Israel is often presented as a pariah state. This year, an Israeli theatre group was forced to leave the Edinburgh Fringe, M&S stores were targeted during protests, and the Jewish Film Festival was dropped for not renouncing Israeli Embassy funding. The latter decision may have been overturned, but the fact that many activists on anti-war demos have turned a blind eye to Islamicists shouting "Kill the Jews" suggests, at best, complacency in the face of emerging anti-Semitism. Many protesters rightly insist there is nothing anti-Semitic about opposing Israeli atrocities. But distinguishing 'anti-Zionism' from spite against Jews is getting hard. As opposition to Israel has become a cause célèbre, the usual hypersensitivity about even the hint of racism has been absent. In reply, others insist charges of anti-Semitism discredit legitimate criticism and silence opposition to Zionism aggression. What is the balance? Has anti-Semitism returned in a new guise?
Claire Fox is the director of the Institute of Ideas (IoI), which she established to create a public space where ideas can be contested without constraint. Claire initiated the IoI while co-publisher of the controversial and ground-breaking current affairs journal LM magazine (formerly Living Marxism). The IoI has since worked with a variety of prestigious institutions in Britain and abroad. Claire convenes the IoI's flagship event, the yearly Battle of Ideas festival, which takes place in London in October. The IoI has also established the prestigious Debating Matters competition for sixth form students in the UK and India under Claire's direction.
Claire is a panellist on BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze and is regularly invited to comment on developments in culture, education, politics and the arts across the whole range of media outlets: such as BBC Question Time, BBC Any Questions?, SkyNews Review, and BBC Breakfast. Claire writes regularly for national newspapers and a range of specialist journals. She has a monthly column in the MJ (municipal journal) and presented 'Claire Fox News' on the internet TV channel '18 Doughty Street'.
Claire is a Member of the European Cultural Parliament and sits on the Advisory Board of the Economic Policy Centre.
Claire previously worked as a mental health social worker and as a lecturer in English literature. She was a judge on the panel for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006 (download her speech given to the 2006 Orange Prize Libraries Seminar) and features in the 'Who's Who' almanac 2007. Claire was number 64 in Time Out's 2006 London Movers and Shakers list, and was named the capital's No.3 activist. Claire also features in the Telegraph's list of Britain's 100 most influential people on the Left.
Claire has a particular interest in education and social issues such as crime and mental health. She opposes 'youth voice' initiatives as patronising and an abdication of adult responsibility, is an advocate of a liberal arts and academic curriculum for all school pupils, and is a fierce opponent of the politicisation of and interference into the curriculum for social or policy ends.
She is highly critical of authoritarian developments such as New Labour's 'antisocial behaviour orders', any form of restriction on free speech, the erosion of civil liberties and attempts to manage and 'nudge' the public's behaviour. She is also a passionate supporter of the arts, and strongly believes that they should be valued for their own sake rather than as instrumental means to social ends. Claire wrote No strings attached! Why Arts Funding should say no to instrumentalism for Arts & Business (4 July 2007) to lay out her opposition to instrumentalism in ther arts.
Professor Frank Furedi
Frank Furedi is an associate of the Centre for Parenting Culture Studies, University of Kent and visiting professor at the Institute of Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London.
During the past 15 years Furedi's studies have been devoted to an exploration of the cultural developments that influence the construction of contemporary risk consciousness. During the past decade his research has been oriented towards the way that risk and uncertainty is managed by contemporary culture. He has published widely about controversies relating to issues such as health, parenting children, food and new technology. His Invitation To Terror; Expanding the Empire of the Unknown (2007) explores the way in which the threat of terrorism has become amplified through the ascendancy of possibilistic thinking. It develops the arguments contained in two previous books The Culture of Fear (2003) and Paranoid Parenting (2001). Both of these works investigate the interaction between risk consciousness and perceptions of fear, trust relations and social capital in contemporary society. His work on trust has been developed through a historical investigation of the meaning of authority, which is published by Cambridge University Press in October, 2014 as Authority, A Sociological History.
Furedi's books and articles provide an authoritative yet lively account of key developments in contemporary cultural life. Using his insight as a professional sociologist, Furedi has produced a series of agenda-setting books that have been widely discussed in the media. Furedi regularly comments on radio and television. In the past year he has appeared on Newsnight, Sky and BBC News, Radio 4's Today and The Moral Maze and a variety of other radio and television shows. His has been interviewed by the media in Australia, Canada, the United States, Poland, Holland, Belgium, Brazil, and Germany and other countries.
Lesley Klaff taught law in the United States for seven years before taking up her post at Sheffield Hallam University in 1993. She was also Affiliate Professor of Law at Haifa University, 2007 - 12. Her research is in the field of contemporary anti-Semitism. She is the Associate Editor for the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, an international, peer-reviewed journal and serves on the Academic Advisory Board of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law, a non-profit civil and human rights organisation in Washington DC established to combat anti-Semitism in higher education through research, education and advocacy.
Lesley also serves on the Advisory Board of the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism, a non-profit organisation dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism through research. She is a member of UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI), an NGO set up to provide pro-bono legal advice, assistance and representation to victims of anti-Semitism. Her responsibilities include giving advice to university students who experience anti-Semitic harassment on campus.
She appeared in the 2013 documentary on campus anti-Semitism, "Crossing the Line: The Intifada Comes to Campus," produced by Raphael Shore and directed by Wayne Copping, and was interviewed on footballer Niclas Anelka's use of the quenelle gesture for the Eurosport channel, broadcast on January 25th, 2014. Lesley appeared as a panel member at the Annual Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow, on September 16th, 2013, where she spoke alongside Alistair Carmichael MP, Maajid Naawaz of the Quilliam Foundation, and Mark Gardner of the Community Security Trust, on the topic of anti-Semitic discourse. She was also a witness for the claimant in Fraser v The University and College Union (March 22nd, 2013), which alleged institutional anti-Semitism against the UCU.
David Mellor PC, QC
David Mellor was born in 1949, educated at Swanage Grammar School, Christ's College Cambridge and the Inns of Court School of Law. Called to the bar in 1972, he became a Queen's Counsel in 1987 and a Privy Counsellor in 1990.
David was elected Conservative MP for Putney in 1979. He was a minister for 11 years, including all three main Departments of State, the Home Office, the Foreign Office and the Treasury, and two Cabinet posts, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and secretary of State at the Department of National Heritage (Now DCMS).
After leaving politics, he built a career in business, broadcasting and journalism, while contributing his services to music and sport.
He was the Variety Club's BBC Radio Personality of the Year in 1994. He broadcasts on Classic FM, and on LBC, where his show with Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, was nominated for Best Speech Programme in the UK at the Sony Awards 2011, and is Classical Music Critic of the Mail on Sunday.
Hugo Rifkind is a leader writer for the Times, where he also writes columns, features, reviews and satire. He writes columns for the Spectator and GQ, and is a regular guest on BBC Radio 4's The News Quiz. His first novel, Overexposure, was published in 2006 and a collection of his satirical columns My Weeks: The Secret Diaries of Almost Everybody in 2013.
He was born in Edinburgh in 1977, attended George Watson's College and Loretto School, and studied Philosophy at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He now lives in London with two daughters and one wife.