Category Archives: Holocaust

How I confronted Palestinian “ambassador” over the Har Nof killings.

On Tuesday night in Parliament I asked Manuel Hassassian, the unofficial Palestinian ambassador to the UK, why in the speech he had just delivered in which he accused Israel of “war crimes” he made no mention of Palestinian violence, specifically the recent murders by two Palestinians of four Rabbis and a Druze policeman at a west Jerusalem synagogue.

He answered me directly but when he said that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had condemned the killings I reminded him, as you can see in the clip below, that Abbas had incited the murders in the first place with his violent rhetoric including imploring Palestinians to use “all means” to stop Jews visiting the Temple Mount. Here is our confrontation:

Meanwhile, a woman had just told the room that the Palestinians were suffering a fate worse than that of Anne Frank.

What she said was bad enough but the most chilling aspect was the warm applause she received from both Hassassian and ex-Labour MP Martin Linton, now chairperson of Labour Friends of Palestine, as well as from the others present.

Here’s the clip of her mocking the memory of Anne Frank who was murdered by the Nazis at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the age of 15:

The actual event at Parliament was about that recent vote to recognise a Palestinian state at some time in the future. Although it was held under the auspices of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Third World Solidarity it was for all intents and purposes another sickening Labour Party anti-Israel event.

As well as Linton current Labour MP Khalid Mahmood spoke. Labour MP Richard Burden and Labour’s Lord Ahmed were also due to speak but were both absent.

Mahmood replied to my question on the role of Hamas in the conflict by accusing Israel of bombing the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza so leaving the road clear for a Hamas takeover.

Hamas had fought a bloody civil war against the PA but Mahmood’s response shows the serious level of misinformation gladly assumed by many British politicians. Here is Mahmood expressing his pure ignorance of events:

Finally there was Linton, now notorious for invoking anti-Jewish Nazi imagery when he once referred to “the tentacles of Israel” interfering in Britain’s political system.

At Tuesday night’s event while he mentioned that Mohammed Abu Khedair was murdered by Israelis he never mentioned that Israeli teenagers Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel were murdered by Palestinians. According to Linton the latter had been merely “kidnapped”. I interrupted to remind him of their fate as you can see here from 2 mins 40 secs:

Remarkably there were only 25 people present at the event with swathes of empty seats. Those present finally convened for a group photo, see below, and with numbers short I offered to help out with taking photos for those who wanted a memento of the sour night.

Group photo! Linton front 2nd from right, Hassassian front 3rd from right.

Group photo! Linton front 2nd from right, Hassassian front 3rd from right.

Shlomo Sand’s sickening Guardian article slams both Israel and Judaism.

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Cross-posted at CiFWatch.

There are times when something is so obviously wrong that it shouldn’t even need pointing out. That the Guardian thinks there is no problem promoting someone who wants to “resign” from Judaism shows how little respect its editors have for Judaism.

Last Saturday the Guardian allowed Shlomo Sand, a Tel Aviv university professor, to write a lengthy piece in its pages about how he has had enough of being Jewish (see above).

Sand is relatively unknown in the UK. This might be a news story in Israel, but in the UK? In the UK it isn’t news, but will only incite anti-Semitism. The Guardian wouldn’t dare treat another religious minority in such a demeaning manner.

Sand writes in his article:

“I am often even ashamed of Israel, particularly when I witness evidence of its cruel military colonisation, with its weak and defenceless victims who are not part of the “chosen people”.”

How can this often repeated “chosen people” mantra be anything but anti-Semitism? I have personally been on the receiving end of it. The RMT’s Steve Hedley, disliking my questioning of his violent rhetoric at an anti-Israel event, told me in a derogatory manner that I was one of the “chosen people”. He meant Jewish.

When, in the Guardian article, Sand complains of Israel’s “ethnocentrism” he is really complaining about Israel’s Jewishness. Would the Guardian allow another country to be attacked because it is Islamic, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist?

For the Guardian it is par for the course to have articles containing unsubstantiated attacks on Israel. It has become so blase about this that the Guardian’s editors are now unable, or unwilling, to notice when their newspaper steps over the line into promoting racist diatribe that attacks Jews and Judaism.

