Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Israel attoning for 1965 error

More than four decades after Israeli officials banned the Beatles from appearing at a scheduled 1965 concert, Israel on Monday extended an olive branch to the band, with an eye to having the two surviving members - Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr - perform at the 60th anniversary of the state's creation in May.

Army Radio reported that Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor visited the band's hometown of Liverpool on Monday, where he met with John Lennon's sister Julia Bairdat at the Beatles museum.

Letters of reconciliation are to be sent to McCartney and Starr as well as relatives of late band member George Harrison, the radio said.

The Israeli embassy in London on Monday night told Haaretz that the letters represented an opportunity for "a second chance."

The Beatles had been booked to appear in Israel in 1965, but government
officials refused to grant the necessary permits, citing concerns that the tousled-haired British band and its strident, amplified music could corrupt the morals of Israeli youth.

The never-used tickets for the concert have long been a prized souvenir among Israeli fans of the group.

In Jerusalem, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel confirmed that Prosor was to meet Baird and invite her to Israel for the gala marking Israel's
founding in May, 1948. But he said he had no knowledge of any letter or of invitations to Paul and Ringo to perform.
This would present an awesome opportunity for the remaining Beatles as Israel marks 60 years of independence.

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