I helped co-found the Israeli-Palestinian Comedy Tour in November 2007 so that Palestinians and Israelis could actually come together on a comedy stage and use humor to help change the hardened attitudes of Palestinians, Arabs, Israelis and Jews about each other. The Israeli partners include Charley Warady and Yisrael Campbell. And the group includes Aaron Freeman, who is an African American Jew living in Chicago where I live.
While there are several groups that partner Palestinians and Arabs with "Jewish Comedians," there are none that partner with "Israelis." In fact, most Arab and Palestinians comedians will NOT appear on stage in Israel with Israeli comedians because what I am doing is called, according to the "Electronic Intifadah Bully Pulpit, "normalization." They and some of their writers have attacked me for "crossing the line" and appearing with Israelis. They believe we should stay apart and that I should only perform comedy with "Jews."
Yet, we found after doing three tours of Israeli cities (Tel Aviv, West Jerusalem, Haifa, Ra'anana, and Beersheva) and also performing for enthusiastic Palestinian audiences in East Jerusalem (3 shows at the Ambassador Hotel), we realized that the people who actually live in the conflict want Palestinians and Israelis to come together and find ways to resolve the conflict. The nearly 300 Palestinians who packed the first show and the 200 Palestinnians who came to two more shows at the Ambassador, applauded and laughed and complimented us for trying to break through the stereotypes.
Of course, just being attacked is not enough. Since forming the group, five Arab organizations that had booked my comedy (as an individual performer) in early 2007 cancelled and I have not had one major booking by an Arab American organization since.
Visit our web page at www.IPComedyTour.com.
I also am a member of the Christian Arab Comedy Troupe called "The Infidels of Comedy" which seeks to highlight the challenges facing Christian Arabs not just throughout the Middle East, but in the United States too. The web page is www.InfidelsofComedy.com and we have our first performance October 8 in Oak Park, Illinois at a benefit for Nadia Hilou, a Christian Palestinian Woman member of the Israeli Knesset/Labor Party.