McCartney: why I will play in Israel

By Dana Gloger, September 19, 2008
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Sir Paul McCartney this week strongly defended his decision to perform a concert in Tel Aviv as part of Israel's 60th-anniversary celebrations later this month.

The ex-Beatle's comments came after he allegedly received death threats from hard-line Muslims as well as a furious row over the issue in his home city of Liverpool.

Radical cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad told newspapers last week: "Our enemy's friend is our enemy. We have what we call ‘sacrifice' operatives who will not stand by while he joins in a celebration of their oppressions. If he values his life, Mr McCartney must not come to Israel."

In Liverpool, several writers used the letters pages of the Liverpool Daily Post to criticise the former Beatle for agreeing to play at the concert.

It emerged this week that two of the letter-writers are involved in Palestinian support groups. Anne Candlin, who said Sir Paul's decision to play in Israel "not only brings shame to himself, but to his city", has been involved with the Liverpool Friends of Palestine.

Gwen Backwell, another letter-writer, is a supporter of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.
This week, asked whether he thought his concert on September 25 could spread a positive message across Israel after years of conflict, Sir Paul, 66, said: "This is one of the interesting things about going to Israel. I mean, 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."

Sir Paul added: "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 one shared by a lot of the audience too."

    Last updated: 2:37pm, September 18 2008