Jerusalem – Abie Nathan, who ran the Voice of Peace pirate radio station from the early 1970s until the mid-1990s, died in Tel Aviv at the age of 81 on Wednesday.
While his pacifistic station gained popularity over the years, there were times when it also earned a certain amount of notoriety.
On Yom Kippur in 1973, when I heard planes overhead and rumors of an impending war on two fronts, I came home from synagogue and listened to the only station that was broadcasting on Yom Kippur – Abie Nathan’s “Voice of Peace.”
His message: “Soldiers must refuse orders, and must not fight. Instead, they should extend a peaceful hand to the attacking Egyptian and Syrian armies.”
Throughout the day, Mr. Nathan played the song “(All We Are Saying Is) Give Peace A Chance,” and this was the only radio station that was operating.
“Throw down your guns. Do not fight back. Hug the oncoming Egyptian and Syrian troops” was the theme all day on that long Yom Kippur, and in the difficult days that followed.
A few days into the Yom Kippur War, Israeli intelligence closed down Mr. Nathan’s transmitter, which operated from Israel hotel magnate Yekutiel X. Federman’s Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv.
A Canadian journalist intern at the Beit Agron Press Center in 1989 who had previously interned with Mr. Nathan provided some insight into the operation.
The vast majority of the programming was conducted out of the Dan Hotel, the intern said. Since the radio station operated without a license, Mr. Nathan maintained the myth that The Voice Of Peace was only “broadcasting from somewhere in the Mediterranean.”
Abie Nathan, whose voice was silenced by a stroke for the past 10 years, will be remembered as the first Israeli to give legitimacy to justify those Israelis who simply did not want to defend the Jewish state in a time of war.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008