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Ice-Cold Chili Peppers

Ice-Cold Chili Peppers

The Red Hot Chili Peppers chicken out. Now what about the rest of us?


The entertainment world in Israel was thrown into abject sadness last week when the American rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers canceled its scheduled appearance. The promoter promised to refund the money already paid by the 20,000 fans for their tickets to attend this momentous cultural event in the history of our young nation.

But, alas, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, even in spite of the reputed intervention former president Bill Clinton on behalf of Israel, simply chickened out. As is our past experience with many a pop hero, movie star and/or media darling, the people who are Red Hot Chili Peppers are idols with feet of clay. Apparently they are not nearly as hot as they advertise themselves to be...

The reason for the cancellation is to me very troubling. There certainly are threats of violence and terrorism omnipresent in our land. We face an enemy that has no pity on us or on themselves. To them, there are no innocent bystanders, no babies or old people. There are only Jews.

Overall, Israel is not the dangerous place the media has portrayed it to be.

But, overall, Israel is not the dangerous place to visit that the media has portrayed it to be. Spain has its Basque ETA terrorists and England has the "real" IRA and Russia has the Chechens and Chechnya has the Russians. There is no place in the world free of terror and violent people. I am pretty well certain that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would have been as safe and well protected here, had they chosen to come and honor their commitment, as they will be in the next venue unfortunate enough to be graced by their concert performance.

Coming to Israel now should be viewed as an exercise in faith and encouragement of those who are beleaguered and unfairly isolated. It is not so much an act of courage as it is an act of rectitude and human decency - of hot emotional pride and morality. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are ice-cold in my book.

Though I cannot speak for heaven, I intuitively feel that there is a book [in heaven] that has inscribed within it the names of all of those who have come to Israel now, to visit, to study and to strengthen the people of Israel by just being here. Numerous people in the U.S. have called me over the past months to ask whether they should come here to visit, whether they should continue with their aliyah plans, whether they should allow their sons and daughters to come to Jerusalem for a year or more of Torah study.

I am not a prophet nor a holy man, and I therefore made it clear to all of my questioners that my words are only opinion, certainly not a guarantee and not even advice. But a number of my own children and grandchildren are in the country, some for a visit and some for years of study.

A Jew has to live up to the challenge of being a Jew.

A Jew has to live up to the challenge of being a Jew. One is always faced with the "regular" challenges of being a Jew in daily life -- of living a Jewish/Torah lifestyle and subscribing to a Jewish value system in a world that is the antithesis of these ideals. But there are times when special challenges arise to test our Jewish identity and to determine forcefully who we really are and what we really believe in. The current intifada is such a special time and unfortunately much of the Jewish public living outside of Israel has been found terribly wanting in responding to this moment of challenge and history. They stay away when they should really come.

Mordechai said to Esther long ago at a different moment of Jewish crisis: "If you are silent now, know that the Jewish people will be saved without you, but that Jewishly speaking, you and your family are going to lose."

The State of Israel and the Jewish people will survive this crisis and will continue to grow and prosper in their ancient homeland. The choice of all Jews today is what role will each and every one of us have in that salvation and in the strengthening of the tenacity of our historic and national purpose.

Being a Jew is not for the fainthearted or for the sunshine patriot. Israel is as safe as it has ever been over the past half century. Caution and good sense, as always, are necessary in visiting and dwelling in this country. But panic and despair, unwarranted fright and pessimism are the hallmarks of Red Hot Chili Peppers, not of old-fashioned, believing, passionate Jews.

Courtesy of The Jerusalem Post

September 1, 2001

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Anonymous, September 3, 2001 12:00 AM

Israel more dangerous than US?

I often find myself wondering if Israel is actually so much more dangerous than the average major city in the U.S. Here in Philadelphia, people are murdered every day in violent crimes. Is the violent death rate per capita in Israel really so much higher than it is here in Philadelphia? Or are the violent deaths in Israel simply more newsworthy and memorable because they happen in large groups, like airplane crashes, rather than one-by-one, like the murders here in Philadelphia that are so routine that they rarely make the news? Are the Chili Peppers really more likely to get killed by a bomb in Israel than by a rabid fan or stalker here in the U.S.? I wonder. The media distorts our perception of these things, like they distort the safety of air travel or high schools, because the rare large-scale death draws more ratings than routine, everyday deaths. People are probably safer in Israel than they are in their bathrooms (where most fatal accidents happen) here in the US. comments: And I can still cut through the park alone in Jerusalem at 11 pm. Would you feel safe doing that in Philadelphia?

(5) Dean Beattie, September 3, 2001 12:00 AM

A blessing in disguise

I agree with the previous comments concerning the red hot chili peppers cancelling their trip. Here in the U.S., these groups are contributing to the moral destruction in this nation, so the cancellation of that concert is a blessing from above. As a recent visitor to Israel, rarely does a day go by that I don't talk to someone about the great time I had on the trip. The photo albums are becoming worn from the many times I've shown them, to both Jewish and non-Jewish friends. The only way to combat the anti-Israel media is by those of us who have been there and seen with our own eyes, and know the truth. I've commented on other items on this web site and as I've said before, I am non-Jew and have been a law enforcement officer for twenty-two years in southern California and have spent every day of my career on the streets and I actually felt safer over there than I did at home. If anyone has a yearning to go to Israel, do not reject it, because we all need to support G-ds'chosen people in its time of need. I'm also planning to return to Israel, Lord willing, in 2003.

(4) Tom Bensel, September 3, 2001 12:00 AM

Very profound observation , Rabbi Wein !

Unfortunately the actions of this band typify the attitudes of a lot of people in the USA and around the world. They are being programmed to believe that life should have zero bumps and bruises, and that they have no responsibility in protecting one another. I wonder if they have considered who will stand in the gap for them when someone comes to threaten their existance? If someone only had the US press as a source for information about what happens around the world they would think Isreal was a shooting gallery on a par with US High Schools. I know nothing could be farther from the truth. At the same time, those of us in the Jewish community and also a great number of people in the American Christian community recognize the difficult times that are upon Isreal these days. We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and at the same time we pressure our leaders to come to the defense of our only true ally in the middle east.

(3) Anonymous, September 2, 2001 12:00 AM

That's what's bothering you?

I find the fact that 20.000 Jewish youth would actually spend money to attend a concert of this band more unsettling than the fact that a band renounces what probably would be a sizeble sum,for security reasons.

(2) peggy schram, September 2, 2001 12:00 AM

Be thrown into abject sadness over something worthwhile

You really didn't miss out on much: they are not very good. So be thrown into abject sadness over worthwhile things because those yutzes were certainly not worth one iota of thought, let alone sadness.

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