Follow me on Twitter @tonylerman
I’m a writer living in North London commenting mostly on Israel-Palestine, Middle East politics, antisemitism, racism, Jewish life in Europe, global Jewish politics, multiculturalism, religion in public life and senses of belonging in Europe. I used to blog weekly on the Guardian Comment is Free website.
A biographical note by no means automatically sets out a convincing case as to why you should want to read my blog, but in the interests of context and transparency, knowing where I have come from and what I am now might help.
From February 2006 to January 2009, I was Director of JPR (the Institute for Jewish Policy Research), a think-tank I founded in 1996 and directed until 1999, which devises policy solutions to social, political and cultural problems facing Jews and other minorities in Europe.
Prior to that, from December 1999, I was Chief Executive of the Rothschild Foundation (Europe), a grant-making trust I established for the UK Rothschild family, chaired by Lord Rothschild. The Foundation supports Jewish life in Europe focusing on academic Jewish studies, Jewish heritage and Jewish culture. When I left in 1999, the foundation was giving grants totalling £4 million a year for projects in more than 30 countries.
Before founding JPR, I was Director of the Institute of Jewish Affairs, JPR’s predecessor and the research arm of the World Jewish Congress (until 1994), from 1991 to 1996. At JPR I was the founding General Editor of Antisemitism World Report, a country-by-country yearly survey of antisemitism. From 1986 to 1999 I was editor of Patterns of Prejudice, an international academic journal on racism and antisemitism (published by Taylor & Francis).
In the early 1990s I was a member of the Runnymede Trust’s Commission on Antisemitism (chaired by Richard Harris, then Bishop of Oxford) and from 1998-2000 was a member of the Commission on the Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain chaired by Lord Bihkhu Parekh.
I graduated from Sussex University in 1976 with a first class BA Honours degree in modern European and British history. I then pursued research in the history of 20th century British industrial relations at the London School of Economics (1976-1979) and lectured in British and European history at what is now Brighton University (1977-1979). I joined the Institute of Jewish Affairs in 1979 as a Research Officer and became Assistant Director in 1983.
I am the author of numerous papers and articles on contemporary Jewish affairs, Middle East politics, international relations, antisemitism and racism. I am Editor of Jewish Communities of the World: A Comprehensive Guide, published in 1989 by Macmillan, and was Assistant Editor of the annual Survey of Jewish Affairs from 1982 to 1992, published by Blackwell. From 1985 to 1986 I was the Editor of the Jewish Quarterly magazine.
I am a member of the Black-Jewish Forum and of the Advisory Committee of the Holocaust Exhibition at the Imperial War Museum. I was a founder member of the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights, and a founder member of the Independent Jewish Voices (IJV) steering group, a Trustee of the Humanitarian Trust and a Board Member of the European Jewish Publication Society. I was a member of the Board of Paideia, the European Institute of Jewish Studies in Stockholm, until 2013 and am a Trustee of the Friends of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.
I have written for the Independent, Guardian, Haaretz, New York Times, New Statesman, Prospect, the Nation, Congressional Quarterly, Jewish Chronicle, Red Pepper, Jewish Quarterly, openDemocracy, Jewish Renaissance and other publications. In the mid-1980s, I was temporary Media Columnist for the Jewish Chronicle for four months.
My book, The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist: A Personal and Political Journey, was published by Pluto in 2012. It explores my personal, political and intellectual engagement with Israel and Zionism over 50 years.
I lived in Israel for 3 years in the 1960s and 1970s, and served in the Israeli army, spending most of my time living as a member of a kibbutz and worked in a banana plantation on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.