Covering a Holocaust memorial in Hyde Park typifies everything wrong with post-October 7th Britain

Since 7th October, anti-Israel protesters have flooded the streets of London almost every weekend. Expressions of support of Hamas, calls for intifada, and chanting slogans calling for the removal of Israel, has left the Jewish community feeling vulnerable. A planned counter-march by antisemitism campaigner Gideon Falter had to be cancelled on Saturday over security fears. The march was intended to be a response after Falter was told by a police officer the previous week that he was concerned for his safety for being ‘openly Jewish’.

Now it seems that it is ‘openly Jewish’ Holocaust memorials that are the problem. Images emerged online at the weekend of the Holocaust Memorial in London’s Hyde Park covered up by plastic tarpaulin. According to Royal Parks, the authority that oversees central London’s parklands, the action was not ordered by the Met Police. Presumably, Royal Parks covered the monument to protect it from the pro-Palestinian mobs. On the surface this might be a sensible precaution, but in reality, the memorial should not have to be covered in the first place.

The memorial is inscribed in both English and Hebrew, and reads: “For these I weep. Streams of tears flow from my eyes because of the destruction of my people,” a quotation from the Book of Lamentations.

The memorial would only have been in danger from antisemites – that doesn’t cast a good reflection on some of those demonstrating. The Holocaust Memorial honouring more than 6 million murdered should have been left uncovered so that every anti-Israel protester could walk by and have their conscience challenged. As well as honouring Holocaust victims, it is intended to serve as a reminder of the severe consequence of antisemitism if not addressed at the root.

Instead, the Holocaust memorial in Hyde Park was covered up. The reminder of 6 million victims, hidden. The memory of genocidal antisemitism, erased. That is what those who hate the Jewish people want. Maybe because it would be more comfortable to just pass on by; more convenient than to look the other way. It would be more comfortable than being provoked to think about a tragedy so ‘openly Jewish’.

And herein lies the problem of Britain since 7th October 2023. Too many people have felt comfortable turning away from the atrocities of Hamas’s murder of Jews. It has been more convenient to call for a ceasefire without demanding the release of Jewish hostages. And it has been easier to stand by and watch antisemites pass by than it is to allow Jews to be ‘openly Jewish’.

Yad Vashem, which described the move as “a stain on our society,” said that concealing these historical reminders only addresses the symptoms while “ignoring the root cause of the issue.” They are right.

Antisemitism past or present should never ever be covered up.

Image: Holocaust memorial in Hyde Park: © Franco Pfaller (WMR-122)
Covered Holocaust memorial in Hyde Park: Hollie Adam (Reuters)