In the mid '70s I went to live in Israel. I stayed with my mother's Aunt Regina who was the only survivor from Mother's previous generation.
During that time my father came to live in Israel with his second wife and they settled into the fanciest building in Tel Aviv. That is why I was having a coffee on the street on Dizengoff Avenue, the fanciest street in Tel Aviv.
An older woman I had never met before with a number tattooed on her arm came up to me demanding to know where in Poland my family was from because she could tell by my coloring. I explained who my parents were and she contradicted me and asserted that my mother was long dead in the Holocaust. I told her she was incorrect and that she was an American with children and grand children.
Americans were easy to identify because we were "shiny" and had great teeth.
We talked and I told her that I was among other things, a radio broadcaster although I was in Israel doing archaeological field work. That was when she told me her friend needed a production engineer for his radio station and English language broadcaster with rock and roll knowledge. I told her I was interested and I got the job just on her say so.
The radio station turned out to be the 'Voice of Peace' which was a pirate radio broadcasting ship in international waters in the Mediterranean sea just off the coast of Israel.
Because broadcasting is free and uncensored in the USA I had no idea what I was involved with, especially because the Beatles financed the venture and its significance to them and Europe was lost on me because I did not understand the basic issues of freedom.
Israel was founded as a Marxist state and functioned in Marxist purity until the 1980's when it was on the verge of an economic collapse and reinvented itself as a market economy. The importance of this cannot be understated because without complete freedom there must be coercion to function.
Israel had two state controlled radio stations: 'All Israel 1' and 'All Israel 2'. News was controlled and the music was highly programmed to reflect what the State approved of. David Ben Gurion did not like or approve of television, so it was restricted until the mid '70s when highly curated and censored programming was permitted for a small portion of the day.
On broadcasting freedom Israel split the baby. Print and art and spoken speech were completely free and unregulated. Radio, television and recording were not considered speech. They were electro magnetic impulses and therefore could be regulated by the State.
Why then did Israel Defense Forces not blow the radio ship out of the water? Because in a Marxist State, labor is always striking for something and this was true of 'Israel 1' and 'Israel 2'. When both were on strike then the state controlled radio stations had to shift their program output to the "pirate station" for transmission. Israel practiced a sort of seat of the pants socialism and never claimed intellectual honesty.
The 'Voice of Peace' was started by Abie Nathan, a cantankerous and argumentative person tired of the State of war between Israel and the world. He deduced that everyone wanted freedom and that freedom could unite relatives who should have been together in comity, not infighting over matters of liturgy.
Once I understood these new issues, for me I fully embraced my role in being a pirate for real. I had my job on Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot in its Holocaust Museum and my archaeology field work. I also fully embraced my "Americanness" at a time that others were critical of Americans.
Shipboard I was someone who had lived freedom and everyone wanted to understand the abilities that freedom brings to lives. Open and original thinking and not taking no for an answer made me a delight to listen to when I produced American style radio programs.
That is why the day that Mervyn Hagger called me into his office at 'City Digest' and started talking about his youth and listening to the English 'pirates' was so memorable. He was the only one who understood what I understood.
More tomorrow ....
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