Ivor Dembina's show no joke for protester

Demonstrators picket comic’s Ivy House performance


A Jewish comedian has called for an investigation and threatened legal action after a protester disrupted his set at the London Jewish Cultural Centre, urging him to reveal his anti-Israel views.

Ivor Dembina, founder of the Hampstead Comedy Club, was performing in Ivy House in Golders Green on Monday, as part of an Edinburgh Festival preview, when protester Harvey Garfield interrupted his set.

Mr Dembina, who has previously been to Israel and the West Bank with the International Solidarity Movement and is a signatory of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, has been outspoken in his views against Israel including in his show, This is Not a Subject for Comedy, which explores the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Earlier this month, activist Richard Millett accused Mr Dembina of being an "anti-Zionist" and called for others to protest outside the venue.

"People don't know his politics and what he does in his spare time", Mr Millett said.

A group of protesters picketed outside the venue and handed out flyers.

Mr Garfield, a 58-year-old limousine operator from Stanmore, sat in the audience and stood up near the end of the 45-minute set. He accused Mr Dembina of performing a "tame version for a Jewish audience".

After the event, he said: "Dembina is virulently anti-Israel. It's bad enough that Jews are prepared to co-operate with delegitimisers. To do it under the auspices of a Jewish community centre is beyond the pale."

Afterwards Mr Dembina said: "I asked the LJCC to mount an investigation into the incident.

"Unruly and disruptive behaviour in the audience comes with the job of being a stand-up comedian and it's usually harmless.

"That said, in 25 years in Jewish comedy, during which I have performed both in Britain and abroad - including in Israel -this is the first time someone has attended a performance of mine with the apparent intention of sabotaging it.

"I regard it as a great pity that the LJCC, with its laudable aim of presenting a programme that reflects a wide range of views from across the community had its event spoiled by an individual whose actions ruined my contribution to the event."

But a spokeswoman for the LJCC insisted that it had not been asked to investigate, and said it would "do no more".

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