Chef and adventurer Anthony Bourdain — who was found dead in his hotel room this week — had a very pointed message for the world after traveling to Gaza.
Bourdain and his CNN show, Parts Unknown, were famous for showing the Western world cultures that haven’t gotten mainstream exposure. In one episode several years ago, Bourdain — who was of Jewish descent — went to Jersualem, Gaza, and the West Bank to eat and mingle with Israelis and Palestinians, marking a milestone for a significant cable news network in depicting the region outside the scope of the conflict between Hamas and the Israeli government.
“By the end of this hour, I’ll be seen by many as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, socialist, a fascist, CIA agent, and worse,” Anthony Bourdain said in a disclaimer at the start of the episode.
In 2014, Anthony Bourdain accepted the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Impact Voices of Courage and Conscience award and urged the international community to see the Palestinian people as fellow human beings deserving of basic human rights.
“The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity,” the celebrity chef stated in his acceptance speech. “People are not statistics. That is all we attempted to show. A small, pathetically small step towards understanding.”
Palestinian-Canadian human rights lawyer Diana Buttu told CNN that Anthony Bourdain’s depiction of Palestinians cooking and eating together, playing with their children, and doing everyday activities was bold, but that his insistence that his crew honestly document the conditions Palestinians were living in was “refreshing.”
“It was very refreshing when Bourdain came here,” Buttu said. “It was very revealing that after the segment aired and when he talked about Palestinians that he made sure to mention the issue of dehumanization, that Palestinians had been deprived of their humanity.”
Local law enforcement in France told reporters that Bourdain apparently committed suicide by hanging himself with a bathrobe belt. He was 61 years old. In a 2014 interview with celebrity gossip site TMZ, Bourdain said that if he were to be executed, his last meal would be sushi.
“Straight ahead, nothing creative. Classic nigiri,” Bourdain said.
Tom Cahill is a contributor for Grit Post who covers political and economic news. He lives in Bend, Oregon. Send him an email at tom DOT v DOT cahill AT gmail DOT com.