Dear Red Hot Chili Peppers…

ActivismIsrael/PalestineUS Politics
on 26 Comments
red hot chili peppers logo
Red Hot Chili Peppers logo

I’ve been a huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan since I was 14 years old. The prospect of a live show in Israel has always been slim-to-non. I saved up some serious cash for their last slated show, way back when, needless to say I was heartbroken when they cancelled. Over a decade later things are quite different. It seems ridiculous to me that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would even consider crossing the picket line of the global Palestinian liberation movement, that’s been forming since the last time they cancelled. One thing remains the same though : It’s very hard to reach a band of their stature. I want to make sure that no artist can say they didn’t know. Not about the atrocities of the apartheid state and its brutal occupation, and not about the movement to boycott, divest and sanction it. Below is the letter I’ve sent the band via snail mail.

Dear Anthony, Flea, Chad and Josh,

My name is Tali. I’m a citizen of Israel from the privileged side of the apartheid, who supports the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions on the state of Israel. It doesn’t take much to get me to talk about the atrocities I witness here everyday, but I’d rather make it as brief as possible, so you’ll actually take the time to read this.

I’m a long time fan and it’s no lip service. I grew up on your songs, like American Ghost Dance and Johnny Kick a Hole in the Sky, but I wouldn’t understand them until much later, when I would join the weekly demonstrations of Palestinian villages against the state’s brutal incursion and theft of their lands. You may have heard the analogy to South African apartheid, which is accurate and then some, but if Israel succeeds, it will look more similar to what the whites had done to the Native Americans.

I can’t explain to you how deeply your lyrics resonate down in these parts, and how bitter it is that you may perform here. I, of course, can’t attend your concert in clear conscience, though I would have loved to.

Your performance would be a crowning achievement for Shuki Weiss, so I’d like to tell you a bit about his role in culturewashing Israel’s war crimes. Weiss and the Israeli government have a special relationship in which they include him in Knesset meetings about outlawing the protesting tool of boycotts, and he sends them VIP tickets to shows he produces. This is not just corruption within the system, but corruption that serves to whitewash Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people, using international artists such as yourself. As quoted in the latter article:

Tourism Ministry spokeswoman Shira Koa said that the ministry had agreed with the producers of the concert that the event would be used to promote Israel as a safe tourism destination. “Madonna belongs to an exclusive club of mega stars, who draws thousands of fans from abroad to her concerts. For this reason, the ministry authorized an agreement with the producers that would give the ministry video and stills footage of the singer and her entourage, both during the concerts and her visits to tourist sites in Israel, to be used in international marketing campaigns. They also agreed to have four displays at the concert with films promoting Israel, supplied by the ministry, targeting the thousands of foreign tourists… Such promotion campaigns are regular occurrences both in Israel and abroad.

Please remember that your privilege to speak to a captive audience is not a sign of others’ freedom to do so. When Palestinians express themselves, they pay a heavy price. (This is what happened under the mainstream media’s nose, just this week) I hope that you heed the Palestinian call and choose not to perform in Israel. I and my friends, who are prohibited from from attending your show by military law and force, will be happy to rock out, once equality is practiced in this region. Until then, we’ll be kicking holes in the sky. Care to join?

Sincerely, bitterly, hopefully

(Crossposted at PulseMedia)

About Tali Shapiro

Tali Shapiro is an activist with Anarchists Against the Wall and BOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian Call from Within.

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26 Responses

  1. Annie Robbins
    April 6, 2012, 1:00 pm

    we’ve got months to convince them to not play tel aviv, i hope it works.

    • Shingo
      April 6, 2012, 6:01 pm

      I actually met Flea a couple of times here in Sydney. He used to date a friend of mine.

      I’ll get on to it Annie. It’s been a while and I’m not sure they ‘re even seeing each other, but it’s worth a shot.

      I got the feeling from him that he was pretty politically aware, so I doubt these guys are ignorant of the I/p issue.

  2. David Samel
    April 6, 2012, 1:12 pm

    Great letter Tali. Brief enough for them to read, but passionate enough to get them interested. Hopefully they will be interested enough to look into it in more depth.

  3. pabelmont
    April 6, 2012, 1:15 pm

    Great letter. As a classical musician, I don’t know anything about pop culture or the people who would want to hear these folks perform. But I hope that a BDS refusal by classical musicians to perform would mean something to classical-music fans — and I call for it, without naming names, because I don’t know who performs in Israel and who does not. I’ve heard it said that it used to be hard to get classical music “gigs” in the USA unless one was ready to play concerts in Israel (due to so-called Israeli Music Mafia). No idea if that ever was — or is still — true.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 6, 2012, 1:38 pm

      I’ve heard it said that it used to be hard to get classical music “gigs” in the USA unless one was ready to play concerts in Israel (due to so-called Israeli Music Mafia).

      interesting, i’ve never heard this before but these are not circles i travel in.

  4. Dan Crowther
    April 6, 2012, 1:29 pm


    I dont think Hillel Slovak would approve of Israel’s policies. They should honor his memory by standing up to discrimination.

