José María Aznar All we want is a normal and reasonable conversation about Israel. Surely, that is not too much to ask.
José María Aznar
George Weigel Attempts to delegitimate the State of Israel are an outrage and ought to offend anyone of a democratic disposition, no matter what one may think of this or that Israeli policy. Enough mindless bias is enough.
George Weigel

Founder Members

Jos Maria Aznar

Former President of Spain

José Maria Aznar

José María Aznar was born in Madrid in 1953. He is Practicing lawyer, Executive President of FAES (The Foundation for Social Studies and Analysis), Honorary Chairman of the Partido Popular, Member of the Board of Directors of News Corporation, Distinguished Fellow of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, chairing the Atlantic Basin Initiative, Member of the International Advisory Board of the Atlantic Council of the United States and Co-Chairman of the Atlantic Council’s Transatlantic Task Force on Latin America, Chairman of the Friends of Israel Initiative, Member of the International Advisory Board of Barrick Gold Corporation.

He became President of Spain in 1996, following the electoral victory of the Partido Popular. José María Aznar graduated in law at the Universidad Complutense. He qualified as an Inspector of State Finances in 1975. He was Distinguished Scholar at the University of Georgetown from 2004 to 2011.

John R. Bolton

Former US Representative to the United Nations

John R. Bolton

American conservative and nationalist political figure who has served in several Republican presidential administrations. He worked as the interim Permanent US Representative to the UN from August 2005 until December 2006 on a recess appointment. He resigned in December 2006 when his recess appointment would have ended because he was unable to gain confirmation from the Senate. Bolton is currently a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Fox News commentator, and of counsel to the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, in their Washington D.C. office. He is also involved with a broad assortment of other conservative think tanks and policy institutes, including the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), Project for the New American Century (PNAC), Institute of East-West Dynamics, National Rifle Association, US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the Council for National Policy (CNP).

http://www.friendsofisraelinitiative.org

Alejandro Toledo

Former President of Peru

Alejandro Toledo

He was President of Peru from 2001 to 2006. Peruvian politician and economist, he was elected in 2001 defeating former President Alan García. Toledo came to international prominence after leading the opposition against President Alberto Fujimori, who held the presidency from 1990 to 2000. After his presidential term, Toledo left Peru and went to the USA where he was a Distinguished Scholar in Residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University during the 2006-2008 academic years. Dr. Toledo is currently a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., and also a Non-Resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy and Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution.

http://www.friendsofisraelinitiative.org

Vclav Havel

Last president of Czechoslovakia, first president of the Czech Republic, playwright and former dissident

Václav Havel

Without question among the greatest of the communist-era dissidents, Vaclav Havel’s life-story itself bears witness to his famous statement of principle, that "love and truth" can "conquer hatred and lies". Born into a high-ranking family in Prague in 1936 he would go on to write some of the most inspiring plays and political essays in communist Eastern Europe. His tract The Power of the Powerless is regarded by many as the seminal essay on the role and purpose of the dissident movement in what was then referred to as the Eastern Bloc. Immediately after Czechoslovakia’s Velvet Revolution in 1989 he was appointed the country’s first non-communist president since 1948, a position he retained until the break-up of Czechoslovakia on January 1, 1993. He then became the first President of the Czech Republic and remained as such until retiring from high politics in 2003. He is the recipient of numerous awards, not least the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the highest civilian award in the United States.

Lord William David Trimble

Former First Minister of Northern Ireland. Nobel Peace Prize in 1998

Lord William David Trimble

Politician from Northern Ireland who served as leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and was the first First Minister of Northern Ireland. He is currently a life peer for the Conservative Party. He shared the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize with John Hume of the Social Democratic and Labour Party. He served as Member of Parliament for Upper Bann from 1990 until 2005, when he was defeated in the British general election and resigned the leadership of the UUP soon afterwards. In June 2006 he became a member of the House of Lords as The Right Honourable William David Trimble by the name, style and title of Baron Trimble, of Lisnagarvey in the County of Antrim. In April 2007 he announced that he was to leave the UUP and join the Conservative Party.

