NYT (+ Me): More American Jewish Students Take Up Study of the Arab World

"Jerusalem, we made the headlines of the New York Times..."
“Jerusalem, we made the headlines of the New York Times…”

I was quoted and pictured in a NYT story on Friday:

“…In the United States, colleges and universities are riding a two-decade surge in Middle East studies, reflecting that region’s consistent pull on American economics and security. And while there are no definitive demographic data, students and professors say that in classrooms, or in undergraduate study-abroad and postgraduate fellowship programs in the Middle East and in Arabic, it is not unusual for one-quarter or more of the students to be Jewish.

These students say their interest grew because of their heritage, not in spite of it. They feel a desire, even a duty, to understand a region where Israel and the United States are enmeshed in longstanding conflicts, and to act as bridges between cultures — explaining the Arab world to Americans, and America (and sometimes Jews) to Arabs.

“I felt I needed to see Palestinians as full, complete, sympathetic human beings,” said Moriel Rothman, 24, who was born in Israel, grew up in Ohio and studied Arabic at Middlebury College. He now lives in Israel and works for an organization, Just Vision, that makes documentaries about… [Palestinian and Israeli nonviolence initiatives to end the occupation and the conflict].”

(Note: The NYT unfortunately misrepresented Just Vision’s work in the original article as making documentaries about “conflict and cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis” and will hopefully correct it to read as above).

“The part of Judaism that resonates most strongly with me,” he said, “is to love the stranger, remembering when we were strangers.”

[The full article can be found here].

(Oh. And: cool!)