Meanwhile, Sand’s crackpot theory is simple: He believes that today’s Jews have no connection to Israel because the Romans never evicted the Jews from the Holy Land and, therefore, the Jews have no right to return there. It was early Zionist thinkers who twisted the facts to argue that Jews be allowed to return to Israel. Sand claims that today’s Jews are merely descended from a north African tribe that converted to Judaism.

Last year at SOAS Sand described Israel, among other things, as “a shitty nation”.

Sand’s overall rhetoric is poisonous and racist and could cause a backlash against Britain’s small Jewish community with its strong affiliation to Israel and obvious adherence to Judaism.

On reading the headline to Sand’s piece in the Guardian Shlomo Sand: ‘I wish to resign from being a Jew’ I thought of those times a Jew might have wished to resign from being Jewish. As Jews were being herded by the Nazis onto trains headed for Auschwitz-Birkenau some may have liked to declare “I wish to resign from being a Jew” to try and save their own and their family’s lives.

Had Sand been around back then and submitted his resignation to the Nazi in charge of the Jew-herding he would have been mocked before being sent on his way to Auschwitz.

This may be a game to the Guardian and Sand but publishing this article was crass and on a par with writings at the extreme ends of the political spectrum.

Protesters compare “Palestine” to Auschwitz and Dachau outside Israeli Embassy.

Yes, that really does say Auschwitz, Iraq, Dachau, Palestine.

Yes, that really does say Auschwitz, Iraq, Dachau, Palestine.

Some mocked the Holocaust, others disfigured the Israeli flag, a few screamed “Allahu Akbar”, they all called for the destruction of the Jewish state.

That was the scene outside London’s Israeli Embassy yesterday afternoon as many thousands thronged to hear blood-curdling speeches calling for the end of Israel.

Kensington High Street was closed off to traffic leaving London buses stranded by the protesters who requisitioned them and covered them with anti-Israel slogans.

The protest against Israel’s latest attack on Hamas in Gaza was a toxic mix of Islamists, trade unions like Unison, charities like War On Want, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and, of course, the extreme religious Jewish sect Neturei Karta.

I knew I had outstayed my welcome when a protester grabbed me and shouted “A Zionist!”. I shook him off and made for the relative safety of the tube station.

Here’s a clip for you to savour some of yesterday’s toxicity and some photos:

Disfiguring Israel's flag. At least they didn't burn it.

Disfiguring Israel’s flag. At least they didn’t burn it.

"Cheap Jewish settlements" because Jews are tight money grabbers of course!

“Cheap Jewish settlements” because Jews are tight money grabbers of course!

War On Want's Executive Director John Hilary.

War On Want’s Executive Director John Hilary.

Agreed! Palestinians should be freed from their Hamas oppressors.

Agreed! Palestinians should be freed from their Hamas oppressors.

Is that because Israel builds bomb shelters but Hamas doesn't bother, possibly?

Is that because Israel builds bomb shelters but Hamas doesn’t bother, possibly?

Courageous guy climbs a traffic light.

Courageous guy climbs a traffic light.

They're the stars of the show at these hate events.

They’re the stars of the show at these hate events.

Will she be off to protest against Assad, Iran, ISIS and Boko Haram now?

Will she be off to protest against Assad, Iran, ISIS and Boko Haram now?

Police under pressure and looking under-numbered for once.

Police under pressure and looking under-numbered for once.

Libyan support despite things not looking too rosy in Libya either.

Libyan support despite things not looking too rosy in Libya either.

One of our buses gets occupied. Tell Boris!

One of our buses gets occupied. Tell Boris!

Remind me to invite him over for Friday night dinner soon.

Remind me to invite him over for Friday night dinner soon.

War On Want flags. WOW to be renamed War On Israel anyone?

War On Want flags. WOW to be renamed War On Israel anyone?

Not too sure what to say about this, so I think I'll leave it at that.

Not too sure what to say about this, so I think I’ll leave it at that.

