Batavia comedy club drops shows by pro-Israel comedian Michael Rapaport over safety concerns

Michael Rapaport
Associated Press

Citing safety concerns, The Comedy Vault in Batavia has canceled a series of five shows featuring comedian Michael Rapaport that were supposed to happen next weekend.

The comedy club had received a number of calls from pro-Palestinian groups promising protests if the shows, scheduled for June 6-8, were not canceled. Rapaport is Jewish and has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and its fight against Hamas.

“We’re happy he’s canceled,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, national chairman of the Chicago-based U.S. Palestinian Community Network. “We’re going to continue to do that to everyone else out there, prominent or not, who is going to cheer-lead for this genocide.

“They will not be able to do business as usual,” he continued, adding the group has held protests outside federal lawmakers’ homes.

Representatives for The Comedy Vault and Rapaport have not returned repeated calls seeking comment. As of Friday afternoon, Rapaport’s webpage still listed the five show dates in Batavia.

Rapaport, who also had shows canceled in Wisconsin, is not the first to see his shows dropped due to pressure from outside groups opposing their views regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict. In March, the Chicago House of Blues canceled a performance by Matisyahu, a Jewish American singer, following similar calls to cancel.

“This is the latest in a trend of anti-Israel organizations seeking to cancel Jewish artists because they believe in the existence of a Jewish homeland,” David Goldenberg, midwest regional director for the Anti-Defamation League said of the decision to cancel Rapaport’s shows in Batavia. “Let’s be clear, this isn’t about Israel or the Palestinians, and it’s certainly not about peace.

“It is a deliberate attempt to cancel Jews from American life, and we all need to reject it,” he added.

The Comedy Vault has canceled shows featuring comedian Michael Rapaport.
Sandy Bressner/Shaw Local News Network

Batavia Police Chief Shawn Mazza said the club owner decided to cancel the shows. He added the city did not make any recommendations. He said police were planning to provide additional patrols if needed.

“We were preparing for the shows to occur and were basically contacted within the last 48 hours letting us know that the decision was made to cancel the shows,” Mazza said Thursday.

He said the club owner did file a police report in early May after receiving multiple emails, phone calls and social media messages about the shows.

The recent Rapaport shows canceled in Wisconsin were supposed to be at a club in Madison.

“The idea that clubs could be bullied, clubs could be threatened, Jewish people, people that believe in the right for Israel to exist, or anybody should be bullied, threatened, canceled, boycotted or any of this (expletive) is so against anything that I believe in, anything that this country is about,” Rapaport said in a May 2 podcast after his Wisconsin shows were canceled.

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