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Dave Chappelle says Gaza facing ‘genocide’ during UAE gig

The comedian urged Americans to fight antisemitism so Jews do not feel like they need to be protected by Israel.

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Emirates People Dave Chappelle

American comedian Dave Chappelle said a “genocide” is striking the Gaza Strip amid the Israel-Hamas war to cheers during a performance in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.

He also urged Americans to fight antisemitism so Jews do not feel like they need to be protected by Israel.

The United Arab Emirates has maintained its diplomatic relations with Israel even as it has increasingly criticised its conduct in the seven-month war.

Pro-Palestinian marches have swept across the wider Middle East since the war began, but protests and speech remain tightly restricted in the Emirates, a federation of seven sheikdoms on the Arabian Peninsula.

Before coming on stage, the full crowd at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena cheered as DJ Trauma, who accompanied Mr Chappelle on the trip, played the song My Blood is Palestinian by the Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf.

About halfway through a wide-ranging comedy set, a woman screamed “Free Palestine!” to cheers.

Mr Chappelle said the Gaza Strip faces a “genocide.” He also said that making Jews safer in America amid rising cases of antisemitism would make them realise they do not need Israel as an ultimate protector.

Mention of President Joe Biden — who has promised “ironclad” support for Israel — drew widespread boos throughout the arena. Donald Trump drew scattered cheers.

Mr Chappelle, like other artists during the performance, told some racy jokes and swore.

But they largely avoided discussing local politics — although Mr Chappelle did make a sly joke about the UAE’s widespread surveillance network and another deadpanning about “how difficult is it to be gay” in the country as homosexuality is illegal.

But he also came out on stage with a falcon on his arm — a symbol for the UAE.

Mr Chappelle, 50, won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2019.

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