Open Letter to Lord Hodgson on UK citizenship test

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4th of July 2018

Dear Lord Hodgson
on Friday I will take the citizenship test.
It is Brexit, that after nearly 30 years in the UK, made me apply for a UK citizenship.
As part of the requirement to prove my worthiness for a citizenship application, I have to pass a citizenship test.
Reading the guidance book Life in the UK was an exercise that left me speechless in parts.
I noticed that you have discussed the test recently in Parliament and that your committee found it to be lacking, if not an obstacle to citizenship. I agree.
As somebody who lived here for just under 30 years and who has acquired three UK university degrees (and half a PhD) and a vocational diploma, volunteered, sparked a functioning community group, who was a youth mentor for criminally endangered young persons, and who works as a correspondent, to name a few things, it is indeed an insult to even have to do this test. Moreover, it is a sheer travesty what is inside the book: huge omissions and shameful mistakes.
The sections on services, rights and expectations are fair enough, but the book fails:
  • because in its representation of modern Britain of the last 200 years and the figures, which it holds as important, it is narrow and almost wholly un-diverse, except in sports.
  • in the way it understates what the slave trade was about, dedicating more lines to the abolition than to what it was, not discussing adequately its range, giving no figures and that in fact it was the fundamental basis of Britain’s wealth.
  • in the way it does not look at critical aspects of Britain’s colonisation of the “ new world.”
  • in the way that it refers to the Empire as “just having grown”, rather than putting an honest recognition of how it grew, namely mostly by the barrel of the gun. Most migrants, if they come from countries once upon a time colonised, will know better, so it is disingenuine, if not deliberately misleading, given one version of events, that is explicitly hiding a truer more genuine account of history (one of my degrees is in history the other in (urban) sociology).
  • in the way that it states that the Empire was mostly “given up orderly,” but fails to mention that not all territories were given up, nor does it mention Gibraltar and the holding of the Falklands, as far as I could see, nor that there was a struggle and demand for decolonisation, if I read the book correctly.
  • because compared to its discussion of the Irish conflict, the colonial past is but a cosmetic footnote.
  • because in the World War Two section there is – and that let my jaw drop and triple check, I read correctly – no mentioning of the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews of Europe, nor about Britain’s role in the liberation of some of the camps like Bergen Belsen, nor Britain’s role in the formation of the UN and British lawyers role in setting up the Universal Human Rights as a result.
  • because it says fairly little on institutions that are British in origin and unique such as Greenpeace, Save the Children, Peabody, Barnados, the co-operative movement, nor does it have much to say about the history of the unions.
  • I note you have highlighted further issues as reported here in the Daily Telegraph
It beggars belief that people applying for citizenship are examined on such a narrow one-sided and facts omitting book.
I think your committee should urgently revisit this book and question those who composed it, and those who composed the test and have it assessed by academic experts of UK society and history and philosophy and direct the Home Office accordingly.
Attention should be given to an inclusive account, that reflects Britain’s diverse populations adequately and respectfully.
In the climate of critique of the Home Office regarding the “hostile environment,” I believe you should not overlook this citizenship test and its guidance book.
With kind regards
Daniel Zylbersztajn

Answer from

The Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts CBE

House of Lords

London SW1A 0PW

Dear Mr Zylbersztajn

Thank you for this email. Last year, I chaired a Select Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement. Our Report is available on the Parliamentary website (HL Paper 118). We did indeed make a number of comments and criticisms of the Citizenship Test (see para 463-473 of the Report). The Government have accepted our recommendations and an update of the Test has begun.

———————————
DANIEL ZYLBERSZTAJN

The Way things are done… A comment on Grenfell Tower and who is responsible.

Some spontaneous thoughts after another few weeks of coverage….

(slightly modified 20.15)

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC)  is where the dichotomy between rich and poor is the gravest in London, perhaps in England or even Europe, with a long-entrenched history of disempowerment, discrimination, racism and political and economical cynicism and exploitation.

 

Whatever of the above ingredient you pick you will find twisted and dishonest ways, from the history of housing in Notting Hill to the demand for and the creation and mismanagement of the West Way Trust or the KCTMO and so on.

 

There is no doubt, that RBKC council felt that Notting Dale should be remoulded. In Andrew O’Hagan’s London Review of Books piece The Tower  Rock Feilding-Mellen, the former person to oversee decisions and financing of housing renovations denies to want to have wanted to kick out social housing tenants, but he does admit in the same stroke that he wanted to construct space for Kensington’s left out Middle classes, especially people in professional vocations who could not afford to buy, and were not catered for.

 

Whilst O’Hagan cites this almost in Feilding-Mellen’s defence, it is by itself an astonishing admission. To be clear social housing homes were to be demolished so those new denser units would make a little space for left out professionals. It is not that it was wrong to want to create such housing units for professionals. The question is rather, why were social tenants and their areas to bear that burden? Why were their houses seen as the legitimate sphere where things could be demolished and rebuilt in that way?