Hmm, they mean Iran, Saudi, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq don't they? Oh wait...

Hmm, they mean Iran, Saudi, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq don’t they? Oh wait…

Can we have our bus back now please?

Can we have our bus back now please?

Errr, the problem is not Gaza, the problem is Hamas.

Errr, the problem is not Gaza, the problem is Hamas.

Ask them to ring back, you're at an anti-Israel protest!

Ask them to ring back, you’re at an anti-Israel protest!

War On Want No! Who can argue with that?

War On Want No! Who can argue with that?

Oh really. Now where does it say such a silly thing like that?

Oh really. Now where does it say such a silly thing like that?

"Cover up, sweety, it's getting a bit chilly". Aw.

“Cover up, sweety, it’s getting a bit chilly”. Aw.

(I dedicate this blog to the memory of my recently deceased mum whom I loved and miss and who, before she lost the ability to speak due to her terminal illness, always gave me one piece of treasured advice when she knew I was going to an anti-Israel event: “Be careful.”)

Ben White and the Christian speaker who forgot to mention that Palestinians were massacred by…Christians.

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“Israel Apartheid Week” kicked off on Tuesday night with star guests Ben White and Dr Ang Swee Chai speaking at a UCL Friends of Palestine event on Medicine And Apartheid in Palestine.

Dr Ang Swee Chai, an orthopaedic surgeon, set up Medical Aid For Palestinians and is a self-confessed fundamentalist Christian. She said that when she was growing up she had lots of Jewish friends and supported Israel. Then in 1982 she turned on the TV and saw Israeli planes dropping bombs on Lebanon. Many of those killed and wounded, she said, were non-combatants.

So she immediately resigned from her hospital job and flew to Beirut under the auspices of Christian Aid. She ended up joining the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which, she admitted, was affiliated to the PLO.

She worked in Beirut’s Gaza Hospital near to Sabra and Shatila and learnt from Palestinians that “many lost their homes when Palestine became Israel”.

She said that the first two things Palestinian children in Sabra and Shatila learn are “their name and the village in Palestine they came from”. “Palestine was never a desert, but a rich centre of civilisation, culture, art and dance,” she continued.

Then she turned to the horrific events of 16th-18th September 1982 in Sabra and Shatila. She said that the day before 700 Israeli tanks drove from South Lebanon to Beirut and when the Israelis arrived they started shooting people.

At Gaza Hospital, she continued, the Israelis demanded that any foreigners leave. She presumed they were going massacre the patients. But two doctors refused to leave and so “our patients survived”.

Throughout her talk she showed graphic images (see below) of dead, dying and badly wounded  people and of a mass grave containing, she said, “800 t0 1,000 bodies”. She finished off with that notorious map of a “disappearing Palestine”.

She described how an 11 year old boy, who survived, was lined up along with his family as they were “systematically killed” and how he “heard his sister and aunties being raped and crying”.

She finished with an emotional plea:

“I realised what was going on. If I had any doubt about what the Palestinian refugees said to me about how they lost Palestine and had been brutalised, I had no doubt now. Why was I brought up to be so bigoted and prejudiced against the Palestinians. Will G-d give me a chance to do something right for the rest of my life? This story should be told. The Palestinians are still dying and suffering today.”

During the Q&A a Jewish student asked her whether being Christian was the reason for her failure to mention that the massacres at Sabra and Shatila were actually carried out by Christians, to which she responded (see clip here):

“This particular group of Christians was trained by Israel. Six of them confessed that Israel set them up…Where this kind of atrocity happens we need to know who made it possible, who planned it, who sealed the camps so nobody can escape, who flared the skies so the massacre can continue, who provided the bulldozers and all that. The Israeli Kahan Commission found Sharon indirectly responsible. The Christian militia itself was actually under the command of Israel.”

She said she now has further evidence, which has upset her Jewish friends, that the IDF were inside Sabra and Shatila when the massacres occurred.

She was awarded the Star of Palestine.

Meanwhile, Ben “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are” White did his usual “Israel is an Apartheid state” rant using slides to attempt to make some sort of case (see below). One slide is humorously headed “Israel is worried”.

