Home inContext Kiss Rock Star Gene Simmons Returns to Israel, Blasts Boycotters

Kiss Rock Star Gene Simmons Returns to Israel, Blasts Boycotters

Samara Greenberg

More than 50 years after leaving Israel, Kiss band member Gene Simmons returned to his birth country this week, immediately taking the opportunity to show support for his homeland and blast those who advocate boycotting the state, calling them “fools.”

In an interview Tuesday with the Associated Press, Simmons described the visit as a “homecoming…. I’m Israeli. I’m a stranger in America. I’m an outsider,” he said. Speaking of musicians who have recently canceled concerts to protest Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians, Simmons noted, “The countries they should be boycotting are the same countries that the populations are rebelling,” referring to the current Arab uprisings across the Middle East.

Kiss rock star Gene Simmons with and without his famous stage makeup.

Simmons, now 61, was born Chaim Witz in Haifa to a mother who survived the Holocaust and Auschwitz death camp. His father was a carpenter in Tirat Carmel and Simmons describes his family at that time as “dirt poor.” He moved with his mother to the United States at the age of eight, but can still speak Hebrew.

Although the rocker had not returned to Israel until this week, he has always supported the country. In 2006, Simmons famously sent a video message to IDF soldier and Kiss fan Ron Weinreich, who was seriously wounded in Israel’s war with Hezbollah, telling the soldier he is “a real hero…. I can’t tell you how proud I am of you, and how much the world and Israel owes you a debt of gratitude,” he said.

In his interview this week from Israel, Simmons told reporters, “I was born here [in Israel] and I’m proud of it.” Amen.