An interview with David Miliband

“If you ask that, you’re dead”. Perhaps asking Philip Mudd, a senior CIA and FBI operative, what question he most feared was a naïve error of judgment. But I certainly didn’t expect a death threat. Fortunately for me, David Miliband’s congenial persona swept away the atmosphere of a Guantanamo interrogation room. His history is impressive to say the least: the youngest Foreign Secretary for 30 years; Environment Secretary; winner of the most number of votes of Labour MPs and Labour Party members, but not of Trade Unionists, in the 2010 Labour leadership election… the list goes on. And just when I’m on the point of questioning whether I have the requisite acumen to interview a political colossus, he steps into the room, the last of the evening sunlight spotlighting his face. In the flesh, he’s an imposing presence, confident in stature, a streak of white hair bristling on a bed …

Time to put a stop to celeb fever

“You’re not anyone in America unless you’re on TV”. In one fell swoop, Nicole Kidman proffered a sad indictment of a culture on the brink. As the consequences of ‘celebrity’ metastasise day by day, we wallow in a mire of intellectual degradation. Leave your dignity at the door, and enter if you dare. In the age of celebrity for celebrity’s sake, it’s less a case of what’s in the public’s interest, than what’s interesting to the public. And we’re hooked. It’s about time we went cold turkey. Twitterati illuminate the blogosphere like countless moths orbiting a light bulb, radiating their toxic gibberish, contaminating the rest of us. Enough is enough, don’t you think? Their noxious gases infect the morality of an increasingly globalised world, not to mention the money and time celeb-junkies waste to get their latest fix. If one of your family members is a drug addict, you’ve got …

“Friends who care are friends who criticise.”

“I can’t imagine so many people coming to see me in Tel Aviv,” Gideon Levy quips with a wry smile. Jewish Book Week is hosting a controversial interview session (some had threatened to boycott it) with one of the most hated men in Israel, one of the relatively few ‘nice Jewish boys’ gone bad, representative of an “anti-Zionism [that] has become stupid and evil” according to Irit Linur, an Israeli author. Described as a modern-day prophet by Noam Chomsky, Levy has reported from inside the Occupied Territories for nearly three decades, with the aim of “rehumanising the Palestinians”. Despite all the opprobrium his reporting has generated, including having been labelled “one of the propagandists for Hamas” by Ben Dror Yemini, editor of Maariv, he still considers himself an Israeli patriot. He sits down, unperturbed, next to interviewer Johann Hari, gazing out at the 200 or so expectant faces in the …