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Ever since the movement’s inception, Zionists have advocated very different ideas of Israel: would the dream of Herzl, Ahad Ha’am, Weizmann, Jabotinsky, Ben Gurion or Begin triumph? Would Israel be a ‘normal’ state, or a ‘light unto the nations’? The state that emerged, partially out of the ashes of the Shoah, became a refuge for those escaping the horrors of WWII and its aftermath, and to many a utopian ideal.
Seventy years on, at the heart of one of the world’s most volatile regions, in a country that still struggles to define itself, was it ever possible for Israel to become the moral super state?
This debate features Ian Black, Anshel Pfeffer, Alice Shalvi, James Sorene and is chaired by Jon Silverman.
Ian Black was Middle East editor of The Guardian until 2016. In 36 years on the paper he was also Jerusalem Correspondent, Diplomatic Editor, European Editor and Chief Foreign Editorial Writer. He has covered major events in the Middle East, from the Iran-Iraq War to the Palestinian Intifadas and the uprisings of the Arab Spring. He has also written for The Washington Post and The Economist. He is now a visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics.
Anshel Pfeffer has covered Israeli politics and global affairs for two decades. He is a senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz, and the Israel correspondent for The Economist. He lives in Jerusalem.
Born in Essen, Germany in 1926, Alice Shalvi and her family escaped Nazi Germany and established themselves in London. She read English at Cambridge and later emigrated to Israel in 1949, where she became enormously influential in women’s education, promoting women’s status, peace dialogues and challenging conventional religious practice. Her name is synonymous with social activism and achievement.
James Sorene is CEO of BICOM, the Britain-Israel communications and research centre, and a regular commentator on Israel and Middle East issues on TV and radio. Before joining BICOM James was Deputy Director of UK Government communications and Official Spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Jon Silverman is Professor of Media & Criminal Justice at the University of Bedfordshire, where he focuses on international criminal courts and Africa. He is also a freelance journalist and broadcaster. He has worked for the BBC News website as a criminal justice/legal affairs analyst and was the BBC Home/Legal Affairs correspondent in London and Paris. He has won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Bar Council’s Legal Broadcaster of the Year and the Sony Gold Award for radio reporting for his exclusive investigative reports for the Today programme on Britain’s Nazi war crimes inquiries.
In association with the New Israel Fund.