A Jewish professor has warned that the Government’s decision not to fund a slavery memorial despite giving £75 million for a new Holocaust museum and learning centre could “poison” relations between black and Jewish communities.
Professor Madge Dresser from the University of Bristol was speaking after a minister told campaigners for a national Enslaved Africans Memorial that “the Government does not have any dedicated funds available at present.”
By contrast, the Government initially promised £50 million of the £100 million needed for a Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to Parliament. It later increased its commitment to £75 million.
Dresser, an esteemed historian, said: “There is a disparity between the way the Holocaust Memorial with match-funding from well-connected philanthropists, is being championed, as opposed to the response to the proposed Enslaved Africans Memorial which received Only £10,000 from London’s City Hall.
She warned: “This will feed into all sorts of divisive social media sites and is a ticking time bomb that could poison black-Jewish relations.”
Dresser acknowledged the “urgency, as the survivors die out and Holocaust denial is in the ascendancy, that new generations are appraised of what happened”.
However, she said it was “equally important” that any new Holocaust memorial “appeals to young people from non-Jewish backgrounds, including those from African-Caribbean and Muslim backgrounds”.
She said: “Many of these young people access their history online, where tensions are exploited by those peddling antisemitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial… The disparity in funding and Government response to memorialising both atrocities fuels resentment and feeds into these conspiracies.”