At the end of the summer term, third year Trinity student Ben Judah took a break from studying politics and decided to go and live it instead.
Travelling around areas such as the West Bank, Syria, Beirut, Armenia and South Ossetia, Ben wrote articles for the Economist, the New Republic Online, Standpoint Magazine and ISN Security watch about what he had experienced. Now he has graced the Cherwell website with his blog Correspondent, which tracks political developments in some of the unstable regions he visited.
“I got an obsession about getting to Syria” Judah says, describing the beginning of his adventure. After spending a week there, Judah decided on Beirut. Having been given the phone number of the Economist, he phoned them and asked whether they would be interested in an article.
“I told them that I knew everybody in Beirut, and everything that was going on – it was a huge exaggeration of the truth,” Judah confesses. (Fledgling hacks, take note.)
Much to his surprise, The Economist agreed and asked Judah to write an online journal. So evolved ‘Scenes from an uneasy place’ -Judah’s first piece for the Economist.
After two weeks though, Ben decided it was time to move on.
“Somebody told me that Aleppo was beautiful, and so I got it in my mind that I suddenly had to get there,” he said.
At the Istanbul Bus Stop though, Judah telephoned aruond to scout out potential interest in an article about Georgia. “I phoned up the New Republic Online and Standpoint and to my horror, they said yes! Some guy shouted ‘last bus!’ so I jumped on it, and was in Georgia in the middle of a warzone twenty four hours later.”
Judah flew from Batumi to Tbilisi, at which point the extent of the war became harrowingly real. “There were refugees everywhere, and the air was full of tension and fear.” Judah went to Rustavi-2, the Georgian TV centre, and once again, embellishing the truth a little, he said that he needed to be inside the warzone the following day to meet his article deadlines. The following day, Judah found himself in a car with a French and Georgian journalists.
“The French guy turned to me, and said, ‘war is about waiting. Generals wait to invade, soldiers wait to attack, and journalists have to wait to report-but today we got lucky-we’re going to Gori.” So Judah found himself heading into a warzone. “I suddenly got scared.”
Check out our podcast interview with Judah here…