Monday, January 28, 2008

Never too late to say sorry - to the Beatles

I still haven't finished writing all the thank you cards for wedding presents (we just celebrated our 15th anniversary). I feel that by now it is too late - especially as some of those who sent gifts are no longer in the land of the living. (If I'm being honest, I think I probably still owe a couple of thank you cards from Bar Mitzvah presents as well - but that was 25 years ago, and I don't think the pens still work any more).

So it is refreshing to see that the State of Israel has finally taken the time to catch up on some correspondence that was put aside at the time. The foreign ministry had some time on its hands, so they decided to check on 'matters outstanding'. And they discovered that they owe an apology to none other than the Fab Four! Yes, the Beatles are finally having the record set straight (no pun intended). 43 years after they were banned from performing in Israel for having long hair and being a bad influence on the youth, the Foreign Ministry will make amends and send them a letter of apology (of course poor old John and George will receive theirs via fax, since they are no longer able to read letters).

You see, it is true what they say, it is never too late.

(This reminds me of that Simpsons episode when Ringo Starr finally got around to replying to Marge Simpson for the picture she painted of him. That was also half a lifetime too late, so I suppose this is poetic justice)

Here is the article from YNet
Israel apologizes to The Beatles

Foreign Ministry decides to rectify historic injustice, extend apology to British band over cancellation of its performance in Jewish state 43 years ago

Itamar Eichner
Published: 01.28.08, 09:48 / Israel Culture

After accomplishing the mission of rehabilitating Israel's problematic image in the world, the Foreign Ministry has now found the time to deal with the real important issue: Extending an official apology to The Beatles, 43 years after the British band was banned from performing in the Jewish state.

Israeli Ambassador to Britain Ron Prosor was expected to meet Monday morning with John Lennon's sister, Julia Baird, at The Beatles museum in Liverpool and to present her with an official letter of apology from the State of Israel for banning the band's members from performing in the country in 1965.

The Israeli Embassy in London was also expected to send similar letters to the two remaining Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and to the relatives of George Harrison.

"We would like to take this opportunity," the letter says, "to rectify a historic missed opportunity which unfortunately took place in 1965 when you were invited to Israel. Unfortunately, the State of Israel cancelled your performance in the country due to lack of budget and because several politicians in the Knesset had believed at the time that your performance might corrupt the minds of the Israeli youth.

"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 before the young generation in Israel who admired you and continues to admire you."

Prosor was expected to take advantage of this opportunity and invite the two remaining band members to take part in Israel's 60th anniversary celebrations.

"We would like to see them sing at the State of Israel," the letter concludes.

So what really happened in 1965?
Opinions differ as to the actual events which took place 43 years ago. The band members were invited to perform in Israel, but the concert did not take place eventually due to the firm objection of politicians who believed that The Beatles were corrupting the Israeli youth.

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

"There is some kind of fable that my father prevented The Beatles from entering Israel," Schneider's son, former Knesset Member Yossi Sarid, said Sunday. "I tried to look into it and didn't find any evidence to support this. I decided, however, that it's a nice legend, so who am I to destroy it?

"I assume that they told my father, who wasn't a great Beatles expert, that the band members have long hair and take drugs, and will surely corrupt the Israeli youth."

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