Chris Rock looks set to go ahead with a show in Israel, despite calls for the comedian to cancel the event, with activists comparing it to performing in apartheid South Africa.
The American entertainer, who is also an actor, is expected to perform in Tel Aviv at the Menora Mivtachin Arena on Tuesday at 7:30pm, as part of his world tour.
At the time of publishing, a change.org petition had gathered more than 6,100 signatures calling on Rock to “boycott apartheid Israel”.
“We don’t ask you to do anything extraordinary, nor do we ask you to lead. We only ask you not to lend your name to Israel’s apartheid,” the petition said.
Meanwhile, Rock has not addressed an open letter by pro-Palestinian BDS activists published in late November, which said Israel had “dozens of discriminatory laws” against Palestinian citizens of Israel and those in the occupied territories.
These, they said, were reminiscent of laws used to discriminate against black South Africans under apartheid, and African Americans in southern states under Jim Crow laws.
Israeli officials, the activists said, were also known to have made hateful comments about African asylum seekers in the country.
For instance, Likud minister Miri Regev once described such migrants as a “cancer”.
The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement advocates non-violent campaigning that cuts off commercial and cultural ties with Israeli institutions, over the country’s occupation of Palestinian land and other abuses.
Activists have previously addressed singers scheduled to perform in Israel, with varied results.
“We shall continue to resist Israel’s dehumanization of us just as the Movement for Black Lives resists racial violence and institutionalised oppression in the US,” the letter read.
“We sincerely hope you shall not undermine our struggle.”
Truly disappointed in @chrisrock deciding to play in apartheid Israel. History will show that he made an immoral decision. He chose 💰 & his friend Jerry Seinfeld over the Palestinians & the asylum seeking Africans. Here he is pretending to be a friend of Mandela. pic.twitter.com/Z1s2Cydkaw
— Janet L Jacobs (@Janet_L_Jacobs) January 9, 2018
As the performance neared on Tuesday, several people took to social media and made last-minute bids for Rock, who often vents about racial inequality in the US, to cancel.
“Unfortunately, it seems that [Chris Rock] is deaf to the issue of Palestinian human rights. Makes you wonder about his commitment to Black Lives Matter too,” wrote one Twitter user, going by the name Chris.
“Performing in Israel is legitimising Apartheid Israel and reinforcing … human rights violations,” wrote the account for BDS South Africa, adding “Chris Rock should know better.”
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld visited an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank last week with his family and they participated in an Israeli military tourist training camp. https://t.co/Lj7zwNzjt8 pic.twitter.com/gwFLFuKKCA
— IMEU (@theIMEU) January 8, 2018
The show comes shortly after images emerged of Rock’s fellow US comedian, Jerry Seinfeld, at a military training camp inside an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank, also prompting anger.
The photos showed Seinfeld posing with an armed man in military clothes, with two children carrying what appeared to be assault rifles.
So-called anti-terror fantasy camps are commercially-run military schemes run by former members of the Israeli army, which train tourists to fight what they call “terrorists”.