Two weeks ago, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick intervened to overrule Westminster Council and approve the construction of a Holocaust Memorial next to the Houses of Parliament, a project first launched by then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014. Backers of the project include some of the most influential members of the UK Jewish community, including Lord Feldman, Sir Mick Davis and Gerald Ronson . Those objecting, however, include not just the local council, but also Royal Parks (to which Victoria Gardens belong), the International Council on Monuments and Sites, the London Gardens Trust, Historic England, UNESCO, the Environment Agency, and fully 678 out of 714 testimonies to a public enquiry on the project.

The concerns raised by these opponents are various, including the risk of flooding by compromising natural defenses, traffic disruptions caused by the predicted 3 million visitors a year, potential for being targeted by terrorists, and the fact that it will cost the government £75 million at a time when public debt is already at record highs. The most widely-raised and shared objection, however, is that the memorial will involve concreting over more than 25% of one of London’s rare green spaces, and plonking on top something that looks like, well, this:

Some readers will at this point object that opinions about the ugliness of the proposed monument – described by Baroness Deech as a ‘gigantic toast rack’ – are purely subjective and one can, with equal justice, claim that the memorial will be a great work of art. Whether or not aesthetic subjectivism is valid in general, however, here it is quite irrelevant. The memorial may not have been purposely designed to be ugly, but it has most certainly been purposely designed not to be nice. Its goal, like other similar monuments around the world, is to induce feelings of numbness, sorrow, and gloom. In the words of David Adjaye, one of the chief architects behind the project, it has been specifically designed with the goal of ‘disrupting the pleasure of being in a park’.

The Westminster Holocaust Memorial question is, then, really very simple. Currently, Victoria Tower Gardens is a place where millions of Britons, as well as tourists from around the world, go year upon year to enjoy themselves while visiting the mother of all parliaments. The function of the proposed memorial is precisely to impose a note, indeed rather more than a note, of sadness in this place. Either those visiting the park should have their pleasure “disrupted” by a Holocaust memorial, or they should not.

Other arguments in favour of the proposed memorial are almost too specious to mention. It is supposed, somehow, to combat anti-semitism, though there is no plausible mechanism why it should do so, nor any empirical evidence from Holocaust memorials around the world that it will. It is supposed to offer a visible contrast to the Houses of Parliament by standing “as a physical reminder of what can happen when we take democracy for granted”, by virtue of some newly-invented rule whereby every monument must be ‘disrupted’ by its opposite. It is supposed to be a center of Holocaust education, but it adds nothing to the excellent exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, thirty minutes walk away. Indeed, the UK is, by any reasonable measure already well-stocked with institutions dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, including the National Holocaust Centre and Museum in Notthinghamshire, the Holocaust Gallery in the Jewish Museum, the Wiener Library for the study of the Holocaust and genocide, the Hyde Park Holocaust Memorial, and the Holocaust Exhibition and Learning Centre in Huddersfield. 

What these arguments boil down to is that this memorial, which will completely change the landscape of the Houses of Parliament, and overwhelm all other statues and memorials in the park, has a very specific purpose. The Anglo-Jewish establishment wants it as symbolic affirmation of their own centrality to British life by placing Jewish collective trauma right in front of the cradle of democracy. 

Whether or not this desire is legitimate in and of itself, the overwhelming volume of opposition that the project received should have been the end of the matter. The project’s backers ought to have realised that they had missed the mark, gone back to the drawing board, and sought either a design more appropriate for the location, or a different site. Instead, they have pursued the route of intimidating opponents with casual allegations of anti-semitism, making it clear that the only way to get on with the Jewish community, in whose name they presume to speak, is to sacrifice a national treasure.

Every human being is liable to err, and the same goes for groups of people too. One particularly common fault is excessive self-regard and blindness to the perspective of others. This is why all of us need critical friends to bring us down to earth from time to time with a well-placed critical word. Unfortunately, the Anglo-Jewish establishment has manoeuvred itself into a psychological state where it is incapable of accepting criticism. While in principle they accept it might be legitimate to criticise individual Jews, they have decided that any criticism of Jews acting collectively to pursue a specifically Jewish cause is ipso facto anti-semitism, a crime for which the only acceptable penitence is permanent withdrawal from public life. It feels good to be immune from criticism, but it isn’t good for you. As a result of shutting out critique, the backers of the project have become tone-deaf, lost contact with reality, and are in the process of disfiguring a place that is part of the collective inheritance of all UK citizens because they cannot see themselves through the eyes of others. 

As British Jews, we have enjoyed a good deal for centuries, permitted to preserve – to the extent that we want to – a separate way of life, while no corridor of politics, business, or culture is closed to us. We have enough clout and influence to strong-arm dozens of politicians into publicly supporting the project as the price of proving their friendship. The question is not whether we can, however, but whether we should. Being able to intimidate politicians into acquiescing to unreasonable demands is no doubt tremendously satisfying, but the fact that people are scared to disagree with you in public is not the same thing as actually having friends.

