Better than most traditional journalists, Bourdain understood that the point of journalism is to tell the truth, to challenge the powerful, to expose wrongdoing. But his unique gift was to make doing all that look fun rather than grim or tedious. Very few storytellers offering honest portrayals of the world can still find it full of joy as well as sorrow. Bourdain did so, while rarely striking a false note. This required relentless self-criticism, another quality Bourdain possessed in abundance and frequently shared. Even as he was beloved by everyone, he always seemed incredulous of his own success, perhaps even of his own survival. Humility is too weak a word for this; what Bourdain really was was angry, angry that he had it so great when others did not.
Anthony Bourdain was the only major American celebrity who succeeded in depicting publicly the Palestinians as rational, caring human beings rather than as irrationally angry “inciters” to violence. He was the anti-Bernard Lewis. Lewis smeared the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims with the charge of “Islamic Rage” (as though large swathes of humankind are angry for no reason).
Bourdain said, “The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinians, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity.”
The Israel propaganda machine has even attempted to smear Razan al-Najjar, the 21-year-old nurse in Gaza who was shot dead by an Israeli-American sniper as she tended, unarmed and clearly wearing medic’s clothing, to injured Palestinians being shot with live ammunition by Israeli troops on the Gaza side of the border. Shooting Razan was a war crime. Razan was engaged in an act of unselfish bravery. We should all be so “complex.” That attempt to dehumanize one Palestinian is typical of the American and Israeli media in general. I can’t tell you how many “panels” on Palestine I’ve seen on CNN that included no Palestinian; often it was three middle aged males, and sometimes they lacked even religious diversity among them.