Did Anthony Bourdain Once Say ‘Courage Is Made in Palestine’?

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Anthony Bourdain once said, “Today, nearly everything is made in China. Except for courage. Courage is made in Palestine.”

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Context

Prior to his death in June 2018, there’s no record of the former chef, author and TV host ever having made this exact statement. However, as we’ve noted below, Bourdain did have a record of making several remarks on the subject of Israel and Gaza, including comments and tweets specifically about Palestinians.

In December 2023 and January 2024, social media users shared a quote that purportedly was once written or spoken by former chef, author and TV host Anthony Bourdain. According to past posts on Facebook, X, Instagram, TikTok and beyond, Bourdain once wrote or said the words, “Today, nearly everything is made in China. Except for courage. Courage is made in Palestine.”

While it’s entirely possible that Bourdain might have agreed with the words in the quote, we have so far been unable to find any credible record of him ever having made this exact statement.

Bourdain died by suicide in June 2018 in France, reportedly hanging himself in his hotel room. He was in the country to film an episode for his CNN TV series, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”

In this story, we’ll detail the misattributed origins of the quote. We’ll also take a look back at the fact that Bourdain had visited Israel, the West Bank and Gaza for an episode of his CNN show, which resulted in several noteworthy comments and tweets he made in regard to Palestinians.

A Quote Misattributed

The oldest version of the quote that we could find with Bourdain’s name attached to it was from July 2021.

Meanwhile, we found similar statements going back to 2013 that did not mention Bourdain, showing that his name had been misattributed with the quote.

The ‘Parts Unknown’ Episode in Israel and Gaza

On Sept. 15, 2013, the Season 2 premiere of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” aired for the first time on CNN. The first episode of the new season was titled, “Jerusalem,” and explored areas in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Bourdain tweeted at least one photo from his travels ahead of the episode’s air date.

He also tweeted about how some users had apparently expressed anger ahead of the premiere of the episode, despite having not watched it yet.

The episode included several key moments of narration from Bourdain that helped to shed light on what his thoughts might be if he were still alive and asked about the “courage is made in Palestine” quote.

During the episode, upon entering a Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza, Bourdain referred to the territory as being “a prison”:

It’s right there for all to see and it feels like something out of a science fiction film. This is the wall. From the other side, from inside this place, for instance, the Aida [Palestinian] refugee camp in the district of Bethlehem, it doesn’t feel like anything other than what it is: a prison.

Bourdain described to his TV audience that people residing in Gaza were “compelled” to live in the region, and that, “in most cases, they’re either prohibited from or unable to leave”:

Getting in and out of Gaza from Israel is truly one of the most surreal travel experiences you could have on Earth. Over 1.5 million people live in Gaza, most of them considered refugees, meaning they’re not from the place they’re compelled to live now. In most cases, they’re either prohibited from or unable to leave. Israel decides who comes and goes, what gets in and what stays out. Apart from journalists, aid workers [and] emergency responders, very few people are allowed to cross into Gaza.

Near the end of the episode, Bourdain wrapped up everything he saw during his time in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, saying that, in his opinion, any thoughts of future peace happening in the region might be “very mushy thinking indeed”:

One can be forgiven for thinking, when you see how similar they are, the two peoples, both of whom cook with pride, eat with passion, love their kids, love the land in which they live or the land they dream of returning to, who live so close, who are locked in such an intimate, if deadly embrace, might somehow, someday, figure out how to live with each other. But that would be very mushy thinking indeed. Those things, in the end, probably don’t count for much at all.

Bourdain’s Thoughts on News Coverage of Palestinians

Two days before the episode premiered, Bourdain appeared in a live interview on CNN to promote the new season.

During one of his answers, he said of the first episode, “You know, there’s a basic humanity that I think is denied people sometimes in hard stories. And I like to think we showed a side of the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank that’s been missing from a lot of reporting.”

Bourdain: ‘Grateful’ to ‘Palestinians in Particular’

The episode later won a “Voices of Courage and Conscience” award from the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC). Bourdain accepted the award with a brief video-recorded speech, saying that he was “enormously grateful for the response from Palestinians in particular”:

I’m very, very honored for this award, the impact voices of courage and conscience media award. There was, however, very little courage and, one would hope, an ordinary amount of courage in producing our Israel-Palestine episode of “Parts Unknown.”

I was enormously grateful for the response from Palestinians in particular, for doing what seemed to me an ordinary thing. Something we do all the time: Show regular people doing everyday things. Cooking and enjoying meals. Playing with their children. Talking about their lives, their hopes and dreams. It is a measure I guess of how twisted and shallow our depiction of the people is, that these images come as a shock to so many.

The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people. None more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity. People are not statistics. That is all we attempted to show. A small, pathetically small step toward understanding.

Weeks after accepting the award, in July 2014, Bourdain shared on Twitter a photo shot by Tyler Hicks from The New York Times. The picture depicted a young Palestinian boy who had reportedly died on a beach in Gaza following an Israeli airstrike.

Bourdain’s post read, “Maybe it’s the fact that I walked on that beach—and have a small child that makes this photo so devastating.” He closed the tweet with a hashtag for “Gaza.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health, suicide or substance use crisis or emotional distress, reach out 24/7 to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) by dialing or texting 988 or using chat services at suicidepreventionlifeline.org to connect to a trained crisis counselor.

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