Realistically, there is no chance of opposition from outside the Jewish community being successful. If Anglo-Jewry’s most visible contribution to the UK landscape is not to be an act of ostentatious vandalism on a world heritage site, figures from within the Jewish community must rise up to stop it. Imagine if, tomorrow, Jewish religious, business, and community leaders declare that while they are enormously appreciative of the gesture of good-will made by the UK government, they would rather work on a new proposal that does not impinge so grotesquely on the UK’s national heritage. It would be a kiddush Hashem.

63 thoughts on “A Plague On Two Houses

  1. Surely for the rumoured £100m cost a better use of money would have been sending every sixth form class for the next decade on a trip to Auschwitz…..

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  2. I thought I was the only frum Jew who thought this! Props for coming out and saying it…I’m sure you will be accused of anti-Semitism.
    There would have been significantly more opposition from the community had the proposed location been Hendon Park, that’s for sure.

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  3. Well written.
    It is sad that Anglo Jewry has come to a point where their only Jewishness, is their ability to shout the anti-Semite accusation.
    The United Synagogues are emptying out and closing at a dizzying rate, Jews are not able to respect their own religion, but everyone has to respect them for being Jewish?
    Try to understand.

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  4. Couldn’t agree more.

    The money would be better spent on improving the PSHE Curriculum, tackling intolerence at the grassroots level.

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  5. Thank you for this article, from one of the councillors on the Planning committee at Westminster City Council. I remain of the opinion that this development is against Westminster planning policy, and not in a marginal, on balance way either.

    Just one point – the decision was actually taken by Chris Pincher (Minister of State) rather than Robert Jenrick. Jenrick couldn’t do it because he (or rather the MHCLG which he heads) was the applicant, and even Robert Jenrick recognises that is a conflict of interest.

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  6. I agree with the article. I am a British Jew, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, and I strongly object to the vandalising of this tranquil garden. I watched most of the Inquiry on YouTube last autumn (it may still be available on the City of Westminster’s website, under Planning) and was struck by the paucity of compelling testimony in favour of the Memorial, and the cogency of the arguments against it from environmentalists, architects and town planners, users of VTG and a number of eminent Jews. Counsel for the Secretary of State kept maligning witnesses, accusing them of indifference to the holocaust, and he also put words in their mouths, and manoeuvred them into impossible choices. I think the Memorial will provoke antisemitism, rather than combatting it.

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    1. Will the VTG create more antisemitism?
      Yes, I also think it will. Many Brits are unaware that it is going ahead ( it has hardly been reported on the TV so far) , but once the public are aware, questions will be asked.
      If it can’t get your support (your parents are holocaust survivors), then I wonder what non-Jews will think when they hear it is costing £100 million + annual running costs, when kids are going hungry and the Israelis get dragged into a war with the Palestinians.
      It is a foolish, politically motivated project and unfortunately it will end in tears.

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  7. Whilst all the points raised in the articles are true and valid and the process appears to be highly flawed, however at the end of the day I feel the exposure and awareness of the Holocaust which will be ensured via the monument is a huge factor which I feel must be considered strongly.

    From my youth in London I don’t recall any lasting impressions from museums and so on nor have I even been to a Holocaust memorial of any sort in London, however what stands out are the monuments and statues gracing the city’s parks and open spaces. They made a huge impact on me and made an indelible impression on how I view London. I relate to London via Admiral Nelson, Napoleon Winston Churchill and so on and that is History I have taken with me much more than any History I have learn in History classes and so on.. and I am sure there are many more like me (I would say the vast majority of people, unless I am living under a rock).

    Perhaps this article should segue in a more explorative discussion on Holocaust education and so on, but I feel strongly that you majorly understated the impact this will have on Holocaust awareness. Perhaps for some (Jewish & Non-Jews) their exposure to the Holocaust is significant and there is so such requirement for an ugly reminder when they want to see London’s green parks, but as the Holocaust grows further into the distant future I can only say that those few are going to grow smaller and smaller.

    Are we responsible? Perhaps. Should we improve our Holocaust education? Perhaps. Do millions of Non-Jews need to know about the Holocaust? Not sure. But at the end of the day despite all those questions I think the overriding fact is clear; to keep the Holocaust in people’s minds and consciousness this is surely the most effective and sure way to achieve it.

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    1. Dear Steven,

      In response to your comments; The holocaust needs to be brought to our youth, the other way simply won’t happen. The type of visitors that Parliament Square attracts is not the ‘target audience’. Why not bring the holocaust to schools, integrate it better into PHSE Curriculum. This is the only way real change in attitude and outlook will occur. HMD, still predominantly commorated by just the Jewish communities, proves the point.

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      1. Good luck with that. Mirvis is on the board of the UKHMLC. He won’t change his mind.
        Unfortunately, he isn’t Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks who never publicly supported the project.

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  8. I saw your piece in the Seasonal Circular and have written to the Chief Rabbi asking him to speak to Lord Feldman, Sir Mick Davis et al and ask them to change their mind. I never thought I would find myself agreeing with the sentiments of something in a freebie Jewish advertising circular, but what you have written is spot on. Unfortunately, I suspect that the Government is fishing for donations to the Conservative Party in exchange for favours – we have seen far too many examples of this recently, and not just from the Conservatives.

