A number of prominent people including Howard Jacobson, Sir Simon Schama, Dame Maureen Lipman, and Sir Martin Sorrell were present at JW3 on Sunday to attach signed padlocks to the community hub’s walkway, which has been renamed to the “Lovelock Hostage Bridge”, in an expression of solidarity with the dozens of hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza.
Over 100 padlocks displaying hostages’ names were attached to the walkway, while many other padlocks had no names on them to represent the hostages who were killed or died while in captivity.
The idea was conceived by Marcel Knobil who told those present that the hostages, who have now been captive for over 125 days, ranged from “one-year-old Kfir Bibas to 85-year-old Amiran Cooper.”
“Please don’t let these children, pensioners, peace activists, and dance festival lovers be forgotten. Today we will be attaching our padlocks to express love and solidarity to the newly anointed Lovelock Hostage Bridge,” he said.
Among the many people who came to attach signed padlocks were Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, Journalist Louisa Clein, influencer Hen Mazzig, and historian Simon Sebag Montefiore.
Signed padlocks were also sent to be attached by the likes of Vanessa Feltz, Uri Geller, Alastair Campbell, and Israeli spokesman Eylon Levy.
Noam Sagi, whose mother was released from captivity in November, and Dr Sharone Lifschitz, whose father remains a hostage, were also present.
Before attaching her padlock next to her father’s padlock, Dr Lifschitz read aloud a list of hostages taken from her kibbutz, kibbutz Nir Oz, each one she referred to as her father, mother, brother, or sister.
She said: “We must not just abstractly support the idea of returning the hostages, there is a path for their return and that path must be chosen in order that those who are still alive come back to us.
“Statistics from the Holocaust suggest that elderly people survive between three and four months [in captivity], and we have passed the four months mark this week. Therefore, time has more or less passed. Many of these people will not come back alive. It is our choice as a nation to decide whether life is our number one priority.”
She said this choice would be learned about “in the history pages of our nation for hundreds of years to come. We must choose life.”
Raymond Simonson, chief executive of JW3, said “Many of us in the Jewish community remain in shock and in pain not just at the horrific loss of lives of those who were brutally murdered, but by the indifference we feel [from others] every day to the ongoing plight of the hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas.
“Within the Jewish community we talk about, we think about, and even pray for the hostages every single day, but it often feels to us like outside of our small community they have been forgotten.”
He said the newly named bridge, which appears in big letters on the front façade of JW3, would be seen by many because it connects to the “busiest non-motorway road in the UK, where every year 650,000 vehicles go past.”
Dame Maureen Lipman said that today she felt like “the grandmother, mother, and sister of the hostages,” and hoped the padlocks and bridge would act as “symbols that scream out louder than words,” encouraging compassion from passers-by.
“Everybody who goes past on a bus over there will look at this and wonder what it is, and that’s what we want. We want people wondering and being compassionate,” she said.
The 7/10 Human Chain Project partnered with JW3 for the initiative and co-founder Orit Eyal-Fibeesh told the JC that the “worst thing” for relatives of the hostages is if “we stop talking about them and they are forgotten.
“This initiative we hope can help keep their memory alive and in our conversation.”
People around the world are encouraged to send or add their own padlocks to the bridge, and to show support with the hashtags #LovelockHostageBridge and #BringThemHomeNow.