Dame Maureen Lipman, Sir Martin Sorrell and Sir Iain Duncan Smith were among leading names fixing padlocks to a new art installation aimed at keeping Israel’s hostages in the public consciousness.
The Lovelock Hostage Bridge was opened at JW3 on Finchley Road on Sunday as families of the hostages still held by Hamas warned that the next few days would be crucial in determining their fate.
“Whilst we mourn the loss of innocent civilians wherever they may be…please don’t let these pensioners, peace activists and music festival lovers be forgotten,” the project’s creator Marcel Knoble told the gathered media. His voice breaking, Knoble said he isn’t a shul member and hadn’t visited Israel for years but “on 7 October I felt like I’d been ripped apart and like many here I’ve still not recovered”.
Dame Maureen said: “I’m here as a daughter, mother and grandmother to say that today I am the daughter, grandmother and sister of the hostages. Every person who goes past JW3 will look at this and wonder what it is. That’s what we want.”
Celebrities including Sir Simon Schama, Rachel Johnson and influencer Oli London added padlocks with their names to the bridge at the entrance to the community centre, where locks had already been affixed bearing the names of more than 130 hostages held in Gaza for more than 125 days. Further padlocks without names symbolised those hostages killed in Gaza.
Dr Sharon Lifshitz read out the names of hostages from Kibbutz Nir Oz, from where her parents were snatched. Her father Oded remains in captivity.
“We won’t stop but we can’t do it alone,” she said. “We must not just abstractly support the idea of returning the hostages, there is a path for their return. Statistics from the Holocaust suggest that elderly people survived between three and four months. Time has more or less passed. It’s our choice as a nation to decide whether life is our number one priority.”
JW3’s Raymond Simonson said they jumped at the chance to host the “living growing installation of love to keep putting pressure on those in power to work tirelessly for the hostages’ freedom”.
He decried the “indifference” from too many outside the Jewish community. “What so many outside our community fail to see is our community is one body. When any particular of our body is in pain it pains all of us.”
Sir Martin Sorrell said: “It was a very moving and memorable way to be able to underscore and remind everyone of the need to being home the hostages.”
Ahead of the event, David Walliams, Alastair Campbell, Vanessa Feltz and Eylon Levy were among those to send in their signed padlocks. Knoble urged people around the world to send in padlocks over the coming days.
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