A traveler’s view of a political world

Most people think of travel as a means of getting away, but it can also provide insights into a world that you cannot get from television and newspapers.

CHARLOTTESeptember 28, 2012 — Every now and then world events converge with travel experiences to create indelible perspectives of global conflicts.

Such was the case for me when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel addressed the UN this week.

Regardless of what you believe about the constant upheaval that permeates the Middle East, there can be no dispute that Israel is an island surrounded by a sea of enemies. Stability in the Middle East is a relative term. There are only degrees of instability.

Our opinions of events in that region are most often shaped by the images we see on television or information we gather from newspapers or the internet. Less often do we actually go to such destinations, and no amount of media can be as powerful or as life altering as a personal visit.

If a traveler truly desires to have a better grasp of the cultural differences and perspectives of other nations, the best way to achieve that is to individually immerse yourself into that environment.

As personal disclosure, I lived in Saudi Arabia and worked for an oil company during the second Iraqi war. In order to gain the best insights possible from the experience, I purposely traveled to the Arabian Peninsula with no preconceived ideas and minimal research, other than what was necessary to enter the country.

My perspectives today are constantly evolving, but they are the result of living in a destination, interacting with its people, extensive reading and personal observations. Every effort was made to absorb the culture through my pores.

Way back in 1948 when Israel was created, and the territory was divvied up, there was little land of any value. The entire region was desolate salt flat, harsh desert and rocky waste.

Travel to Israel today and you will discover four lane highways, landscaping where nothing but rock existed six decades ago, and vibrant cities. It is a modern country where the people have taken what existed, rolled up their sleeves and, literally, created something out of nothing.

By contrast, when you venture into bordering areas that share the same region, you quickly notice that, by comparison, little has been accomplished. The desert still dominates. Cities are less than contemporary. These are places where the past reflects the future.

A visitor doesn’t need to be influenced by outside sources. All that is required is simple observation. One needs only to look around.

For me, travel is more than fancy hotels or seaside resorts. Travel is also people. Cultures. History. Traditions. Heritage.

I have walked through the teeming impoverished streets of Port au Prince, Haiti.

I have seen the lines in Moscow where Russians stood for hours to purchase a radio.

There was the day I spent an afternoon with a Russian family in their apartment in Moscow, only to phone them later that evening and have them hang up when they heard my voice.

Throngs of beggars and street hawkers have swarmed me in Cairo and Delhi, surging through a sea of humanity just to sell something; anything.

One night in Bangkok, Thailand the mother and father of a 12-year old girl offered her to me as a prostitute.

In Saudi Arabia, checkpoints are way of life. We regularly went through two, sometimes three, on the way to work.

Then there was the day I spent several hours in a Saudi jail just for taking a picture of a mosque.

Any way you look at the above examples, these are not situations we encounter during our daily lives in the United States.Today, Islam accounts for about 1.6 billion people, or approximately 20 percent of the world population. Muslims love to tout their accomplishments, yet since the Nobel Prizes were established in 1895, only seven Muslims have received an award, including Yaser Arafat who got the Peace Prize even though he was a known terrorist.

Compare that to the Jewish community which numbers approximately 16-million and accounts for about .02 percent of people on earth. Their contribution during the same period of time is 129 Nobel Prizes.

The numbers don’t lie.

Barack Obama turns his back on Israel at a time when Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. The President’s Islamic background and upbringing causes him to glaringly side with an increasingly violent Muslim world. Despite the knowledge of his youth and his associations in an Islamic environment, Obama either remains naïve or he is purposely taking our country down a dangerous path of destruction.

Listen to Benjamin Netanyahu’s warnings. It doesn’t take genius or a diplomat to recognize that the looming danger in the Middle East combined with the lack of leadership by a dishonest, uninvolved, disinterested president (except as it relates to his re-election) is a major concern for our country.

If you don’t believe it, just take some time to travel to other parts of the world for yourself. As the old expression goes, “seeing is believing.”

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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