The Interviewees

INTERVIEWEES IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

Aharon Appelfeld

 

9839961_origAharon Appelfeld  is an internationally acclaimed, prizewinning  Israeli author who has written over two dozen novels as well as collections of poetry, essays and short stories. Born in  the region of the Kingdom of Romania,  now Ukraine,  Appelfeld’s mother was murdered  when he was eight years old and he was deported with his father to a Nazi concentration camp. He escaped and hid for three years before joining the Soviet Army. After World War II, Appelfeld spent several months in a displaced persons camp in Italy before immigrating to British mandatory Palestine in 1946, two years before Israel’s independence. 

Separation, resilience, and the healing power of spontaneous human connection are frequent themes in his work. His writings do not contend explicitly with the events of the Holocaust. Yet the suffering, death, and abandonment of Jewish people, especially children, echo in the background through memory and foreshadowing. His writings celebrate how other marginalized people in Europe—witches, prostitutes, vagrants, and criminals—aided refugees, especially children, in their quest to escape state-sanctioned violence. Although his poems, stories, and novels often look back to the dark scenes of his childhood, interviewers describe the writer as remarkably warm, humorous, and forgiving.

 


 

Professor Manfred Gerstenfeld 

 

2450723_origManfred Gerstenfeld was born in Vienna and grew up in Amsterdam where he obtained a master’s degree inorganic chemistry at Amsterdam University. He also studied economics at what is nowadays Erasmus university in Rotterdam. He has a high school teaching degree in Jewish studies from the Dutch Jewish seminary.

In 1964 he moved to Paris where he became Europe’s first financial analyst specializing in the pharmaceutical industry. He moved to Israel in 1968, where  he became the managing director of an economic consultancy firm partly owned by Israel’s then-largest bank Bank leumi. Gerstenfeld was a board member of one of Israel’s largest companies, the Israel Corporation, and several other Israeli companies. In 1999 he obtained a Ph.D. in environmental studies at Amsterdam University.

Today Manfred Gerstenfeld is considered a leading expert on anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism. Ha’Aretz editor Anshel Pfeffer wrote in 2013 that “Manfred Gerstenfeld is without doubt the greatest authority on anti-Semitism today.” He was an editor of The Jewish Political Studies Review, co-publisher of the Jerusalem Letter/Viewpoints, Post-Holocaust and Anti-Semitism and Changing Jewish Communities and a member of the council of the Foundation for Research of Dutch Jewry, of which he was formerly the vice-chairman. He was chairman of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, from 2000 until 2012, where he headed the Institute for Jewish Global Affairs. He is the 2012 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism. In 2015, he received the International Leadership Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.


 

Professor Phyllis Chesler

995637_origPhyllis Chesler  is an American writer, psychotherapist, and professor emeritia of psychology and women’s studies at the College of Staten Island (CUNY). She is known as a feminist psychologist, and is the author of 16 books, including the best-seller Women and Madness (1972). Chesler has written on topics such as gender, mental illness, divorce and child custody, surrogacy, second wave feminism, pornography, prostitution, incest, and violence against women. 
In more recent years, Chesler has written several works on such subjects as antisemitism, Islam, and honor killings. Chesler argues that many western intellectuals, including leftists and feminists, have abandoned Western values in the name of multicultural relativism, and that this has led to an alliance with Islamists, an increase in antisemitism, and to the abandonment of Muslim women and religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries.

 


 

Professor Robert Wistrich

9095866_origRobert Wistrich 
was born in the USSR  in 1945. His parents were originally Polish Jews who later moved back to Poland and then to France. Wistrich grew up in England, where in at the age of 17 he won an Open Scholarship in History to Queen’s College Cambridge. At Cambridge, he founded Circuit, a literary and arts magazine that he co-edited between 1966 and 1969. Between 1969–1970, during a study year in Israel, he became the youngest ever literary editor of New Outlook, a left-wing monthly in Tel Aviv, founded by Martin Buber.

Wistrich received his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1974.  Between 1974 and 1980, he was Director of Research at the Institute of Contemporary History and the Wiener Library (at that time the largest research library on the Third Reich existing in Europe). Appointed a Research Fellow at the British Academy, he had already written several well-received books by the time he was given tenure at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1982. In 1985 his book Socialism and the Jews won the joint award of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism and the American Jewish Committee.  His study, Antisemitism: The Longest Hatred (1991) won the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Prize in the UK and a year later, and was the basis for The Longest Hatred — a three-hour British-American TV documentary mini-series scripted by Wistrich. In 1993, he also scripted Good Morning, Mr. Hitler, an award-winning documentary on Nazi art commissioned by the UK’s Channel 4. Until his recent and untimely death Robert Wistrich was director of the Vidal Sassoon Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University,  Mount Scopus, Jerusalem.


