Surfboards for Peace

Doctor Dorian Paskowitz, now 86 and still surfing since the 1930s, along with others, have injected the surfboard factor into the Middle East. The following is an excerpt from a recent NEW YORK TIMES article (Thanks to Tim DeLa Vega for the heads-up):

JERUSALEM, Aug. 21 — The noted American surfer, Dr. Dorian Paskowitz, has high hopes for Gaza, and like the waves, he will not let anything stop him trying to see them through.

On Tuesday, Dr. Paskowitz, 86, a retired Jewish physician from Hawaii popularly known as Doc, personally delivered 15 new surfboards to Palestinian surfing enthusiasts there.

He talked the Israeli authorities into opening up the fortresslike Erez crossing for that purpose, overcoming their repeated protestations about the volatile security situation, he said — even though hardly any nonessential goods have been allowed into the Gaza Strip since Hamas took over there in June.

“We used every wily wit that any Jew could muster,” Dr. Paskowitz said, deliberately poking fun at an ethnic stereotype while speaking after the event by telephone from Tel Aviv. He was accompanied by his son David, 48, one of his nine children and a former surfing world champion.

The endeavor started with an article in The Los Angeles Times three weeks ago about a beach in Gaza called Al Deira. It featured a photograph of two Palestinian surfers with one old surfboard between them. “My son and I said, why don’t we go over and help them get some boards,” Dr. Paskowitz recalled.

The Paskowitzes started to pull strings. An Israeli benefactor from a sports gear chain put up a few thousand dollars to bring them over. The world’s greatest surfing pro, Kelly Slater, gave his support. And Doc activated Arthur Rashkovan, the Israeli representative of Surfers for Peace, an organization founded by the Paskowitzes and Mr. Slater, an American of Syrian descent.

“Arthur is a grassroots Shimon Peres,” Dr. Paskowitz said, referring to the 84-year-old president of Israel, an inveterate advocate of peace. “He knows how to get things done.”

Mr. Rashkovan, who lives in Tel Aviv, first met Dr. Paskowitz 10 years ago at a surfing camp in California. He says he persuaded four Israeli surfing equipment companies to donate the boards.

Their passage through Erez was coordinated by the Israeli military administration there. OneVoice, an Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution organization, helped bring the Palestinians across to receive the boards.

Among the Palestinians were the two riders whose photograph Dr. Paskowitz had seen in the newspaper. “There were tears in their eyes,” he said. His hope is that the new boards will inspire Gaza’s surfers to start manufacturing their own. “From a board comes a group of guys who ride,” he said. “From the group comes a business, then an industry, then a fantastic amount of money. I’m talking about billions, all from one board.”

That seems far-fetched for now. Since the militant group Hamas seized control of Gaza, the main commercial crossing has been closed and many local industries have collapsed.

One of the Palestinian surfers, Muhammad Jayab, described himself in the article Dr. Paskowitz had read as sympathetic to Hamas. That did not put Doc off. “To be able to go to your enemies and give them something that makes them happy is a most fulfilling adventure,” he said.

His gesture could not tamp down the hostilities in Gaza, in which three Palestinian militants and two children were killed in Israeli strikes on Tuesday...


Another article about this:
Surfing Guru Brings Hope and Boards

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Anonymous Anonymous said...


I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for sometime now. I love how your posts truly connect to your readership. I’m interested to have an interactive/link-up/post with you. I’ve written a book that you and your audience might enjoy and am preparing to do a virtual blog tour and would love an opportunity to participate on your blog.

However, my young adult book ‘Turtle Feet, Surfer’s Beat’ is only a small part of what I’m trying to build. The book itself revolves around a typical suburban teen girl, Penelope, from the States that is forced to go to Costa Rica with her parents for her father’s job assignment. Involuntarily, her parents sign up Penelope and her little brother to spend two weeks at the Leatherback turtle biological station (for ‘their own good’). Penelope, obviously isn’t pleased but forgives the horrid accommodations and the never ending bug brigade as she sees the turtle and instantly pledges to do all she can to help it from extinction. But hang ten, dudes! Penelope is about to get help. One lonely night, as she’s patrolling the beach for turtle poachers she stumbles and falls directly into the arms of the local surf champ. Together they dive into the world of surfing and marine preservation.

These days, we are constantly facing global problems that seem to be getting worse and worse daily. Living in Costa Rica, I’ve been inspired to take action. I started by writing this book and am now developing a community of teens, surfers, artists, scientist, and everyone else who is interested in working together to have fun while helping out.

I would love to join forces with you and your readers in a fun, interactive way. I will gladly write a post about your blog (and whatever you will like to plug:), plus a link with your blog to my website and blog, in return for a review of my book and/or small interview.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon. I can get a copy out to you ASAP.
Thanks so much,

August 24, 2007  

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