The Simon Round interview

Interview: Nicholas Saphir

By Simon Round, March 11, 2010

Nicholas Saphir considers himself a proud Zionist. He is descended from the Hebrew poet Bialik, he is passionately committed to Israel and holds former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in high regard.

He is also the UK chairman of the New Israel Fund (NIF), an organisation which has been pilloried by right-wingers. They allege that the NIF supports organisations which work against the interests of the state of Israel, and that groups supported by the NIF supplied much of the evidence used in the Goldstone Report, which severely criticised Israel's 2009 incursion into Gaza.

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Interview: Hannah Rosenthal

By Simon Round, March 4, 2010

It is perhaps not particularly surprising that three months into her new job, President Obama's special envoy to combat and monitor antisemitism has been subjected to abuse. What is startling is that, up to now, none of Hannah Rosenthal's critics have come from the extreme right or the Islamic world - they have nearly all been Jewish.

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Interview: Gail Ronson

By Simon Round, February 25, 2010

Dame Gail Ronson has moving on her mind. Jewish Care's new deputy president is looking forward to the organisation's departure for its new headquarters in Golders Green this autumn. She is also beginning to wonder whether it might just be time to put the family house in Hampstead up for sale. Not that the matter is up for discussion with her husband, property millionaire Gerald Ronson. "It's a sore subject," she laughs. "I'm not allowed to bring it up. But I would love to move. I have to spend a lot of time in central London and the driving is killing me. It adds two hours to my day."

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Interview: Efraim Zuroff

By Simon Round, February 4, 2010

Efraim Zuroff is running out of time. Zuroff is a Nazi-hunter — in fact, since Simon Wiesenthal’s death in 2005, he has become the world’s most prominent hunter of Nazi war criminals. However, the number of those who perpetrated the Holocaust has been reduced by the passage of time. Those who remain alive are in their late 80s and 90s. Despite this, Zuroff has vowed to give them no respite.

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Interview: Howard Jacobson

By Simon Round, January 21, 2010

At first glance, Howard Jacobson might be considered a strange candidate to make a film on the Creation. He is not religiously observant but then neither is he a convinced atheist. So given that Channel 4 wanted a polemical treatment of the subject, as the first part of its series The Bible — A History, why choose someone who cannot decide whether the Creation happened, or if it did, what it means?

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Interview: Mavis Klein

By Simon Round, January 7, 2010

A new year has begun and for many people that means a renewed attempt to find that one special person with whom to share their lives. But what makes them think that after a lifetime of trying and failing to achieve that special relationship, they are going to succeed now?

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Interview: David Kessler

By Simon Round, December 29, 2009

The best thrillers are tense, full of twists with plots that take you first one way and then another, serving up breath-taking cliff-hangers, driving you crazy with suspense.

In a way one could say the same about the career of thriller writer David Kessler, whose life has taken a few twists of its own since he decided at the age of 15 that he wanted to be a professional writer.

Having made his career choice, he left school without qualifications, and drifted through menial jobs both here and in Israel as he tried to write that elusive thriller.

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Interview: Mira Hamermesh

By Simon Round, December 17, 2009

It took documentary-maker and artist Mira Hamermesh a long time to speak about her wartime experiences. Sixty years went by, and even her closest friends were unaware of her compelling escape from Nazi-occupied Poland to Palestine.

When the Germans invaded Poland in 1939, she escaped with her brother — their journey took them through the Soviet Union to Lithuania and ultimately to Palestine. Her parents and the rest of her family stayed, were incarcerated in the Lodz Ghetto and died at the hands of the Nazis.

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Interview: Anat Hoffman

By Simon Round, December 3, 2009

Anat Hoffman is not a woman who likes monopolies. Twenty years ago she took on the Israel’s telecommunications behemoth, Bezeq, and won a resounding victory. Her present target is an even more imposing opponent — Israel’s religious establishment. But this, she feels, is a battle that she and Israel dare not lose.

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Interview: Shlomo Sand

By Simon Round, November 12, 2009

For a man at the centre of a controversy, Professor Shlomo Sand looks remarkably calm. The German-born Israeli historian has faced ferocious and repeated attacks from the academic community in Israel and beyond over his new book, The Invention of the Jewish People. His scholarship, his conclusions and his political stance have all been criticised. In fact the title itself has angered Jews around the world.

The storm certainly helped sales, propelling the book to best-seller status in Israel. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

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