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volume 9
july 2006

Flashing through 1991

 





  Remembering the Voice of Peace (30)
by Hans Knot
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  In the late 1980s two young ladies from Israel, Gali and Vered Kravitzki, started to log the output of Abie Nathan's Voice of Peace and sent their reports out to a weekly newsmagazine, called Anorak UK, based in Blackpool, UK. Because of the close cooperation between this magazine and Offshore Echoes England as well as the Freewave Media Magazine in the Netherlands, the reports were widely disseminated. After Anorak UK stopped circulation, both sisters went on, now sending their reports to the French editor of OEM. In 2006, their where-abouts are unknown, Hans Knot selected some of their newsflashes from 1991 for this chapter in the history of the Voice of Peace.
 
1 Left: Gali and Vared reporting from Israel

The Gulf War. Several deejays left the ship, and for the same reason at least one even didn't start his job. The latter can be inferred from the reports on the station by two Israeli girls, published in the weekly newsmagazine Anorak UK. We know they regularly visited the ship and got their information directly from the people aboard. For now we just drop into their report from early January 1991, when the two girls wrote: "On Sunday John [McDonald] mentioned that he had a special message for Nigel Grover: "Get in touch with Ruven Levi." Grover was supposed to go on the ship that day and help the two deejays (Derral and John)." Nigel only arrived on Saturday January the 12th in Tel Aviv. What the girls as well as the two deejays on the ship didn't know, at the time, was that this Grover wouldn't join the guys on the ship. Directly after he had a clear view on the situation at that moment he took the very first possible flight back to Great Britain.

  A few days later Gali and Vered mentioned another interesting thing, reporting that Abie had gone on the air on January 15th at 10.03 for the first time: "He talked about the current situation in the Gulf. He went on the air quite a few times that day and exactly at 15.55 the Voice of Peace played with all the radio stations in Italy "Give Peace A Chance" by John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band. The station closed down that night at midnight. Peace music was played all day long on Thursday, actually the day the War started in the Middle East." On Friday January 25th the first missile attack on north Israel came at 18:02 while the Voice of Peace was on the air. But not for long as the transmitters were taken off the air at once. The next days only FM was heard, following the report from the girls, but late January also "1540" was back on air. On Tuesday, February 5th, John McDonald went off the ship after a period of 75 days on the Peace Ship. Kenny Page returned on the same tender. A promo, asking for a secretary for the office in Tel Aviv was aired during the week.
  Geula Cohen, a Knesset member, went on the air after the 15:00 news and talked about her opinions about the war in the Gulf for ten minutes. She went on the air again the next day the same time. Abie came also on the air on Tuesday before the close down and said that almost all his deejays had left and criticised the "depressing" music that Kol Israel and Gallee Zahal played. A special sport programme was aired on Friday February 8th at 16:00 with Shaul."
2 Right: VOP Van

An open podium. One thing comes into my mind while rewriting the material from Gali and Vered and that's why the deejays left, except for a few. The music which the VOP played in those days was far more positive than the other "land-based" stations in Israel. Talking about February: On Sunday the 10th the ship went into Ashdod for water and above all for adjustment to the AM antenna.

Gali and Vered again: "That was the moment John came back on the ship and Derall could go on shore for leave. Together with Kenny Page he was responsible for 13.5 hours programming a day, which must have been a hell of a job. Of course they had an interruption daily at 16:00 hrs when an hour long programme was aired and that came from the Tel Aviv studio. It was the daily phone-in-show with Saul. Since there were several missile attacks at Tel Aviv and the neighbouring area, the VOP always went off the air when this happened. However this changed at Monday February 11th 1991 when the transmitters stayed on the air and brought a relay of the news from "Galee Zahal and Kol Israel."

