An Abundance of Holocaust Memorials Won’t Diminish Anti-Semitism

July 31, 2020 | Melanie Phillips
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Last year, the British lawyer and member of parliament Ruth Deech, a Jew whose own parents narrowly escaped Hitler, found herself a vocal critic of plans to build a Holocaust memorial in a small park in central London. Objections to its construction vary, and include aesthetic and environmental arguments as well as the fact that the United Kingdom already has at least five such memorials. But Deech makes a more fundamental argument, writes Melanie Phillips:

Her sharpest point is that these memorials tend to shy away from the real causes of Jew-hatred. Instead, they are increasingly being used to promote a self-congratulatory and sometimes self-exculpatory image of the country that erects them. Britain’s memorials, for example, do not note how in the 1930s and 1940s, the its government blocked the entry into Palestine of desperate European Jews in flagrant repudiation of the British Mandate to settle Jews there, thus facilitating their extermination in the Nazi slaughter.

As Deech observed, the Holocaust tends to be lumped together with other genocides and examples of racism or persecution, thus watering down its significance. The message becomes a generalized one of avoiding hatred and intolerance. But that doesn’t address or explain the roots of the Holocaust, [in Deech’s words]: “centuries of Jewish persecution—first, on the grounds of religion, and then on the grounds of race, and now on the grounds of a distorted left-wing view of the state of Israel.”

As Baroness Deech [further] observed: “The more the national Holocaust remembrance day events are packed out, the more the calls for sanctions on Israel that would result in her destruction, and the more the Holocaust is turned against the Jews. I hear it in parliament: ‘after all you people went through, look what you are doing to the Palestinians; have you learned nothing?’”

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