Inevitably, White explained the aims of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement, called for a boycott of Israel and finished off quoting ex-IAF captain Yonatan Shapira:

“It is no longer enough to try and change Israel from within. Israel has to be pressured in he same way apartheid South Africa was forced to change.”

White didn’t mention that Shapira once sprayed “Free Gaza” and “Liberate all the ghettos” on to a wall nearby the Warsaw Ghetto where so many Jews lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis.

The same Jewish student asked White why anything he says about Israel is to be trusted considering he “is an anti-Semite”. White responded (see clip here) by saying that he had already made his “opposition to anti-Semitism perfectly clear”. It was a shame White wasn’t pressed about this racist tweet.

When I asked White to explain the difference between the tactics of the Nazis targeting German Jews in the 1930s and those of the BDS movement targeting Israeli Jews in 2014 he kindly plugged my blog before responding (see clip here):

“In one case you are talking about a fascist regime targeting a minority and persecuting them on an anti-Semitic basis. The other case you’re talking about a tried and tested method of civil society to resist oppression, a way of the weak challenging the powerful…Most people can tell the difference…”

White will be doing a reprise of his UCL talk at Amnesty International’s HQ in London on 21st March.

It’s obviously a very quiet time in foreign affairs for Amnesty to be hosting such an event.

Images used by Dr Ang Swee Chai:

Camden-20140225-00123

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Camden-20140225-00127

"Mass grave of 800,000 bodies."

“Mass grave of 800,000 bodies.”

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Camden-20140225-00132

Slides used by Ben White:

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DSCF5072

DSCF5078

DSCF5080

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Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi apologises for comparing Gaza to the Holocaust.

Well done, Tal Ofer! After I reported on Thursday that during Wednesday’s parliamentary debate on Gaza Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi had compared the situation of the Palestinians in Gaza to that of Jews living in Nazi Germany Labour Party activist Ofer immediately reported her remarks to Labour’s HQ and brought it to the attention of the media generally.

Qureshi had said:

“What has struck me in all this is that the state of Israel was founded because of what happened to the millions and millions of Jews who suffered genocide. Their properties, homes and land—everything—were taken away, and they were deprived of rights. Of course, many millions perished. It is quite strange that some of the people who are running the state of Israel seem to be quite complacent and happy to allow the same to happen in Gaza.”

You cannot get more offensive to the few remaining Holocaust survivors and to those who lost loved ones in Auschwitz, Belsen etc.

Gaza is no Belsen. And the suffering in Gaza is at the behest of Islamist-terror organisation Hamas which is happy to oppress its own people so that useful idiots in the West will blame Israel.

The response to Qureshi’s remarks from the Labour Party itself was an utter disgrace:

“These remarks were taken completely out of context. Yasmin Qureshi was not equating events in Gaza with the Holocaust. As an MP who has visited Auschwitz and has campaigned all her life against racism and anti-Semitism she would not do so.”

However, soon after, Qureshi must have had a pang of conscience and came out with this apology:

“The debate was about the plight of the Palestinian people and in no way did I mean to equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust. I apologise for any offence caused. I am also personally hurt if people thought I meant this. As someone who has visited the crematoria and gas chambers of Auschwitz I know the Holocaust was the most brutal act of genocide of the 20th Century and no-one should seek to underestimate its impact.”

So Qureshi is “personally hurt”? Poor her. Not as “personally hurt” as those who were in Auschwitz or Belsen etc or lost family there.

But let’s all feel sorry for Qureshi instead!

It is also pretty frustrating that Labour List’s Mark Ferguson thinks “Qureshi’s apology should draw a line under this, and rightly so. If there was no intention to cause offence or equate events in Gaza with the Holocaust I am happy to accept that.”

How can there have been “no intention”? Her words are 100% clear. There is no nuance!

And then what does Ferguson think of Gerald Kaufman MP’s words about Israelis?:

“Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.”

