Revisited: A Boat Trip in November 1999
The World's Last Offshore Radio Station(s) – A Trip To Israel
(written by Martin van der Ven in 1999)
Download: Arutz-7 Hebrew Service on FM 105.2 MHz
Recorded in Tel Aviv on October 31st 1999
Recorded in Tel Aviv on October 31st and November 1st 1999
On Monday morning November 1st you had a fascinating view of both ships from the beach as the sun now shining from the east illuminated the vessels and most of all the blue coloured MV Hatzvi. We went to Haifa on that day. For me that meant no chance to listen to Arutz 7 as our hotel's roof obviously housed the Radio Haifa aerial which was heavily interfering with all the other FM stations on the dial. Nevertheless this station on 107.5 MHz is quite unique as it's the former offshore radio station Radio One (broadcasting from the MV Polaris off Haifa in 1991/92) which is now a legalised landbased pop station. You can only compare it with Radio Veronica in the Netherlands or Radio Hauraki in New Zealand. They are using a more European sounding format with Top 40 music and nice jingles.
Our next step was the Sea of Galilee in the northeast of Israel with a rather disappointing Arutz Sheva reception on 1143 kHz (no signal on 702 kHz) and a very weak signal on 105.2 MHz (from a landbased standby transmitter?) which was jammed by two other stations that were very close to Arutz Sheva on the scale. When the sun went down on Friday evening, I realised that Arutz Sheva's transmitters had closed down due to the beginning of the Shabbat. The station reopened about 25 hours later on Saturday evening. We had travelled to Jerusalem in the meantime where I experienced quite the same problems when trying to receive a proper signal.
On Tuesday November 9th I took the bus 405 from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv to meet Mike Brand, the Israeli offshore radio expert. 42-year-old Mike has been living in Israel for 25 years, and he regrets that there isn't any anoraky offshore radio scene in the Middle East despite the colourful history of Abie Nathan's Voice of Peace. Mike had tried to arrange a boat trip but there were only two skippers willing to bring us closer to the remaining boats – and both of them were claiming a large sum of money... It wasn't easy for Mike to get through Tel Aviv's traffic and to find a suitable parking place at the beach. Whilst dring he told me that Arutz Sheva's programmes were obviously recorded on land and were delivered to the boat on tape. The talk shows inlude a lot of phone-ins, speeches and commentaries. Mike wasn't sure if Arutz 7 ever stopped using several additional landbased transmitters. He told me that he hardly listened to their programmes because of their right-wing content. Only in the early morning they use to play non-stop Hebrew music on their 1143 kHz and 105.2 MHz outlets to attract more listeners. Mike remained doubtful if the station had a realistic chance to get legalised. And Mike didn't know any reason for the King David (the former Arutz 2000 boat) still anchoring off the coast despite her silence since more than two years. Today Arutz 2000 keeps on broadcasting as a landbased pirate station. "I have no idea at all what they want to do with that vessel..."
Arriving at the Tel Aviv Marina harbour we soon
met Mirochenik Elchanan who wanted to have about 150 $ ("including tax") for a
one-hour trip to the boats... To be honest: We didn't hesitate that long as Mike
(who had never been on an offshore radio boat trip before) said, "that's a
chance we won't have anymore in our lifetime." So the skipper got his money in
the end and offered us a cup of coffee. He told us "journalists" that he was the
man in charge to make nearly every tender trip to the MV Peace and nowadays to
the MV Hatzvi. Mirochenik estimated that he made about 5000 trips to the Voice
of Peace vessel (!). "I know them all, Kenny Page and hundreds of English
DJs..." The skipper spoke a mixture of Hebrew (with Mike), English and Dutch
(with me) as his wife came from the Netherlands. "Abie Nathan always pretended
to have a lack of finance... He kept on lamenting about having no money, and
there were times I had to buy rice for the VOP crew out of my own pocket.
Sometimes I gave them a part of the Arutz 7 supplies so that they had anything
to eat. Abie used to tell everybody he needed money and sometimes only wanted to
pay 10 $ for a tender trip. In the end in 1993, he kept on saying he wanted to
sink the boat as there was noone willing to help him or give him money. But that
simply was a clever trick. The boat was infact a rusting bulk being worth not a
single penny. Abie finally managed to get everything off the boat (i.e. the
transmitters went to the Palestinians). Only the boat itself remained to get
sunk – and Abie avoided to pay the large amount of money to get it scrapped...
Later he even had to appear in court but had certain relationships to prevent
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