The Simon Round interview

Interview: Jeff Randall

By Simon Round, November 5, 2009

By this time next year, there could be a new chair of Jewish studies at Nottingham University, enabling students to learn about Jewish history, religion, culture and politics. If it happens, it will be largely down to the contribution of one man — award-winning business journalist Jeff Randall.

The question is not how Randall will be able to raise the necessary money for the chair — he does, after all, have a contacts book filled with just about every significant player in the business world — but rather, why.

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Interview: Colin Shindler

By Simon Round, October 28, 2009

As a former chemistry lecturer, Colin Shindler knows all about explosive situations. His new appointment could certainly be construed as such. Shindler has just been made the country’s first-ever Professor of Israeli Studies at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the college with the reputation of being the most hostile anti-Israel campus in the UK.

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Interview: Aric Sigman

By Simon Round, October 8, 2009

Dr Aric Sigman has found himself making the headlines recently. Controversy has been raging over one particular assertion in his new book, The Spoilt Generation, which has been causing Guardian readers to get more than a little hot under the collar.

The vehemence with which he has been attacked has taken Sigman aback, especially given the fact that his views would not have made the front page of a synagogue magazine 40 years ago. Yet now his assertion that parents should be left to decide whether to smack their children or not is incendiary.

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Interview: James Wolfensohn

By Simon Round, September 24, 2009

James Wolfensohn is not a typical investment banker. After all, how many in his profession have dedicated their career to redistributing the world’s wealth from the rich to the poor.

Wolfensohn has. In his decade as president of the World Bank he was able to indulge his passion for development. It was a decade in which several hundred million people were taken out of poverty — a very small first step to righting the world’s imbalances.

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Interview: Victoria Coren

By Simon Round, September 17, 2009

Victoria Coren is very good at poker and has won a lot of money playing it. But despite this and a big sponsorship deal from a poker website, she does not consider herself a professional player. This is probably a very good thing, because when she is not writing or presenting TV programmes (which she does consider her job), she is generally playing poker, either online or live. So if poker was work, she says, she would have no free time at all.

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Interview: Wendy Salisbury

By Simon Round, September 9, 2009

Lots of people disapprove of Wendy Salisbury. Despite the fact that she is successful in her career, happy in her personal life and has a good relationship with her two daughters, there is one aspect of her life that worries her friends.

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Interivew: James Smith

By Simon Round, September 2, 2009

Very few people remain unmoved by a visit to Yad Vashem, but for Stephen and James Smith from Nottinghamshire, it proved to be a life-changing experience.

The brothers, who had hardly met anyone Jewish before they visited the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem in 1991, came home with a conviction that they should do something to encourage education about the Nazi genocide of the Jews.

The result was the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre, built in a renovated farmhouse at the family home in the village of Laxton.

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'Simon Wiesenthal lied'

By Simon Round, July 23, 2009

If you are writing a book about the people who hunted down the Nazis after the Second World War, the one figure it is impossible to ignore is Simon Wiesenthal, the man who became legendary for tracking down war criminals, earning two Nobel Prize nominations in the process.

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Interview: Michael Rosen

By Simon Round, July 2, 2009

Children love Michael Rosen. As one of the most successful and prominent children’s poets of the past 30 years, he has brought laughter, entertainment and a love of literature to youngsters all over the country. Not all adults are so complimentary about him though — particularly those Jews who see his stand against Zionism as hateful and, indeed, self-hating.

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Interview: Zoë Wanamaker

By Simon Round, June 25, 2009

Many Jews tell stories, passed down by their grandparents or great grandparents, of how persecution forced them to flee their homes in Europe to travel in hope to the New World.

For Zoë Wanamaker it happened in reverse. Her family were forced to flee the New World for the Old. Her father, director and actor Sam Wanamaker, was a victim not of antisemitism but of the McCarthyite witchhunts in America in the early 1950s, when those suspected of having links with Communism were blacklisted.

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