Israel-Hamas War

Michael Rapaport shows in Batavia canceled amid safety concerns, planned pro-Palestinian protests

Michael Rapaport, who is Jewish, was set to take the stage in Batavia IL for five shows in June, but a group had called on organizers to cancel the performances

NBC Universal, Inc.

Comedian Michael Rapaport's upcoming shows at Batavia's Comedy Vault have been canceled amid safety concerns and planned protests from a pro-Palestinian group.

Rapaport, who is Jewish and an outspoken proponent of Israel's war effort against Hamas, was scheduled to perform at the Comedy Vault in Batavia Illinois June 6-8, but those shows are now off their calendar.

Batavia Police Chief Shawn Mazza told NBC 5's Courtney Sisk the police department met with Comedy Vault owners in regards to safety after they were inundated with calls and emails to cancel. However, Mazza says the official call to cancel came from the Comedy Vault.

The U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) organizers made repeated calls to cancel the show on social media, promising protests against Rapaport if he had performed at the venue. The group also recently made similar calls prior to the decision to cancel Matisyahu's shows at Chicago's House of Blues earlier this year.

The Comedy Vault owner did not return the station's request for comment.

Representatives for Rapaport did not respond to our requests for comment.

Jewish organizations in the Chicago area strongly condemned the decision to cancel the shows, calling it an infringement on Rapaport's free speech.

"The Jewish community feels that if it were anybody other than the Jews that there wouldn’t be this kind of cancelation," said Alison Pure-Slovin of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "The United States of America and its constitution guarantees the right for free speech. Where is that guarantee for the Jewish people?... The damage that’s being created when differing opinions are being canceled out is contrary to what the American dream is, and what the United States of America stands for. It’s canceling out peoples free speech."

The USPCN organizers dispute the characterization, maintaining their efforts are not because these artists are Jewish. They say it's because of the artists' support for the Israeli government's actions in the ongoing conflict against Hamas.

"It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that Michael Rapaport is Jewish, it has everything to do with the fact that Michael Rapaport is supporting genocide," said USPCN organizer Muhammad Sinkari. "This is a government which has killed over 36,000 Palestinians in Gaza in the last eight months. This is what Michael Rapaport is supporting.”

Oct. 7 marked the day of Hamas’ surprise attack into southern Israel, in which it killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took another 250 hostages. Hamas is still believed to be holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others after some hostages were released during a November cease-fire.

According to Al-Jazeera, citing data from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed, with more than 81,000 injured and more than 10,000 reported missing in Gaza. The counts do not distinguish between fighters and civilians, according to NBC News.

Amid the continuing conflict, Sinkari says the group will continue fighting back against any artist, person or political leader supporting Israel's actions in the war, and points to disruptions the group caused for politicians like Sens. Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, who are not Jewish.

Pure-Slovin believes the Israeli government wouldn't have fought back if the Oct.7 attacks never happened in the first place.

"It is horrific that Palestinians are caught in the crossfire of what’s transpiring, but I really find it hard to believe that anybody wouldn’t understand that when 10/7 happened that Israel would not respond," she said. “It started because Hamas brutally came into Israel. They didn’t attack an army base, they came after civilians, citizens, peace lovers, a music festival."

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