Surfing for Peace. Cowabunga!
Dorian Paskowitz, 86, from Hawaii, handed over some of the surfboards himself. The retired Jewish doctor hopes a love of surfing will help bring Israelis and Palestinians together
Israel has allowed few nonessential goods to pass into Gaza since the militant group Hamas took over the coastal territory in June. When Paskowitz, 86, reached the crossing, the officer in charge had reason to be wary: Israeli forces trying to thwart rocket fire from Gaza that day had killed three Palestinian gunmen and two children who were playing near a rocket launcher near the border. Eight other Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops this week, among the bloodiest this summer.
Paskowitz, who is known as Doc, said he told the officer:
"I came 12,500 miles from Hawaii to give away these boards. The guys who need them are standing 50 meters from here, and you're trying to stop me. How can you do that to a fellow Jew?"
He showed the Israeli officer a photograph of two Gaza surfers on the Mediterranean shore with one battered board between them. It had appeared in the Los Angeles Times on July 29 with an article about how some Palestinians try to escape the poverty and violence of the overcrowded strip by riding the waves.
Paskowitz is one of surfing's top gurus in America after first taking to a board 75 years ago. He and his surfing brood - eight sons, one daughter and a brood of grandchildren - have been dubbed the "first family of surfing", with premier US newspapers and magazines writing about them for years.
The medical doctor who has penned a book on "Surfing and Health" hopes his initiative will bring happiness and hope to both Palestinian and Israelis.
He hopes to organise surfing competitions off the Mediterannean coast of Israel and Gaza within the next three years in order to bring the two sides closer.
"We love to surf and we know how other people love to surf. There is nothing more fulfilling."
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