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volume 9
july 2006

Some bits and pieces from 1988


  Remembering the Voice of Peace (28)
by Hans Knot
  Using the logs written by the deejays and the reports of the radio magazines Monitor, OEM and Freewave Media Magazine, Hans Knot condenses year 1988 of the Voice of Peace history in a few pages. What happened to the ship and the station of Abie Nathan during that year?
1 Left: Another tender arrives

A big hole in the hull. In 1988, like in the previous years, logs were kept by several deejays as well as the editorial staff members of Monitor, OEM and our own Freewave Media Magazine. Early that year the Peace Ship, after doing a short break for refill in the harbour of Ashdod, sailed out to sea again. Then, just before leaving the harbour the ship hit the quay side. Ian Mack remembers: "It happened when we left Ashdod harbour in sixty knots winds. Abie is Jewish and so you must understand that the ropes on the ship are second-hand that he gets off scrap heaps and they were not capable of holding the ship against the quayside at all and the vessel took a bit of a pounding and ended up with a big hole in the hull, which was right outside my cabin door. It's quite worrying taking in water in your cabin."

The leak came in the side of the ship brought in a bucket of water in a minute. Action was taken at once and the leak was repaired very soon afterwards. Nowhere in the logs it is mentioned if they used pork to fill the leak, as was sometimes done on the Offshore Radio Ships in Western Europe. The first months of the year brought a lot of new deejays, including Bruce Wayne from Australia and Martin Murphy and Michael Sullivan, both from Ireland. Also problems occurred with the FM transmitter in January and early February and it was decided to take it of the air and to wait till replacement parts had been flown in. Finally this happened on the 11th of the second month and after installation the transmitter was back on the air.

  One of the deejays, Nick Bennet, decided to change his name into Peter Bread and got a nickname, as much of the offshore deejays got in the past. His one became "Pitta." Mike Kerslake remembers: "Pitta Bread is a special bread widely available in the Middle East. It is similar to an envelope and can be filled with various savories such as Red Cabbage (Pickled), a Peace Ship favourite!"
2 A new Optimod. February was also the month a nice new piece of equipment came aboard, a brand new Optimod to be used with the AM transmitter. It was installed by longest serving technician Noam Aviram. Remarkable was that he installed it with the help of an oscilloscope and transistor radio to adjust the Optimod. Probably the people on the offices were too busy with other things as they had forgotten to sent the manual with the Optimod to the ship. But Noam's work was successful as the AM signal was far much clearer and better to receive. However problems with the FM continued and like in 1987 it was decided to put more money into the transmitter gear with ordering a brand new FM transmitter. But that would take weeks before arriving. A new TX engineer arrived far much earlier in the person of Dan Howard, an American who gained his technical experience in military communications.
  The station made headlines in the Israeli newspapers and international press when on the 24th of February and interview with the then Prime Minister of Israel, Simon Peres, was aired. Of course the content was mainly the intensive Peace Talks which took place in that period. Only two days later it was American Minister George Shultz visiting Israel and as a gesture Abie ordered the deejays to play a day of "Peace Music." Around that time Abie decided to make more contact with the listeners and so he started a new programme, which would be aired each Friday evening. "What would we do?" was presented in the style Abie also presented other programmes, very laid back. Mainly Abie talked in this programme with listeners who phoned in about the problems between the Jews and the Arabs.
  Early April it was announced that the new FM transmitter was on its way from New York and that it would be hoisted on the ship as soon as the Peace Ship would sail into Ashdod for tendering. Installation would not be done on sea and had to wait until the Peace Ship would go into dry dock, which happened a few times in the broadcasting history of the ship in the harbour of Haifa. However deejays and crewmembers already made space for the new outlet by dismantling the old AM transmitter, which was replaced a year earlier. So after putting in the new FM transmitter the transmitter room would have a new 25 kW FM, the old 20 kW FM as well as the new 10 kW AM transmitter. Just days later the transmitter was brought an the ship and this work took only four hours. The management was very happy with the hard work and as one of the deejays later told, a crate of coke (the drinkable variety) and one filled with bottles of beer were brought on the ship to say "thank you."
  April 18th 1988 the station retransmitted the signal from the Educational Channel in Israel. A documentary "Forty State Independence" was showed and after an hour Abie took over to talk for more than an hour with the listeners about the subject Independence. The next day at 19 hours it was the start of a 24 hours filled with only Classical Music., This in commemoration of the thousands of Israeli soldiers who have died in various wars. It would take up till May 1st before the ship went to the harbour of Haifa were the earlier mentioned new FM transmitter would be installed. Also the ship got, in the next 5,5 days a complete overhaul as well given a new paint job. As the Peace Ship would leave harbour on May 6th it occurred that there was a problem with the propeller shaft and as they were still in dry-dock it could be repaired within hours and so the station could be on the air later that evening; just with a test-tape, but the next day the station was back on AM and FM.
3 Right: Maurice Nolan at the TX room

Fifteen years Voice of Peace. 1988 also saw the 15th Anniversary of the station and special events and programmes took place between May 16th and 23rd. Part of the celebrations was that the Peace Ship was to be anchored temporary in front of the Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel. Sightseeing vessels were going to be encouraged to circle the ship and beer was to be distributed. Also Abie decided to open a restaurant "California" like he had in the sixties in Tel Aviv but this time on another location. In the early seventies he had decided to sell his well runned restaurant to get more money free for his Peace Project.

