Gene Simmons, a cofounder of the rock band Kiss, recently returned to his native Israel, after a 52-year hiatus. Unlike other entertainers who have boycotted the Jewish state, such as Elvis Costello, the Pixies, and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, Simmons expressed his support for Israel. “The countries they should be boycotting are the same countries that the populations are rebelling,” Simmons told the AP, suggesting that the entertainers who boycott Israel should place a more critical eye on other nations in Israel’s neighborhood. “People long to be free ... And they sure as hell don’t want somebody who’s a ruler who hasn’t been elected by them.”
In supporting Israel, Simmons now joins the former lead singer of the Sex Pistols, punk rocker Johnny Rotten.
David Brinn of the Jerusalem Post reports:
Even though he hadn’t returned to Israel until this week, Simmons has always been an ardent supporter of the country, most recently sending a televised message to a IDF soldier (and Kiss fan) wounded during the 2006 war with Hezbollah in which he called him a “hero.” Although Kiss has never appeared in Israel, Simmons dismissed other entertainers who have chosen to boycott the country as “idiots.”
“As an American, there’s no choice but to be supportive of Israel,” he said. “This is the Holy Land, and it’s no secret that everybody in America perceives Israel as it’s only real friend in the Middle East – who else are you going to rely on?”
“So when Israelis get touchy because – oops - somebody criticized them, they have to remember that Americans are used to criticizing everybody. You need to develop a tough skin and remember, it’s not what someone says, it’s what they do. Do you ever doubt that if anything threatened Israel’s existence that the US would come to its defense with all of it nuclear capabilities? I don’t.”
According to Simmons, Israel has been a source of pride for him ever since he left. “There ain’t no place like it on planet Earth. It’s astonishing that it’s still here – stronger and prouder than ever,” he said, adding that the recent upheavals in the Muslim world has filled him with hope for the future of Israeli-Arab ties.
Let's hope that Simmons’s cheery optimism of the unbreakable Israel-American bond is pervasive.
Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.