The British parliament recently decided to proceed with plans to construct a Holocaust memorial in a London park known as Victoria Tower Gardens—which has been the subject of controversy since the plans were first proposed by then-Prime Minister David Cameron. Melanie Phillips is less than enthusiastic:
Although the Nazis murdered many types of people in the Holocaust, their principal driver was the intention to wipe the Jews alone off the face of the earth. Yet much Holocaust memorializing denies the unique characteristics of anti-Semitism and the genocide of the Jews.
A graphic example was provided by the UK Online Commemoration for Holocaust Memorial Day last month. Its 23 sections referred to “genocides” in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, and Darfur, to “the Nazi persecution of gay people,” and to “people being persecuted simply because they were Ordinary People who belonged to a particular group.” But there was no mention of the genocide of the Jews other than two fleeting references in personal messages from [the Tory cabinet member] Michael Gove and [the Labor leader] Keir Starmer.
In its 1939 white paper, the British government tore up its legal obligation to settle the Jews in Palestine. Instead, it barred entry to those desperate to flee Nazi Europe, causing untold numbers to be murdered and making Britain an accessory to the Holocaust. Will the memorial really deal with this? The Holocaust Memorial Trust claims it will provide “an honest reflection of Britain’s role.” Yet the project’s supporters simultaneously claim that situating it next to Parliament demonstrates that democratic “British values” will prevent such horrors happening again. Well, which is it? It can’t be both.
If it were really to address Jew-hatred, it would show that the Nazi period wasn’t an aberration but on a continuum stretching back to earliest times—and encompassing the war waged against Israel today.
More about: Anti-Semitism, British Mandate, Holocaust memorial, United Kingdom