The remainder of Qureshi’s speech was also disgraceful, especially the way she frames Jews solely by religion. She said, referring indirectly to Kaufman:

“I want to praise the people in Israel and the Jewish people in this country who campaign actively for the rights of Palestinians. Like my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton, I am sure that they are criticised by other Jewish people perhaps for trying to betray the state of Israel”.

But the likes of Kaufman are criticised not just by “Jewish people” but people of all religions and none. It is this division of Jews into “good Jew/bad Jew” that is almost tantamount to inciting racial hatred.

Meanwhile, these Holocaust comparisons are slowly, slowly becoming the norm.

American Professor Joel Beinin told a student audience at SOAS recently that Israel is putting the Bedouin into “concentration camps” and at a recent War On Want talk at SOAS students were told that the Palestinians are living in “apartheid ghettos”.

Thanks to the rhetoric of Beinin, Qureshi, War On Want and others Israeli Jews (and, by extension, any Jew that supports Israel) are slowly becoming thought of as Nazis.

Israel’s “beautiful resistance” to suicide bombers: A response to St James’s Church Rector Lucy Winkett

St James’s Church’s Rector Lucy Winkett’s defence of her church’s installation of a replica of Israel’s security wall in a piece for The Guardian is a legal and moral failure.

First the legal side. She states that Israel’s wall is “illegal under international law”. It is incredible that so many non-lawyers (and a few actual lawyers) state this with such ease when there is little proper evidence of such “illegality”.

Rector Winkett is relying on the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice. A frame repeatedly projected on to St James’s Church’s replica wall states “In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague stated the Wall was illegal and it should be dismantled.”

But an advisory opinion is just that; advisory and an opinion. It sets no legal precedent.

Even if Israel’s wall was “illegal” there is the legal argument of self-defence. If I used illegal means to stop someone killing me I would be guilty of nothing more than self-defence. In parallel with this Israel’s wall has stopped Palestinian suicide bombers killing Israeli civilians.

There are legal opinions for and against Israel’s security wall, but for Rector Winkett to declare the wall “illegal under international law” makes a mockery of her claim in The Guardian that “we are not ‘pro’ one side or another”.

On the moral side Rector Winkett derides as “irresponsible” those who claim “we are aligning ourselves with those who support the Holocaust, suicide bombings or that we are antisemitic”.

But Rector Winkett’s wish for Israel’s security wall to come down will encourage suicide bombers sent by the likes of Islamist terror group Hamas to resume their murder of Israeli civilians, including those living on the West Bank, which the building of the wall has successfully disrupted.

The Hamas Charter specifically calls for the murder of Jews, so, yes, Hamas does support the Holocaust, suicide bombings and is blatantly antisemitic.

And then there are the organisations that St James’s Church has expressly aligned itself with for Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Rector Winkett writes that St James’s is supporting “a peaceful Palestinian principle known as ‘beautiful resistance'; expressed in theatres, music projects…”.

Sami Awad, director of the Holy Land Trust, might believe in “beautiful resistance” but that doesn’t exclude a belief in violence. Awad is on record as saying that such non-violent resistance “is not a substitute for the armed struggle.”

Incidentally, all net proceeds from Bethlehem Unwrapped go to the Holy Land Trust. (That is should there be any net proceeds, the cost of the 12 day replica wall installation being an incredible £30,000.)

Meanwhile, recent news footage shows Interpal’s primary trustee Essam Mustafa with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

And War On Want and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a movement that campaigns for Israel’s destruction.

Rector Winkett writes in her Guardian piece that all viewpoints are listened to without exception and that visitors have been allowed to write a prayer or message of peace on the wall and that anything offensive has been immediately removed. She also writes that most conversations have been respectful.

Sadly, many have not been. A woman going in to St James’s Church for Bethlehem Unwrapped’s comedy evening responded to a question about the Holocaust with “What Holocaust?” A supporter of Israel was called a “friggin Jew” and “quenelle 4 ever” appeared on the replica wall (see middle of replica wall below written in blue):

wallquenelle

Rector Winkett also writes that people have written “this wall saves lives”. However, this was subsequently changed to “this wall enslaves lives”.

