US comedian expresses support for Palestinians in Gaza as he performs in Abu Dhabi |

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates


American comedian Dave Chappelle said Thursday a “genocide” is striking the Gaza Strip amid the Israel-Hamas war to cheers during his performance in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, while urging Americans to fight anti-Semitism so Jews don’t feel like they need to be protected by Israel.

Chappelle’s comments come as Abu Dhabi has maintained its diplomatic relations with Israel even as it has increasingly criticised its conduct in the seven-month war amid a mounting casualty toll among Palestinian civilians.

Even before coming on stage, the full crowd at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Arena cheered as DJ Trauma, who accompanied Chappelle on the trip, played the song “My Blood is Palestinian” by the Palestinian singer Mohammed Assaf. The thousands there agreed to place their switched-off mobile phones in locked pouches for the performance — a standard feature of Chappelle’s shows.

About halfway through in a wide-ranging comedy set in Abu Dhabi, Chappelle, a Muslim-American, initially said he had been told by his friends either to discuss the war or not. From the audience, a woman screamed: “Free Palestine!” The crowd cheered.

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

Another moment also displayed just how diverse the crowd was in the Abu Dhabi. In telling another joke about how Jews cheer while drinking, Chappelle said “l’chaim,” or “to life” in Hebrew, which another man shouted back from the audience.

But when touching on the upcoming US election, Chappelle’s mention of President Joe Biden — who has promised “ironclad” support for Israel — drew widespread boos throughout the arena. Donald Trump drew scattered cheers.

Chappellecame out on stage with a falcon on his arm — a symbol of the UAE.

Chappelle, 50, won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humour in 2019. He performed at the Abu Dhabi Comedy Week.

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