A British conspiracy theorist known for his outlandish ideas about lizard people and "Zionists" controlling the world is set to perform in a Vancouver civic theatre this weekend, provoking outrage from Jewish groups.
David Icke, a former sports broadcaster, is scheduled to give a full-day presentation at the Orpheum Theatre on Saturday. The theatre is operated by the city, and officials have denied requests to cancel the show from groups like B'nai Brith Canada and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
Aiden Fishman of B'nai Brith Canada described Icke's views as "classic anti-Semitic ideas" and said the booking should never have been allowed.
"It's totally, totally incompatible with the City of Vancouver's role as an open and tolerant multicultural municipality to allow Mr. Icke to speak at a city-owned facility, after we've brought all these concerns to their attention," Fishman told CBC News.
Deep concern from Jewish groups
In an interview Thursday, Icke was furious about the campaign against his show, describing the claims made by Jewish groups as "libellous."
His presentation, according to his website, will cover everything from "reptilians" — shape-shifting alien-human hybrids — to the truth about the moon, which he believes is a hologram projected from Saturn.
"If what they say is true, why will I spend 10 hours talking on Saturday and not even mention Jewish people once? They need to explain that," Icke asked.
But in videos of his lectures posted online, he frequently uses another phrase, "Rothschild Zionists." These are the people he suggests are responsible for causing the 2008 financial crisis, staging the 9/11 attacks and generally controlling the world's banking and political systems.
That phrase, according to Fishman, is pretty obvious code for Jewish people.
"What he clearly just means are Jews, because Zionist is a political term that refers to a certain political belief, and many of the individuals he accuses of being Rothschild Zionists are not actually Zionists, they're just people of a Jewish background," Fishman said.
His views were echoed by Nico Slobinsky of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
"David Icke is an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist and a modern-day Holocaust denier," Slobinsky said.
"We as an organization are deeply concerned — disturbed — to see that his message of hate will have a stage in Vancouver."
'The ultimate non-racist'
In an email, a spokesperson for the City of Vancouver wrote that it cannot infringe on Icke's freedom of speech without evidence that his presentation will include illegal hate speech.
"The City has explicit requirements in its theater rental agreements that govern the conduct of renters and has confirmed with Mr. Icke and his team their obligation to comply with all Canadian laws relating to the content of their presentation," the email reads.
But Fishman alleges that videos of Icke's previous performances suggest otherwise.
"There is every indication that Mr. Icke intends to violate the law," Fishman said.
For his part, Icke believes it doesn't make sense to accuse him of prejudice.
"[I'm] saying look, the body is irrelevant, therefore race is irrelevant, gender is irrelevant, because we are all one infinite consciousness," he said. "I am actually the ultimate non-racist."
With files from Tamara Rahmani