George Weigel

Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center

George Weigel

He is a Catholic theologian and one of America’s leading public intellectuals. A native of Baltimore, he was educated at St. Mary’s Seminary College in his native city, and at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. Weigel is the author or editor of nineteen other books, he has written essays, op-ed columns, and reviews for the major opinion journals and newspapers in the United States, and is a contributor to Newsweek. A frequent guest on television and radio, he is also Vatican analyst for NBC News. His weekly column, "The Catholic Difference," is syndicated to sixty newspapers around the United States. His scholarly work and his journalism are regularly translated into the major European languages. From June 1996, as a Senior Fellow of the Center, Weigel prepared a major study of the life, thought, and action of Pope John Paul II. Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II was published to international acclaim in the Fall of 1999, in English, French, Italian, and Spanish editions. Polish, Portuguese, Slovak, Czech, and Slovenian editions were published in 2000. A Russian edition was published in 2001, a German edition in 2002, and a Romanian edition in 2007; Chinese and Ukrainian editions are in preparation. A documentary film based on the book was released in the fall of 2001 and has won numerous prizes.

Marcello Pera

Italian philosopher and politician

Marcello Pera

Marcello Pera was the President of the Italian Senate from 2001 to 2006. Born in Lucca, he graduated in accounting, and worked for the Banca Toscana and for the Camera di Commercio in Lucca. He went on to study philosophy at the University of Pisa, concentrating on the works of Karl Popper and his open society theory, and advocating these principles during the difficult 1970s, the anni di piombo. His academic career began in 1976 at the University of Pisa. He then went on to pursue research activities internationally: Visiting Fellow, University of Pittsburgh, 1984; Linguistics and Philosophy, MIT, Cambridge, Mass., 1990; Visiting Fellow, Centre for the Philosophy of Natural Sciences, London School of Economics, 1995-96. He taught Theoretical Philosophy from 1989 to 1992 at the University of Catania. In 1992 he became a full professor of Philosophy at the University of Pisa. Marcello Pera has written for many newspapers such as Corriere della Sera, Il Messaggero, and La Stampa, and to the news magazines L’Espresso and Panorama.

Fiamma Nirenstein

Italian politician, journalist and author

Fiamma Nirenstein

She is a member of Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative coalition government (first elected in April 2008) and is Vice-president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies. As a jouralist and author the underlying idea that runs through all Fiamma Nirenstein’s work is the connection between totalitarianism, terrorism, anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel.[citation needed] Nirenstein was born in Florence, Italy and lives part of the year in Gilo, a neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. Nirenstein teaches Middle East History at Luiss University in Rome. She is a member of the Global Forum against Antisemitism instituted by Nathan Sharansky. She is a member of the board of the Italian Foundation Magna Carta and a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and of the Hudson Institute, Washington. She was director of the Italian Institute of Culture (Istituto Italiano di Cultura) in Tel Aviv in ’93 and ’94. She has introduced and written prefaces for translations of the works of Bernard Lewis, Nathan Sharansky, and Ruthie Bloom in Italy.

Andrew Roberts

British historian and writer

Andrew Roberts

He has written or edited twelve books, and appears regularly on radio and television around the world. Based in New York, he is an accomplished public speaker, and is represented by HarperCollins Speakers’ Bureau. He has recently lectured at Yale, Princeton and Stanford Universities and at the US Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. In 2011, NBC commissioned him to commentate alongside Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera on the Royal Wedding of Prince William William to Kate Middleton, following his well-received broadcasts at the funerals of Diana, Princess of Wales and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and the wedding of Princes Charles to the Duchess of Cornwall. In 1999 he published Salisbury: Victorian Titan, the authorised biography of the Victorian prime minister the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, which won the Wolfson History Prize and the James Stern Silver Pen Award for Non-Fiction. In September 2001 Napoleon and Wellington, an investigation into the relationship between the two great generals, was published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and was the lead review in all but one of Britain’s national newspapers. January 2003 saw the publication of Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership, which coincided with Roberts’s four-part BBC2 history series. Roberts holds an honorary doctorate from Westminster College, Missouri.