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    1. UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis says in response: “This is a significant moment on our journey towards a major national Holocaust memorial. Now the sacred work to enshrine our country’s commitment to teaching the essential lessons of the Holocaust in a monument and learning centre beside parliament, can truly begin.”

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  9. I thought this was quite ironic. It was written in January 2018, before the
    campaign to build the holocaust memorial next to Westminster got underway.

    https://www.thejc.com/comment/opinion/era-of-fake-news-erodes-trust-in-historical-truth-1.457393

    “In recent years, it is as if ignorance has been allowed to prevail, that historical facts have become hostage to politics, used to score political points and create a distorted version of the past that feed into a belief system. And that isn’t going away.”

    One might conclude that for the HET, “historical truth” is important, but only when it suits their agenda – Baroness Altmann’s recent comments on Newsnight, when she debated Baroness Deech, were “a distorted version of the past” – they were not condemned by Karen Pollock and were ignored by the BOD.( Altmann had argued that the holocaust took place in a democracy and when later rebuked by Prof Richard Evans, she refused to retract.) The Westminster Holocaust Memorial is a political project and its proponents are willing to rewrite history , and by doing so, inevitably engage in a new type of holocaust revisionism.

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  10. I refer to another recent article in The JC written by Karen Pollock in support of the Westminster Holocaust Memorial. In it, she actually quotes Rabbi Lord Sacks ( he is the only person quoted) and one might mistakenly conclude that he actually supported the building of the memorial in the Victoria Tower Gardens. However, let’s be perfectly clear – there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that he did.

    I have now contacted many different people and organisations connected to the memorial and nobody has suggested that Rabbi Lord Sacks was in favour. As a result, I respectfully suggest that in future the HET ( Holocaust education trust) does not give any further credence to this idea.

    The HET must be aware that the memorial, although now going ahead, is controversial and it inevitably divides Anglo Jewry. In such circumstances, the HET should further their cause in a scrupulously correct manner at all times.

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  11. Eli,
    The blog that you have written is excellent.
    I wonder what percentage of Anglo Jewry would support the project if they went to the VTG and were really encouraged to analyse the issues. My prediction is that it wouldn’t get majority support. If non-Jews underwent a similar process, the support would inevitably be even smaller and in this regard, one might conclude that it is a project that will have a negative impact on the Jewish community.
    The truth is that Anglo Jewry would probably have been exterminated if the UK Parliament had not supported the war against a totalitarian Nazi dictatorship. Whether there were antisemites in the foreign office, or whether more could have been done to help European Jewry escape to Palestine etc might be interesting historical discussions but, in my opinion, should be avoided as reasons for promoting a memorial next to Parliament. Unfortunately, these sorts of debates are inevitably now being encouraged by the Holocaust Education Trust etc and are used to somehow justify the building of the VTG holocaust memorial. They, and other supporters of the project, are making a massive mistake.

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  12. Eli,
    In the blog you mention “excessive self-regard” as an element within the psyche of those
    behind the VTG memorial. Here’s an example:

    At the planning inquiry Karen Pollock actually said that the HET ( the organisation that she heads) was “brilliant”.

    ” Of course, the Memorial and Learning centre will complement the work of brilliant organisations ensuring the Holocaust is not forgotten – including the Holocaust Educational Trust that I run. We have been working hard for many years to ensure that teachers and youn people in schools up and down the country know what the Holocaust was, hear the testimony of Holocaust survivors, understand why the Holocaust matters here and now. This Memorial and Learning centre will help us reach more people, it will help us reach different people, it will help us strength the impact of what we do.”

    https://www.westminster.gov.uk/sites/default/files/10.56_karen_pollock_cbe_speech_to_planning_inquiry_3.11.20.docx

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  13. I attach the conclusion from an article written by Dr Andy Pearce as it seems particularly relevant, and could be seen as a warning:

    “My final thesis is part prognosis, part prescription. Whilst my remarks have been unavoidably general – and thus need to be viewed against examples of very effective educational approaches – I feel it nevertheless holds that the prevailing winds of Holocaust education are marginalising historical actuality. Given the research findings that we have, and in light of the way many Holocaust education programmes are set up, it seems hard to refute the primacy being placed on commemoration and the reality that this is having concomitant effects on what is known and understood.

    Yet as much as this involves the marginalisation of historical content, it also entails the marginalisation of what this history amounts to and its elemental essence. After all, at its reducible core genocide is about human atrocity and learning about this is neither comfortable nor pleasant. But accommodating this reality into educational initiatives presses against what Runia calls our contemporary ‘soft-headed brand of commemoration’.13

    Some twenty years ago, Nicholas Kinloch forcefully critiqued how much teaching about the Holocaust failed to ‘start and end with what happened and why; with the Shoah as history’.14 Kinloch’s concerns still largely hold, but they have been amplified by what has taken place in the interim. Over the past two decades, Holocaust education has become a global enterprise, endorsed by national governments around the world, and instituted into public life through such initiatives as Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD). Holocaust memory, meanwhile, is frequently employed to legitimise political agendas and/or to critique them. In sum, the Holocaust has a presence in social, cultural, and political life hitherto unseen, with little indication that this will abate any time soon. This places new responsibilities on how the Holocaust is taught, learnt, and remembered.”

