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