Carlos Bustelo

Spanish Industry Minister from 1977 to 1980

Carlos Bustelo

Carlos Bustelo graduated in Economics from Madrid University in 1958. He worked as an economist at the OECD in Paris from 1963 to 1965. From 1968 to 1973 he was the Executive Director of the IMF. He was President of the Madrid Court of Jurisdiction until December, 2009.

Roberto F. Agostinelli

Managing Director at Rhône Group, Rhone Capital, L.L.C.

Roberto F. Agostinelli

Robert F. Agostinelli is the co-founder of Rhône a privately controlled investment and private equity firm currently managing approximately 4 billion USD. The firm has offices in New York, Paris and London (1996 to present). Prior to Rhone Mr. Agostinelli was a Senior Managing Director in the banking group of Lazard Frères, with responsibility for that firm’s international banking business (1987-1996). Before joining Lazard, Mr. Agostinelli spent five years with Goldman Sachs, where he founded its international mergers and acquisitions business in London (1982-1987.) Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Mr. Agostinelli worked with Jacob Rothschild in London (1981). Mr. Agostinelli is a director of Magnesita Refratários S.A., (BOVESPA: MAGG3.SA) Magnesita is a global leader in the mining and refractory business. He is a director of Venice Holdings s.r.l. (the holding company of Marco Polo). Marco Polo is a leading electronics retailer in Italy. He is a Board member and former Vice-Chairman of the Council of the United States and Italy; a member of the Investment Committee of Corporate World Opportunities of BSI/Generali Group; and a director of and advisor to a number of European and U.S. philanthropic and civic institutions with a focus on freedom, democracy and support of the United States Military; including a founding member of the Friends of Israel Initiative ("FOI") created by President Jose Maria Aznar, and a Member of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation – the American Patriots Campaign Cabinet. The Council on Foreign Relations and a Board Member of the American Italian Cancer Research Foundation. Mr. Agostinelli is 57 years old, an American citizen; has 5 children and resides in Paris and London. He received a B.A. from St. John Fisher College, an MBA from Columbia Business School and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Lord Weidenfeld of Chelsea

Publisher, writer, member of the House of Lords

Lord Weidenfeld of Chelsea

Born in Vienna in 1919, George Weidenfeld left Austria for England in 1938. During World War II he worked with the BBC Overseas Service and in 1948 founded the publishing firm, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, with Nigel Nicolson. In 1949 he became Political Advisor and Chef de Cabinet in Israel to President Weizmann, and spent a year in this capacity. A British citizen since 1946, Lord Weidenfeld was awarded a peerage in 1976. From 1992 to 1994, he was Vice-Chairman of the University of Oxford Campaign and since 1994, Vice-President of the Oxford University Development Programme. He is involved with the Europaeum, a network of ten leading European universities. In 1996 he founded together with Lord Rothschild and Lord Alexander the Club of Three (Britain-France-Germany) which later incorporated AMEURUS (America-Europe-Russia). His Institute for Strategic Dialogue, created in 2006, runs a number of political task forces and cultural and educational bridge-building initiatives. Also in 2006 he initiated the Weidenfeld Scholarships and Leadership Programme in Oxford. Among other appointments he is Chairman of Weidenfeld & Nicolson; President of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue; and columnist for Die Welt, Welt am Sonntag , Bild am Sonntag and the Huffington Post.

William Shawcross

British Writer

William Shawcross

He is a British writer and commentator.He has written a number of books, including biographies of Rupert Murdoch and the Shah of Iran. His official biography of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother was released in the UK on 17 September 2009 and in the United States on 20 October 2009.

Donna Shalala

President of University of Miami

Donna Shalala

Shalala was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Maronite Catholic Lebanese immigrant parents. She served for eight years as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton and has been president of the University of Miami, a private university in Coral Gables, Florida, since 2001. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, by President George W. Bush in June 2008.

