon after was Israeli, replied: ‘I enjoyed your show until you brought out the Palestinian Authority flag'."
The eyewitness claims the comedian then told him: “Get out of my show. Get the f*** out of here. F*** off, get the f*** out of here.”
Other audience members then chimed in, joining in chants of ‘Get out’ and ‘Free Palestine’.
Rabbi Schochet said: “Paul Currie's actions set an incredibly troubling precedent and warrant commendation from the both the general comedy community as well as the various theatres, no other theatre now in light of this should be giving him a platform.
"This should be investigated by the police as some form of hate crime.
"Paul Currie might be funny on stage, but this behaviour is no laughing matter and frankly makes him a joke as a human being.”
The eyewitness on Saturday said he and his friends also decided to leave the theatre after the incident, as they “felt threatened”.
He continued: “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.
A statement from Soho Theatre pic.twitter.com/W4eiZwHHUt— Soho Theatre (@sohotheatre) February 12, 2024
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It said in a statement: “We are sorry and saddened by an incident that took place at our venue at the end of a performance of Paul Currie: Shtoom on Saturday 10 February, which has caused upset and hurt to members of audience attending and others.
“We take this very seriously and are looking into the detail of what happened as thoroughly, as sensitively, and as quickly as we can. It is important to us that Soho theatre is a welcoming and inclusive place for all.”
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.”