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December 9, 2013 12:45 pm

Why Weren’t the Beatles Allowed to Perform in Israel?

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

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The Beatles, pictured here waving to fans after arriving at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York in February 1964. Photo: Library of Congress.

Yesterday marked the 33rd anniversary of the death of John Lennon, the legendary singer and one of the founders of one of the most successful musical groups in history – the Beatles. In commemoration of the event, Israel’s state archives have gone public with documents that shed light on a decision to not allow the band to perform in Israel.

Even today the banning of the Beatles in Israel continues to be a bone of contention for the group’s legion of Israeli fans. It turns out that this fateful decision was made by 12 members of the “Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Authorization of Bringing Foreign Artists to Israel,” which operated under the auspices of Israel’s Education Ministry.

In January 1964, music promoters Abraham Bogtir and Jacob Uri sought approval from the committee to invite the Beatles to perform in Israel. The committee struggled with the issue and ultimately decided to not approve the request for fear that the four lads from Liverpool would have a negative influence on Israel’s youth.

The promoters appealed and in March 1964 the committee published its final decision on the matter, saying that the Beatles had “no intrinsic artistic value and their concerts provoke mass hysteria.”

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