a different side of Israel

Fashionably Late: The Beatles Will Play in Israel

Fashionably Late: The Beatles Will Play in IsraelMore than 42 years after their initial Israel concert was canceled by government authorities, the two remaining members of the original Beatles have been invited to perform here during Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations. Present government officials extended the invitations to Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, along with an official apology for canceling the original concert which would have taken place when the British pop group was at the height of their international fame.

There appear to be many versions as to why the 1965 concert was canceled at the last moment; but for the most part, the main reasons were that officials were afraid that the screaming fans would cause severe damage to the newly completed Hechal Hatarbut cultural center in Tel Aviv (located by the Habima Theater), and that the Finance Ministry was afraid there wouldn’t be enough foreign currency to pay the mop-haired group after Israeli Lirot was converted into either Pounds Sterling or U.S. Dollars. Both reasons seem a bit weak when looking back on the subject. The main reason might have been that the Ministry of Culture didn’t seem to think that the pop music quartet wasn’t of a high enough cultural standard to perform along with the likes of classical music greats like American violinist Isaac Stern.

Perhaps it was due to the fact that there wasn’t any “tele” (as the Brits call it) in Israel at the time in order to broadcast the event; and that the Labor led socialist folk in the government didn’t want to corrupt the innocent young minds that were being groomed to some day lead the country to great academic and cultural heights, despite being completely surrounded by Arabs who wanted to push an even smaller and more fragile Israel into the depths of the Mediterranean Sea. After all, the Six Day War had not been fought yet, and the West Bank and the Golan heights were still in Jordanian and Syrian hands. Gaza was being administered by Egypt who really didn’t give a hoot about the nearly million refugees from the 1948 Way of Independence, living on U.N. administered hand-outs.

Although both McCartney and Starr have visited here since that time, they haven’t been here together as the surviving members of what may go down in history as the most successful singing group of all times. In reference to the then government’s fear that the Beatles would corrupt the innocent youth of Israel, that fact that they played in the best concert halls in America and were featured on television programs like the Ed Sullivan show (where Elvis also made his big debut) means that John, Paul, George and Ringo were not considered to be morally corrupting in most places they appeared (expect possibly to a few fundamentalist Christian groups, that is). The other two former Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison, are now playing their tunes “up above”.

Maybe now the remaining Beatles will finally get the welcome they deserve here, albeit blatantly, like they should have had more than 42 years ago.


  1. “I wanna hold your hand”…”And when I touch you, I feel happy – inside” Oh, those were the days!!!

    How I wish I could be there for both, their concert and Israel’s 60th Anniversary!!!

  2. Virgina,

    All u have to do is book a direct flight from Atlanta on Delta.

    Better check into this now though, as flights are bound to be fully booked as it gets closer to Yom HaAtzmaut on May 8.

    That goes for hotel bookings as well.

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