June and July that year saw again a shortage of deejays. Some of the contracts had finished and no new recruits were taken aboard. So those who had left had to take some more hours a day. A special "Chat Show" was introduced whereby left wing candidates for the Knesset were interviewed, mostly by Abie himself. It was the possibility to made also some free advertisements for his restaurant and asked on the air for new staff members for the new "California."

  July 6th was a farewell to Dutch Captain Aaldijk who had been in charge on the Peace Ship since 1980. Aaldijk wanted to go back to Holland to celebrate together with his wife their 50 years of marriages. One Israeli newspaper wrote about Aaldijk and mentioned the reason he was married for such a long time: he never sees his wife a lot. Aaldijk himself was not amused at all but it seemed that Abie himself found it very hilarious. Aaldijk was replaced by a younger captain from the Philippines, although he had a short contract with the Peace Ship Organisation.
  August 18th has to be mentioned too as a special programme was aired between 17 and 18 hours local time to commemorate the 11th anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. A day later as a result of shortage of deejays (John McDonald went for shore leave) the station had to drop the hours between 1 and 6 in the morning. A few days later everything became normal with the arrival of deejay Brendan Meehan.
  1988 saw also the installation of a fax-machine on the ship. John McDonald remembers: "We had a fax machine installed. It might sound crazy but it was useful for advertising logs, food lists and all the odd paperwork needed to keep us going. The day it was installed, two guys came out to the Peace Ship to do the job. The sea was so smooth it looked like you could walk on it. Sadly it wasn't smooth enough for one of the installers. He tried hard but spent most of his time on deck looking green. He was called to the studio to do one tiny connecting job which would have taken about 90 seconds. He didn't make it and a technicolor yawn occurred outside the studio door! Shortly afterwards he asked the Captain for a sandwich. There then followed an interesting conversation that I will leave to your imagination."
4 A meeting with Yassar Arafat. In the meantime the success of the new FM transmitter became clear as not only from Israel reception reports came in but also from Damascus as well as from Cyprus. And the new Optimod worked too for the AM transmitter. The year 1988 saw reports for reception of the AM signal coming in as far as Cardiff and Leeds in the UK. Going back to John Mc Donald, who originates from Scotland but had seen many parts of the world during his 33 years of life. We go back to his opinion in 1988 about Israel and the people living there as well as an open reply for new deejays.
  "Since the problems in the West Bank and Gaza Strip began Israel has received a negative press in many parts of the world. This is the sort of thing the Voice of Peace is here for. Each weekday afternoon there is a two hour discussion programme where an attempt is made to discuss the problems and put forward solutions. It is very widely listened to. The fact is that Israel is always going to have problems with the with the Arab states surrounding it until one of the Peace initiatives is accepted. In my travels around the country, I've come to know many people. There is a real wish for Peace in Israel, but this wish does not mean total compromise. I have always found in my travels around the world that when talking to people of any nationality, it's best to avoid discussing politics and religion. This way you can't make enemies, only friends. Before I came in Israel I was surprised to hear relative and friends expressing concern over my trip there. Bombs, bullets and kidnapping all came up in the conversation at regular intervals. I didn't expect anything of the sort and events have since prove me right. The only trouble I have seen here was two guys fighting over a girl in a nightclub. Obviously I don't go for nighttime strolls through East Jerusalem or the West Bank, but then there are many parts of London or Glasgow that I wouldn't want to be alone in the dark. The reason I'm making these points is because demo tapes to the office are virtually non-existent and have been all year. If the troubles are putting you off from applying to come to us, please forget them. They don't affect you. The Voice of Peace is well respected by Israelis and Arabs."
  Other international headlines were made by Abie in September 1988 as he met Yasser Arafat on the 13th in Tunis. By returning to Israel, on the 15th, Abie was arrested and on the 16th he was interviewed at length about his visit in Tunis. However they let him go afterwards and later the day he went to the ship to tell his listeners about his experiences. The history of Offshore Radio has brought a lot of so called nick names for presenters and other persons within the organisation but after coming back on board Abie was introduced by Kenny Page as Abie "Chairman President" Nathan. He also promised that when Abie would go to jail, which at a later stage indeed happened, all the deejays and crew members would visit him. Later the year he would meet Arafat again, that time in Geneva.
5 Left: The Voice of Peace record library (Photo © OEM)

Christmas storms. Alcohol was almost of non existence on the Peace Ship. Now and then a crate of beer was taken on the ship, for instance to celebrate the Jewish New Year. For the rest of the time it was like America in the thirties, which made some people sometimes very thirsty. There was an incident in the night of 2nd to the 3rd of October when the Canadian Cook Michel, who arrived two weeks earlier, decided to sample the two bottles of cooking wine and also a bottle of rather potent Arak, an aniseed based drink. The cook failed to turn up at breakfast time and when the Captain went to investigate he found him in a rather drunken condition. He was fired on the spot and later that day a boat went out to the ship to remove him with the empty bottles. When the cook arrived on shore he decided to go on with drinking and by the time Michel got to the office in Tel Aviv, he was quite happy to have a lengthy argument over the pay and conditions on the ship.

Ending 1988 there were several problems including at one stage only two presenters on the ship, Kenny Page and John McDonald. Christmas brought the ship in heavy storms and there was a pigeon crashing with the AM antenna. A new female deejay Linda, was totally seasick and Abie asked the listeners to sent clothes for the people in troubled Armenia, some days later followed by the request not to sent any more clothes but money, so the clothes could be transported to that country.

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