BOSTON – American comedian Dave Chappelle has never been shy about his opinion of Jews. Last year, during his monologue on “Saturday Night Live,” he ignited a firestorm when he appeared to rationalize Kanye West and Kyrie Irving’s antisemitic comments.
But last Thursday, the opening night of his two performances at the TD North Garden, his comments – criticizing Israel for its actions in Gaza and America’s aid to Israel, and calling Israel’s actions war crimes – drew cheers from most of the audience, who broke out into spontaneous chants of “Go Palestine. Go Gaza,” according to those who attended the event.
For Andrew Margolies, his wife, and three other couples, Chappelle’s show was supposed to be an opportunity to laugh, and for a few hours forget about the atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists against Israel.
But for Margolies and his group, the show turned into a nightmare. According to Margolies, Chappelle opened the evening by declaring he would not discuss the war with Israel and the Palestinians.
“To be honest, that was a relief. I’m coming here to listen to comedy,” said Margolies, who lives in Greater Boston. “And then an hour into his act he started talking about him becoming a Muslim and then he shifted into talking about how he doesn’t understand how his tax dollars are being sent over to Israel to support a country that doesn’t provide food and water to Gaza.”
Around that point, Chappelle became incensed after a heckler told him to shut up.
“And then he started to go off on the war, talking about the food and the water [in Gaza], the situation there,” said Margolies. “At this point it gets tough because I stopped listening to Chappelle’s rant and I focused on what was happening around me.
And this is where I think it’s more disturbing, especially from the Jewish perspective.
“David Chappelle can say, believe, think, whatever he wants. There are people on opposite sides of any conflict. But his words were fighting, and they were rallying 20,000 people in TD Garden to the tune of … ‘Free Palestine’ and cheering for Hamas. People, 15 rows behind me, I heard them say, ‘Kill the Jews.’
“I felt unsafe being in this arena. My only reaction was ‘I got to get out of here; I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know if this is going to turn into a riot or a fight, but I don’t want to be a part of it.’ And I was scared. And so my wife and I left. Every aisle you could see people getting up, it was horrifying. Never in my life have I felt that unsafe. I walked in with these people and everyone was getting along, talking and getting drinks. And then I left fearful of what was to come. It was surreal.
“This is how it started in Nazi Germany in the 1930s. You’ve got the orator in the middle of the crowd speaking and people following along and it’s a snowball effect.” Θ