Dave Chappelle Laments ‘Nightmare’ Facing Israelis and Palestinians

Dave Chappelle was about 24 minutes into his set on Wednesday night in Raleigh, N.C., when he briefly touched on remarks he had made about the Israel-Hamas conflict at a show in Boston last week that had led to cheers, some walkouts and headlines.

“Right now, I’m in trouble because the Jewish community is upset,” Mr. Chappelle told a packed crowd of more than 20,000 people at PNC Arena. “But I cannot express this enough: No matter what you read about that show in Boston, you will never see quotation marks around anything I said. They don’t know what I said.”

“It’s all hearsay,” said the comedian, who, like many others, requires audience members to surrender their smartphones at shows.

Mr. Chappelle, a satirist whose reputation for diving into polarizing topics has increased in the latter stages of his comedic career, returned to the Israel-Hamas conflict near the end of his set Wednesday.

“The other night, I said something about Palestine in Boston and got misquoted all over the world,” Mr. Chappelle said. “And I will not repeat what I said.”

A woman in the crowd responded by shouting, “Free Palestine.”

“Please, please, miss,” Mr. Chappelle responded. “Listen. Don’t start it up or I’m going to be in the news cycle for another week. This thing that’s happening in the Middle East is bigger than everybody.”

“This is what’s happening and, believe me, I understand what’s happening in Israel is a nightmare,” Mr. Chappelle said. “What’s happening in Palestine is a nightmare.”

He continued: “There’s only two kinds of people in the world: people who love other people and the people that have things to make them afraid to love other people. Pray for everyone in Israel. Pray for everyone in Palestine.”

“And remember that every dead person is a dead person,” he said, calling the situation a “tragedy.”

At the show last Thursday in Boston’s TD Garden, Mr. Chappelle was drawn into speaking about the conflict by members of the audience. He raised concerns about how a group of Harvard students had been treated since signing an anti-Israel letter, condemned the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and criticized Israel for its role in causing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, according to remarks first reported by The Wall Street Journal. The Los Angeles Times reported that perhaps 200 people in the roughly 17,000-person audience in Boston had departed toward the end of the show.

A few minutes after initially discussing the interaction on Wednesday, Mr. Chappelle noticed a commotion stemming from the arena’s upper level. “That still might be the Jews coming for me,” said Mr. Chappelle, who has often used his penchant for causing offense as fodder for jokes.

He urged for someone in the crowd to call emergency medical responders before being reminded that audience members did not have their phones. He said he had never thought about what would happen without them in an emergency.

“Sorry,” Mr. Chappelle said, stretching out the word. “I don’t want the Jews to know what I said.”

On Wednesday night, Mr. Chappelle, wearing a red, black and gray flannel shirt with cutoff sleeves and taking frequent drags from a cigarette, filled his set with jokes about Madison Cawthorn, a pro-Trump former North Carolina congressman and the often-inflammatory material about transgender people that has drawn widespread criticism. He also joked about being attacked onstage last year by an armed man while performing at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles.

The audience cheered him loudly, and the hour-and-15-minute set did not appear to have caused the kind of walkouts that marked the Boston show.

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