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  14. It seems that at its very core the VTG holocaust project is the work of Gerald Ronson. As a property developer, he probably said to Lord Feldman -” Hey, I’ve been thinking Feldman, – what about using Victoria Tower Gardens as a site? Can you persuade Cameron?”
    Feldman must have replied: “No problem, Gerald. He never goes there.”
    And the joke is that Cameron and the crew went along with it.
    Ronson has said that he can raise the £25 million from charitable contributions so he presumably is still an influential figure. If others don’t come up with the cash, Gerald could presumably donate the full amount, and it should then be renamed : “The Gerald Ronson Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre”
    After all, that’s what it really is.
    The fact that the govt overturned the decision of Westminster Council and Jenrick recused himself and appointed his mate Pincher to give it the go-ahead, is just how things can work in a modern democracy. And that’s presumably why it’s being built next to Parliament!

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  15. Dorian Gerhold in “The Critic” makes some interesting points and I would imagine that as building works progress in the VTG, the general public will start to wonder how the project came about.

    He writes:

    “With hindsight, the choice of a public open space was almost inevitable, given the Government’s stated unwillingness to pay the market price for a site. Victoria Tower Gardens was under its control and free.”

    “The decision of 29 July was no surprise because only an exceptionally brave junior minister would have ruled against a scheme so firmly supported by his Secretary of State and the Prime Minister. It is perhaps more surprising that the planning inspector accepted the government case in its entirety.”

    “The proposed HMLC is a remarkable example of planning without any democratic safeguards: a prime ministerial announcement out of the blue, a complete absence of public consultation about the choice of site, contempt shown for the views of the local authority (the Secretary of State restated his commitment to the project while Westminster’s planning committee was debating it), and planning permission awarded by the Government to itself.”

    https://thecritic.co.uk/the-victoria-tower-gardens-plot/

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  16. I refer to the following, written by Karen Pollock (HET) in The Times about the UKHMLC:

    “While British troops liberated camps, questions are asked to this day about whether the British could — and should — have bombed the train lines to Auschwitz-Birkenau. And the UK was not immune to the antisemitism that gripped Europe at the time.”

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/0fef50d0-f089-11eb-a2a3-afea84050239?shareToken=ca60df434ef0a28ed1c0b773fa27715c

    Is the Chief Executive of the HET implying that the UKHMLC might incorporate an exhibit discussing whether the train lines should have been bombed and whether antisemitism was prevalent in the UK during WW2? If so, perhaps Natasha Kaplinsky could interview my 98 yrs mother who actually overheard some antisemitic comments when she travelled on the London underground in 1940? She’s available if required, I kid you not. (Luckily, whilst she was on the train, the Nazis did not bomb it.)

    And if so, what precisely is the point of these debates taking place at the UKHMLC?

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  17. The attached seems to be part of the holocaust zeitgeist and is the type of subject that might also be up for discussion at the UKHMLC.

    https://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=55381

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/the-holocaust-memorial-will-forever-stand-as-a-warning-to-us-all-x9t6cnwbm

    Whether Ceserani saw it as a “moral failure” that the bombing was not undertaken, it seems bizarre that school students and visitors to the memorial should be encouraged to debate it before they even have a proper understanding of Nazi Germany, the holocaust, WW2, the history of antisemitism and the diversity of European Jewish communities.

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  18. Here’s a recent video of Gerald Ronson, the man behind the UKHMLC. It seems that nothing much stops him. The young interviewer is in awe and Ronson really seems to believe that he’s protecting us. ( He’s given a commitment to donate £5 million over the next 4yrs towards the project, so there’s another £20 million to be found.)
    https://www.jlgb.org/stories/879-gerald-ronson

    Interesting that Ronson’s father was a boxer.

    So what might one conclude? It seems that the Anglo Jewish community leaders are walking on water now that they have helped to destroy Corbyn. Govt cash towards an expensive UKHMLC is the prize for their support. Of course, it is a very dangerous pact and it will be put under increasing public scrutiny once building works commence.

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  19. TAKING THE MICK IN THE JEWISH NEWS

    Would the extermination of European Jewry have happened without a war? I think that it is highly unlikely. But we are told that ” the holocaust was not a product of the war”, which is a strange use of language.
    Interesting that Mick Davis says that the IWM has an “impressive” holocaust exhibition that “miscasts” the victims. It makes no sense and he knows that the IWM exhibit will be much better than anything that the UKHMLC can provide.

    “Westminster is the most appropriate location. Some suggested the Imperial War Museum, already home to an impressive Holocaust exhibition. This miscasts the Holocaust’s victims as combatants or participants in war. They were not. The Holocaust was not a product of war, but of 2,000 years of abuse, compromised liberties and hatred given free rein by the breakdown of democracy. ” (Davis)

    But leaving that aside, I would bet that Davis never wrote this article himself. It has the stench of an academic or someone similar who has the ability to write nonsense.

    Considering that Davis and Ronson are Jewish donors and that no attempt was made to ask Anglo Jewry what they think about it, this is real chutzpah….

