Surf Champ Slater Tests Tel Aviv Waters

The Associated Press
Friday, October 19, 2007; 3:18 PM

JERUSALEM -- Israel's shores may not have the same size waves to offer as Australia but eight-time surfing champion Kelly Slater tested the Mediterranean waters Friday in a visit to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Slater, an American of Syrian descent, was visiting Israel for three days to join activities of the groups "Surfing for Peace" and "One Voice."

An 86-year-old Jewish member of Surfing for Peace, Dorian Paskowitz, asked Slater to come to Israel to promote the group's efforts to bring Israelis and Palestinians together through the sport, said his son, David.

"My father asked him if he was ready to be not only great surfer but a great man as well," David Paskowitz said.

Slater sang with a local band at a Tel Aviv beach concert Friday and planned to visit areas around the country on Saturday, Paskowitz said. The surfer from Cocoa Beach, Fla., will not visit the Gaza Strip, Paskowitz said. He did not explain why.

Israel has severely limited travel to the coastal territory since the Islamic Hamas group seized the area in bloody fighting in June.

Dorian Paskowitz, a retired doctor who has been surfing for 75 years, donated 12 surfboards to Gaza's small surfing community in August.

© 2007 The Associated Press