Open Letter to Paul McCartney

Open Letter to Paul McCartney









Paul McCartney
Waterfall Estate
Starvecrow Lane
TN31 6XN

9 Cavendish Road,
London N18 2LU

Dear Paul,

As someone who grew up in Liverpool, I read with sadness your announcement that you were playing a gig in Tel Aviv, Israel on September 25th.

Your announcement is headed ‘My message is a peaceful one…’ yet the very people who are the victims of unrelenting violence, house demolition, aerial bombardment, land confiscation and water shortages are opposed to you coming to Israel. I refer to the Palestinians.

Forty-three years ago, when the Beatles were banned from playing in Israel, I like most people thought of Israel as some kind of socialist experiment in the making. As someone who grew up as a Zionist, I believed that Israel had made the desert bloom and was surrounded by those whose only wish was to destroy it. Successive wars of conquest demolished these myths and in particular the relentless bombing of civilians in the Occupied Territories and Lebanon.

If we are honest Paul, where John Lennon led you followed. When John Lennon gave back the MBE you were forced to do likewise. When he was dead and buried you were happy to accept a gong, a Knighthood, from Her Majesty. When John wrote in support of the struggle for Irish freedom, with songs such as Bloody Sunday and Luck of the Irish, you penned Give Ireland Back to the Irish. When John paid the fines of demonstrators against the Springbok Tour, the South African Rugby squad, you kept quiet, your hands in your pockets.

It was always understood by most artists and entertainers that to play in South Africa was to endorse the Apartheid regime. Just like the Palestinians today, Black South Africans asked that foreign musicians boycott the country not play in it. The same arguments apply today in relation to Israel. Or have you not heard of the Jewish only roads in the West Bank or the land confiscations or the denial of water to the Palestinian inhabitants?
It is therefore inexplicable that you should now decide to play in Israel, which like South Africa is also an apartheid state. As someone who is Jewish, I have the right any time I want to ‘return’ to that country, unlike Palestinians who were born and brought up there before being expelled.

Are you aware that discrimination against the Palestinians is not only systematic but the official policy of the Israeli Government in its attempt to preserve a Jewish majority in a Jewish state? That every aspect of public life – education, housing, social services – is divided into Jewish and non-Jewish? Even today, more than half of the Palestinians who weren’t expelled in 1948 live in ‘unrecognised’ villages which are liable to immediate demolition as part of the programme of ‘Judaification’ in the Negev and Galilee? Some 93% of Israeli land is deemed ‘national land’ which cannot be sold, rented or leased to non-Jews.

As you yourself admit on your web-site, the original idea behind you playing came, not from the Palestinians or even Israelis opposed to the occupation, but the Israeli Ambassador in London, Ron Prossor, the official representative of a Government whose military enforces a ruthless regime of occupation in the West Bank and which has engaged in a starvation siege of Gaza. When Ronnie Kassrills, the Jewish minister in the ANC government, visited recently, he remarked that the situation of the Palestinians was far worse than anything that Black South Africans had experienced.

The only conclusion that can be drawn from your decision to play in Israel, especially given that your tour was cancelled only a few weeks ago, is that the most important question in your mind was the money you would receive for playing rather than any notions of peace. As recent publicity made clear, you have far more money at your disposal than any human being could spend in one lifetime. Do you really need the money that this concert will provide you? Has it not occurred to you that not only could you have afforded to make a small sacrifice, as have many other artists have done who are far poorer than you, but that you would have made a positive contribution towards bringing about a peaceful solution?
Perhaps the best comment that could be made about your decision to play in Israel is the title of a song which was addressed to you on John Lennon’s Imagine.

How do you sleep at night?

Yours sincerely,

Tony Greenstein





  1. harleyblues

    Hiya Tony,

    great letter to Paul I’m not sure what to say? perhaps I should post some of your letter on my blog linking to yours.,.,

  2. Mick Hall


    A good letter, although I wonder if you should of held back a bit on reminding McCartney what a minnow he is compared with Lennon, enjoyable perhaps, but not sure it is productive. I suppose it depends whether you wish to convince Mccartney not to perform in Israel, or kick him in the balls for doing so. I do not mean to be over critical as either is fine by me.