 

There are historical precedents of the council wishing to demolish against the wishes of locals. Take Frestonia for example, or sold churches and emptied and community centres and spaces. The Tabernacle, a Caribbean centre of activism in the 1970s only survived, and barely so, after a struggle to save it. What O’Hagan misses, when he talks of the battle for the local library, in whose place another was offered, is, that the fight to safe spaces is one that is based upon the experience and fabric of the area, and the distrust, that promises once made, won’t be changed in some way to the detriment or continued sell-out of the area and its people.

 

The movie Notting Hill, in which Hugh Grant starred so famously before he infamously was caught out in the act with the African American sex worker Divine Brown in the USA also had much to answer for.

 

The embarrassing incident of the actor might just as well be symbolic. The film of the area, world-famous for its Caribbean style carnival, was deprived of any African Caribbean characters, in fact, any meaningful characters with a darker skin colour. Notting Hill, the film that is,  was a fantasy of a European Eldorado was constructed by the film producer Duncan Kenworthy and director Roger Michell. It was certainly not innocent. Rather, it was created, like so many films, to maximise the profit value of the film in the parts of the world with lighter skinned people, who were then able to imagine themselves in Notting Hill without the risk of blackness. A vibrant area just waiting for you to move in. Notting Hill, that lie about the area, went on to win a BAFTA, a Brit Award and the British Comedy Award. Beyond being a laughing matter,  it was literally, in the Grant Hugh tradition, a proper f***-over Notting Hill’s black heritage and residents. Notting Hill’s estate agents were loving it. International white families who gained their extraordinary inflated salaries in the City – the very lot, that crashed the world in 2007 –  bought up, whatever they could in Notting Hill, filled the cafes and cramped up especially the areas around the state schools. Millionaires do not like to waste money when a school can be free if you want a cliche. But I know it to be true in some cases I witnessed myself. That is of course not a problem until some less fortunate kids are squeezed out of the catchment area for that school.

In  2014 the Strutt and Parker Estate Agent advertising went even further.  It stated, that some in Notting Hill – depicting a person of wider African – Caribbean background,  are “born to dance”, whereas others, explicitly, Jeremy Montagu-Williams, at the time property sales manager, a white English person,  “are born to sell flats.” That was the 2014 way of stepping over “No Negroes, No Dogs” of the 1950s. Community protest made this ad disappear from the streets of North Kensington and had any right to highlight it. It is unbelievable how much reality can be twisted. You can see it today in the cafes of Westbourne Grove, where you will struggle to see people of African Caribbean background. I saw it in the indifference of hordes of tourists on Portobello Road on Saturdays after the Grenfell disaster.

 

Of course, the film Notting Hill was but a symptom of a development that had started much earlier on. Already, in the 1970s buildings in which multiple families had lived and had rented, were being converted into single ownership villas for those with money to buy – but not quite enough to afford Knightsbridge, amongst them an ex-Rhodesian / South African family, escaping the onset of Black African rule, but bringing with them their wealth, and where the lady of the house became a long-standing Conservative councillor in Kensington (she has since moved up North where she continues to serve as a Tory councillor and even gained an OBE). 

 

The many years of attempted control over Notting Hill Carnival, cameras installed on Westway, questions over the carnival’s continuation, the constant regeneration of Portobello Road,and properties around. perhaps until all shops and cafes are global chains, the harassment of young black men with Sus Laws and Stop and Search policies, harassing anyone that did not fit the English white stereotype, all that created further antagonism towards the council, and what it allowed to happen, often enough, out of touch with residents, or so at least the feeling is. Feelings are important too, they are there to be disproven, and whilst there may be one or the other urban myth, or “narrative,” it does not need much to confirm the buying up of Notting Hill. 25 Million Pounds one property went for last year.

RBKC may have saved some social housing units, when other boroughs did not, but overall there was a deficit, not just in Kensington but all over London and England, created by national Conservative politics more than local perhaps, not much helped by Tony Blair’s new definition of affordable housing, and lack of investments under his watch.

The idea of a  redevelopment for the area around Latimer Road, however, kept coming up as an ambition by RBKC. A 2009 master plan for the area of Notting Barns South, in which Grenfell Tower stands, written on behalf of RBKC by the group Urban Initiatives overtly lies to achieve its ends. It misrepresents crime statistics, talks of irrational walkways, and presents wrongly the local community as near destitute.  Locals fought it, and won considerable battles. Sadly, Grenfell Tower was not one of these, though they rejected its demolition.

