Last week's Kitchen Cabinet with Annabel Crabb on ABC TV proved definitively, if proof were necessary, that travel doesn't always, as the old adage assures us, broaden the mind.
Annabel's guest, the frenetic Minister for Women & Cats, Michaelia Cash, is described on the program's website as "whipping up a salmon bake and talking about her travels in the Middle East." But don't let your imagination run wild. Michaelia's no Gertrude Bell. Here's the relevant transcript - with annotations:
MC: I went backpacking for 3 years.
AC: But that's such a long time to go backpacking...
MC: It is a long time to go backpacking.
AC: But why'd you go to the Middle East?
MC: Oh, I actually went to London first... I then met an Israeli girl and she said to me 'Look I live on a kibbutz in Israel... in the Golan Heights.' When you're a backpacker the beauty of it is you just go with the flow.
The Golan Heights is not in Israel. It's occupied Syrian territory.
AC: You just go with the flow?
MC: You just go with the flow, quite literally.
MC: And so it was fantastic.
AC: And did you venture into Palestine?
*Sigh* If you're in 'Israel', you're in occupied Palestine.
MC: I did go into Palestine. I lived in the Old City of Jerusalem, in the Muslim section, for 3 months.
AC: Right... and did you see much of the conflict first hand?
MC: I had arrived just after the intifada had ended, and so if you went out, basically everybody was armed.
Cash is referring here to the first intifada (1987-1993). "Everybody," of course, means Israelis.
I remember you'd go to nightclub after nightclub after nightclub.
Night clubs are such great places to learn about a country. Just remember: wherever you go, if you want to know what's going on - for example, why, in this case, "everybody was armed" - just go to "nightclub after nightclub after nightclub, OK?"
People would literally just be there with their machine guns and, you know, playing with them as though they were guitars. It was quite bizarre. So yeah, it was an interesting time to be in Israel. It was an interesting time to be there.
AC: Obviously, in Australian politics, there's always, um, you know, a fairly spirited debate about the Middle East. So where does it leave you?
MC: I very much believe in the two-state solution. I very much believe in the two-state solution.
Good grasp of the mantra there! Watch your back, Julie Bishop...