    “The suggestion, however, that this was a top-down process at the behest of Jewish donors is not only wrong but comes dangerously close to antisemitic tropes about the proximity of Jews to power. That someone can evoke these age-old tropes in this specific debate merely vindicates the need for the memorial in as prominent a location as possible.”

    https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/right-place-for-our-national-memorial-whatever-a-certain-type-of-person-thinks/

    Re Cameron: He doesn’t seem to say much about the project. Probably taken more of a back seat since his scandal hit head-lines.

    Worth remembering that Davis is a South African mining magnate. Strange that he doesn’t mention it in the article.

    The UKHMLC doesn’t have much support amongst UK Jewry. My guess is that when National Insurance is rising to pay for social care, the millions to be spent on the UKHMLC might seem out of kilter.

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  20. I refer to the attached, written by the Chief Rabbi, in support of the UKHMLC:

    https://www.thejc.com/comment/opinion/we-should-support-this-holocaust-memorial-for-the-sake-of-the-victims-and-the-generations-to-come-1.487334

    “Yet, this is a monumental educational initiative, which will deploy cutting-edge technologies and the latest pedagogical techniques, to make a powerful cognitive and emotional impact on all visitors, using the lessons of the Shoah and subsequent genocides to contribute to a more compassionate British society.”

    But how long is it expected that visitors to the memorial and learning centre will be able to spend there? Will it be more than about 30 minutes? Inevitably at peak times visitors will be rushed through to enable more people, queuing outside, to gain entry. If so, will they really be able to learn much about the holocaust and have enough time to become more compassionate?

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  21. SECURITY AND VISITOR PROFILING AT THE UKHMLC
    I refer to the attached:
    https://www.westminster.gov.uk/sites/default/files/cd_5.8_visitor_management_strategy_part_2_december_2018.pdf
    It states: “CST has given advice on this. For example security operatives will be trained in visitor profiling, which is the first step in an effective security screening process.” (6.3 Security)
    This surprised me because I thought that the Community Security Trust , headed by Gerald Ronson, had not provided any input regarding security at the UKHMLC.
    However, it is evident that the CST recommends “visitor profiling”. I wonder whether this might mean bearing in mind that synagogue security has been recently advised by Stephen Bush to avoid racial profiling. (As is well known, the CST is instrumental in advising synagogues about how they should conduct effective security.)
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/apr/22/synagogues-and-jewish-venues-urged-to-avoid-racial-profiling-in-security-searches
    “The report made “difficult reading”, said Marie van der Zyl, the board’s president. She hoped it would be a “starting point for a wider conversation … about how to tackle and defeat the scourge of racism”
    I wonder whether the CST’s recommendations did not contravene the latest thinking regarding visitor profiling.

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  22. I HAVE NOT RECEIVED ANY REPLY TO THIS EMAIL.
    It has been sent to the civil servant responsible for the UK holocaust memorial foundation.

    Dear UKHMF Secretariat,

    I refer to the UKHMLC which has received planning permission and is to be built at Victoria Tower Gardens.

    I am aware that there is a requirement to raise £25 million in charitable donations.

    Can building works commence before the £25 million has been guaranteed? Should the full amount be secured in the charity’s bank account before any building works start?

    Can the public view who has donated prior to construction?

    Yours faithfully
    ANTHONY POSNER

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  23. Kochan later attacked the “Holocaust industry” by arguing that only experts should deal with a subject of such sensitivity. He opposed the institution of a Holocaust day, the idea of building a Holocaust museum in Britain and the notion of university departments of Holocaust studies. He felt that overt politicisation dishonoured the memory of the dead, and focusing solely on the Shoah risked obscuring the story of Jewish life in Europe before 1939.
    Hence his final work, The Making of Western Jewry, 1600-1819 (2005), anatomises the extraordinarily varied experience of Jewry, from Livorno and London to Hamburg and Paris. While covering the phenomena of “court Jews”, Hassidic rabbis and intermittent bouts of anti-semitism, it also addresses less familiar areas, rural Jewish life, secular communal leaders, the changing roles for women, the tensions between rich and poor, and the kehillah, or self-governing Jewish council.
    https://www.oxfordchabad.org/templates/articlecco_cdo/aid/458751/jewish/Lionel-Kochan.htm
    The more surprising, therefore, were the violent waves Kochan caused in the last decade with his condemnation of what he pejoratively described as “the Holocaust industry”. As a historian, he believed that the Nazi Holocaust, which wiped out most of European Jewry, was being given too prominent a part in contemporary Jewish life. He also opposed the establishment of January 27 as an annual Holocaust Remembrance Day in this country.
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lionel-kochan-kw3tk8mx0mp

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    1. Most Jewish historians agree with this appraisal by Lionel Kochan – over 40 wrote in to the relevant authorities and were ignored. Concisely, teaching the Holocaust outside Jewish history will cause a great deal of harm, and constructing this edifice will only increase antisemitism on the ground. It is as if its proposers and backers have a death wish towards the Jewish communities of the UK, and wish us harm. And this fact has to be emphasized. Only recently, the present Pope stated that our Torah is dead, and that we must be brought to Christianity. Those sentiments parallel the increase in the construction of Holocaust memorials. Dead Jews good; live Jews bad!