Any housing requires investment, repairs, modification to make it better, permanently. All over the country social housing estates were not receivers of generous repairs over the Thatcher years and beyond. That too must be remembered. A constant drop of water not fixed, can bring down a building. Funny how The Barbican, an almost entirely private high rise estate of the 1970s has no cladding, nor ever considered it.

 

Already in the 1980s, the local community was resolute that it wanted to have a higher hand in the management of the housing stock in RBKC so that things would get fixed when they need to. KCTMO was the answer all agreed to. But in the end, it was KCTMO that became resilient to consider the voices it was to consider, or so it appears. The inquiry will surely shed more light on that.

 

What we do know is that RBKC went ahead with reimagining Notting Dale. One sentence in the 2009 master plan for RBKC with surprisingly little evidence for it, judges, that “Grenfell Tower blights the view from Latimer Road.” What blights needs to be beautified. Cladding was the way to go, installed by others too. A massive high percentage of the refurbishment costs went into that.

 

You can picture those in decision making positions out for win win. In one go you could address heat insulation, and the shining metallic exterior, gave buildings a touch of ultra modern and contemporary, liked by all, including residents, for what did they know about grades of how flammable materials are. But ignorance in British law, especially by those who are employed or recruited to know, is no defence.

 

Residents had a list of other concerns, the usual stuff, really. Double glazing, leaks, functioning lifts, electric wiring, maintenance, cleanliness, fire safety, noise, better kitchen, cooking smoke extractors, hot water, and heatings, yes and some asked questions about fire safety too.

 

The windows installed in Grenfell were just as scandalous as the cladding, the cheapest possible plastic frames, and there were the fire doors, here low price trumped safety.  DId anyone ask questions?

 

You would think that legally, landlords are meant to be responsible for the standards of the houses in which they place tenants. Grenfell and houses like that, resembled in Rock Feilding-Mellens words, “savings in terms of risk management of the budget” rather than building risk management for residents. That was the two Pound saving per cladding panel to cut costs that degraded fire retardant to flammable.

 

And whilst there are 300 equally cladded buildings similar to Grenfell across the country, the ticking time bomb eventually blew up with  Grenfell Tower. The saga may be specific to Kensington and Chelsea but it is a symptomatic issue, beyond the borders of RBKC.

 

Not that there were no warnings. The Lakanal House Fire with its clear coroner’s recommendations being but one, and there were others. Nor that there were no guidelines on how to fit cladding, or whether to fit cladding at all  to high rise buildings. All this existed too. But it remained ignored and put aside by multiple agencies, all who could have raised concerns at any stage, if only one of them had.

 

As a result, unsafe buildings were constructed against evidence, and against best building practice, against best safety testing, because – well, because others did so, and because you could, everybody did. The man who jumps after the crowds who jump the cliffs also perishes. There are many people who bear a shared responsibility. If it will be builder, designer, fire tester, manager or owner, or even panel maker, who carry the largest responsibility that will be decided soon. It is a long chain and Grenfell Tower in RBKC is where it all blew up in murderous flames, exposing more than but just one ill, and consuming, no killing 72 people, some of whom were highly vulnerable.

 

For that at least Kensington will also have to answer questions. To place people with physical movement restrictions and disabilities in some of the highest flats, in a building in which often enough the lifts failed, what sort of responsibility and care is at work here? Do people get paid for such incredible way of housing allocation indifferent to the facts in front of them?

 

Not just the history of Kensington, not just the history of council and social housing, not just the history of racism and marginalisation, but also complacency in the building and construction trade, amongst those who carry out safety inspections for example, or consultations with the desired outcome for those who finance it, and quite likely a fire service that was not as well prepared and equipped, as it should and could have been, given the amount of new high rise buildings in London.  The fire services are being furnished and paid for by the public purse, and so that too, in the end, goes back to people who make decisions on budgets, people like the former mayor Boris Johnson in London, who closed fire stations against much uproar and opposition, which perhaps contributed to Grenfell, before he gave the country Brexit.

 

When campaigners shout the Tories have blood on their hands and posters are hung up in Kensington with Conservative politicians as the main culprits, it can sound like an too easy vilification. Yes, there is a political battle out there, Labour for sure wishes to score points. But such accusations are neither without any truth. At least the previous Labour ideologists demolished the Heygate Estate or sanctioned the Tottenham  development. The headings are always the same, to regenerate, to help, to do good. Eleanor Kelly, Chief Executive of Southwark Council and, interestingly, designated leader of the government’s Grenfell Response Team, said, the Heygate Estate, was just not working. Many residents disagreed. The consultations and plans for Elefant Park the estate that followed Heygate, were similarly staged as in Notting Dale, and they were undersold to the developer Land Lease.  

What happened in Grenfell is too serious, to allow for monotone versions of blame or excuses from any one side. Thank goodness there is a public inquiry with competent lawyers and a criminal investigation too. Here at this time, one party after the other abrogates culpability. We just did as told, they say, pointing at the next person down. Well that, frankly, is no longer good enough in the light of so many dead. Let the lawyers and prosecutors deal with that.

