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Defying Boycotters, Monty Python Star John Cleese Plans Tel Aviv Shows in 2019

Defying anti-Israel boycotters, British comedian John Cleese, a founding member of the legendary Monty Python comedy troupe and creator of the series Fawlty Towers, will arrive in Israel for two performances in September, The Times of Israel reported on Sunday.

The 79-year-old Cleese, who is regarded among the most influential comedians in the world, is scheduled to perform as part of his “Last Time to See Me Before I Die” tour at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv.

Originally, only one performance was planned for September 1 but later a second night was added to the schedule on January 2 due to popular demand from his fans. Ticket prices range from NIS 204 to NIS 444 ($55-$120), depending on the seat, with many of the best seats already sold out.

According to Cleese’s website, the show is a one-man stand-up performance interspersed with clips from his television series Monty Python and Fawlty Towers.

The comedian is best known for his tenure with the Monty Python comedy franchise, which had its own television show, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” and produced classic comic films including “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” Cleese was also cast as the lead in Israeli director Reshef Levi’s film “Hunting Elephants” in 2012 but canceled due to poor health.

Artists, who make the decision to perform in Israel, have increasingly become a target of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates for the total destruction of the Jewish State.

In recent years, multiple prominent artists bowed to pressure from the boycott movement to cancel planned performances in Israel, including American singer Lana Del Rey.

“You’re sitting in New York after canceling your performance in Israel because of pressure from Roger Waters and other vocal BDS activists,” Yair Lapid — head of the centrist Yesh Atid Party — wrote in a letter to Del Rey. “It’s a shame because you were lied to. You became another one in a series of people being used by Palestinian terrorist organizations without knowing the facts. Seeing as you’ve got some free time now maybe you should use it to learn about what’s really happening here in Israel.”

In November 2017, Australian rock star Nick Cave of the Bad Seeds acknowledged that he had not performed in Israel for 20 years due to the pressure coming from the boycott movement but that he decided to perform in Israel to take a “principled stand” against those boycotting the country. Cave in December 2018 reaffirmed his opposition to the cultural boycott of Israel, describing the singling out of the Jewish State for discrimination “cowardly and shameful.”

Other musicians, including Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, also defended their decision to perform in Israel. Ahead of his band’s performance in the country, Yorke called anti-Israel boycotters “offensive” and “patronizing.”

[Photo: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert / YouTube ]