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Israeli Astronaut Denied Memorial

It is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind.
USA Space Act of 1958



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Can you imagine a government busy in systematically provoking and harassing its own citizens? Can you imagine officials spending public budgets—which originate mainly from taxes paid by the denizens—in finding and implementing ways to annoy people? This is not something allowed by any constitution I have ever read. This is not allowed by any human rights respecting law ever legislated. Unsurprisingly, Israeli officials are involved in this, especially against minorities. It seems that cruelty and insensitivity are required from those joining the Israeli Administration. On October 23, 2012, the Taibeh Space Center was inaugurated in Taibeh. Following an especially insensitive provocation by the Israeli government, the center was not named after Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut who was killed in the Columbia Shuttle explosion.

Taibeh and Israel

"The Triangle" (Hebrew: HaMeshulash; Arabic: al-Muthallath) is the largest concentration of Israeli-Palestinian towns in Israel. They occupy a strategic position between Highway 65 and the northern edge of Gush Dan, Tel Aviv's Metropolitan Area. These towns and cities disconnect the continuity of the Jewish settlement, dissecting Haifa and the Galilee from the rest of the country. Among them, Taibeh is the closest to Tel Aviv. The denizens of the Triangle are citizens of Israel but don't serve in the IDF. Their towns are discriminated against by the Israeli Administration; this is most evident in their infrastructure, which lags decades behind those in Jewish cities. Thus, protests abound. In 1999, 500 denizens were hurt in riots protesting the Israel government's inhuman expropriation of lands. In September 2000, rioting during the Second Intifada left three dead and over 100 wounded. Considering this, one should expect the government to be careful in all its actions there. Yet, Israel walked in like an elephant in a crystal shop.

Ilan Ramon

Ilan Ramon

Taibeh Space Center

Taibeh Space Center

A Troubling Astronaut

Israeli Air Force Colonel Ilan Ramon graduated as a fighter pilot from the IAF Flight School in 1974. He became one of the first members of the IAF F-16 Squadron. In 1981, he was one of the pilots taking part in Operation Opera, Israel's strike against Iraq's Osiraq Nuclear Reactor. He participated in Israeli air strikes in Lebanon, which included the bombing of civilian targets. In 1994, he was promoted to colonel and assigned as Head of the Department of Operational Requirements for Weapon Development and Acquisition. In 1997, he was selected by NASA as a Payload Specialist. From July 1998 onwards, he trained at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas. He died on February 1, 2003, in the STS-107 flight of the Columbia Shuttle.

It is difficult to understand NASA’s decision to accept Ramon. “It is the policy of the United States that activities in space should be devoted to peaceful purposes for the benefit of all mankind,” reads the USA Space Act of 1958. Ramon bombed civilian targets without scruple. Israeli schools teach that Germans who didn’t actively oppose the Nazi Regime were also guilty of its crimes, despite the fact that these crimes followed contemporaneous German laws. Thus, Ramon is guilty of his crimes even by Israeli definitions. NASA failed its mission and vision.

Time Cover Flight Insignia

Time Cover | Flight Insignia


"Ramon Space Center" Refused by Denizens

In June 2012, Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi asked Daniel Hershkowitz, Israel’s Minister of Science, not to name the Space Center after Ilan Ramon, due to the latter commitment to violence. Ahmed Tibi is the leader of the party Ta'al, the Arab Movement for Renewal, and Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. He was born in Taibeh, when the city was still under Israeli military administration. In sharp contrast, Daniel Hershkowitz is a senior member of The Jewish Home, the most extremist Jewish party in the Knesset (see USA Denies Visa to Jewish Knesset Member). The center had got roughly $15,000 from a fund named after Ramon, and another $90,000 from the Ministry of Science; thus they had a say in its naming. Despite its name, the center is not related to the Israeli space industry; it is intended to serve as an educative center. Despite the political problems related to it, the institution was welcomed by a city strangled by old infrastructures; neighboring Jewish cities enjoy state-of-the-art facilities. The minister was unlikely to accept Tibi’s sensible request.

“Member of the Knesset Tibi crossed a red line in his revolting request,” wrote the minister in his official answer; he continued it in an amusing tirade against Mr. Tibi. Four months later, the Israeli administration learned the hard way that there is a limit to the provocations. The space center was inaugurated as the Taibeh Space Center. Ilan Ramon is mentioned there only in a tiny plate placed where few will notice it. “That's one small note for a man, one giant leap for humanity,” Neil Armstrong may have summarized the event. Meanwhile, the Israeli Administration is beginning to understand its crimes won’t be tolerated forever. Minister Hershkowitz has not reacted yet to his defeat.

Taibeh Space Center

"Taibeh Space Center" Dedication Plate
Ramon is only mentioned

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All texts and background photo © Roi Tov 2004—2014 tovroy@aol.com

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