 

Giovanni Matteo Quer

29951_orig Giovanni Matteo Quer
, of Haifa University and until recently of Hebrew University,  specializes in Christian issues. He says:
“The global movement of deligitimization of Israel and the Christian world has strong theological roots. We can see churches all around the world, both Catholic but also Protestant churches that have adopted BDS boycott divestment and sanctions measures to oppose Israel and Zionism. This hostility against Israel and against Zionism is explained in theological terms as the rejection of Zionism deemed as a theological perversion of God’s message.“


 

Tuvia Tenenbom

7247163Tuvia Tenenbom
 is a theater director, playwright, author, journalist, essayist and the founding artistic director of the Jewish Theater of New York, the only English-speaking Jewish theater in New York City. Tenenbom was called the “founder of a new form of Jewish theatre” by the French Le Monde and a “New Jew” by the Israeli Maariv. Tenenbom is also an academic, having university degrees in mathematics, computer science, dramatic writing and literature.

Tenenbom has written over sixteen plays for The Jewish Theater of new York, widely recognized by American and European critics. German newspaper Die Zeit described Tenenbom’s play The Last Virgin as “more desperately needed in Germany than suspected”; The New York Times,reviewing Father of the Angels, called it “irresistibly fascinating”; and Corriere della Sera, reviewing Last Jew In Europe, named Tenenbom “One of the most iconoclastic and innovative of contemporary dramatists.” Tenenbom writes for various newspapers and websites,and his political articles, cultural criticism and essays have appeared in media outlets including Die Zeit of Germany,Corriere della Sera of Italy, Yedioth Ahronot of Israel and Fox News. He is also a political columnist for Zeit Online; his column appears every second week.


 


Itamar Marcus 


6302336_origItamar Marcus is an Israeli political activist, researcher and the founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, which studies Palestinian society by monitoring and analyzing the Palestinian Authority (PA) through its media and schoolbooks.

His work on textbooks led Benyamin Netanyahu to appoint Marcus to represent his country in the negotiations with the Palestinians on incitement in the Trilateral Anti-Incitement Committee (Israeli–Palestinian–American) in his capacity as Director of Research for the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMP), where he served from 1998 to 2000.

As Director of Research for CMP, Marcus wrote reports on PA, Syrian and Jordanian schoolbooks. In February 2007, together with then Senator Hillary Clinton he released a report on the newest PA schoolbooks at a press conference in Washington.

Marcus testified before the Education Subcommittee of the US Senate Committee on Allocations, documenting the Palestinian Authority’s indoctrination of children to seek death as Shahids – Martyrs – for public relations purposes. He has also presented before members of Congress, and to members of Parliament in numerous countries including, the European Union, United Kingdom, France, Canada, and Australia, and has lectured in universities and conferences worldwide.

 



Professor Raphael Israeli
 is Professor Emeritus of Middle Eastern, Islamic and Chinese history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a research fellow at both the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace and the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Israeli was born in FesMorocco and emigrated to Israel at the age of 14.  For twelve years he was a Career Officer in Military Intelligence in the Israeli Defence Forces, whereafter he switched to Academia. He received a degree in Arabic and History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and became a fellow of the Center of Chinese Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned an M.A. degree in East Asian History and a Ph.D in Chinese and Islamic History. Israeli’s working languages are: Hebrew, English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Russian.

Israeli has taught for 30 years in well attended courses at the Hebrew University, as well as been a Visiting Professor at many prestigious Universities in the United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, and Europe.  He is one of the world’s experts on the rise of today’s radical Islam.
He is the Author of over 40 books, and many scholarly articles in the fields of: the Modern Middle East, Islamic radicalism, Islam in China and Asia and the Opening of China by the French.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

An author and commentator who appears on Arabic and Western TV, Dr. Kedar is a frequent guest on Al Jazzeera. He is an expert on Islam and on the history of Islam and Jews and Judaism and is on the faculty at the Department of Arabic at the Hebrew University. He says:

”The hatred towards Jews now is driven by the hatred towards Jews in the seventh century in the Islamic world. This is something which westerners find very hard to understand and to agree that it exists at all.”


Hillel Neuer

The Director of UN Watch Geneva, Hillel Neuer tells his personal story and feelings about attending Human Rights Commission meetings as an observer:

“When I walk into the Human Rights Council, I feel the glares of hatred, of enmity directed at me. I see it in in their eyes, and it’s from dictatorships, it’s from Arab states, it’s from others, sometimes even democracies, and sadly from some NGOs who are meant to be great voices for human rights but through a perversion of values that has occurred over time on the far left,  have become viciously anti-Israel and treat me as contaminated.”

Professor Gerald Steinberg

The Jerusalem based Director of the NGO, NGO Monitor. He comments that:

“…the NGOs very frequently operate on one level the image that they project as supporters of human rights, that have expertise in these areas and are non-discriminatory, and the reality which is that they are very much part of the war against Israel, the war against the Jewish people, and that is a very strong expression of the new anti-Semitism.”

Jeff Daube

Lives and works in Israel. He is the Director of ZOA in Israel. He comes from a family that has experienced all aspects of anti-Semitism. He tells his personal story:

“When stones like this came flying in my direction, in our direction, it not only made me feel very uncomfortable, but these stones also made me relive in my collective conscience the stones that came flying in my direction as a youngster growing up in New York City, it recalled for me the stones that headed in my sons direction in Hebron, it recalled for me also the stones that were thrown by the pro-Nazi teenagers in my mother’s village and my father’s village in Germany.“