BULLET-PROOF CARS, crime-ridden streets, the threat of kidnapping at every turn. If you have seen the hit TV show Narcos, you will know that Colombia in the 1970s and 1980s was a brutal place to live.
But for Joel Perlman, such was the reality of life. Born into a Jewish family in Bogotá, he lived in a permanent “hyper-state”— aware that, at any moment, violence could flare up for the smallest of reasons.
Then, there was the added pressure of being part of such a small minority in a Catholic country. Not only did his Judaism set him apart from his classmates in the American School he attended, but on the weekends, it was even worse. As a Sephardi Jew, he was bullied by the Ashkenazi children at Bogotá’s Jewish country club, who beat him up and called him “Falasha”.
Today, sitting inside his state-ofthe-art offices in central London,