  3. Tony Greenstein

    Hi Mick and Harley

    There is no chance at this late stage of McCartney cancelling. He’s made his views crystal clear. Don’t forget he’s really a Tory. I remember about 25 years ago when he attached the teachers who were on strike, because his brats were affected, so know I wanted to put the boot in.

    Yes Harley, by all means link and publish anything you want from here. I’m anti-copywright!

  4. harleyblues

    hi Tony will do!

    cuz Im posting why Paul is playing by Geoff Baker via the mail. Geoff is a friend, but I DO like what you have to say, almost stating Paul is a sell out?

  5. Brian Robinson

    I always hope that artists who play Israel (or non Israeli academics who, say, go live on Israeli radio) will make some strong, clear statement from the stage (or live on mike). McCartney doesn’t actually have to cancel: what if he went, sang and played, and ALSO made a statement condemning all the things you state in your open letter?

    Such a statement would go round the world. It could be a pop version of Barenboim. No? OK, tell me, what’s wrong with it?


  6. Anonymous

    Very profound letter… I’m I the only one who could picture John Lennon wearing one of those middle eastern scarves???

  7. Anonymous

    Poor Paul – his post bag is bulging!

  8. Ernie Halfdram

    That’s a nice hope, Brian. Are you aware of any instances where it has been realised? If so, did it have the desired impact? Have the artists who play Israel been outspoken about the issues at their other gigs, or made public statements elsewhere? Is there any reason why a personal moral statement of this kind trumps the call by Palestinian civil society for a boycott?

  9. Tony Greenstein

    I agree with Ernie. The most profound statement that McCartney could make would be to stay at home. As it is everytime he opens his mouth he gives comfort to the Zionists with all his nonsense about finding out about Israel.

    30+ years ago Sir Paul demonstrated that he was nothing more than a Tory at heart when he attacked the teachers who were on strike at his child’s local school.

    To expect him to say anything useful would be wishful thinking.

  10. Tony Greenstein

    I agree with Ernie. The most profound statement that McCartney could make would be to stay at home. As it is everytime he opens his mouth he gives comfort to the Zionists with all his nonsense about finding out about Israel.

    30+ years ago Sir Paul demonstrated that he was nothing more than a Tory at heart when he attacked the teachers who were on strike at his child’s local school.

    To expect him to say anything useful would be wishful thinking.

  11. Brian Robinson

    Thanks Ernie. Yeah, well it started out as a hope but it quickly turned into an unrealistic wish-fulfilling fantasy, a wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if. Well, it would, wouldn’t it? But I agree it’s a non-starter.

  12. Chantal

    How can Paul McCartney go to Israel and celebrate 60 years of an Occupation which started with the Destruction and Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine? Israel is an illegitimate state which continues to occupy, rob, humiliate and murder the indigenous population. It is an apartheid-loving technocracy. It is totally oblivious to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. During the past year only, the Israeli Occupation Army killed over 800 Palestinians (among whom 111 children). It has hundreds of nuclear weapons and has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It keeps reminding the World about the WW2 Holocaust but chooses to inflict the same on another people. Shame on the criminals.

    Still, the rich gentleman claims he has many friends who support Israel, which seems to be a good enough reason to honour that rogue state by singing in one of its towns. His full speed visit to the church in Bethlehem and the word ‘Peace’ is an affront to the beleaguered Palestinians.

    He would have been quite safe travelling to Ramallah, had he chosen to go and sing there about Love, Justice and Peace and give more than a few tee-shirts.

  13. joe90

    Now that Paul’s been there,
    seen it, done it, bought the t-shirt, visited Bethlehem entombed in an illegal racist concrete straight-jacket – there’s no excuses now for him not speaking out and supporting human rights for all, in Apartheid Israel.

    Here is the BBC and a record of its revisions on the McCartney visit, from News Sniffer –
    ‘McCartney arrives for Israel gig’ diff viewer (0/1)
    News Sniffer
    23 Sept 2008

    ‘McCartney kicks off Tel Aviv gig’ diff viewer (0/1)
    News Sniffer
    24 Sept 2008

    all the best azvas!

