Ex-Beatle Sir Paul McCartney has appeared briefly ahead of a controversial concert in Israel, more than 40 years after the group was banned from the country. The so-called “Friendship First Concert” takes place on Thursday evening in Tel Aviv. Tens of thousands of fans are expected to attend despite tickets selling for up to 500 euros.
Sir Paul’s first gig in Israel goes ahead amid fears of extremist violence. Radical cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed had urged him to cancel the visit out of “respect for the feelings of Muslims in Palestine”. But the 66-year-old said on his website he hoped the performance would “reawaken” the idea of peace in the region.
The Beatles were banned from playing in Israel 43 years ago amid concerns over youngsters being corrupted. Earlier this year, the Israeli ambassador to Britain apologised for this in a letter to the two surviving Beatles, McCartney and Ringo Starr.