Mason: 'I'm no racist'

Jackie denies axing Palestinian comic

Jewish comic Jackie Mason has denied that refused to share a stage with a Palestinian comedian - contradicting what his manager earlier claimed.

In a press conference to dampen the growing row, Mason said he had nothing to do with cancelling Ray Hanania from supporting him at a Chicago comedy club.

He did admit he was 'furious' that Hanania had been promoting the appearance by playing up the different backgrounds.

But he said: "It makes no difference to me if he was a Jew or a Palestinian. They don't involve me in these types of decisions. I sit in my room and write jokes, that's all I do."

"I have nothing but love in my heart for Palestinians."

Mason's comments contradict what his manager Jyll Rosenfeld said less than 24 hours earlier.

Then she told reporters: "It's not exactly like he's just an Arab-American. This guy's a Palestinian.

"Jackie does not feel comfortable having a Palestinian open for him. Right now it's a very sensitive thing, it's just not a good idea.

"Nothing personal against this fellow, Jackie doesn't even know him."

Ali Alarabi, president of the United Arab American League said: "I'm outraged. It is an act of hate and racism against Palestinians, and we demand an apology."

But Rosenfeld said: "Don't turn this into a racist issue, because it's not, we just felt this is not a good idea at this time."

Hanania, a 49-year-old Vietnam War veteran and former journalist (right), has only been performing stand-up for around a year, and the appearance at Zanie's comedy club would have been an important gig.

"I'm upset because I deserve to be on stage and it was a big break for me," he said.

Mason is an outspoken supporter of Israel, and has received accolades from the Israeli government.

Published: 29 Aug 2002

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.