    Speaking of Bethlehem, one of the icons of Christianity like no other –
    – over 90% of Palestinian Christians have been ethnically cleansed from Palestine.
    Given this is probaly the oldest Christian community in the world, for obvious reasons, and is also is a living unbroken thread of tradition back to the Christian Messiah Himself, you’d think the Christian West would be more than a bit concerned about the welfare of this historic and important community.

    Some western Christian Churches do put a lot of store in the idea of ‘apostolic succession’ in that, after the ‘death’ of Jesus Christ, His followers passed on His legacy and teachings converting others and thus, an unbroken chain links the present Church directly back to the Messiah. This supposedly legitimises the Church hierarchy in being the successors to the original twelve Apostles as the head of the Christian community.

    Obviously, Christian Palestinians in the Holy Land don’t come into it.

    I’ve even heard American fundametalist politicians calling on Syria to be nuked. This is somewhere rich in the physical heritage of Christainity. The house in Damascus where Saint Paul regained his sight is still exant and can still be visited, so I gather.

    Clash of Civilisations my arse!

    and her blog.
    She is a great ambassadoress for her People, and for Palestinian Christianity.

  14. Anonymous

    Tony simply can’t back down from supporting the “revolution”, no matter what the human rights cost. In this case, both sides are blatant rights abusers, and both sides carry out war crimes, yet Tony totally ignores the facts.
    A suicide bombing of a restaurant is a war crime, yet he’d apparently be ok if McCartney played in Jenin instead of Tel Aviv.
    It’s pretty pathetic that “activists” actually believe that Palestinians have the “legitimate right to resist the occupation” by murdering Israeli civilians.
    They’ll cite every piece of legislation they can to bash the Israelis, yet will hail Palestinian “martyrs” who butcher innocent school children at a bus stop.

  15. Tony Greenstein

    I let this Zionist comment through in order to respond but in future anonymous comments of this nature will be deleted.

    I don’t accept that ‘both sides’ are human rights abusers. one is an occupier and the other the occupied. A slight difference. Just as I draw a difference between the Partisans and the Nazis.

    People become suicide bombers out of sheer desperation at the theft of their land and water, the shooting of their families and neighbours, and all the other attributes of a racist and murderous occupation.

    I see no difference between a suicide bomber and a bomber who sits in an airplane and drops a bomb on a house or refugee camp. With the exception that the ‘suicide bomber’ is at least prepared to lay down his/her life.

    Yes I support the right of Palestinians to resist the occupation and in the West Bank civilians are also settlers i.e. occupiers. HOWEVER I don’t support the bombing of civilians, whoever does it and Palestinians on the left understand very well that the phenomenon of suicide bombing has damaged not helped their cause.

    But the hypocrites of the Zionist ‘left’ who condemn suicide bombing whilst remaining silent about the occupation and the ‘war against the demographic problem are the real culprits.

    And yes, I’d have much preferred McCartney to sing in Jenin!

    Tony Greenstein

  16. Anonymous

    I find it odd that your singleing McCartney out for going and playing a concert in Israel when he isn't the first high profile act to play there, nor is going to be the last to play there. Leonard Cohen, The Gipsy Kings, Roger Waters, and Depeche Mode have been among the high profile international groups that have played there. And the Lennon slam is unfair. John Lennon is dead, he had a 5 year solo career, coupled with 5 years of being a dad. He never had the chance to "sell out". McCartney has never tried to be anything but a rock musician. There is nothing wrong with that, that's not selling out. Selling out is trying to be something your not for mass appeal.

    Anyways, as far as the Israeli situation goes. I have spent significant time there and been to both the West Bank and Golan Heights (not to mention I was at the Gaza border). We can get into a huge debate about occupation, but I don't particularly want to. Let's just say we agree to disagree. There have been injustices done on both sides, and a lot of double standards set by both sides. I think the key point I want to make is the difference between Jew and Israeli. There are non-Jewish Israelis such as Palestinians that have full rights and freedoms as any other Israeli. Several palestinian towns are within Israeli proper. There are Palestinian members of Parliment. So when you rail against the Jews, it's not as cut and dry as you think. Anyways, gotta go…injustice has happened on both sides unfortunately.


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