Paul McCartney survives landmark Israel gig (

Sir Paul McCartney has survived his landmark gig in Israel unscathed, much to the delight of an audience of thousands. The ex-Beatles man told reporters he was “not nervous, but excited” ahead of his two-hour performance in Tel Aviv last night, during which the 66-year-old played Hello Goodbye, Eleanor Rigby and Back in the USSR before a crowd of 40,000. His choice of Let It Be to close the show was a poignant one given the circumstances surrounding his performance.
The Beatles were banned from performing in Israel in 1965 because the government was worried about the potentially corrupting effect “Beatlemania” might have on young fans. The current government lifted the ban earlier this year, presumably less worried now about the ability of the surviving members of the group to induce mass hysteria in the Israeli public.
Sir Paul McCartney’s decision to play in Tel Aviv was not without controversy, with the singer telling an Israeli journalist: “I was approached by different groups and political bodies who asked me not to come here. I refused. I do what I think, and I have many friends who support Israel.” There were threats of violence also, from militant Islamic activist Omar Bakri Muhammad. “If he values his life Mr McCartney must not come to Israel,” said Bakri, who is banned from the UK. “He will not be safe there. The sacrifice operatives will be waiting for him.” However, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel were quick to condemn Bakri’s comments.
Speaking to reporters on the eve of his performance, McCartney 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.” 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. I’m bringing a message of peace, and I think that’s what the region needs.”

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