Sorry to Disappoint You, Miri Regev, but John Lennon Won't Be Appearing in Tel Aviv

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Culture Minister Miri Regev and John Lennon.
Culture Minister Miri Regev and John Lennon.Credit: Moti Milrod, AP

Miri Regev's home newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, published a pampering and punchy interview with her in its entertainment section on Friday. She's even featured with black panthers in a cover image.

If I understood correctly, it's meant to be her victory interview, in which she proclaims the final demise of the "old elites" and the launch of the "Mizrachi revolution" under her leadership.

But a slip of the tongue, at the height of the interview, exposes Regev in all her pathetic lack of culture. Pay attention to the following, unedited quote:

"I have nothing against artists and cultural institutions – I, too, travel to London and New York to see shows. I would very much like Tel Aviv to host an artist like John Lennon, who wraps himself in the British flag after three hours. It warms the heart."

I checked. The quote is accurate. Given that the subject is close to my heart, I wanted to enlighten the revolutionary minister. John Lennon is dead. He died a little over 35 years ago. He was assassinated in December 1980 outside the entrance to his home in Manhattan.

His last appearance on stage was when he made a guest appearance at an Elton John concert in Madison Square Gardens in 1974 and played three songs with his host. His last full concert in his own name was at the same place about two years earlier. It was issued as an album.

Lennon, wearing a hat, with the Beatles in 1967.Credit: Reuters

Lennon left Britain, his place of birth in the early Seventies and never returned. He appeared very rarely after the breakup of the Beatles, with whom he stopped playing in 1966.

Beatles concerts were very short after the eruption of Beatlemania in 1963 – often no more than 20 minutes.

To the best of my knowledge, Lennon never wrapped himself in a British flag at the end of a show. During the Beatles period, he and his friends sometimes waved small flags and in 1965 he received a junior knighthood. But Lennon was very far from being a nationalist, both in his country of birth and in America, to which he emigrated and where he was persecuted by the authorities for his left-wing and subversive political views.

It's possible to say with complete authority that if Lennon had lived and Britain had slid into the sort of nationalist-fascist abyss that Regev is a partner to creating in Israel, Lennon would have been the last person to wrap himself in a British flag on stage.

He would have almost certainly boycotted the Israel of today and it would not have entered his head to perform there.

Faithful readers inform me that Regev may have confused Lennon with McCartney or with Elton John. I very much hope that was the case, even though confusing Lennon with McCartney is almost like confusing Peres with Rabin.

And Elton John's practices aren't relevant either. The role of an artist is not to wrap himself in the national flag. Not for that is art intended.

I want to tell you something, honorable minister: Cut the bullshit. You have no idea about popular culture. You only know how to preach. There should be some bottom limit to the lack of knowledge a person can have in the subject over which she has responsibility.

In Britain or in France, a culture minister who said in 2016 that she hoped to see a show by Lennon the patriot in her capital city would have been asked to go home that same day, out of sheer embarrassment.

Go home. On the way, you're invited to stop by central Tel Aviv, the white and hegemonic. I'm on the way there myself, to give a monthly lecture at "The Third Ear Beatles Academy," which I have organized over the past few years.

This time, as always, we have many beautiful Lennon songs. Without a flag. I'll leave you an invitation for two at the entrance. Maybe you'll learn something. But please leave the panthers outside.

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