Eddie Izzard runs into a Palestinian storm | Anger over his gig in Israel

Eddie Izzard runs into a Palestinian storm

Anger over his gig in Israel

He has impeccable left-wing credentials and is famed for preaching tolerance… but Eddie Izzard has found himself at the centre of protests over a gig he performed in Tel Aviv tonight.

Campaigners have likened the gig to playing apartheid-era South Africa – and the former organisers of the Palestine Marathon have called on him to be banned from the event.

Right To Movement, which organised the marathon through Bethlehem for the last four years, has protested that: 'British comedian Eddie Izzard cannot run for freedom this Friday if he entertains in Tel Aviv on Thursday.'

Posting on their social media, the organisation added: 'We refuse to be used as a fig leaf to cover up Izzard's whitewashing of Israel's occupation and apartheid'

With part of its route going along Israel's wall in the West Bank, the marathon, which starts at 3am UK time on Friday, was created to highlight restrictions placed on Palestinians' freedom of movement. It is expected to attract around 6,000 runners.

The Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel has also accused Izzard of attempting an unconvincing 'balancing act.'

'Eddie Izzard is not welcome in the Palestine marathon after he has crossed our boycott picket line,' the Ramallah-based organisation said in a statement. 'Today, performing in Tel Aviv is equivalent to performing in Sun City [South Africa] during the time of apartheid.'

Izzard posted a photo of his arrival in Israel on Twitter earlier today:

In a statement given to US website The Electronic Intifada, Izzard said: 'I believe, as does the UK Labour Party, in the co-existence of an Israeli state and a Palestinian state. I decided, rather than doing nothing, to be proactive and play a gig in Tel Aviv and also run the Palestine Marathon the day after.'

His publicist also told Chortle that Izzard had not been banned from the Palestine Marathon tonight.

Protestors from Artists for Palestine targeted Izzard's show at the Soho Theatre in London earlier this month, handing out leaflets to fans who attended.

In a statement over the marathon row, they said: ' 'It's hard to believe that someone as politically aware as Eddie Izzard should imagine he could get away with this. He should know as well as anyone that you can't hunt with the hounds and run with the hare – particularly when the hare in this case is the squeezed and besieged Palestinian population, under illegal military occupation by Israel.'

The comic, who has indicated he wants to stand as a Labour MP or London Mayor, performed gigs for the South African anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s and ran 27 marathons in 27 days last year to honour the 27 years Nelson Mandela spent in prison.

Globe-trotting Izzard has performed shows in French and German, has also pledged to learn and perform in Arabic. Tonight was his first ever gig in Israel.

- by Jay Richardson

Published: 30 Mar 2017

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