Welcome to the STELP family, NATAN!

STELP is opening a social business in the form of a Café|Bar.

Welcome to the STELP family, NATAN!

by Jakob Andratsch and Monika Hubbard

At the end of 2020, when we announced that STELP would open a social business in the form of a café|bar in Stuttgart,
there was quite a bit of speculation: concerning the name, the branding and, of course, the opening day. Today we are happy to say: From 08 May we will see you at … NATAN!

With NATAN we have brought to life an idea in the hip Leonhardsviertel, which was born many years ago in the west of Stuttgart and was two years in planning. With us, modern vegetarian cuisine is combined with the desire of many people to be socially engaged – but without much fanfare, simply like that, uncomplicated, in everyday life.

“Doing good should be fun at best, whether it’s an event or a fundraiser,” Serkan Eren emphasizes. “We are not an aid organization that shoves a donation box under the noses of pedestrians on the Königstraße. Therefore, a social business is an obvious choice. However, the fact that so many companies and institutions support us by offering favorable conditions, and even stores that we thought would consider us competition, is something we didn’t expect, and it was very moving.” Another plus, so that every extra euro goes where it is needed most – because all the profits from the NATAN go to STELP’s international projects.

It goes without saying that the tip is excluded from this. Our crew receives it without any deductions. And they are anything but ordinary, too: In line with the STELP principle that everyone contributes what they can, NATAN has people working behind the bar, in service and in the kitchen who volunteer their time for a good cause.

Humanity, peace, an embrace beyond borders

For us, the name NATAN is also more than just five letters. “At least he tried” was written on the gravestone of the Israeli visionary and peace activist Abie Nathan. He was born in 1927 in former Persia and educated in Bombay by Jesuits. Early on, he thought about a multicultural world that seemed more reconciliatory and pacifist than anything he had ever experienced. This sentiment founded and accompanied his ideology throughout his life: the idea of humanity, of meeting in peace, of embracing across borders.

In the 1960s, Abie Nathan made a name for himself as a bohemian, a man-catcher full of joie de vivre, always surrounded by beautiful women and artists from all over the world. He opened Café California in Tel Aviv, filled it with contemporary art – as a safeguard for rainy days – and brought the burger to Israel. It’s only a patty, but it brings a sense of the world to an increasingly cosmopolitan city. The café does well, quickly becoming well-known in the city and a meeting place for Israeli high society.

In 1965, during a time when he was running for the Israeli parliament as chairman of the Nes Party, Abie buys a Boeing Stearma, license plate 4X- AIA, paints it white and gives it the name “Shalom 1”. When the election results were announced, and he missed the required number of votes by only 2,000 votes, Abie decides to fly to Egypt. He wants to deliver a message of peace to President Gamal Abd el Nasser. A forbidden undertaking at the time, and at the same time unthinkable. The press and the government are furious. And so it comes as no surprise that Abie is arrested immediately after his arrival. The very next day he has to take the return flight and, back on home soil, is arrested for illegal border crossing, but then released on bail. The public celebrates him, he gains status. The symbolic flight to Egypt would change Abie’s life forever. From then on, he has only one goal: to work for peace.

Abie Nathan | © Dan Hadani Collection

“We are the voice of peace”

In 1969, he sells his art collection and buys a ship, which he plans to convert into a mobile broadcasting station. But his private fortune was not enough. He sets sail for New York, hoping to use the anti-war movement there for his project. Abie meets John Lennon, among others, who supports him with donations and appeals for funds, so that he can put his project into practice after years. In 1974, the “Peace Ship” finally goes on the air in the international waters of the Mediterranean. Across state and religious boundaries, Abie and a crew of technicians and radio producers proclaim his message: “We are the voice of peace.” As a modern and peaceful pirate, he reaches up to eight million listeners at times.

Abie is able to attract tobacco companies, liquor and beverage manufacturers as advertising sponsors. There are months in which his station makes up to 200,000 US dollars in profit. Abie donates everything, making sure the money goes where it is needed most. For more than twenty years, the “Voice of Peace” broadcasts its world-political contributions out into the ether, always accompanied by modern music. It is a station for the young generation. Abie thus succeeds like no other in placing the topic of peace on the cutting edge of times.

For Abie, it was all about helping others.

Abie’s activism was not always trouble-free and risk-free. He went on hunger strike several times to call for peace and to get the political powers to budge. But he always wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem. His unique talent for organizing and persuading people distinguished him. He stood up for the poor and hungry in Africa, he saved lives, and he was often one of the first on the scene to help after humanitarian disasters. Not seldom did he criticize the large relief organizations for this very reason, as they were never as fast as he and his comrades-in-arms due to their cumbersome, bureaucratic ways.

For Abie Nathan, material possessions were never important. He was only ever concerned with helping other people. At the end of his life, he was left with nothing. And so he sank the “Voice of Peace” in the Mediterranean in 1993. The willingness to donate diminished, and his great goal of creating peace no longer seemed significant after the Oslo Peace Accords. Abie died impoverished in a Tel Aviv nursing home in 2008. “No street, no school is named after him in Israel, as if he had never existed,” says writer Gideon Levy about this remarkable man.

But Abie Nathan must not be forgotten. His life, his mission, his drive are an inspiration to us – and we are honored to name our café|bar after him.

We at STELP also try every day anew with our work to stand by people who have not had as much luck in life as we have. And in doing so, we know what Abie Nathan also knew: that it is not mutually exclusive to love life and enjoy it to the fullest, but at the same time to work for others with just as much dedication.

We already do that at STELP, and now we do it at NATAN, where we carry on a key idea of our work: Little can be moved alone; but with our ever-growing pool of volunteers, partners, sponsors and friends, we can make an even bigger impact wherever the need is greatest. Our goal is a world in which people can live self-determined lives in dignity and security and shape their own future. We will never be satisfied with less.

You can find even more information on the NATAN website: http://natan-cafeandbar.com/

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