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Baroness Deech attacks Shoah memorial plan

    Baroness Deech has become the latest high-profile figure to question the plans for a national Holocaust memorial next to Parliament in Westminster.

    The cross-bench peer argues that some of the £50 million budget for the memorial and accompanying learning centre to be erected in Victoria Tower Gardens would have been better spent on improving Holocaust education in schools.

    In a letter to the JC, Baroness Deech, a former principal of St Anne’s College, Oxford, writes: “We already have in this country about 10 Holocaust memorials. None has prevented the recent rise in antisemitism and attempts to delegitimise Israel.

    She continues: “We should be asking why some students, who have studied the Holocaust at school, seem not to have made the connection between that event, and Jewish people and their state today.”

    In subsequent comments, she said she had made a submission to the government’s Holocaust Commission “arguing you have to improve the relationship between Holocaust education and attitudes to Jewish people and to Israel.”

    Echoing criticism made in last week’s JC by Conservative peer Lord Wasserman, Baroness Deech said that locating the memorial in Westminster raised added security issues.

    She said: “Security is indeed a problem. I have been very upset and bothered by the graffiti that one finds.

    “Damage is done across the world to Jewish memorials, whether it is vandalism of graveyards or swastikas daubed on public buildings, here and throughout Europe.

    “In order to protect this new memorial it will need to be guarded with fences and so on. It’s not really the image one wants to give.”

    She added that the location needed to be quiet and reflective.

    Baroness Deech — whose late historian father Josef Fraenkel fled Vienna and then Prague from the Nazis while several other her family members were murdered in concentration camps — said she had heard criticism of the location from friends at social occasions she attended.

    She added: “People say ‘why are spending £50millon on this memorial — what is it for?’”

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