Westminster Shoah Memorial backed by ‘particular type of Jew’, says arch critic

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Westminster Shoah Memorial backed by ‘particular type of Jew’, says arch critic

Barbra Weiss, co-founder of the Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign, told Jewish News the project was a way of 'appeasing Jewish donors to the Tories'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Proposed design of Westminster Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens
Proposed design of Westminster Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens
An arch critic of the Westminster Memorial and Learning Centre in a location near to Parliament has labelled it a “vanity project” backed by “a particular type of Jewish person”.
Barbra Weiss, co-founder of the Save Victoria Tower Gardens Campaign, said she believed the Memorial was “a way of appeasing Jewish donors to the Tory Party.”
Weiss, who is Jewish herself, dismissed claims that her comments verged on being antisemitic.
The director of Barbra Weiss Architects also told Jewish News that there was “huge Jewish support” for her opposition to the proposal, which was given the green light on Thursday.
She said: “There are a lot of Conservative people who are financing this memorial – the government isn’t paying for all of it.
“If you look at the names of the major donors – it’s been something that the Jewish community wanted for decades.
“(David) Cameron suddenly said it was going to happen. Our argument is that there are lots of us who don’t want it.”
Weiss, who is the daughter of refugees and who has “lots of Jewish friends”, said the Memorial would lead to the “destruction” of the Victoria Tower Gardens, near Millbank.
The outspoken architect added: “I think there are enough prominent Jews on our side –  Baroness Deech, Lord Carlile. We have a huge Jewish support.
“It’s just that they have gone to a particular type of Jewish person.”
Asked to name these people she considered to be “a particular type”, Weiss singled out Lord Feldman, Sir Mick Davis – who chaired the Commission that recommended the memorial – and Gerald Ronson.
Weiss said her campaign group would now take legal moves to prevent the project going ahead. My objection is the location – why not move it,” she said.
She also insisted that the way antisemitism had been tackled over “past decades” had produced “very poor results.”
Weiss insisted::”The time has come to realise the educational ways of fighting antisemitism are different these days – it has to be countrywide and not London-centred.”
She accepted that Learning Centres at places such as Auschwitz could prove beneficial in teaching how to avoid the horrors of the past.
Weiss added: “I think there are excellent educational buildings (on the Holocaust) – but I am disputing where.
“In the original conception of this Imperial War Museum was one of three sites that were chosen.
“A Memorial and Learning Centre would have added to what they had to offer.
But for whatever reason, maybe south of the river isn’t posh enough. So instead Andrew Feldman, Mick Davis – all of them suddenly wake up.
“It’s a bit of a vanity project now, right next to parliament. But they are destroying a  World Heritage site. It’s not convincing. This area is short of family parks. It will only increase antagonism.”
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