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Sir Paul spreads message of peace and love in the Holy Land

September 24, 2008
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More than 40 years after the Israeli government banned the Beatles, fearing their 'corrupting' influence on the country's young, Paul McCartney is in the Middle East on a mission to bring "peace and love".

Lighting a taper in Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, the veteran musician announced: "This candle is for peace. For all the people around the world. And especially in Israel and Palestine".

As news of the VIP visitor spread, fans gathered around the site – believed to be Christ's birthplace - for photographs and in search of an autograph. The pop star handled it with his customary good humour, attempting to say Hello in all their languages – though Russian and Ukranian foxed him.

One particularly enthusiastic group of wellwishers from Spain struck up a chorus of Yellow Submarine in their own language.

Paul - who's travelling with girlfriend Nancy Shevell and is due to play a concert in the country on Thursday - also popped into a nearby Palestinian school. After playing the piano and harmonica for the youngsters, he wished them 'Ramadan Karim', a traditional greeting during the fasting month of Ramadan.

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Photo: ©
After a brief moment of contemplation in one of Christendom's holiest sites, the former Beatle lights a taper for peace Photo: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
There were enthusiastic scenes outside the Church of the Nativity, which Paul handled graciously, posing with fans and trying to greet each of them in their own language Photo: © Getty Images

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