The BICOM Team
James Sorene is the Chief Executive Officer of BICOM. Before joining BICOM James was a Senior Civil Servant for the UK Government and Head of Communications and Official Spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Prior to that, James held senior positions in communications at the Department of Health and the Home Office where he worked on counterterrorism. From 1997 to 2000 he was Head of Public Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in London. He holds a Law degree from Queen Mary at the University of London and a Masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies. James writes regularly for newspapers and websites about Israel and Middle East issues and appears frequently on UK TV and radio programmes.
Director of BICOM in Israel
Richard has over 15 years experience working alongside government officials, diplomats and journalists. He regularly briefs British audiences on Israeli politics and security issues. He has appeared on the BBC and quoted in the Telegraph, Guardian and Spectator magazine as well as writing in a range of publications. He is also responsible for the delegations BICOM brings to Israel. Richard joined BICOM from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, where he spearheaded the engagement with the foreign press. Following the Second Lebanon War, he received the Prime Minister’s prize for excellence. Richard served in the IDF armoured brigade, where he twice received commendations, and continues to serve in the reserves. He holds a BA in Philosophy and Politics from Manchester University.
Calev Ben Dor
Director of Research
Calev Ben Dor, based in Israel, is the Director of Research and the Deputy Editor of Fathom, BICOM’s quarterly journal. Before joining BICOM in November 2015, he worked for several years in the Policy Planning Division of Israel’s Foreign Ministry and additionally as a senior analyst in the National Security team of the Reut Institute, a non-partisan Tel Aviv-based strategy group. Prior to moving to Israel in 2005, Calev worked in the Public Affairs Department of the Israeli Embassy in London. Calev holds a first class honours Bachelor degree from Leeds University in International History and Politics and an MSc from the LSE in History of International Relations. He writes a monthly column in the Haaretz Jewish Thinker.
Prof. Alan Johnson
Senior Research Fellow
Professor Alan Johnson is the founder and editor of BICOM’s quarterly online journal Fathom: for a deeper understanding of Israel and the region. He was a professor of democratic theory and practice at Edge Hill University before joining BICOM in 2011. He founded and edited Democratiya, a free online journal of international politics from 2005 until its incorporation into Dissent magazine in 2009. He was a co-author of the 2006 ‘Euston Manifesto’, a modern statement of social democratic antitotalitarianism, and in 2007 he edited Global Politics After 9/11: The Democratiya Interviews. Alan worked with the UK Home Office from 2008-2010 tracing the journeys taken by young British Muslims into and out of extremism and developing communication strategies to counter radicalisation.
Lauren Mellinger joined BICOM in 2016 as a Research Fellow. She is also currently pursuing a PhD in War Studies at King’s College London, where her research focuses on Israeli counterterrorism, national security decision-making, and hybrid organizations. Prior to joining BICOM, she was a Senior Research Assistant at the Center for Middle East Policy (CMEP) at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. She previously worked as a research assistant at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and at the International Institute for Counter-terrorism in Herzliya, Israel. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs from the George Washington University, and earned a Juris Doctor and Master’s in International Relations from Syracuse University.
Samuel Nurding joined BICOM as Research Analyst in April 2016. Prior to that Samuel interned at VERTIC and International Alert. Samuel studied International Relations and Politics at Loughborough University, graduating with a 1st class honours degree, and obtained a Master’s degree in Non-Proliferation and International Security from King’s College London, where he specialised in politics of the Middle East and was awarded a distinction for his research on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Samuel is knowledgeable in Arabic, and has spent 6 months living in Amman, Jordan, volunteering at a national newspaper.
Dr. Toby Greene
Senior Research Associate
Dr. Toby Greene is BICOM’s former Director of Research and now a Senior Goldman Fellow in the School of Government and adjunct lecturer in Politics at Tel Aviv University. He has written on Israel and the region for scholarly and mainstream publications and provided analysis for the BBC, Sky and ITN. His book, ‘Blair, Labour and Palestine: Conflicting Views on Middle East Peace After 9/11’ was published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2013 and described as “an important contribution” by the LSE Review of Books. Before moving to Israel he was Head of Research for Labour Friends of Israel. Toby holds a PhD in Politics and Middle East studies from UCL and a degree in Philosophy and Theology from Cambridge University.
