Tina K. Russell

August 30, 2008

Respects to Abie Nathan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 12:46 am

The problem with The New York Times‘s wonderful obituaries is that often it’s the first place I find out about remarkable people, right when they’ve passed away. Take this man, Israel’s Abie Nathan.

Abie Nathan, Israeli Peace Champion, Dies at 81 – Obituary (Obit) – NYTimes.com
Abie Nathan, a maverick Israeli peace pioneer, an entrepreneur and a one-man humanitarian-aid organization, who went from playboy to intrepid “peace pilot,” died Wednesday in Tel Aviv. He was 81.

A Royal Air Force-trained pilot, he crashed into the national consciousness and the quagmire of the Middle East conflict with a dramatic solo flight from Israel to Egypt in an old rented biplane in 1966. A self-appointed ambassador, he wanted to talk to President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt about making peace.

At first Mr. Nathan was seen as “a curiosity” in Israel, said Eitan Haber, a veteran Israeli journalist and former senior aide of the late prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin. “But then it turned out he was ahead of his time,” he said.

Rest easy, my friend. You’ve done your country–and the world–proud.

An epicure, he was always ready to pay a personal price for his principles, embarking on numerous hunger strikes; he also served two terms in jail, in 1989 and 1991, for breaking a law against meeting with Yasir Arafat and other officials of the Palestine Liberation Organization, then banned in Israel as a terrorist group.

After receiving his six-month sentence in 1989, he issued a typical explanation of his person-to-person mission: “Violence will only increase and it will be impossible to heal the wounds, whether among the Arabs or the Jews, unless we decide to sit with each other. Our bullets alone cannot solve the problem.”

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