Thu, Aug 23, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Jewish surfer promotes the peace wave

SURFING GAZA STRIP Paskowitz first arrived in Israel in 1956 and tried to join the Israeli military but was turned down. So he surfed off the coast of Tel Aviv instead

AP, JERUSALEM

Dorian Paskowitz, center, carries some of the 15 surf boards he is taking to the Erez Crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.

PHOTO: EPA

An 86-year-old Jewish surfing legend from Hawaii is bringing good vibrations to the Gaza Strip.

Dorian Paskowitz, a retired doctor with 75 years of surfing experience, brought surfboards to Gaza's small surfing community on Tuesday, a gesture he hoped would get Israelis and Palestinians catching the same peace wave.

"God will surf with the devil, if the waves are good," Paskowitz said. "When a surfer sees another surfer with a board, he can't help but say something that brings them together."

Tanned, grinning and shirtless, Paskowitz emerged at the Erez crossing between Israel and Gaza after handing over 15 boards to a few Palestinian surfers waiting on the other side. He said he was spurred into action after reading a newspaper article about two Gazans who couldn't enjoy the waves because they had only one board between them.

"I said to myself -- my God, these guys really love surfing, but it says they have no boards. So I said to my son, come, we'll go to Israel and get them some boards," Paskowitz said.

He described his mission as a mitzvah, Hebrew for a "good deed."

Paskowitz said that during his visit he wanted to "do something spectacular, like getting all the surfers and paddling around into the waters of Gaza," but those plans were scuttled because of security concerns.

"It's very tense there now," Paskowitz said.

Paskowitz first arrived in Israel in 1956, during that year's Israel-Egypt war, and tried to join the Israeli military but was turned down. So he surfed off the coast of Tel Aviv instead, he recounted, and was mobbed by Israelis charmed by the strange sight of a man riding the waves standing upright on a board.

"From feeling so lost that Israel didn't want me as a paratrooper or a commando, I went out and surfed my board, and this time I was a hero," he said.

"I'm 86 years old, I can't stand up very well, I have a piece of titanium in my hip, but I still love it," he said.

He ranked the waves off the coast of Israel with the world's best.

"It's really quite remarkable how good they are for modern surfing," he said.

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