Laura Kokotailo
Journalism and Communications Intern


My name is Laura Kokotailo and I am a rising senior at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. I am majoring in International Studies and have a minor in Art History. I am originally from Boston, Massachusetts. My interest in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more specifically comes from my study of Arabic and my experience studying abroad in Jordan for the fall semester of my junior year. My interest in Arabic initially arose out of my passion for art and architecture. I visited the Alhambra in southern Spain at age 16 and was struck by the way that Arabic bridged the divide between poetry and visual art in such a powerful way. I began studying Arabic during my freshman year at Johns Hopkins and have grown to love the language. My study of Arabic led me to travel abroad to Jordan this past fall, where I came face to face with some of the most pressing issues in the Middle East today. I worked alongside Syrians, Jordanians, and Palestinians on a daily basis, gaining a newfound appreciation for and perspective on the issues and challenges that these groups of people face. Moreover, I had the opportunity to travel through Palestine, which afforded me an up-close view of the situation on the ground that I could never have gotten through either the media or my studies. However, it was meeting Palestinians, whether in the West Bank or Jordan, and hearing each of their unique stories and experiences with the occupation, that inspired my desire to act and advocate in favor of their interests when I returned to the United States. One of the biggest issues that I see marring the prospects for peace and prosperity for both Israelis and Palestinians (both in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and abroad), is the lack of freedom of movement. The economic consequences of the restriction of movement between the separated areas of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel have been dire for Palestinians and have weakened both the Palestinian negotiating position and the possibilities for future statehood. Moreover, the humanitarian toll that the barriers to free movement, such as the separation wall, have placed upon the Palestinian people cannot be overstated.

ATFP is an ideal place for me to codify and hone my ideas about the conflict and work toward a peaceful solution. I am inspired by the mission statement of ATFP and specifically the importance of the fact that the United States’ interests in the Middle East cannot be separated from the Palestinian issue. I am excited to focus specifically on the issues facing Palestinians and work towards enhancing dialogue within the United States about this pressing issue.  


Follow Laura on Twitter: @KokotailoLaura

American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017