Peace activist Abie Nathan dies


Abie Nathan, whose Voice of Peace pirate radio station broadcast from a ship in the Mediterranean Sea, has died.

The peace activist died in Tel Aviv on Wednesday night after a long illness. He was 81.

Abraham Jacob Nathan was born in Iran and grew up in India. He immigrated to Israel in 1948 during the War for Independence, where he served in Israel’s Air Force, building on his experience as a fighter pilot in Britain’s Royal Air Force.

Nathan tried to accelerate peace between Israel and the Arab world by making a solo flight to Egypt in 1966. He was unsuccessful then in meeting with Egypt’s president Gamal Abdel Nasser. He was again unsuccessful in 1967, and he was jailed in Israel for the attempt. Egypt and Israel did not have diplomatic ties at the time.

The activist went on several hunger strikes in the 1970s to press Israel and the Arab world to make peace, and he met with leaders from Pope John Paul VI and Robert Kennedy in his quest for peace.

Nathan’s Peace Ship, which broadcast pop music and messages of peace, was partially funded by John Lennon. After Israel and the Palestinians signed an interim peace agreement, Nathan sank the ship in 1994.

Nathan was jailed for meeting with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat when it was illegal for an Israeli citizen to do so. He later met with Arafat again in 1993 after the law was repealed.

He is survived by his daughter, Sharona.

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