Life is certainly a magical mystery tour. And for those of us who live in Israel, the long and winding road just became a bit more scenic. With the surprise announcement by Beatles singer and composer Sir Paul McCartney that he will be performing in Tel Aviv next month, the Jewish nation has taken a smiling leap back 40 years in time.  Www.israelcelebs.co.il

From car radios, open market CD players and inside elegant, modern stores, the warm, loving, magical and mythical blends of Beatles music permeate every city and town in Israel. From Metulla, Haifa and Katzrin in the North, to Hadera, Ra’anana, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to Ashkelon, Ashdod, Rehovot, Dimona and Eilat in the south one can hear the sweet voices Paul, John, Ringo and George.

A host of Web 2.0 Facebook and MySpace groups with a number of YouTube videos have been created to celebrate and promote Sir Paul McCartney’s historic visit to the Holy Land.

In January, Israel ambassador to Britain, Ron Prosor, handed a letter of apology to Julia Baird, sister of the late John Lennon, apologizing for a ban that Israel had placed on the Beatles back in 1965.

The story begins back 43 years ago when the Beatles were invited to perform in Israel with a concert which never took place. At the time Israel officials cited financial problems, but it was more than money that kept the Beatles away. Official permission required to withdraw precious foreign currency to pay the Beatles was denied because a ministerial committee feared the corrupting influence of four long-haired Englishmen.

The Israel committee report put it: “The Beatles have an insufficient artistic level and cannot add to the spiritual and cultural life of the youth in Israel.”

Sounds like this Israel committee was smoking stronger stuff than anything the Beatles may have experienced with Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The Israel politicians believed that The Beatles would corrupt innocent Israeli youth. But was it really naive Israel politicians?

Criticism over the cancellation was directed at former Israel Education Ministry Director-General Yaakov Schneider, whose ministry was required to approve the performance of foreign bands in Israel.

In a page one story in the newspaper Haaretz, former Minister of Education and Environment Yossi Sarid stated that real cause of the cancellation was due to a rivalry between two promoters in Israel. One had been offered a Beatles concert in 1962, before their star had risen, by Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, and had turned them down. When a competitor booked them three years later, the first promoter used his government connections to keep the needed money from being disbursed.

“I can assure you that my father had never heard of the Beatles,” Sarid said this week. “The promoter of course didn’t come to the government and say, ‘I don’t like this other guy and I don’t want him to get the money.’ He said it is a lousy group and will corrupt the spirit of the wonderful, brilliant, pure Israel youngsters. He exploited their ignorance.”

Fast forward to 2008 in Liverpool. Prosor, one of Israel’s most senior and long-serving diplomats, was only seven years old when the “misunderstanding” between London and Jerusalem took place. But Prosor is a man who quite likely knows the lyrics to most Beatles tune and was not about to miss out on an opportunity to enhance the celebration of Israel’s 60th birthday.

In a letter he wrote to the Beatles and their relatives: “There is no doubt that it was a great missed opportunity to prevent people like you, who shaped the minds of the generation, to come to Israel and perform.”

The two surviving Beatles, Sir Paul McCartney, 65, and Ringo Starr, 67, were expected to join the anniversary cel

By yanam49

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