Since the year 2000, over 4,300 Palestinian and 1,000 Israeli lives have been claimed by the escalating conflict in the region. The situation grew markedly worse in 2006, when Israel responded to the election of Hamas by sealing off the borders, ending the free-flow of people and goods. Palestinian militants reacted to the siege by targeting Israel's civilian population with deadly rocket strikes; the Israeli Army countered with air strikes, targeting militants but often claiming the lives of innocent residents.
In 2007 it emerged that a small group of young men were surfing in Gaza, sharing battered surfboards they had attained prior to the siege. Word traveled north to Israel, and that same year, a mixed group of Israelis and Americans delivered a dozen boards to their Palestinian counterparts.
In the spring of 2008, they would attempt to deliver another 23 surfboards into Gaza. By this time the situation in Gaza had deteriorated further, the border still sealed, with military activity a near daily occurrence.
"God Went Surfing With the Devil" charts the difficulties and dangers encountered by surfers in the region. Along the way it speaks to Israelis, Arab-Israelis, and Palestinians affected by the violence, charting their daily struggle to supersede the conflict through the joys of surfing.
Below is Michael Fordham from the Do Lectures talking about his love for the sea.
Michael was born in East London in 1968, left school in 1984 and never had a proper job. He started surfing in 1986 whilst living in Queensland during a six year global wander. He returned to London to study anthropology in his mid twenties and became obsessed with war zones, waves and London.
Throughout the nineties he scratched a living by writing about all these things as well as a bunch of other stuff for magazines and newspapers. By the middle of that decade he scored a jumped-up title on the flannel panel at Dazed and Confused, and used that as a magic carpet to take him to places where he could indulge my various obsessions.
In 1999 he launched adrenalin magazine, thereby blagging his way around the world for another six years. In 2002 Michael married Lucy. They were blessed with three children in five years, in the middle of which time they moved to Somerset to live in a tiny village dominated by the Church Wardens and 300 head of cattle.
Whilst his fellow villagers are convinced he is on a Witness Protection Programme, he published The September Project in 2007 and The Book of Surfing: the killer guide to surf culture in 2008. Michael is currently writing a novel set in California in the year 1969, as well as a series of stories about Kosovo and Bosnia, and loads of travel, interviews and other types of hackery.
He is considering going back to study theology.