Brigadier General (res.) Michael Herzog
Senior Visiting Fellow
Since 1993, Brigadier General (Res.) Michael Herzog has participated in most of Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians, Jordanians and Syrians, whilst serving in senior positions in the IDF and in Israel’s ministry of defence. In the course of his career, Michael Herzog served as head of the Strategic Planning Division of the IDF and worked with four defence ministers as senior military aide and advisor, and as chief of staff. From June 2009 to March 2010, he served as special emissary for Israel’s prime minister and minister of defence in the efforts to relaunch the peace process. As well as being a Senior Visiting Fellow at BICOM, he is an international fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Head of Communications
Thais Portilho joined BICOM as Head of Communications in November 2015. Thais is a Communications professional with 13 years of experience in journalism, PR and public affairs, published in the UK and in Brazil. In the past decade, she has contributed to a range of publications, including the Guardian, Spectator, New Statesman, Independent on Sunday, CNN International and Jewish News. She is the former co-ordinator of the Hacked Off Campaign, former director of Justice Across Borders and recently worked in media and public affairs at charities Rethink Mental Illness and The Health Foundation. Thais moved to the UK from Brazil in 2007. She is an NCTJ-qualified senior journalist and holds an MA in Journalism from Kingston University.
Senior Press Officer
Charlotte joined BICOM in March 2016. Previously she worked as a journalist, holding staff roles on City A.M. newspaper and Computer Business Review. She has contributed to numerous publications on a freelance basis, such as the Independent on Sunday, the Jewish Chronicle, and CapX, on a freelance basis. Charlotte also regularly appears as a media and political commentator on a variety of broadcast such as BBC News 24, Sky News, BBC Radio and LBC. She currently presents a podcast on the audioBoom network called Top Line, which follows developments across the media industry. Charlotte studied Music Technology with Politics at Lancaster University, and has previously spent time living, working and travelling around Israel.
Simon interned at BICOM before joining as Communications Officer in May 2016. Prior to that he worked in the museum and heritage sector, and he continues his interest in history as editor of student journal the Berlin Historical Review in his spare time. Simon studied History and Politics at Newcastle University, specialising in the Labour Party’s relationship with Israel, and World History at King’s College London, where he was awarded a distinction for his research into British Middle Eastern foreign policy.
Finance & Office Manager
Tony has been BICOM’s Finance and Office Manager since 2012. He is a highly experienced Certified Accountant who has held senior management positions in multinationals as well as in high street names and just prior to joining BICOM, for 12 years as a Financial Controller of the Transport Research Laboratory, where he was responsible for project portfolio of £20m. He has held a number of Trustee positions, and remains Trustee of a large Defined Benefit Pension Fund. Outside of work he has been a Religion School Teacher for over 35 years and has played a pivotal role in establishing the UK’s first Pluralistic Progressive Jewish community in his home borough of Harrow.
Donor Relations & Events Manager
Ruth joined BICOM in 2006 as Office Manager and then became Donor Relations and Events Manager. Prior to BICOM, Ruth lived in Israel for 15 years where she worked in pivotal administrative roles at the Jerusalem Foundation, The Jewish Agency, and APAX. Whilst in Israel, Ruth was a presenter on the first all-English speaking radio station, something she continues with much success to this day in London. She holds a Diploma in Bi-Lingual Secretarial Studies in French and Spanish.
Executive Assistant to the CEO & Events Coordinator
Abi joined BICOM in April 2016 as Executive Assistant to the CEO and Events Coordinator. She previously worked at the Jewish Museum, and has spent the majority of her career working across the Non-Profit sector in Administrative, Fundraising and Events Management roles. Abi also spent 5 years living in Israel.