Thank you, Anthony Bourdain

Okay, so I may be into food and travel in my personal life, but what is a mention of Anthony Bourdain doing on this site? We all know Bourdain for somehow snagging the unbelievably amazing job of traveling around the world and eating everywhere from the best restaurants in the world, such as Noma in Copenhagen, to tiny houses in villages in Cambodia. On his previous show, No Reservations, I always wondered why Bourdain never did an episode in Israel and the West Bank. The food culture alone is worth it, but Bourdain seems to enjoy getting in the nitty gritty of local cultures facing obstacles. On his newer show on CNN, Parts Unknown, he finally went there, and it was a fascinating episode. It was so bizarre to see these places that I've been and these people whose clothes and accents and families were so familiar to me being dissected by Bourdain, famous cynic that he is. Tellingly, instead of calling the episode "Israel" or "Israel and the Palestinian Territories," the episode was simply titled "Jerusalem." He started the episode saying, basically, I know everyone on both sides will hate me for being here and think I royally screwed it up somehow, but here goes anyway. 

Instead, he brought his own spin on the issue, dining with West Bank settlers, displaced Gazans, and at the restaurant of a couple made of a Palestinian man and a Jewish woman. They were so clearly trying to bring a "fair and balanced" perspective to the issue by covering all their bases, and I think for the most part they succeeded. His reaction to the wall in the West Bank was very human and authentic, and I appreciated his non-PC approach to the whole situation.

Although the episode surely had critics, there were lots of people who appreciated the episode and the very fact that he even went there and didn't bombard us with stereotypes and platitudes. One such group was the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who just awarded Bourdain and the Parts Unknown team with their Voices of Courage and Conscience Media Award for the episode. Bourdain's acceptance speech was just perfect, so human, almost bewildered that he was getting an award simply for doing what he felt was literally the least anyone could do- telling these people's real stories. I highly encourage you to watch this very short acceptance speech. I very rarely, if ever, hear prominent Western journalists speak words like this in public; so, thank you, Anthony Bourdain.