Bella Center was born in Ramat Gan, Israel, and immigrated with her family to New York when she was eight. She studied art and art history at Hunter College, then architecture at Columbia, followed by 10 years practising in London where she lived with her British ex-husband and where her son was born. Back in the US for well over a decade, Bella has returned to painting, graphic design and singing. For several years she was also involved in programming and fundraising for Jewish community organizations. She blogs at It's Complicated.
Why do you blog? > It all started when I realized that I simply must stop haranguing my friends about the injustice of the delegitimization campaign against Israel. I needed a medium that I could jump into without specific qualifications other than passion and commitment.
What has been your best blogging experience? > Frankly, just to be read and be part of the conversation is wonderful.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > Currently: Paul Berman, Christopher Hitchens, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
What are you reading at the moment? > Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick, Violence by Slavoj Žižek (I feel I ought to substantiate why I despise him so), and Lawrence Block's latest, A Drop of the Hard Stuff.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Betty Carter.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > At the moment it feels like Philip Roth's The Human Stain.
What is your favourite movie? > Shoah by Claude Lanzmann and The Night of the Shooting Stars by the Taviani Brothers.
What is your favourite song? > 'Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?'
Who is your favourite composer? > George Gershwin.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > I no longer believe in Big Idea solutions.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Anti-Enlightenment moral relativism fuelled by the Postmodernism/Post-Colonialism/Occidentialism that leads Judith Butler to assert that 'Hamas and Hezbollah are part of a Global Left'.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > John Berger's Ways of Seeing. Although I repudiate his maniacal anti-Israelism, Berger destroyed forever the idea that images come to us unmediated by culture, class, gender, politics, etc.
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > The global disparity between rich and poor coupled with messianism of the Islamist variety.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > Let's put it this way: already I don't fully recognize the world I live in and worry about the gigantic storms a comin'.
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? > Not any more.
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Is there one word for a combination of humility, kindness and irony?
What personal fault do you most dislike? > An overblown sense of entitlement.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Luckily I've never had to lie to save someone's life so it will probably be to avoid hurting someone's feelings.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > Only to my closest friends.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'Man makes plans, god laughs.'
What, if anything, do you worry about? > Oy! Are you serious?
What would you call your autobiography? > Oy! Are you serious?
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Toni Collette.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > I've been singing in a little jazz/blues combo. We're slowly working towards one day playing for an audience.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > As a child I pretended to have any other name but Bella, but now that it's become ubiquitous I'll just stick with it.
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to write fiction.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > That my son will find true love and happiness in his work.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > Oriana Fallaci, Howard Jacobson and Christopher Hitchens.
[A list of all the normblog profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]