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Voice of Peace - History (13)

Although some temporary repairs were carried out to the FM transmitter it broke down again after only a few days on the air and by 7th July 1993 the medium wave transmitter had also failed putting the Voice of Peace off the air completely. Emergency repairs were carried out when the ship entered Ashdod and within 48 hours the Voice of Peace was back on the air. However, because of these frequent periods off the air one of the few remaining large advertisers, Coca Cola, cancelled its contract with the Voice of Peace for a planned campaign promoting Sprite and Coke. By mid-July 1993 the Voice of Peace was left with only six small regular advertisers.  

During the late summer of 1993 more rumours began to circulate about the impending closure of the Voice of Peace. Abie Nathan had threatened, and indeed carried out (temporarily at least) such closures before, but this time the situation seemed more certain and likely to be permanent.

At the beginning of September 1993 Abie Nathan informed the crew on board the MV Peace that the Voice of Peace would cease transmissions at the end of that month and the station began broadcasting a daily countdown at the top of each hour. At first it was not obvious to listeners what this meant, but it soon became clear that the Voice of Peace was finally to close on 1st October 1993.

The format of the station was changed once more for the final few weeks of broadcasting from mellow music to contemporary hits.

Abie Nathan said in an interview on 27th September 1993 that his decision to close the Voice of Peace had been partly because of debts (said to be about $250,000) which the station had accumulated and which he attributed to "an organised boycott by advertisers" and partly because he was too busy working with other projects, in particular helping victims of the recent Indian earthquake.

The main reason for closure, however, was that Israel's Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, had signed an historic peace accord with PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Washington on 13th September 1993 and consequently Abie Nathan felt that his mission and that of the Voice of Peace, which he had set out to achieve in 1969, had been completed.

On 1st October 1993 Abie Nathan came on board the MV Peace to broadcast for the last time. Most of the remaining DJs left the ship, while Matthew French remained on board with Abie Nathan to help close the station.

Just after 9.00am Abie Nathan started a programme during which he talked at considerable length about the history of the Voice of Peace, problems he had encountered with operating an offshore radio station, the alleged 'boycott' by advertisers and his reasons for closing the station. He also thanked everyone who had worked to keep the Voice of Peace on the air for more than 20 years and explained that he planned to scupper the MV Peace once the station had closed.

At 1.00pm the Mayor of Tel Aviv, Shlomo Lahat, and Environment Minister, Josse Sared, came on board the Peace ship to plead with Abie Nathan not to sink the vessel. During an on-air discussion  Mayor Lahat promised to make available a mooring for the vessel in Tel Aviv Harbour and described how he thought the ship could be converted into a Peace Museum. Abie Nathan was persuaded by this offer from the authorities and announced the address of a new Foundation which he hoped to launch to operate the Peace Museum.

After playing the last record, "We Shall Overcome" by Pete Segar, Abie Nathan said simply “Thank you all. Shalom. Love. Peace to everyone.” and at 1.57pm on 1st October 1993 broadcasts from the Voice of Peace finally ended.  

After the station closed the MV Peace sailed into Tel Aviv accompanied by thirty or forty small boats full of supporters and well wishers. The ship remained in Tel Aviv awaiting arrangements for her conversion into a Peace Museum as had been agreed on-air during the final broadcast. Unfortunately, due to a change in the Mayoralty of Tel Aviv and political manoeuvring which went on in the weeks after the Voice of Peace had closed the Peace Museum plan never came to fruition.

Abie Nathan became frustrated by the continuing delays and ordered the MV Peace to enter Ashdod where all broadcasting equipment was removed. He then intended to revert to his original plan and scupper the former radio ship in international waters.

Another last minute attempt to make Abie Nathan change his mind came shortly before the MV Peace left harbour for the last time. He was approached by a Rabbi who offered him money to re-open the Voice of Peace, but the offer had come too late and was refused.  

The MV Peace sailed from Ashdod for the last time on 28th November 1993 and was taken to a position in international waters fifteen miles offshore. Once in location holes were made in the hull of the Peace and water pumped into the vessel. However, all did not happen according to plan  and it was not until early the following morning, some seven and a half hours later, that the  radio ship finally sank beneath the waves of the Mediterranean. By that time the vessel had drifted over four miles  from its originally intended scuttling position, which had been carefully chosen because of the depth of the water. This unintended change of position later proved to be a disaster for local fishermen who claimed that oil pollution from the sunken radio ship was killing fish in the area and consequently threatening their livelihoods.

Back to Voice of Peace

Closedown of the Voice of Peace, October 1993

Video of a dive to the wreck of the MV Peace

Click on picture to enlarge


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