Miriam Shaviv was born in the UK, and grew up in Israel, the UK, Australia and Canada. After completing an English degree at McGill University, she worked for The Jerusalem Post as parliamentary reporter, feature writer and literary editor. In 2004, she moved back to England on getting married, and joined The Jewish Chronicle, where she edited the comment section and was - until last week - Foreign Editor. She is currently Features Editor of the Times Higher Education magazine. Miriam blogs at Bloghead and tweets at @miriamsh.
Why do you blog? > I used to be able to explain it. It began as a bit of fun when I moved back to England in 2004 and was looking for a job, but I quickly realized that blogging forced me to sharpen my views and I enjoyed the challenge. Nowadays the question 'why' hardly makes sense. I'm way past that. It's an addiction.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Being linked to by Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds) in the early days of my blog. I received so many thousands of hits, in a matter of minutes, I thought there was something wrong with my traffic counter.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Threat of a lawsuit by a well-known journalist who, bizarrely, believed I had damaged her reputation when I proved one of her interviewees had been lying.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Only do it for as long as you enjoy it. Don't feel pressured to post in order to keep your readers happy if you have nothing to say - you will burn out.
What are you reading at the moment? > Atonement by Ian McEwan, That's Not What The Good Book Says by Avigdor Shinan, and Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew) on biblical myths.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > Despite (or perhaps because of) a degree in English literature, I rarely read fiction any more. In recent years, Beaufort, Ron Leshem's fictional account of an IDF bunker in Lebanon, left a deep impression on me.
What is your favourite poem? > Strangely for a good Jewish girl, 'The Windhover: To Christ our Lord' by Gerard Manley Hopkins (subject of my BA honours thesis).
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > The Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I grew up as a lone lefty in a right-wing environment, believing it is in Israel's power to deliver peace; but I gradually came to the conclusion that I was wrong: there is no partner for peace on the Palestinian side right now.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > In my own Orthodox Jewish community, the idea that combining a life of tradition and Jewish law with modernity is the Jewish ideal - not a compromise.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > That religious faith is a delusion (à la Dawkins).
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Pious and Rebellious, a history of Jewish women in Medieval Europe by Avraham Grossman, significantly changed the way I think about the evolution of religion, women's role in religion and the way we record, and distort, history. Turns out Jewish women in the Middle Ages were quite liberated in some ways.
Who are your political heroes? > Despite his manifest failures in domestic policy, I very much admire Tony Blair for having the courage of his convictions in foreign policy, even at the price of his leadership. Similarly, I admire Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper for conducting what I see as a moral foreign policy, despite the political costs.
If you could effect one major policy change in the governing of your country, what would it be? > I would stop protecting the NHS from cuts and subject it far more to market forces. I am constantly appalled by a level of care, and wastage, that would be unacceptable in the other three countries in which I have lived. It needs to be forced to become more efficient.
If you could choose anyone, from any walk of life, to be Prime Minister, who would you choose? > I'd import Stephen Harper.
What would you do with the UN? > It's beyond repair. The word of the 'international community' doesn't mean much if it's dictatorships and human rights abusers doing the talking.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Western laziness about defending its own liberty, values and friends.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > At the risk of sounding cynical, who says we're so civilized now?
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Yes. Back when I was a voter for Israel's Labour party, I dated a guy who lived in a settlement. Although we both held strong views, politics were hardly even discussed.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > People who can't spell.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Reality TV (with the exception of Wife Swap, a brilliant insight into real people's lives).
What, if anything, do you worry about? > That the UK is not the best place in which to raise my children and that I am living my life in the wrong country.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > I'd do another degree. Not sure I'll ever get the chance now.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > And other than where I have? I've always had a thing for Boston.
What is your most treasured possession? > My 30 diaries, kept, on and off, from ages 6 to 25. I learn something about myself every time I revisit them.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > My second name, Tamar. I have always hated my first name, which is very old-fashioned, but never had the guts to make the switch.
What talent would you most like to have? > I love cooking and entertaining, but I wish I had a natural flair instead of just following other people's recipes.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > I always wanted to follow in my father's footsteps and head a school, in order to help shape children's educational experience (but never had the patience to put in the years in the classroom first).
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > I would buy a house in Israel and spend much more of my time there, allowing my kids to become fully immersed in a completely different culture and language, and spending much more time with family.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > The late journalist Chaim Bermant, whom I never met, although he is related to me by marriage; Jesus; and Tony Blair.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]