Bethlehem Unwrapped is not a respectful project however much Rector Winkett is trying to convince us. It mocks Israel’s valid attempts to keep both Israelis and Palestinians alive. Palestinians cannot now be sent as suicide bombers by Hamas.

And it fails to recognise even the possibility that the main problem for Bethlehem’s Christians is not the security wall at all but intimidation by Hamas similar to that carried out by Islamists elsewhere.

Moreover, St James’s Church’s Bethlehem Unwrapped festival has attracted antisemites, Holocaust deniers, those campaigning for the destruction of Israel and those who condone violence to that end.

This may not have been St James’s Church’s intention but this is what has happened and for this Rector Winkett should apologise to Britain’s Jewish community which is bearing the main brunt of the backlash.

The biggest irony is that St James’s Church itself is protected by a security wall; a tall metal fence that contains a locked door. When the door is unlocked it is heavily guarded. Some may call this a checkpoint.

St James’s Church is, understandably, protecting itself from anyone harbouring ill feeling towards it and who may be inclined to carry out an atrocity similar to those carried out against Churches in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria and Egypt by militant Islamists.

Israel is doing the same.

(This piece was originally posted at CiFWatch)

St James’s Church’s replica of Israel’s security wall cost….£30,000.

Take a look at the above photo. That is what £30,000 looks like. That is the cost of St James’s Church’s replica of Israel’s security wall according to St James’s churchwarden Jo Hines.

Hines said the money was all privately raised, presumably from the likes of vicious anti-Israel charity War On Want, Amos Trust, Holy Land Trust, Interpal, Jews For Justice For Palestinians, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, P21 Gallery, Tipping Point North South, Zaytoun CIC all of whom are “associated with” Bethlehem Unwrapped.

Last night it was the turn of Jewish comedians Ivor Dembina, Dave Cohen and Andy Zaltzman to go on stage for Bethlehem Unwrapped, which is pretty ironic seeing as one of their audience members was Jane Green, probably a pseudonym, who is a notorious Holocaust mocker. As she went in to the church last night I asked her what she thought of the Holocaust to which she replied “What Holocaust”.

Then, of course, there is this clip of a discussion outside St James’s Church where a supporter of Israel is called “a frigging Jew” (see from 4 mins. 15 secs.).

All pretty disturbing stuff especially in the week of Nicolas Anelka’s alleged reverse Nazi salute.

When I put it to Hines that the £30,000 could have been better spent feeding the homeless and heating the elderly she responded that that argument could also be made in relation to statues and that there are 20 or so homeless people sleeping in St James’s Church at night.

Imagine had St James’s Church’s courtyard, where the replica wall stands, been made into a structure for the 12 days where even more people could sleep, be fed and be kept warm. Churches, I thought, were in the business of looking after the poor and caring for the elderly.

After the 12 days of Christmas are over the replica wall is due to be taken down. That amounts to a cost of £2,500 a day. At least a statue usually stays up for the long term so over time its daily cost is minimal.

So what is St James’s Church’s replica wall going to achieve? St James’s Church states “All net proceeds to the ‘Future Peacemakers Appeal’, Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem.” I’d be amazed if there are any “net proceeds” when you take into account the £30,000 cost of the replica wall. Admittedly, chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s friday night £125/head “Bethlehem Feast” could make inroads into the £30,000.

For British Jews the replica wall and Bethlehem Unwrapped are a disaster. I agree with Melanie Phillips when she states that its inevitable effect will be “to incite hatred against Israel and all who support its defence”, which means even more vigilance at synagogues, Jewish schools and Jewish events.

Some will benefit though. Ottolenghi and his chef partner Sami Tamimi and Dembina, Zaltzman and Cohen will have had their faces and names plastered all over the gates of the Church which looks out onto one of the busiest roads in London. Not forgetting Justin Butcher, Geof Thompson, Dean Willars and Deborah Burton who all helped to design the replica wall (see below).

In the end the £30,000 cost of the wall could have been donated to help those that St James’s Church, Piccadilly, really claims to care for: the people of Bethlehem.