Good plan, wrong place
We read with interest Lord Eric Pickles and Ed Balls’ response to criticism of the Holocaust memorial and learning centre proposal (Jewish News, 4 October).
As keen observers who believe it is the right idea in the wrong place, we would like to address some points.
Lord Pickles and Mr Balls say: “No other site comes even close in offering this unambiguous symbolism.”
It is not clear “unambiguous symbolism” was one of the location criteria in the January 2015 Holocaust Commission Report and even less clear how any other location, except perhaps College Green, could possibly have fulfilled such a criterion. Conversely, the report recommended the learning centre should be part of a wider physical campus, accommodating lectures, seminars and offices and engaging ‘vast numbers of visitors’. Space constraints at Victoria Tower Gardens make this unachievable; it seems symbolism has trumped other imperatives.
It is suggested debate about the choice of location should have taken place two and a half years ago. It did – in 2016, when the gardens were announced as the location. That debate intensified in 2017 when it became clear the learning centre was also proposed for this site. Press reports from September 2016 show the use of Victoria Tower Gardens was controversial, and opponents have been vocal ever since.
However, as there was never consultation on the site (as opposed to the design), how could objections have been raised in such a way as to be heeded?
We wonder also whether we will ever see the report on different potential locations.
It is, apparently, imprudent to “expend public money on a fruitless search for a non-existent better site”. Yet significant amounts of public money are being spent trying to make Adjaye Associates’ design workable and palatable in this small and precious green space.
Given no planning application has yet been submitted, much less decided, it is absurd to suggest it is no longer timely to revisit the location decision.
Victoria Tower Gardens is not “much neglected”. It is very well used and its excellent maintenance by The Royal Parks is reflected in its Green Flag status.
The Save Victoria Tower Gardens campaign is strongly supportive of the need for a prominent Holocaust Memorial and improved Holocaust education. We simply believe that Victoria Tower Gardens is not the right place for development on the scale currently proposed.
It is disappointing a project which rightly aims to illustrate the vital importance of a healthy democracy is itself proceeding with such a lack of transparency and genuine consultation.
The Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign
The peers have a point
While I admire Lord Pickles and Ed balls for their staunch support of the proposed Holocaust memorial and learning centre opposite Parliament, I can’t help but side with the group of Jewish peers questioning the facility’s merits.
Such memorial sites and resources are of immeasurable value on the continent, where the Nazis’ crimes were committed – long may such places educate and remind generations to come of the horrors that took place in Europe.
But they are perhaps less needed in places far from the scene of the crime.
On holiday recently in the United States, I even came across a Holocaust memorial in Florida.
Let’s not forget Britain took the lead, and stood alone against Hitler and his regime during the early years of the war.
The eight peers rightly point out that the memorial would be undermined “if it is seen, quite wrongly, as conveying an impression of national guilt”.
This would be an appalling unintended consequence. We have nothing to apologise for.
Adele Forman, Potters Bar
This crime’s beyond words
Regarding the latest terror attack in the West Bank, taking a woman from her daughter is a crime beyond words. They should be a death sentence for the perpetrator. For every action like this latest double murder, there must be a reaction which must display strength not weakness. The people demand protection from their government now.
Take a leaf out of President Trump’s book – build a wall for complete separation. An “Us too” movement for complete protection. You know it makes sense.
Stephen Vishnick, Tel Aviv
Financing mass murder by ‘aid’
While Labour is riddled with antisemitism, it is the Conservative government that is literally financing the mass murder of Israelis.
It is doing do by taking UK taxpayers’ money and providing it as “aid” to the Palestinian Authority.
This organisation then uses it to reward Palestinians who murder Jews, as in the latest murder of a 29-year-old mother and wife handcuffed to a chair at her work in a joint Israeli/Palestinian industrial zone and shot in the head by a Palestinian co-worker.
Richard Millett, NW4
Politics and the t-shirt
Further to the incident involving Young Tories at an event during the party conference, I agree many of the comments on the t-shirts they wore were offensive and, at worst antisemitic, but there’s a reason the comments were there.
Freshers weeks involve many social events. This was one such, where attendees wear blank t-shirts and bring markers for people outside the group to write on them.
It was almost certainly not the students who wrote the comments themselves. These socials are commonplace and many far worse comments are written on many shirts.
You and many other media sources attack the students with no comment from them. Their society is suspended and the individuals are under investigation by the Conservative Party.
Why? Most likely because other drunken students, probably anti-Conservatives, wrote on their shirts and then took the pictures. You are contributing to a political attack and I would like you to acknowledge this.
George Rushton, By email