  On February 12th as well on the 14th it was time for another Knesset member to give his opinion on the critical situation in the Middle East. Shulamit Alony was followed on the 18th by two other Knesset members and truly it has to be mentioned that Abie Nathan gave another open podium for opinions he maybe didn't share himself. On April 25th saw the new guy arriving on the ship, Arik Lev, who originated from Israel and that was also the moment the station could return to "24 hours a day" with John Mc Donald, Kenny Page, Arik Lev, Boker Hadash, Shaul and Darrel. Part of the programming was relayed from the studio's at Tel Aviv or a taped programme. The 24-hours service wouldn't last for long as on the last day of February the station closed down at one o'clock. Kenny Page had left the ship. It was however a very special day as on February 28th it was exactly twenty-five years ago Abie made his very first Peace flight to Egypt. "
  In their early March letter Gall and Vered apologised they hadn't all the details as during the six weeks before they had been listening a lot to the news on Galee Zahel and had been watching the CNN a lot, rather than listening to the programme output of the Voice of Peace. Ending their letter with a wish: "We finally hope the war would end and the soldiers would return to their homes and we'll all enjoy peace, love and good music."
3 Left: The ship's log, september 14th 1975 (click on the image for a larger view)

A safer place. Some four months later the young girls once again posted their own loggings and opened the report early March mentioning that Abie announced on the air that he had found a company that would co-sponsor together with himself a project in which a hundred doors would be given, free of charge, to old people. It can't be told enough that Abie did a lot to charitable aims, big as well as small ones. The report concerning the month of March 1991 brought not too many real news except that the earlier mentioned Arik Lev left the station already on March 21st, only after a month of working.

  Now in February 2006, I asked Arik why he went to the ship during war time and he came back with a truly honest answer: "Sure, at that time I was living in Ramat Gan, so during the war the Peace Ship was a safer place to be in. I was a deejay in Israel, everything was just great, I liked it there and everything was good. I stayed there a month and during the summer I spent there one more month, since Abie asked me. During the rest of the time I sent tapes from my studio with my shows on, to be played on the air."
  Another Israeli, Avi Lakubowitch joined the crew, but wasn't heard the first week of his stay on the Peace Ship. Some change in the programming brought also common interest programmes like: "Three, Four Let's Go To Work" with economical subjects and "Mateem Lee." The latter one was specially for the youth and transmitted once a week.
  April 1st the two girls mentioned: "The station closed down at 24:00 hours and returned in the morning. That day Jaakov Agmon, during his Baker Hadash, announced that Abie was going to do a big step for peace in 26 days, without going into details. Newcomer Avi Lakubowitch left within two weeks of his arrival not to return to the ship. On the 7th of April Abie was on television and talked about his trip to Turkey. He said that he was going to help the Kurds. Thursday April 11th was the Holocaust Memorial Day in Israel and classical music was played the whole day on the station."
4 Right: Keith Lewis

Nathan's nth's hunger strike. Coming back to the comments of Jaakov Agmon it can be told that Abie once again made world wide headlines when it was announced that he had begun his big step toward peace. Like he did before he began his fast for peace to promote direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians representatives. Abie came on the air on 1540 that day and music of peace was played on the station. The next day was Abie's birthday and he was interviewed on television as well went on the air on his own station. He announced several times that he wanted to fast until the law, that doesn't permit meetings with PLO members, would be changed.

  Gall and Vered again: "Since Abie started his fast, the Voice of Peace announced the day of his fast every hour. Abie also talked on the air twice a day, at 11:00 and 17:00 hrs local time. Abie stayed at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv during that period and every day he went at 18:00 hrs to a "Peace Tent" at Kikar Malchél, where people could visit and talk with him. "
  May the 14th brought bad news from Tel Aviv as Abie had severe health problems and had to be brought into hospital. Already 18 years ago in 1973 the station came on the air on May 15th for the very first time, but in 1991 there was no time for celebrations due to Abie's fast. In the reports coming in those days from Gall and Vered, not earlier than May 26th Abie was mentioned again and nothing at all about his health appeared: "On May 26th, the station went off for a few minutes to do some generator maintenance. That day Abie organized a show with 15 artists at Kikar Machél in Tel Aviv. During these days letters from listeners to Abie were read on the air."
  June the 7th 1991 saw the announcement that Abie stopped the fast, as it was the 40th day of this fast but above all he was asked by Knesset people as well as the Israeli President to stop his fast. But Abie wasn't going to oblige the Israeli law as later that month, Saturday 29th, it was told on the news that Abie had another meeting with Yassar Arafat. Before, he went twice into jail and surely there was another option to go into court again. On July 3rd he was supposed to come back to Israel and the police waited for him. However he didn't show up before July 14th and it was then that he was questioned by the police about his meeting with Arafat. The next day he talked on the Boker Hadash programme about his meeting and went on the air again himself at three in the afternoon to do a phone in." That rounds up a view into the reports from Gali and Vered Kravitzki.
   
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