It's the Hipushiot!


Concert pass for Beatles at Ramat-Gan Stadium Israel - Aug '65Interest in the Beatles has grown in Israel in recent years. It has taken a long time to grow there because it was one of only two countries, along with South Africa, to actually ban the Beatles.

It wasn't until 1970 that the impact of Beatles music began to penetrate the country. They inspired one of Israel's leading singers Arik Einstein in his album 'Shablul.' Since then many Israeli artists have performed Beatles numbers in both English and Hebrew. They include leading Israeli female singer Yaffa Yarkoni with 'Yesterday' and punk-rock band Ziknel Tzfat with 'The Ballad Of John And Yoko.'

The Beatles are known as Hipushiot in Hebrew. Literally translated it means 'Beetles.'

In 1963 Malka Epstein, Brian Epstein's mother, wanted to brag about her son's achievements with the Beatles to relatives in Israel and asked Brian if he could book the group into that country. He contacted a prominent Israeli concert organizer Giora Godik, who turned him down.

Later, Godik's daughter pointed out the mistake he'd made and he contacted Epstein a few months after the original call to say he'd organize a concert, but it was too late: Beatlemania had arrived in Britain and they were unavailable.

Another Israeli promoter Ya'acov Ori contacted Epstein in the spring of 1964 attempting to put on a concert there as part of the forthcoming world tour. However, that's when the problems began. Any foreign performers appearing in Israel had to be paid in hard foreign currency. Such transactions had to receive special permission from the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry only gave its approval on the recommendation of a joint special committee with the Ministry of Education and Culture.

Following the meeting a story appeared in the Jerusalem press announcing 'The Beatles Will Not Be Approved.'

It read: "The decision not to approve of the Beatles concert in Israel was made today by the ministerial committee of the approval of importing artists, headed by Mr Avner Israeli of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"The decision was made by the majority after the committee was convinced that the Beatles 'have no artistic level sufficient enough and that they can not add to the spiritual and cultural life of the youth in Israel.' "Some of the committee menbers have said during the debate that the Beatles shows cause sexual arousal and that is why it should be better not to bring them over.

"The committee depended on a lot of material, especially from the foreign press, about the bad influence caused in many places following the group's shows.

"Not even one of the committee members approved of bringing the Beatles to Israel. When they voted there were few who did not vote either way.

"The Committee of Education and Culture of the Knesset (Parliament) greeted the decision of not allowing the Beatles to come to Israel with great satisfaction."

Eventually, a concert deal was agreed which would be presented by Intradisk, the Israeli based record company which produced all Parlophone Beatles records in Israel. This was set to take place at the Ramat-Gan Stadium on Thursday, August 5 1965.

The stadium had been built in 1953 and had a seating capacity at the time of 40,000.

Unfortunately, once again the authorities stepped in with their ban. In 1995 someone bought a flat in a building located at 2 Bar-Cochba Street. This was a building which had housed a company responsible for printing tickets to Israeli events in the 1960's. They found batches of tickets for Israeli ballets and other shows from the mid-1960s - and also discovered a bundle of approximately 400 unused tickets for the Beatles concert which never happened.

They were then obtained by Eli Nathan, of an Israeli record company Black Hole Records, who authenticated them. He then teamed up with American Beatles fan and dealer Gary Hein to sell the tickets as items of memorabilia. The announcement that the Beatles 'have no artistic level sufficient enough and that they cannot add to the spiritual and cultural life of the youth in Israel' is ironic.

Despite the fact that the group never set foot in Israel, they became a major influence on the development of the country's rock-pop culture. Disc jockey Yoav Kuttner observed: "The Beatles definately influenced the start of Israeli pop music," a sentiment expressed by many Israeli musicians and singers.

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