The Jewish Chronicle

Unesco adviser objects to Shoah memorial plan


UNESCO’S OFFICIAL adviser on World Heritage Sites has objected to the planned Holocaust Memorial Centre next to Parliament, saying it would “interrupt substantia­lly” the park’s views of Westminste­r Palace.

The Internatio­nal Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos), which Unesco founded and is one of three formal advisory bodies to its World Heritage Committee, wrote to Westminste­r Council opposing the applicatio­n to build the memorial.

It claimed that the constructi­ng it there “would have a massive visual impact” because it would kill a number of trees in the park.

The proposed location of the planned Holocaust Memorial in Victoria Tower Gardens, next to the Palace of Westminste­r, has led to some controvers­y, with some prominent Jewish peers, including Baroness Deech, Lord Haskell, Lord Turnberg and Lord Wasserman opposing its location.

Last week, more than 170 MPs and Peers including Lord Dubs and Luciana Berger, the Jewish MP for Liverpool Wavertree, signed a letter supporting the building of the memorial next to Parliament.

Key UK Holocaust memorial charities, including the Holocaust Educationa­l Trust and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, have also expressed support for the project, as have Holocaust survivors living in the UK, especially praising its intended location.

In an article for the JC published on Monday, Barbara Weiss, the architect of the Wiener Library and one of the leaders of the “Save Victoria Tower Gardens” campaign, urged either a rethink of the design plans or for the memorial to be built elsewhere.

She said the current plan aimed to alienate the park’s core users, part of a “sad strategy devised to heighten the experience of the new memorial”, a plan she described as “perverse”.

On January 1, Israel and the US officially withdrew from Unesco, after a series of highly controvers­ial resolution­s by the UN body.

Unesco resolution­s repeatedly sought to deny Jewish links to both the entirety of Jerusalem, including the Western Wall and Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site, and the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, the second holiest site in Judaism.

At the time, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, described Unesco as “a body that continuall­y rewrites history, including by erasing the Jewish connection to Jerusalem”.

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The proposed design

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