The following blog post is the copy from my hardcover book and a photo essay of my Middle East surf endeavor. Sound off in the comments section.
Shredding Middle East Stereotypes
with a California Weapon
Major in political science. Graduate with honors. Fail to find a job. Go surfing in the Middle
Rogue journalist and self-admitted California wave junky Jesse Aizenstat couldn't find a real job after college. But his two passions, Middle East politics and surfing, seemed like a good fit for a freelance gig. What the hell? Why not surf from Israel to Lebanon?
His Jewish background may have earned him a free flight to Israel, but it wouldn't give him a pass to surf in Hezbollah-controlled South Lebanon. Even navigating the tangled towns and streets of his ancestral homeland wouldn't be a cakewalk. But then again, this dyslexic writer with a maddening lust for annoying truths wasn't looking for easy, he was looking for real.
A journalistic experiment to surf
around the explosive Israeli-Lebanese border
From Day One, the signs of violent conflict are everywhere: rocket craters, barbed wire, tear-gassed protesters, gunfire, and night patrols. But finding a shoreline touched by the best swell in the Med proves a welcoming counterpoint to the tension. Trouble is, peace, like riding a perfect wave, never lasts long. Turns out you can't just surf from Israel to Lebanon. You gotta take an air/land route. Over an inland desert. Through freaking Syria.
Other than hatred, the same surf report, and the desire to blow each other to smithereens, Israel and Lebanon seem to share little else. Like Aizenstat, they are political, cultural, and generational misfits in search of control over their identities and destinies. The author calls 'em like he sees 'em, and goes along for the ride. It gets a little deviant, a little insane, a little frightening, but in the end is fully satisfying. You couldn't ask for a better ride.
First Leg:"It's like Maui with Rockets" (Israel)
Second Leg: Up, but first around: Israel to Lebanon (Jerusalem, West Bank, Jordan)
Third Leg: Unsimply, Lebanon (Lebanon)