Luis Alberto Lacalle

Former President of Uruguay

Luis Alberto Lacalle

is a Uruguayan lawyer and politician who served as President of Uruguay from 1990 to 1995. In 1989 he ran for the presidency for his faction, Herrerismo, with running-mate, Gonzalo Aguirre. In the subsequent elections in November 1989, the National Party defeated rivals Colorado Party (running with several presidential candidates: Jorge Batlle Jorge Pacheco Areco and Hugo Fernandez Faingold and Broad Front (running with presidential candidate Líber Seregni. Lacalle got the most votes within his party, defeating Carlos Julio Pereyra and Alberto Zumarán and thus was elected President of Uruguay, taking office on March 1, 1990 for a five year-term.

Bill Richardson

Former Governor of New Mexico

Bill Richardson

Bill Richardson sought the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2008. Richardson recently completed his second term as Governor of New Mexico in January 2011. He was elected Governor in 2002 and re-elected in 2006 with the support of 69 percent of voters, representing the largest margin of victory for any Governor in state history. Prior to being elected governor, Richardson enjoyed a very successful and fulfilling career in public service; academia and the private sector-few can match his wide-ranging experience and his level of dedication to protecting the rights and improving the quality of life of people in New Mexico, the United States and around the world.

Carlos Alberto Montaner

Exiled Cuban author and journalist

Carlos Alberto Montaner

Carlos Alberto Montaner (born 1943) is an exiled Cuban author and journalist of Afro-Cuban descent known for his more than 25 books and thousand of articles, including several novels, the last of which is La mujer del coronel, The colonel’s wife. Montaner is a political analyst for CNN in Spanish and a collaborator of the book The Cuban Exile. In October 2012 Foreign Policy magazine selected Montaner as one of the fifty more influential intellectuals in the Iberoamerican world.

Alexander Downer

Former Foreign Minister of Australia

Alexander Downer

Alexander John Downer is a former Australian Liberal Party politician who was Foreign Minister of Australia from 11 March 1996 to 3 December 2007, the longest-serving in Australian history. He was also the Leader of the Opposition for eight months from 1994 to 1995. Downer is currently the United Nations Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Cyprus.

Richard Kemp

Former British Military Commander

Richard Kemp

Colonel Richard Justin Kemp served in the British Army from 1977 to 2005. He was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan,an infantry battalion Commanding Officer, worked for the Joint Intelligence Committee and COBR and completed 14 operational tours of duty around the globe. After retiring from the army, Kemp turned to writing. His first book, Attack State Red is an account of the 2007 campaign undertaken by the Royal Anglian Regiment, documenting their initial deployment and trials in Afghanistan. Attack State Red was listed as a bestseller in the Sunday Times, two weeks after initial release.

Karel Schwarzenberg

Former Foreign Minister of Czech Republic

Karel Schwarzenberg

Czech politician and the leader of TOP 09 party. Schwarzenberg served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic from July 2010 to 10 July 2013. Nominated originally by the Green Party, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs already from 2007 to 2009. He served as Senator for one of Prague districts from 2004 to 2010. In May 2010, he was elected Member of the Chamber of Deputies, gaining the largest number of preference votes. Schwarzenberg is noted for his pro-European views.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

Former Minister of Defence of Germany

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg

German politician of the Christian Social Union (CSU). In 2011 Guttenberg joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as a Distinguished Statesman. He also advises European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes on the promotion of internet freedom regarding questions of foreign affairs. He was appointed as Federal Minister for Economics and Technology in the first Merkel cabinet on 10 February 2009. From 28 October 2009, Guttenberg served as the Minister of Defence of Germany in the second Merkel cabinet.

Giulio Terzi

Former Foreign Minister of Italy

Giulio Terzi

Italian diplomat who was Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs from November 2011 until he resigned 26 March 2013. From August 2008 to September 2009 he was the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations in New York, where he also headed the Italian Delegation to the United Nations Security Council, which Italy had joined as non-permanent member for the 2007-2008 term. He then served as Italy’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to 2011.