The following is an introduction to Jesse Aizenstat's Surfing the Middle East: Deviant Journalism from the Lost Generation.
Major in political science. Graduate with honors. Fail to find a job. Go surfing in the Middle East.
In 2009, I graduated from college in San Diego, California, and couldn't find a job. My only lead was from the Surfer's Journal, where I pitched a deviant little idea to tell the story of the Middle East through surfing.
From Israel to Lebanon would be my route. Around the closed Israeli-Lebanese border, where the Israeli army and Hezbollah take only the fiercest aim at one another.
So, I would have to go around. Meaning that once I surfed in northern Israel I would have to go back to Jerusalem, through the West Bank and into Jordan, where I would fly over Syria and land in Beirut. I would need two American passports, as the Lebanese gleefully deny entry to any and all saps foolish enough to enter with a Hebrew-lettered Israeli stamp in their passport.
It was a daring mission to try to surf from Israel to Lebanon. But if you believe as I do, life is about experience and challenging the waning tide of our own mortality.
In the end, I got closer to the humanity, the conflict and culture than I ever thought possible. I got to ride the fine-breaking Mediterranean waves that have been bombarding this ancient coast since the beginning. Be it surfing with ex-Israeli commandos in Haifa, getting tear-gassed in the West Bank, or even sneaking into a Hezbollah rally in south Beirut, the whole thing was downright mind-bending.
And the best part is that it's still out there, waiting for the next time, whenever that glory will be.
This post originally appeared in the Fair Observer.
Follow Jesse Aizenstat on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SurftheME