Archives for category: Middle East

In the ongoing mini-saga in responses to my piece comparing my experience as a Jew in Costa Rica and in Israel, University of Chicago student Jonathan Katz wrote this piece for New Voices, where my op-ed originally ran.

I was not the biggest fan of my colleague’s piece. I found the approach to be too broad-stroke, and I myself cringed at the description of San José. Admittedly, Cohen could have been more charitable. But I also found his piece to be honest, which I thought was important and refreshing.

But the response was unwarranted, cruel, and in some ways anti-Semitic. And in it, there is something interesting to examine: Underlying all of it is a subconscious narrative that, because Costa Rica has gone through certain activities to connote acceptance of Jews, Jews should then simply be happy with whatever experience happens in Costa Rica. Without critique.

Screenshot of my story on the New Voices home page

It was hard being Jewish. There were no Shabbat dinners or daily prayers in my life, so I felt Jewish a grand total of three times in Costa Rica. I had to seek out spiritual enlightenment, and that usually only happened within the walls of the synagogue.

That stood in stark contrast to Israel, where being Jewish was pervasive and, by extension, easy. Everything around our hotel on the Kinerret closed on Shabbat, forcing time for reflection and relaxation. Kosher food is bountiful. Hebrew is omnipresent.

But I felt just as Jewish at services at B’nei Israel as I did when I was surrounded by it in Israel. 10 hours in a shul in Latin America was as spiritually fulfilling as 10 days in the Holy Land.

Read the rest of my reflection on my travels at New Voices.

Picked up a girlfriend in Chicago, and we still get along almost a year later.

Finished my tenure as editor-in-chief of The Eagle, one of the best weekly student newspapers in the country.

Interned for a phenomenal five months at PBS MediaShift.

Lived for four and a half months in Costa Rica, the most verdant country I have ever had the pleasure to call home.

Traveled in Israel, which I have always called home.

Secured my last internship of my academic career at The Washington Post, a newspaper I have revered since moving to DC three and a half years ago.

Through good times and bad, I could count on friends and family to be there for me.

I’ve made some enemies, I’ve made more friends.

I’ve had some sucesses, I’ve made more mistakes.

I cried, but I more often I laughed.

There have been good days and bad.

I don’t regret a second.

Come at me, 2014. I’m ready for you.


Among the younger generation in the Middle East, Internet use is surpassing TV, and that could have long-term implications in the region. And that increased engagement online comes with important, unresolved questions about media regulation online, according to new research by Northwestern University in Qatar. The study paints an in-depth picture of the role of the news industry in the Arab World with responses from 10,000 people in Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and United Arab Emirates.

“Continuous focus on the conflicts and controversies of the Middle East affords little attention to the steady and growing media sector in the region, which has an amalgam of traditional and new platforms,” Northwestern University in Qatar Dean and CEO Everette Dennis writes in the introduction of the study.

Read the full story here, as well as links to the study in its entirety.

On a personal note, this was a perfect story for me to tell. Being an international communication major at American University and an International Studies and Business University Program student in high school, I was able to put to use my years of education on the subject
to use.