Peace: Just add water
VAIL, Colorado – Local author Jeff Kass is one of the nation’s most celebrated authors about death and violence.
So, for his next book he figured it’s time for a little peace. He’s going to the war-torn Middle East to tell us how surfing is turning friends into enemies.
Kass wrote the acclaimed “Columbine: A True Crime Story,” the definitive account of one of the most painful incidents in modern American history – Dylan Klebold’s and Eric Harris’s shooting rampage at Columbine High School that killed 12 classmates and a teacher.
Now he’s writing a book about how surfing and other stuff we have in common gives us reasons to wage peace.
At Columbine, he explained why seemingly peaceful people waged acts of unthinkable violence on their friends.
In his new book, he’ll explain why seemingly violent people will wage acts of peace with their enemies.
Kass grew up surfing in Los Angeles and knows it’s hard to hate someone when you’re on the water.
“I’m still a surfer,” Kass said. “I’m fascinated with politics and the Middle East seems to be an intractable problem. So I bundled all that into a book.”
The book is about Israeli and Palestinian surfers forming a bond and working toward peace. In the name of research, he’s going to Israel for a month to surf and interview everyone who’ll talk to him about it.
The rise of surfing among Israelis and Palestinians becomes an incentive reason for Israelis and the people of Gaza to want to make peace, Kass says.
“If you have a large community of people who enjoy something in common like surfing, they really have a reason to make peace,” Kass said.
Sure, peace treaties are all well and good, but they’re political arrangements. Lasting peace has to come from something more.
“You have a peace treaty between Israel and a country named Palestine and it can be signed by politicians on both sides,” Kass said. “That can result in a cold peace. The military is not engaged in battle, but the people still hate each other.”
“If you can connect people through things like surfing, you can have a better peace,” Kass said.
Kass is not fooling himself: Surfing is not going to bring a huge peace to the Middle East, but it’s people meeting people and sharing something they have in common.
Israel was invaded the day it was declared a sovereign nation. It’s surrounded by countries that have, at various times, declared that it has no right to exist and threatened to obliterate it.
“For Israel’s first few days and years it had to worry every day about being wiped off the global map,” Kass said. “Israel is still besieged every day, but I think less so than in its early years.”
“So Israelis have more opportunity to enjoy life,” Kass said. “If you enjoy things like surfing, you have a greater incentive to want to make peace.”
“It’s part of something that’s happening all over the world,” Kass said.
Columbine remains the world’s most iconic school shooting, and Kass is the first book of investigative journalism to tell the complete story of that day, the far-reaching consequences, and the common denominators among school shooters across the country.
Kass was one of the first reporters on scene and covered the story as a staff writer for Denver’s Rocky Mountain News. “Columbine: A True Crime Story,” is the product of 10 years of research and exclusive information.
Kass’s book reaches into fundamental American themes of violence, racism, parenting and policing. Concluding with the tale of the tattered police investigation and how one of the most controversial victims’ families faced down a modern American tragedy as the cameras roll.
“Columbine: A True Crime Story” has been compared to classics of the genre such as “In Cold Blood” and “The Executioner’s Song.” It contains photos from the Rocky Mountain News photo staff, which won a Pulitzer for its Columbine work.
“‘Could this happen here?’ The day after Columbine I was asked that question from parents, faculty, school administrators, students and police officers in Aspen,” said Bob Braudis. “‘Columbine: A True Crime Story’ answers all questions about the killers, the families, and victims of one of the most iconic school shootings in this nation’s history and more.”
But that was then. Now he’s surfing for peace. One of the first people Kass will talk to is Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz, an American surfer and physician who gave up practicing medicine for a living to become a professional surfer. In 1972, he founded a surf camp run by his family, where campers could live alongside and surf with members of the Paskowitz family. – nine children strong. He and his family have been referred to as the “First Family of Surfing.”
In August 2007, Paskowitz ran a brief project to deliver surfboards to Gaza, a tall order after Hamas took over Gaza in June 2007. Since then, Israel has let in only basic supplies.
Paskowitz wrote his own book about his philosophy about health and other issues titled “Surfing and Health.”
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