I should have known better, Israel says in Beatles apology

( dpa ) - Some 43 years after telling the world's most famous rock group, "Hello, Goodbye", Israel is to formally apologise to The Beatles for cancelling a proposed concert in the Jewish state.

According to the Yediot Ahronot daily, Israel's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ron Prosser, will present an official letter of apology to John Lennon's sister on Monday at The Beatles museum in Liverpool, and similar letters will also be sent to the relatives of the late George Harrison, and to Sir Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, the two surviving members of the band.

The letter, Yediot reported, states that "we would like to take this opportunity to rectify an 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 a generation, to come to Israel and perform before the young generation in Israel who admired you and continues to admire you."

Prossor is also expected to invite McCartney and Starr to perform in Israel for the country's 60th anniversary celebrations later this year.

The Beatles were invited to to give a concert in Israel in 1965, an invitation the group's Jewish manager, Brian Epstein, accepted. But a group of politicians, fearful the group would prove a corrupting influence on Israeli youth, succeeded in getting the performance cancelled.

Most of the criticism over the cancellation has since been directed at one Yakov Schneider, the then-director-general of the Education Ministry, who had to approve allowing foreign bands to give concerts in Israel.

Schneider's son, former Knesset member Yossi Sarid, said he was unsure his if father deserved the blame.

"There is some kind of fable that my father prevented The Beatles from entering Israel," he said on 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," Sarid said, "that they told my father, who wasn't a great Beatles expert, that the band members have long hair and take drugs, and would surely corrupt the Israeli youth."

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