Arab MK opposes naming space center after astronaut Ramon (TIMES OF ISRAEL) By HILLARY ZAKEN 06/19/12)
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Ahmad Tibi suggests that Arabs would be offended by the move, citing
Ilan Ramon’s fighter pilot background
Arab MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List) demanded Tuesday that the soon-
to-be-opened space center in the Israeli Arab city of Taybeh not be
named after the first Israeli astronaut, Ilan Ramon, who was killed
when the space shuttle Columbia crashed in 2003.
“I was very surprised when I read that the center will be in the name
of Ilan Ramon. While he is a pilot who died under tragic
circumstances, it is unnecessary to name a space center in an Arab
town after a fighter pilot who participated in the bombing of the
civilian population in Lebanon. It’s bad taste and not justified,”
Tibi told Army Radio on Tuesday.
Ramon, in addition to being the first Israeli astronaut, served in
the IAF as a fighter pilot. Tibi also cited Ramon’s participation in
the Israeli attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor as a reason not to name
the Taybeh space center after him.
Such a move, warned Tibi, “may offend local inhabitants and the Arab
sector in general.” Instead, the MK suggested calling the Taybeh
space center after an Islamic pilot and scientist who studied
Science Minister Daniel Hershkowitz responded to Tibi’s critique,
calling Ramon an Israeli hero and accusing Tibi of crossing a red
Hershkowitz added: “The purpose of establishing the center [in
Taybeh] is to promote the periphery. It was established specifically
to promote… the same population that claims, sometimes rightfully,
discrimination… the center was established by the State of Israel.
Ilan Ramon was the first and only Israeli astronaut so far, so the
center established by the State of Israel was naturally named after
The Ramon Foundation, established by the astronaut’s widow Rona,
released a statement on Tuesday stating that “the Ramon Foundation
will continue to invest in young people regardless of ethnic origin
or place of residence in the belief that the future lies in the
quality of the younger generation.”
Ilan Ramon and six other crew members were killed when the Columbia
space shuttle broke up over the United States upon reentry in 2003.
(© 2012 THE TIMES OF ISRAEL 06/19/12)
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