JERUSALEM (JTA) — Arab-Israeli Knesset member Ahmed Tibi said that naming a new Israeli space center in an Arab town after Ilan Ramon would be an insult to the Arab public.
Tibi on Tuesday called on Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz to cancel the plan to name the center in Tayibe after Israel’s first astronaut.
Ramon died aboard the space shuttle Columbia when it crashed upon re-entry in February 2003.
Tibi, who lives in Tayibe, said the Arab community would be upset with the dedication because during his service in the Israeli military, Ramon bombed civilian populations in Arab states.
Ramon was a fighter pilot during the first Lebanon war. He also flew in the 1981 airstrike on Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor.
"Dedicating a center in his honor in an Arab community is a tasteless and unjustified move," Tibi said in a letter to Ramon, Ynet reported.
The center is funded by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ramon Foundation.