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Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I’m 64?

Keep dreaming: When Paul McCartney first raised the question about being needed and fed at the grand old age of 64, Israel was just turning 18.

Paul McCartney and bride Nancy Shevell at wedding
Photo by: Reuters
How old were you in 1966 when Paul McCartney first raised the question about being needed and fed at the grand old age of 64? How far away did that seem at the time? (For those not old enough to remember, sorry, but this column may not be for you.)

Israel was just turning 18. How long ago was that! Hint: When the song was released, the Six Day War wasn’t yet. But in the intoxicating ardor of the passionate love affair between Israel and the Diaspora that ensued, who could have imagined that there would ever be any question about the two of us growing old together.

But lo and behold, this week Israel turned 64 and the question begs asking. To the extent that we hold by conventional wisdom (not to mention the assertions of sundry academicians, essayists and popular pundits), many who were once enamored of one another have fallen out of love, and others, who are only now coming of age, were never smitten by it in the first place. On both sides of the ocean.

Then there is the question as to what love has to do with need in the first place.

If anything at all. I am reminded of a set of coffee cups I once received as an anniversary gift. They were designed as man-andwife figurines with interlocking handles in the shape of arms. On one it was written “I need you.” On the other, “I love you.” I remember being struck by the imbalance of the relationship and wondering if any such liaison could last. Concerning the case at hand, we might also ask which of us – Israel or the Diaspora – is more in need and which more in love? In the spirit of Independence Day celebrations, and the ever popular tradition here of communal singing, I offer my reflection on the matter in a spate of nostalgia set to the tune immortalized by the Beatles, dedicated to our brethren abroad.

The lyrics work if you can carry a tune.

So, “Lend me your ears and sing me a song / And try not to sing out of key.” In the meantime, “Try to see it my way / Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong / While you see it your way / There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long / We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night.” Personally, I prefer to keep dreaming of “getting by with a little help from my friends.”

Now that I’m older losing my shine Tarnished by the years Will you still be sending me philanthropy Promising that still one are we?

If I’m still singing “hope to be free” Though you’d hoped for more Will you still need me, will you still feed me Now at 64?

You’ve your problems too But know you have my word I will stay with you

We can be cheeky, pushy and rude Still you know it’s true We will always want you right here at our side Greeting you with arms opened wide

Happy to meet you, welcome you home Opening the door Don’t you still need me, won’t you still feed me Now at 64?

Every summer you can send your kids here To relish their birthright, they will hold it dear
We and you shall pay Grandchildren come for free We want them to stay

Send me your grievance, tell me your gripe Stating point of view Indicate precisely what you mean to say Just tell me you won’t go away

Give me your answer, tell me that you’re
Mine for evermore
That you still need me, that you’ll still
feed me
Now at 64

Now though we’re older problems are great
Challenges are vast
Will you still behold me with your love and awe
Understanding we’ve been at war

Facing the future, proud of the past
Striving to do more
Need you to need me, need you to feed me
Now at 64

You’ve your problems too
Answering questions like
How to stay a Jew We can be ugly, nasty and crude
But there’s more than that
From our common future we will never
hide
To this land together we’re tied

Praying for peace but ready to wait
Unsure what’s in store
Hoping you’ll need me, hoping you’ll
feed me
Now at 64!

Next year in Jerusalem – a prayer that
Comes from within your heart, that you
love to say
though it’s not quite clear
What do you really mean?
Are you coming here?

I know you’re angry, I know you’re hurt
Over who’s a Jew
But I want to tell you there are many
here
Who sincerely wish you were near

Help us to change things, righting what’s
wrong
Rather than be sore
’Cause you still need me, I that you feed
me
Now at 64

The writer is vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization and a member of The Jewish Agency executive. The opinions expressed herein are his own.


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