Hillel Schenker informs us of his latest posting at the UK Guardian blog, indicating that they changed his title from the above to: “A warmish welcome for Paul in Tel Aviv,” along with this subhead: “My uncle was part of the committee that banned the Beatles from Israel. Last night, I made amends.”
The taxi driver asked me – “where to?” – and I said, “the Yarkon Park for the Paul McCartney concert.” But he’s 900 years old!” exclaimed the driver. “He’s so pompous and full of himself, and those prices – 490 shekels to sit on the grass, and 1,500 shekels for a seat – no way! But, if it was John Lennon, I’d pay $1,000 to see him!”.
Since I’m a contemporary of McCartney I let the age issue pass. But I have to admit that when it was announced that McCartney was coming, I told friends that if it was Lennon, I wouldn’t hesitate. But McCartney? I wasn’t sure, but after long deliberation, decided to go.
After all, in a way it was poetic justice. My uncle Dov Barnir was the youngest member of the first Knesset, a member of the Mapam/United Workers party, the leftwing party that had 19 seats, making it the second strongest faction in the Knesset after Ben-Gurion’s Mapai. In 1965, he was appointed to a committee headed by then IDF chief education officer Mordechai (Morele) Bar-On, to decide whether to issue a permit for the Beatles to perform in Israel. They resolved that a visit by John, Paul, George and Ringo would “corrupt Israeli youth,” so a permit was denied the impresario who had been negotiating to bring them.
Bar-On, who had been an aide to legendary general Moshe Dayan, went on to become a leading spokesperson for the Peace Now movement. He later apologized for his attitude towards the Beatles, and on a desert-island-discs-like radio program he said that he would take a Beatles record. I don’t know if my uncle ever apologized for his part in the decision, but I decided to make amends for him by going to the concert.
Although I originally considered the Beatles a pale imitation of the real thing, they eventually became part of the soundtrack of my life, as for so many others of my generation.
As for the concert itself, it could have been a reflection of a tension between “Give Peace a Chance” – which he sang with gusto together with the crowd with a big peace symbol filling the screen – the only time he mentioned John – and “Live and Let Die,” filled with images of fire, brimstone with dramatic fireworks rising above the stage. But it wasn’t. This was Paul McCartney after all, and thus it was mainly love songs, his forte. He also shouted to the crowd that “we’re really gonna rock tonight in Tel Aviv,” mainly via lively versions of “Back in the USSR,” “Get Back,” and a delightful pounding version of “She was Just 17.” …
He [McCartney] could have said, “make love, not war,” but all he said in Tel Aviv was “make love, but not here, not now.”
To his credit, he did make a point of being inclusive – wishing the crowd both a Shana Tova and a Ramadan Karim. … [Greetings which we wish to share with our readers as well– ed.]
Click here to read the rest at the Guardian’s Website.