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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Avraham "Abie" Nathan (Hebrew: אברהם "אייבי" נתן‎, 29 April 1927 - 27 August 2008) was an Israeli humanitarian and peace activist, perhaps best known as the founder of the Voice of Peace radio station.


Early years

Abie Nathan was born in Abadan, Persia on 29 April 1927. He spent his adolescent years in the city of Bombay (now Mumbai) in India. He became a pilot in the Royal Air Force in 1944. In 1948 he volunteered as a pilot in the Machal (volunteers in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War) and stayed in Israel thereafter.[1] He worked with El Al airlines and later opened a restaurant in Tel Aviv.[1]

Flight for Peace

Nathan led a party called Nes (lit. Miracle) in the 1965 Knesset elections but failed to cross the electoral threshold. After the results were published he declared he would fly to Egypt, carrying a message of peace. Flying in his plane, which he named Shalom 1 ("Peace 1"), he landed in the Egyptian city of Port Said on 28 February 1966. Arrested upon landing, he asked to meet Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser, and to deliver a petition calling for peace between Israel and Egypt. He was denied, and was deported back to Israel, where he was arrested again for leaving the country by an illegal route.[2]

Meetings with PLO

In 1978, Nathan began his first hunger strike to protest the construction of Israeli settlements. In the early 1980s, Nathan began meeting officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). These meetings were later outlawed by the Knesset. In 1991, Nathan went again on a hunger strike for 40 days to protest that Israeli law which prevented meetings with terrorist organizations. He stopped his hunger strike following the intervention of President Chaim Herzog.[3]

Nathan, however, continued to meet with PLO head Yasser Arafat, and on 18 September 1991 he was condemned to 18 months in prison.[4] President Herzog cut 12 months from his sentence, and he was released after serving less than 6 months.[5]

Voice of Peace and humanitarian activities

In 1973, Nathan founded the Voice of Peace radio station. He bought a ship with the help of John Lennon,[6] named it "The Peace Ship", and sailed it outside Israeli territorial waters. The station broadcast 24 hours a day, mostly English-language programs that mainly included popular music, while promoting Nathan's political activities. While spreading his ideas to his audience, Nathan was also involved with disaster relief in Cambodia, Bangladesh, Biafra, Colombia, and Ethiopia.[7][8] In another anti-war protest, he presided over the burial of smashed military toys.[9]

On 1 October 1993, Nathan had to close the Voice of Peace station due to economic and legal difficulties. Part of the reason for closing was that with the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords, he felt his message for peace and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians has been spread.[10] The ship was scuttled on 28 November 1993.[11]

In 1997, he suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. He died in Tel Aviv on 27 August 2008, aged 81.[12]

On June 10, 2007 the City of Tel Aviv-Yafo passed a resolution to post a commemorative plaque on the Tel-Aviv boardwalk, opposite where The Peace Ship had been anchored. This memorial plays recordings of the Voice Of Peace including the station callsign in Abie's voice, and an explanation in both Hebrew and English. The memorial can be found at Gordon Beach 32°04′54″N 34°46′03″E / 32.08159°N 34.76755°E / 32.08159; 34.76755


  1. ^ a b "Abie Nathan". Noam Tal. July 2005. Retrieved 2007-05-02.  
  2. ^ "Israeli 'Peace Pilot' Again Tries to See Nasser; Abie Nathan Is Sent Home After Landing at Port Said --Arrested on Return". The New York Times. 1967-07-29. p. 6. Retrieved 2007-04-29.  
  3. ^ "Israeli Peace Advocate Ends Hunger Strike". The New York Times. 1991-06-07. Retrieved 2007-05-01.  
  4. ^ "Israel Frees Abie Nathan". The New York Times. 1992-03-31. Retrieved 2007-04-29.  
  5. ^ "Abie Nathan's Jail Term Cut Sharply by Israeli President". The New York Times. 1992-03-30. Retrieved 2007-04-29.  
  6. ^ Israeli peace pioneer Abie Nathan dies aged 81 Haaretz, 28 August 2008
  7. ^ "Racing to Save the Hungry". Time. 1979-11-12.,9171,946351,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-30.  
  8. ^ May, Clifford D (1984-12-18). "Israel Arrives in Ethiopia on Relief Mission". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-05-01.  
  9. ^ "Abie Nathan Mounts 'Protest for Peace'". The New York Times. 1977-08-13. Retrieved 2007-05-01.  
  10. ^ Kaplan Sommer, Allison (1993-10-01). "Abie Nathan pulls up anchor". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2007-04-30.  
  11. ^ "Nathan to sink peace ship today". The Jerusalem Post. 1993-11-28. Retrieved 2007-04-30.  
  12. ^ Kershner, Isabel. "Abie Nathan, Israeli Peace Champion, Dies at 81" New York Times. Accessed August 29, 2008.

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