An 86-year-old Jewish surfing guru from Hawaii donated on Tuesday 12 surfboards to Gaza's small surfing community, in 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," retired doctor Dorian Paskowitz said Tuesday. "When a surfer sees another surfer with a board, he can't help but say something that brings them together."
Paskowitz emerged shirtless at the Israel-Gaza crossing after handing over the dozen boards to Gazan surfers waiting on the other side. He said he was spurred into action after reading a story about two Gaza surfers who couldn't enjoy the wild waves off the coast because they had only one board to share between them.
Arthur Rashkovan, a 28-year-old surfer from Tel Aviv, said Paskowitz's project was part of a larger effort called Surfing for Peace, aimed at bringing Middle East surfers closer together. He said eight-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater, who is of Syrian descent, is expected to arrive in Israel in October to take part in the drive.
Paskowitz, whom Rashkovan called a 'guru' to Israeli surfers, has surfed in Israel several times over the past five decades.
Paskowitz, a father of nine, served in the Navy during World War II, practiced family medicine for more than half a century and has published books on surfing and health. He said he's surfed for 75 years, in locations all over the world, and ranks the waves off the coasts of Israel and Gaza as among the world's best.
"It's really quite remarkable how good they are for modern surfing," he said.