Peace activists to revive Voice of Peace radio station
A joint Israeli-Palestinian initiative will see the re-establishment of the Abie Nathan's Voice of Peace radio station. Yesterday, Israeli and Palestinian peace activists signed an agreement to begin the new broadcasts on November 4, the anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
The station will use archive material of the original Voice of Peace station; and in order to refrain from breaching Israeli law, it will split its operations: The station's studios will be located in East Jerusalem, while its transmitters will be positioned in the West Bank town of Bitunia, near Ramallah.
The Palestinian Authority has already allocated to the station two frequencies, which were originally assigned to the PA by Israel, but the station's range of reception remains unclear.
The idea to revive the Voice of Peace came from Mussi Raz, a former MK for Meretz and current deputy director-general of the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace in Givat Haviva, and Palestinian businessman Hanna Siniora, publisher of the Jerusalem Times weekly.
According to Siniora, the station received the broadcast frequencies following a meeting with PA Chairman Yasser Arafat, who gave his blessing to the initiative, but commented when he heard its name: "But that's Abie Nathan's station, isn't it?"
Siniora said the station's objective was to rebuild trust and narrow the distances between the two peoples. It also aimed at fighting stereotypes presented in the media about the Palestinians and Israel, he added, stressing that the station would not relay political programs, nor would it be funded by any party. Instead, it would mainly broadcast Arabic and Hebrew music as well as entertainment programs for children and youth.
"It will not focus much on news or current political issues. It will mostly be about the cultures of the two peoples, their similarities and differences," Siniora said.
Reviving the station was made possible thanks to a $600,000 donation from the European Union that was approved recently.
From day one, the station will broadcast 24 hours a day, dedicating three hours each day to programs dealing with coexistence and serving as a mouthpiece for associations and organizations involved in promoting such issues. The station's presenters will include Israelis and Palestinians who will broadcast both in Hebrew and Arabic.
The original Voice of Peace was a legendary pirate radio station run by Israeli peace activist Abie Nathan. It broadcast from a ship anchored just outside Israeli territorial waters and its slogan became something of a catchphrase in Israel - "From somewhere in the Mediterranean, we are the Voice of Peace."
In 1993, after Nathan decided to shut down the original Voice of Peace and scuttle the ship from which it transmitted, he donated the station's archives to the Givat Haviva center. Nathan is currently in ill health, but his associates have given their consent for the new station to use the archive material.