Abie Nathan has died and the Jewish world has lost a truly original voice for peace. He was and will remain one of my big, big heroes. Boy do we need him more than ever.
How do I even begin? Born in Persia; grew up in India; volunteers as a fighter pilot during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence; becomes a prominent Israeli peace activist in the 1960s, flys to Egypt in his plane (the “Shalom 1”) and asks to meet with Egyptian President Nasser (is arrested, deported to Israel, where he is arrested again…); begins a hunger strike in 1978 to protest Israeli settlements; meets with PLO officials long before it was fashionable; flies around the world spearheading relief efforts in Cambodia, Biafra, Bangladesh, Ethiopia etc…
Most of us, of course, know Abie as the founder of the great pirate radio station “Voice of Peace.” The VOP originated from his “Peace Ship” – reportedly bought with the help of John Lennon – broadcasting 24 hours a day from outside Israeli territorial waters. VOP sent out great music along with Nathan’s own unique commentary and reports of his peace activist exploits. For many Americans bumming about Israel in the 1970s and 1980s, Kol Shalom was the go-to radio station. Who among us will forget its famous opening tag-line: “From somewhere in the Mediterranean…” (I’m sure I still have my VOP T-shirt around somewhere…)
Did I mention we need Abie now more than ever? Read about him in this lovely Gideon Levy tribute from Ha’aretz. Zecher Tzadik Livracha…
I just saw that, most sad.
Does anyone reading this remember the entire closing speech Abie broadcast daily as a sort of “peace prayer” ? ( I seem to recall it would be broadcast as the station went off the air — the broadcasts were not 24-Hrs and they would shut down late at night and start again in the early am)
I wish there was a recording of that.
Just wanted to say how much I like your blog; also sorry to hear of Abie Nathan’s death (though I was unfamiliar with him until the last few days.
And a question that has been troubling me for the past few years. Various Christian denominations have responded to the Israeli Palestinian catastrophe in different ways.
Christian Zionists embrace Israel, and bash (politically) Palestinians.
The Liberal or mainstream Protestants seem to have embraced Palestinians, and bash (politically) Israel (boycotts, etc).
And we Catholics seem to have no idea what to do, and as a result do nothing (at least as a Christian denomination or community).
So my question is…is there anything any of us could do that would be seen by Jews as actually helpful (as opposed to threatening)?
I used to listen to the broadcasts during the one-year program on Har Ha’tzofim…I think I recorded some of it on cassette (probably in the box in the attic). I think my roommate Eleanor told me his daughter had married a Palestinian.
I like the work that the women’s group Zeitouna has done regarding the “Refusing to Be Enemies” film. The dream of coexistence continues and there must be space and a place for the blending of the two communities without harrassment.
I remember hearing this station back in 1982 when I was a volunteer on kibbutz tzora, I am sorry to hear of his passing.
I remember the tag line and it has stayed with me all these years.
As an Air Force pilot flying cargo flights from the U.S. from 1970-1973 and later as a pilot for peace negotiators, I listened to the AM station on my ADF. Never knew until today the significance, but was frequently intrigued by “From somewhere in the Med…………” Long time discovering. Feel sorry I was not more curious at the time.