The “Red Hot Chili Peppers” performed in Tel Aviv on Monday night, a decade after they canceled their show due to security issues. It was the group’s first visit to Israel, and to make the most of it, the members went to the Western Wall in Jerusalem straight from the airport. The band talked about Hillel Slovak, one of their founding members, who died from a drug overdose in the early 1990s.
“Hillel Slovak forever!” band leader Anthony Kiedis shouted on stage, adding, “I must say, Hillel had his own brand of Israeli funk, pretty sure he invented it. That Israeli funkinstein.” Guitarist Flea added, “He went out to a trip in Israel, and he came back and he was so lit up and so excited and so full of love, and to come here today and think of him it’s truly a dream.” The band dedicated the song “Other Side” to the city of Haifa, where Slovak was born.
Slovak is not the only Jewish connection of the Peppers. Current guitarist Josh Klinghoffer is Jewish, and is related to Leon Klinghoffer, the elderly man in a wheelchair who was murdered by terrorists aboard the Achille Lauro in 1985.
Pro-Palestinian groups in Lebanon, where the band performed just a few nights before, were outraged about the Peppers’ decision to perform in Israel, and even threatened the opening acts in Beirut to not perform, causing one of the bands to cancel. Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith tweeted earlier this week: “In any city of any country we play … Our sole purpose is to uplift people thru our music. Nothing more. Nothing less … that’s it.”