I may be wrong, but I imagine that travel journalism these days generally amounts to little more than getting a free ride to an exotic destination and then repaying the 'favour'.
In the case of Derek Rielly's A letter from a Tel Aviv cafe in the Sydney Morning Herald's travel section (31/1/14), however, repaying the favour takes on a whole new meaning.
Rielly is (self?) described (on the Encyclopedia of Surfing website) as a "bright and mischievous surf journalist," who divides his time between "schoolboy comedy" and "risk[ing] a wank once my flatmate leaves for the beach."
That the following ejaculation of Rielly's has found its way into Sydney Morning Herald's travel section speaks volumes about the paper's spiraling decline into complete irrelevance:
"Israel is a brave little country, just 65 years old, that backs onto the moody Mediterranean Sea. It is surrounded by countries whose sole reason for getting up in the morning is the desire to see it destroyed with as much fire and histrionics as possible. Israel, meanwhile, has turned a crummy piece of desert and rock into the most culturally and politically advanced nation in the Middle East. A place in the region not known for its fabulousness, where girls and boys can flash eyes at each other in public or swim together in revealing swimsuits and not fear a vengeful brother or father; where gay men can openly lasso tongues and not cower under the threat of jail or violence.
"Maybe you missed it, but it was International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Tuesday. January 27 is the day in 1945 when the biggest of the death camps, Auschwitz, was liberated... Of the six million Jews killed by the German Final Solution, only a handful survived. More history! Three years and four months later, having been cut a piece of the Palestinian Mandate for a Jewish homeland by the UN, the newly minted state of Israel began a nearly two-year existential war against Arab countries. That, after a year of civil war, between Arab and Jew. Again and again, year after year, wars, bombs, intifadas, suicide hits, massacres, murders, reprisals, invasion and propaganda. The people feel it."
Oh, I know, Derek, I know, I know.
"And it hairs 'em out. There's the ongoing tension that more rockets are going to be launched from Lebanon or Gaza or maybe somewhere inside Israel. Tension that Iran is going to get the bomb. Tension that Syria's and Lebanon's dirty wars will drip across the border."
Yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda...
"Can you imagine what it's like to have created a model society amid dictatorships, military juntas and artificially created kingdoms and yet every single day you wonder if it will be your last?"
Truly, this surfer would be out of his depth in a puddle.