Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has written a letter in The Times last week urging support for the proposed Holocaust memorial in the heart of London.
The letter, titled, “It is nothing less than a sacred mission”, the Chief Rabbi urged that the “Holocaust edifice must go ahead”. The letter reads:
“Sir, Further to Melanie Phillip’s article (“We’d rather champion dead Jews than live ones”, Aug 27), it should not be necessary to spell out why a world-class memorial to the Holocaust in the heart of our capital city is not only a great blessing but also a crucual expression of what it is to be British in these troubled times. It is nothing less than a sacred mission. Against a backdrop of rising levels of anti-Semitism, intolerance and hate speech, the British government has proposed an initiative, with cross-party support, to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten.
To those who question the suitability of Victoria Tower Gardens as a location, I ask: what better site would there be? The memorial and learning centre will stand in the shadow of the seat of our democracy, reminding political leaders that the fight against hatred is a fundamental responsibility we confer upon them.
Ms Phillips and others in recent weeks have focused on the threat of terrorism as if this were new. It is something we all live with but we don’t allow it to rule our lives. We would not routinely withdraw Jewish events or neglect to construct other high-profile buildings which might attract particular security concerns. We must always look at the threats, mitigate as best we can and then lead our lives as we have every right to do.
We should be emphatic in our support for this initiative.
In case you missed it: "It is nothing less than a sacred mission" – the Chief Rabbi's letter in The Times last week, urging support for the proposed Holocaust memorial in the heart of London.
At CUFI, we believe a Holocaust memorial outside Parliament is the RIGHT thing at the RIGHT time
Christians United for Israel UK has launched a petition in support of the National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, which is currently being strongly opposed.
We live in a time of rising anti-Semitism in Britain with an increasing number of people who have never heard about the Holocaust. We must educate future generations and preserve the lessons of history.
Britain played an important role in bringing about an end to the Holocaust, the worst genocide in history. Therefore, it is right for our nation to have a permanent memorial to the Holocaust and learning centre in the heart of our capital.
Unbelievably, there is now opposition to this worthy cause.Thousands have signed a petition to OPPOSE this memorial, and hundreds have written to the council to complain about it.
Many are being misled into believing this memorial will destroy a green space in London. This is simply wrong!
The memorial uses just 7% of the park with the education centre being underground.
The large green space will still be available for the public and the trees that line the park will remain untouched. Tourists will even have BETTER views of Parliament because of an elevated grassy area on top of the memorial.
The UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation states: “The proposals have been developed with great sensitivity to the existing context and character of the Gardens – we will retain 93 per cent of the open public space, improve views over Parliament and the river Thames and provide a range of accessible seating and a new boardwalk along the embankment.”
The questions to those who oppose this construction on an environmental level are:
Is 7% of Victoria Tower Gardens worth more than honouring the 6 million Jews who were brutally murdered during the Holocaust?
Is preserving a small part of a green space worth more than educating future generations against the hatred of anti-Semitism?
Shamefully, some of the opposition to this memorial appears to be far more sinister.
Whilst many genuinely oppose the construction without any discriminatory motives, CUFI has seen evidence of anti-Semitism from some opponents.
This includes conspiracy theories about Jews trying to claim the site and impose their will on the government, which is completely false. Others oppose the monument because of “politics” or even “Palestine”, which should not even be a factor. One conspiracy seen by CUFI claimed the memorial was to spread “Zionist propaganda”. Some of the wording chosen to oppose the memorial also raises questions.
It is not political to honour the memory of those murdered in the Holocaust. It is the right thing to do. And this memorial will honour their memory and teach future generations.
The truth is that six million Jews were murdered at the hands of Hitler’s Nazi regime throughout Europe and hundreds of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers also lost their lives fighting against that same hatred.
The position of the memorial is also important. Parliament was the stage for British leaders to proclaim their opposition to Nazi Germany and rally the nation against this hatred.
For example, in the House of Lords, Archbishop William Temple spoke of the “massacres and starvation” of the Jews by the Nazis. He gave a powerful speech saying, “We at this moment have upon us a tremendous responsibility. We stand at the bar of history, of humanity and of God.”
We once again have a tremendous responsibility to stand against anti-Semitism.
Today, few people remain who remember those darkest days in history and there are signs that our nation is forgetting the horrors of the past, which is why we must support initiatives like this.
Recent reports show a growing number of people in this country, especially the younger generation, who know “nothing” or “very little” about the Holocaust. And 64% of the country does not know the number of people killed in the Holocaust.
On top of this, 5% of the country don’t believe the Holocaust happened at all, with a further 8% thinking it is exaggerated. We have to educate people with the truth!
Anti-Semitism in Britain has increased in recent years with 2018 having the highest number of anti-Semitic attacks on Jews in this country than ever before. And with recent problems of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, Parliament itself has a huge responsibility to lead by example in confronting anti-Semitism.
This memorial is an important tool to educate future generations against the horrors of the Holocaust.
Thankfully, the memorial is supported by many.
Plans for the memorial were first announced by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2016. It has the backing of every major Jewish organisation in the UK and over 170 politicians from across political parties support the plans.
The government’s Holocaust Memorial Foundation, which is spearheading this development states: “Situated next to Parliament, the Memorial will stand as a permanent reminder of the responsibilities of citizens in a democracy to be vigilant and responsive whenever our values are threatened.”
Their Mission Statement vows that “the national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre will reaffirm Britain’s commitment to stand up against antisemitism, prejudice and hatred in all its forms.”
The vast majority of people in the UK see the importance of Holocaust education with 86% of those polled said it was important to teach Holocaust in schools and 76% said more should be done to educate people. This memorial and education centre does just that!
This is why we support the construction of the national Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster.
By signing this petition you are giving your support for this vital project and standing against anti-Semitism in Britain.