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      1. I studied Jewish history with Lionel Kochan in the mid 1970’s . His essay in Manna warns against the holocaust industry – it was published in 1999 . He wrote of the “cult of the holocaust” and if alive today he would have been horrified by the UKHMLC at the VTG.

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  24. In June 1997 Kochan and Cesarani debated whether Britain should have its first holocaust museum – Kochan opposed, Cesarani supported it.
    There’s no documentation of what was said which is a pity.
    Of course, they were historians from different generations and Kochan was more reticent and certainly less keen to put the holocaust “centre stage”. I also wonder whether by that time, Kochan would have held more conservative views than Cesarani ( Kochan, when younger had been a Marxist).
    Cesarani was very involved with the holocaust exhibition at the IWM but I wonder whether he would have supported the building of the UKHMLC at VTG. Would it have been a step too far or would he have been an advocate?
    Rabbi Lord Sacks, btw, never supported the project.

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  25. “When David Cameron established the Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission last year to determine “what more Britain must do to ensure that the memory of the Holocaust is preserved and that the lessons it teaches are never forgotten”, Cesarani was a member of its education committee. He also belonged to the advisory group that oversaw the creation of the permanent exhibition on the Holocaust in the upper floors of the Imperial War Museum in London. Though he was not solely responsible for its design, Cesarani’s close involvement showed in its lack of sentiment, its commitment to historical detail, its careful focus on the massacre of 1.5 millions Jews by the Einsatzgruppen before the Final Solution of the extermination camps was devised (ignorance of which Cesarani always lamented) and its use of survivors’ testimony. These were features that ran through Cesarani’s scholarly publications too.”
    Obituary in The Guardian.
    Of course, that was before the VTG site had been decided upon.
    But, if Kochan had been alive, he would never have been a member of Cameron’s education committee!
    I suspect that Cesarani would have gone along with the siting at VTG but one cannot be certain.

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  26. Let’s consider the quarter of a century since Kochan debated Cesarani. In the UK, we have HMD and the HET and the major exhibit at the IWM etc. The govt has also paid for schoolchildren to visit Auschwitz. Thousands of holocaust books have been written. And many dramas and documentaries. On the internet there’s many links to well resourced holocaust education sites and if you want you can read PhD theses on the subject at a click.
    So one might assume that the UK public is much better informed about the holocaust than it was 25 yrs ago and has really thought about why it happened? I have my doubts.
    When Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party in 2015, UK Jewry started to get worried.
    An anti-Zionist opposition party was emerging which was tainted by left-wing antisemitism. Many Jews started to wonder whether they had a sustainable future in the UK. During this time they were offered taxpaye’s money to build a UKHMLC. Perhaps, some even thought that it was a necessary antidote to Corbynism. They had been freaked out. After all the millions that had been spent on holocaust education, their security still seemed to be threatened. And in this febrile atmosphere, some Jews thought that a holocaust development next to Parliament would help to secure a safe future. This of course chimed with Conservative politics. But was it a pact that was really in Anglo Jewry’s interests? Westminster residents didn’t want it. Some Jews thought it could lead to a terrorist attack. And some wondered whether the wider govt political agenda ( British values) really had much to do with the holocaust.
    My intuition was that Kochan was correct. He was a wise man who 25 yrs ago could clearly see what was coming down the tracks. And yes, the “holocaust cult” has taken over and done our heads in.

    Like

  27. Sometimes one might forget the reason why the UKHMLC is being built at VTG. It might be forgotten that it has a pivotal role in saving the country and it has an Antifa vibe.

    We are told that the UKHMLC will help to create a country that stands up for “the persecuted and downtrodden”. It will help to build a “new generation who will fight against fascism”.

    I can remember the National Front in the 1970’s. But 2018 was a lot worse?

    Eric Pickles was born in 1952
    Ed Balls was born in 1967

    This was written in Sep 2018

    “In July, the Community Security Trust warned that anti-Semitic incidents remain at a record high, with more than 100 incidents recorded each month in the first half of 2018.

    Neither of us can remember a time when there was more intolerance and hatred. This is a huge failure to stand by the values of this country.

    The question now is where do we want to be in another 70 years’ time? Do we want to be a country where hatred and intolerance is rife, or one that stands up for the persecuted and downtrodden?

    The proposed Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre is the key to building a new generation who will fight against fascism, intolerance and the subversion of democracy, wherever and whenever it occurs.” (Pickles and Balls)

    https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/why-a-new-memorial-to-the-holocaust-is-essential

    Like

  28. Dear CST,

    https://cst.org.uk/about-cst

    I have searched the CST website and can see no mention whatsoever of the UKHMLC at Victoria Tower Gardens.

    The CST has had an important role in designing security measures for the UKHLMC but has decided not to publicly state whether it thinks that the project is a good idea. Obviously the security of Jews and non Jews at the UKHLMC is a relevant issue but the CST can’t even write a blog about it.

    I have pointed out that the CST should have revealed at the planning inquiry that Gerald Ronson was Chairman of the CST and had donated £630,000 over the last few years. After all, he’s the most influential supporter of the UKHLMC although nobody has previously revealed this conflict of interest. Is this why the CST is silent?

