For those who may not be aware, Abie Nathan recently celebrated 80th birthday. Being one of the many people in Israel who enjoyed listening to Abie’s Voice of Peace radio station: “that’s right, 1540 on your FM dial”, I was thoroughly pleased to listen to the birthday tribute made to him today by the DJ’s and staff of a local station, 100 FM who recreated the Voice of Peace today, May 12, in commemoration of this wonderful human being who has given so much of himself in the cause of peace and humanity.
In a previous article I posted a short while back, it was written that Abie’s main wish for this day was to be given the means to end his suffering; i.e. to take his own life. In his present condition, Abie Nathan feels that he has been forgotten by the very humanity he tried so much to help. It’s not just his poor state of health that depresses him now – it’s how both Israel and the rest of the world seem to have swept both him and his dreams under the rug of history. With all that is going on in this world of ours today, especially during the past 7 years, I for one wonder what Abie Nathan would have done to help alleviate the suffering of people in so many disasters, natural and man-made, which have occurred around the planet. I can only speculate, but here are some of my ideas as to how Abie would have reacted to the following events:
1. 9-11: Abie would have certainly gone to New York City and stayed there at least a few weeks assisting in the search for victims of the World Trade Center attack, and to do what he could to help the survivors and next of kin of those who perished. He would have done this despite the backgrounds of those who became innocent victims of terror.
2. The tsunami tidal waves in Southern Asia, in December, 2004: Judging on past natural tragedies in which Abie was involved, he would have organized a large shipment of medical and other humanitarian supplies to assist the survivors of this mega catastrophe that killed nearly a quarter million human beings. One would have surely seen him in the middle of some of the worst hit areas, passing out candy and other items to children to put a smile on their stunned faces. It wouldn’t have mattered if it were in Indonesia, Thailand, India, or Sri Lanka, Abie would have gone to where he was needed.
3. Hurricane Katrina in August, 2005: Abie would have been right there on the spot to assist in the rescue of people trapped in flooded buildings in New Orleans and other areas. He also would have organized relief supplies and temporary shelter to people on the stricken Gulf Coast – many of whom who were from poorer backgrounds and not given aid fast enough during the first crucial days following the category 5 mega-storm.
4. Lebanon and Israel, July-August, 2006. Abie would have reacted immediately to the tragedy of this conflict, and if allowed would have surely aided the Lebanese as well as his own countrymen who suffered from this short but terrible war. Abie Nathan’s philosophy was to help anyone who was in need of assistance; and he would have done all he could to help those who were suffering on either side of the Israeli-Lebanese border. As it turned out, private individuals and organizations reacted much quicker than government ones; a situation still being talked about to this day.
5. Darfur in the Sudan: This conflict, now being referred to as the new holocaust of the 21st Century, would not be strange to a man like Abie Nathan as he often went to conflict torn regions, including the Congo, Ethiopia, and other places where man’s inhumanity to Man is reaching a scale of shocking proportions. Though not yet on the scale of the horrors of the Rwandan tribal massacres of the early 1990’s, what is presently happening to the inhabitants of this unfortunate region needs much more attention that what is being given by the rest of humanity. In fact, Abie suffered his first stroke while on a similar mission in Africa in 1995. Tragedies such as these only show how big Abie Nathan’s heart was in regards to helping to relieve human suffering.
While these are only a few examples of crises areas where Abie Nathan would have given his able assistance, they indicate what he would have done if given the opportunity. In the realm of promoting peace, Abie Nathan had his few moments of glory in which he could reap the personal satisfaction of helping to make it all come about – one of these being in the aftermath of the 1978 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. The ink was barely dry on the document signed by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israel Prime Minister Menachem Begin, when Abie broadcasted a VOP program from a night club in the center of Cairo. It’s too bad that he won’t have the opportunity to do this again from a similar location in the center of Beirut or Damascus.
Abie Natthan may be old, sick, and infirm; but he is certainly not forgotten. Not by many of us who still pray for the day when peace and understanding will finally come not only to Israel and her neighbors, but in many other parts of our world as well.
Happy birthday, Abie, and many, many happy returns!