Imagine there’s no controversy.
It’s not so easy in Israel, but former Beatle Paul McCartney, on his first visit to the Jewish state last week, tried.
Forty-three years after the Beatles were to give a concert in Israel — the concert fell through because of either conservative politicians or dueling promoters — Sir Paul performed in Tel Aviv’s HaYarkon Park, ignoring protests by Palestinian politicians and threats by Islamic clerics.
“I am always looking forward to gigs, particularly here, because it’s such a long time coming,” McCartney said during his visit, which included a tour of the Church of the Nativity and a music academy in Bethlehem, below. “I was approached by different groups and political bodies who asked me not to come. I get criticized everywhere I go, but I don’t listen to them.
“My little bit is to bring people together through peace,” he said.
“By coming to Israel, Sir Paul McCartney has become an icon for democracy, freedom, peace and liberty,” one Israeli security analyst said. “Whatever accomplishments McCartney may have achieved as a Beatle are now small compared to risking his life for the very principles of democracy and free speech.”
Opening his “Friendship First” show with “Shalom, Tel Aviv,” to rousing cheers, McCartney, above right, with guitarist Rusty Anderson, added greeting of “Shana Tova” in Hebrew, for the upcoming Jewish New Year, and “Ramadan karim” in Arabic, for the Muslim month of fasting.
Some 40,000 fans watched the concert.
“He should have come here long, long ago; he should have come again and again, he should come again and again and again,” said one fan, Nadav Erez, from Rishon Lezion.
Maybe, in future years, McCartney will come again. Without controversy.