    Perhaps the CST has decided that the best policy is to publicly keep shtumm hoping that nobody mentions the role that the CST has taken regarding terrorism and security at Victoria Tower Gardens?

    Please let me know whether I have missed any links to any articles ,and if I haven’t, why the CST is so reluctant to mention the UKHLMC on its website. Dave Rich, the Director of Policy, writes about the holocaust, holocaust denial, antisemitism, terrorism etc but nothing about the UKHLMC at the VTG. Why?

    Let’s hope that The JC and the Jewish News start asking some relevant questions.

    Yours faithfully,
    Anthony Posner
    HA7

    Like

  29. Dear Dave Rich,

    I hope you are well. I apologise for emailing you again but I have now had the time to formulate a more detailed response.

    Please could you comment on the following and let me know whether any of my following assertions and assumptions are incorrect. Please could you also answer questions (6) and (8).

    1: It is evident that the CST did not make a “formal submission” to the planning inquiry.

    2: On pg 202 para 15.237 of the planning inspector, David Morgan’s UKHMLC report it states that the CST was involved in helping to develop an appropriate security response for the UKHMLC. It concludes:
    “As a result, the measures introduced would be in the highest quartile of protective measures.”

    3: It is acknowledged that the CST has expertise in antisemitic terrorism and presumably that is one reason why it was involved. It is also involved in helping to protect various sites which are important to the Jewish community as well as monitoring antisemitic activity in the UK and beyond.

    4: One might conclude that at no time did the CST suggest that the VTG would be an unsuitable location for the UKHMLC : it didn’t say, for example, that such an iconic site might inevitably attract antisemitic terrorism and that, in such circumstances, it might be extremely difficult to protect visitors outside at the park, and inside at the UKHMLC, owing to the various factors affecting the VTG site.

    5: I am not suggesting that the CST was unhappy with the advice that it gave which was used to develop an appropriate security response for the UKHLMC.

    6: Was David Morgan made aware at anytime that Gerald Ronson CBE was chairman of the CST at the same time as being one of the most influential proponents of the UKHLMC at the VTG?

    7: Given the fact that Gerald Ronson CBE was Chairman of the CST it might, in practice, have been difficult for the CST to have suggested that the VTG was an unsuitable site for the UKHMLC.

    8: If David Morgan was unaware of Gerald Ronson’s role as Chairman of the CST, then might it be reasonable to suggest that he should have been?

    I hope that I have not upset you or the CST and I greatly respect the work that you and the CST do to protect the Jewish community.

    Yours sincerely
    Anthony Posner
    HA7 3ES

    Like

  30. Dear Baroness Altmann,

    I hope you are well. I am sorry to write to you again, but I know that your perspective is rather different from the main-stream and worth discussing in some depth – we should encourage serious debate and it should be transparent and in the public domain. After all, that is presumably why you are now in the House of Lords!

    I know you don’t believe that WW2 and the holocaust have much in common, but what do you think about the new IWM galleries which are opening on October 20th? Of course, it is less than a mile away from the UKHMLC so it won’t be too much of a shlepp from parliament.

    As one of the most prominent supporters of the UKHMLC in the House of Lords, I am interested to know how the UKHLMC learning centre will be better, from your perspective, in respect of holocaust education. (I am aware that you believe that the holocaust was undertaken by a “democratic” German government, and am also curious whether you think that the failure of Weimar Germany should feature prominently at Victoria Tower Gardens.)

    The following link is a guide to what one might expect on visiting the new IWM holocaust galleries.

    https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/new-second-world-war-and-holocaust-gallery-plans-unveiled

    And do you think children and adults will be able to spend enough time at the UKHLMC to really learn much about the holocaust? I am concerned that visits will be short and sour.

    I know you are busy but I hope you might find the time to enlighten us all.

    Kind regards
    Anthony Posner

    Like

  31. RONSON RUNS ANGLO JEWRY?

    “I agreed to meet Baroness Warsi at the suggestion of the highly respected Community Security Trust chair, Gerald Ronson. Baroness Warsi is one of the most prominent Muslims in British public life and, given his position at the top of our community’s antisemitism watchdog, I always take Mr Ronson’s recommendations seriously.”

    https://www.thejc.com/comment/opinion/marie-van-der-zyl-baroness-warsi-mend-board-of-deputies-1.467816

    Like

  32. Eli, you write:
    “As British Jews, we have enjoyed a good deal for centuries, permitted to preserve – to the extent that we want to – a separate way of life, while no corridor of politics, business, or culture is closed to us. We have enough clout and influence to strong-arm dozens of politicians into publicly supporting the project as the price of proving their friendship. The question is not whether we can, however, but whether we should. Being able to intimidate politicians into acquiescing to unreasonable demands is no doubt tremendously satisfying, but the fact that people are scared to disagree with you in public is not the same thing as actually having friends.”

    I agree with you 100% and this is my letter to the Board of Deputies….