  5. Taxi
    April 6, 2012, 1:50 pm

    A girlfriend of mine (maybe ten years ago now) was asked out on a date with Anthony (the lead singer) but she didn’t want to go alone so she asked me to come with her – but I had another girlfriend visiting from new york that weekend so she too tagged along. When we arrived at the restaurant, Anthony had brought a friend of his, Guy Oseary, executive at Madonna’s record label. After some ten minutes of the table getting aquainted, Guy asked my visiting friend what ethnicity she was and she replied that she was half lebanese and half Peruvian. Well I’ll be damned, Guy suddenly lost complete interest in conversing and put his hand down his t-shirt and pulled out a giant star of david gold pendant that just dangled there gaudily on his chest for the rest of the dinner – and he never made eye contact with us from then on. My friend and I understood immediately what the cold, covert hostility was all about and we just ignored him back too and would talk only to Anthony, who was completely unaware of what just happened. A few years later, Guy Oseary, the rude racist, published a book called ‘Jews Who Rock’.

    I mean with ‘close’ friends like that, there’s no chance in hell you’ll ever get a positive reponse to your letter, Tali. The Chillies are bff with a racist jewish supremist and they don’t even know it.

    • Annie Robbins
      April 6, 2012, 2:47 pm

      wow, it’s hard to believe people can be so transparently racist. i’m still thinking positively tho. do you think they are still close friends?

      • Woody Tanaka
        April 6, 2012, 3:33 pm

        I’m not surprised at all. I’ve met quite a few American Jews who act this way and when you call them on it, they deny they’re bigots.

      • Mooser
        April 6, 2012, 6:04 pm

        “I’ve met quite a few American Jews who act this way and when you call them on it, they deny they’re bigots.”

        There’s never been a price for it.

      • Taxi
        April 6, 2012, 3:53 pm

        Yes. Don’t you know how zonists work the floor? Oseary, being in the position of some power in the music biz, befriends and recruits rock star goy into supporting israel without them realizing or knowing the true history of zionism. We can call that ‘rockwashing’.

      • Annie Robbins
        April 6, 2012, 4:16 pm

        LA is definitely not london.

      • Mooser
        April 6, 2012, 6:13 pm

        “recruits rock star goy into supporting israel without them realizing or knowing the true history of zionism.”

        Maybe the Peppers know the history of Zionism and approve. I’ve auscultated more than my share of musicians who were bigoted, when they weren’t trying as hard as they could to emulate the music and mannerisms of the very people they were so bigoted against!
        You want musicians with advanced political and social ideas, buttressed by rock-hard principles of humanism and tempered by common sense and experience, your best bet is an organist. And if you want them to swing hard, too, it’s really your only choice.

  6. eGuard
    April 6, 2012, 6:27 pm

    The concert is in November 2012. Tickets were on sale a year before.

  7. dbroncos
    April 6, 2012, 7:04 pm

    I heard somewhere that the Pepper’s singer was Israeli. Yes, no , maybe so?

  8. dbroncos
    April 6, 2012, 7:09 pm

    No, it was their original guitarist, Hillel Slovak. Slovak was born in Haifa where he lived ’til age 5 when his family emigrated to US.

  9. Daniel Rich
    April 7, 2012, 4:23 am

    Any chance Mondoweiss can do the same as [Rabbi Elizabeth Bolton, et al]
    Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council? Set up mails to send to so and so organization?

  10. OlegR
    April 8, 2012, 8:07 am

    Oh wow so i won’t get to see them live ?
    Damn how can i live on without them ,
    how can Israel ?

    • Talkback
      April 8, 2012, 8:34 am

      We won’t tell you, cause we’re counting on Israel’s and your lack of political foresight.

    • proudzionist777
      April 8, 2012, 9:30 am

      And I’m sure nobody from Mondoweiss would ever listen to bootlegged recordings.

  11. YaelKahn
    April 8, 2012, 9:13 am

    Oleg, Israel imposes deprivation on Gaza forcing 1.6 million Palestinians to live not only without any of the musicians they like [Israel controls who can enter Gaza and it prevents most people from entering Gaza], without everything you take for granted, including food, medical supplies and building material to repair the Israeli wanton destruction of homes. Unless you support the Israeli war crimes you would appreciate that the cultural boycott is the least we can do to protest against these crimes.

    • OlegR
      April 8, 2012, 11:18 am

      / [Israel controls who can enter Gaza and it prevents most people from entering Gaza]/
      Egypt dear Egypt people conveniently forget about it.

      /Unless you support the Israeli war crimes you would appreciate that the cultural boycott is the least we can do to protest against these crimes./

      I assume Yael you have stopped drinking in the morning and beating you children since you phrase your responses in such a manner.

      As for the issue at hand i don’t mind any such calls for boycotts or whatever else
      you people do (by you people i mean the Israeli radical left, Anarchists against the “Wall” and all that bored Tel Avivian lot). As long is it’s not violent i don’t much care.
      I do hold the opinion that such letters written by Israelis who just can’t implement their political agenda from within our democratic system are petty and pathetic
      but that’s about as far as it goes.

  12. kalithea
    April 8, 2012, 6:00 pm

    Israelis will brag and use these performances as propaganda to hide their Apartheid system and the gulags next door where they subject Palestinians to military oppression: cattle cages, bullets and canisters to the head, pepper spray directly to the face, beatings, dog attacks and indefinite administrative detention while they continue to steal Palestinian land and deplete Palestinian resources.

    Shame on the RH Chili Peppers for agreeing to entertain these Zionist abusers while Palestinians suffer next door.

  13. Blake
    May 11, 2012, 9:51 am

    red hot chili peppers: Cancel your performance in Israel

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