He might be one of the most vocal preservationists of monkeys in the Amazon rainforest, yet when it came to it, he had to eat them to survive. Recently when in Delhi, during his India trip, Israeli author Yossi Ghinsberg got candid about the upcoming film on his life story in his book, which has Hollywood actor Daniel Radcliffe playing him, and his concept of survival. Talking about his film, the motivational speaker says, “In the beginning I was very happy. It was like a dream come true for me. When you write the book, it’s still intimate. It might have been a best-seller but it’s still my story, as I wrote it. The moment we or they make a movie, it’s not my story anymore. There’s a lot of letting go involved in the process. I was advising the actor-director, and gave them as much as I could but then they pushed me away, because my attachment to the story is something that I cannot get over,” he adds with a short laugh.
“I did eat monkeys and would eat them again if circumstances are so,” says Ghinsberg, whose survival story was featured in the documentary series I Shouldn’t Be Alive. Even his book on this experience has sold quite a few million copies. He explains, “You eat anything when you need energy to survive and there’s nothing in your body, when you are becoming just bones and tissues and muscles and I don’t wish those circumstances on anybody. But, I’m a great advocate for saving monkeys in the Amazon.”
His parents have been Holocaust survivors, and his entire life has been an exploration of sorts when it comes to survival. “What I survived in nature is nothing compared to what my parents had to survive in human nature. Nothing can get worse than the cruelty we (as humans) have towards each other,” says Ghinsberg. He makes a sharp distinction between survival and mindless killing. “You may eat another animal to sustain your body, but you aren’t trying to kill the animal,” he says.
Taking into context the present tension between India and Pakistan, he says,“It’s the illusion of survival. We are blinding ourselves. I’m not an expert on India-Pakistan relations, but, Pakistan is big enough without Kashmir and India too is big enough without Kashmir. In another context, but similar situation, if we scratch underneath the surface, Israeli and Palestinians are brothers. It’s when placed under the circumstances of danger, one will give the life for other, not even knowing why. What we lack (at present) is compassion.”