Macca makes Israel debut - 43 years after ban

Macca makes Israel debut - 43 years after ban

Paul McCartney will play his first concert in Israel today, despite fears over extremist threats.

Tens of thousands of fans will watch the singer’s landmark 'Friendship First' concert in Tel Aviv.

The concert will be the musician’s first in the country, after the Beatles were famously banned from playing there 43 years ago amid fears that youngsters would be corrupted.

Radical cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed has urged McCartney to cancel the visit out “of respect of the feelings of Muslims in Palestine”, but the singer refused to heed calls to stop the show.

The 66-year-old said on his website that he hoped his Tel Aviv concert would “reawaken” the idea of peace.

He said: “The world knows about the conflicts that have been in that region and I like to think that if I go to a place it becomes evident that my message is a peaceful one and I hope that the idea will spread.

“It often does happen you know – you’ll go to a place and it can affect the audience.

“It reawakens the idea – so that is definitely my message and when I am talking to people, that will be my message and I am sure it is a message shared by a lot of the audience too.”

He added: “People ask this question through the years: ’Do you think music can change things?’ I think it can. I think it’s good for people’s souls. I think without music it would be a seriously bad world, we would have more problems.

“Music can help people to just calm them down. I also think it can be very interesting for change.

“I always cite a John (Lennon) song 'Give Peace A Chance'. If you watch the footage from back then, about a million people outside the White House chanting that song to Nixon inside the White House, I think that had an effect.

“On that occasion, obviously for them to have that song to portray how they were feeling I think was very important. So yes, I think it can change things.

“Songs like 'We Shall Overcome' have been very important for the civil rights movement so yeah, I think music is great and it can make changes.”

Israel banned the world’s most famous band from performing in Israel in 1965, fearing it might corrupt their youth.

Macca said: “They said we were bad for the youth of Israel, and I think that was a mistake – I don’t think we were that bad. But you know what ... we took it as fun, it didn’t really worry us we just went off and played somewhere else.

“Our manager, Brian Epstein, who was Jewish, was, I think, more insulted than we were. He said: ’They won’t let you play, they think you are bad for their youth’ so we moved on to the next gig.”

The concert follows a surprise trip by the musician yesterday to a music school in neighbouring Palestine, as conflicts between the two countries continue.

McCartney said: “I’d heard about the great work of the school so I was really interested to actually see it for myself. Music is a universal language and something everyone can unite over and enjoy together.

The security for the Tel Aviv concert will cost an estimated €1.9m and involve up to 5,000 police and intelligence agents, The Daily Mirror reported.

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