Israeli composer NAOMI SHEMER confessed on her deathbed last June (04) she copied the melody for her hit JERUSALEM OF GOLD from a Basque lullaby - and she feared her guilty secret contributed to her cancer.

Shemer, who died from the disease at the age of 74, spent her final years denying claims she plagiarised the nursery song and turned it into Jerusalem of Gold - which became popular in the 1960s during the Arab-Israeli war.

But the songwriter wrote composer GIL ALDEMA a letter shortly before her death, confessing she heard her friend singing the lullaby in 1967, and subconsciously copied it.

According to extracts from the letter published by Israel's HAARETZ DAILY NEWSPAPER, she wrote, "I consider the entire affair a regrettable work accident, so regrettable that it may be the reason for me taking ill.

"You are the only person in the world, besides my family, who should know the truth about Jerusalem of Gold.

"In the winter of 1967, when I was working on the writing of Jerusalem of Gold, the song must have crept into me unwittingly. It turns out that someone protected me and provided me with my eight notes that grant me the rights to my version of the folk song."

06/05/2005 02:41