    GERALD RONSON CBE, SIR MICK DAVIS AND MARIE VAN DER ZYL (BOD)

    Dear Marie van der Zyl,

    Let’s be clear – I am not a major Jewish philanthropist. I don’t run any Jewish communal organisations. I have no links to the Conservative Party. I don’t try and ensure 24/7 that they win an eIection. I don’t get others to donate to them. I don’t even donate to them. I haven’t got any honours from the Govt. I can’t really help the Govt out much. And I have not even been appointed to a holocaust foundation etc. A tragedy, I know.

    But I can spot when Jewish communal organisations start getting a bit out of touch and start behaving unwisely. That’s one of my talents!

    And I am not an antisemite. I have studied Jewish history and have visited Israel a few times. I’m not frum but I did have a barmie.

    Of course, my emails to you might be deleted. You don’t have to take any notice of me. I’m not Gerald Ronson CBE or Sir Mick Davis.

    But is it just possible that sometimes, say once in a hundred times, you might be too influenced by Gerald Ronson? After all you “ALWAYS take his recommendations seriously”.

    This is what you said:

    “I agreed to meet Baroness Warsi at the suggestion of the highly respected Community Security Trust chair, Gerald Ronson. Baroness Warsi is one of the most prominent Muslims in British public life and, given his position at the top of our community’s antisemitism watchdog, I always take Mr Ronson’s recommendations seriously.”

    https://www.thejc.com/comment/opinion/marie-van-der-zyl-baroness-warsi-mend-board-of-deputies-1.467816

    Yours sincerely
    Anthony Posner

    Like

  33. Dear Dave,

    I hope you are well.

    Maybe the CST and Gerald Ronson can answer some of the following questions and publish it somewhere? (maybe on the CST website?) It is important that the CST embraces the UKHLMC project, because “namby-pamby” Jews might be scared to go there. Please put their minds at rest and explain how it will reduce antisemitism, terrorism etc. And at least when people Google “CST and UKHLMC” something might pop up, because at the moment, nothing does.

    Having read Mr Brittle’s submission at the planning inquiry, it is obvious that the CST was involved in designing a security strategy for the site, so it is reasonable for you to let us know what is going to happen there. I am not asking you about where security cameras are placed and who is monitoring them etc. PLEASE ENSURE THAT NO SENSITIVE SECURITY DETAILS ARE REVEALED. I just want to know, what it will be like, if I visit and say, take an elderly person along.

    Here goes…

    1: how will security function at the park, and on the pavement outside, during building and once completed? How will the play-ground be affected? Will there be any hassles?

    2: will all visitors to the park be searched? Will there be queues on the street? How will security operate inside the park? Will it be a relaxed vibe? Is there any idea how much it will cost the taxpayer? Does it matter how much it will cost?

    3: will UKHLMC be closed if UK security levels are categorised as critical? Will the park become a no-go area?

    4: will ticket-holders, queuing in the park, prior to entry to UKHMLC, cause any problems?

    5: will the park be closed during construction works and for how long?

    It might be an idea to address these questions, because a lot of people might be curious how it will function in practice.

    To be honest, I can’t visualise these changes – VICTORIA FORTRESS GARDENS? – especially in the summer when Westminster is packed with tourists. But I assume that The CST can.

    Kind regards
    Anthony

    Like

  34. A letter to the Holocaust Education Trust

    Dear HET,
    As you know the IWM holocaust gallery is opening on Oct 20th, probably at about the same time that building works will start for the holocaust learning centre at VTG.
    Is it possible that there might be any replication?

    Since the UKHLMC is only a mile away from the IWM, do you think that some people might think that it is unnecessary to build another holocaust exhibit in the same locale?

    Kind regards
    Anthony Posner

    Subject: Holocaust learning at the IWM
    https://www.iwm.org.uk/learning/sessions/holocaust-learning-london

    Like

  35. Although Ronson and Taking The Mick Davis painted opponents as antisemites, Pickles and Balls also played the same card. One might have forgotten the attached link at the bottom of this comment. Unfortunately, their tactics have been effective and perhaps have closed debate down as non-Jews were made to feel uncomfortable if they were to oppose the UKHLMC .

    I doubt that many Jews believe actually this “antisemitic” crap, but it is indicative of the fact that there are no rational reasons to build at VTG. A bit like Baroness Ros Altmann’s own brand of holocaust revisionism – total garbage used to promote a foolish project.

    IMHO, the building of the UKHLMC will have no benefits for Anglo Jewry ; it might even create a new wave of antisemitism and the frightening thing is that many of their arguments will be difficult to confront – that’s why it is so dangerous, especially when the UK heads for a recession and more poverty.

    Just check out the holocaust memorial foundation committee and the number of Jewish multi millionaires and financiers ; the more representative members of the Jewish community have been excluded, and the memorial might horrendously be seen as something foisted on the UK by a wealthy clique. It is a great pity and quite unnecessary and unfortunately it is the wider Anglo Jewish community who will have to deal with unsavoury antisemitic comments which, sooner or later, will flow forth.

    PICKLES AND BALLS
    They said their concerns were reinforced by “the number of antisemitic remarks that have been allowed to remain on the planning portal for far too long”.

    “As highly experienced national politicians, I am extremely disappointed with your irresponsible and frankly offensive assertions.” Nick Aitken

    https://www.cityam.com/__trashed-10/

    Like

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