Any person who has been given power that affects the lives of others has a duty to ask the right questions and as many questions as possible. What are the implications of this move? Is it risky? Is it best practice? Can it be checked again, and perhaps independently?  Can I rely on the independence of this body? Have I done the utmost rather than the minimum to warrant safety? What about external stairs, sprinklers, fire extinguishers, alarm systems, even drills? I

When people do not do that for a building that houses hundreds, you run into Grenfell Tower.   It is possible that the problem in Britain is not just one of a political and economic divide, but a true cavalier attitude to health and safety and best practice, often called Red tape and Nanny State by critics (there are lots of nannies about in Kensington, mind you).

Such behaviour rewards with quick gains without hard and solid labour, and without care or responsibility of the possible consequences.

That is also not exactly a condition fit for a country about to try to convince the world how good it is in doing things, as an independent nation outside the EU. Standards alone do not warrant themselves. They need to be safeguarded and tested.

When it comes to safety and best practice there can really only be but one standard. The standard that is safe for the most vulnerable person housed in a building. That standard exists in RBKC in many of the private flats, where pop and rock stars fight over the installation of underground swimming pools, when in the tower block a stone throw away the dry rise hydrants failed to carry water up to the flames.

The change that must follow Grenfell is therefore beyond the culpability of but a Conservative figurehead.  It is neither just about Labour or Tories. It must be a fundamental shift in how things are done regardless of who leads the country. It is about law too, like the Human Rights  (Article 25) that guarantee a standard of living adequate for housing and it is about robust and infallible safety standard bodies.

 
But of course, everybody knew how things have to be done, like former RBKC leader Nick Paget-Brown, the former head, from whom the sentence escaped, that in North Kensington the locals do not know how things are done. Evidently, for if they had 72 people would still be alive today – but some at least tried to do something, if only it was, in the end, but a bit of noise upsetting some know-it-all heads in the KCTMO!

Grenfell Remembered 2018

Some of my photos from remembrance events and protests 14/8/2018 and 16/6/2018 in North Kensington. A few have been taken out since posting, as I felt that they were potentially too invasive in one way or another.

Non-commercial use permitted as long as quoted as (c) Daniel Zylberszajn. Commercial users please enquire.

 

 

 

Photos Fotos Enough is Enough March 2018 Jüdischer; Jewish Protest

Zweimal schrieb ich über die Proteste in der taz und einmal für die Jüdische Allgemeine, dabei wurden auch zwei Fotos veröffentlicht. Der Rest der Fotos befindet sich jetzt hier unten.

http://www.taz.de/!5491343/

http://www.taz.de/!5494232/

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/31203

I wrote twice for taz and once for the German Jewish newspaper Jüdische Allgemeine, including photos (See links below=  The rest of my photos can be seen below.

 

(C) Daniel Zylbersztajn, All rights reserved on all photos.

 

01 Jonathan Arkush BOD VorsitzenderI IMG_0373

John Arkush Sprecher des Board of Deputies

 

Luciana Berger MP IMG_0397.JPG

Luciana Berger MP

 

 

Vlaudia Baum 21 und Kate Turner 31 Antisemitismus in der Labourpartei verstößt gegen britische Werte IMG_0415

Claudia Baum 21 & Kate Turner 31 Antisemitismus in der Labourpartei verstößt gegen britische Werte. Antisemtism in Labour is contrary British Values!

01 LABOUR MP JOHN MANN IMG_0389

John Mann MP

Leah Levane Vizepräsidentin JVL BOD und JLC repräsentieren uns nicht Corbzn steht seit 2015 zu unrecht unter Attacke IMG_0409

Leah Levane: Vizepräsidentin JVL BOD und JLC repräsentieren uns nicht, Corbyn steht seit 2015 zu unrecht unter Attacke. Vice ptesident Jewish voices for Labour. Corbyn is accused unjustifiably since 2015 she told me.

Lord David Mitchell ich verliess Labour wegen Corbyn Um Gottes Willen Etwas muss passieren aber ich glaube Corbyn kann nicht IMG_0330

Lord David Mitchell:  ich verliess Labour wegen Corbyn Um Gottes Willen Etwas muss passieren, aber ich glaube Corbyn kann nicht. I left Labour because of Corbyn, he told me.

 

Anna Phillips 25 und Lewis Parker 22 wir sind in de Labour Partei nicht Juden und hoer aus Solidarität

Anna Phillips 25 & Lewis Parker 22: wir sind in de Labour Partei nicht Juden und hier aus Solidarität. “We are both non- Jewish Labour members and here out of solidarity.”

Protester IMG_0416

Jungkonservativen Liam Sanderson 18 Keyvan Farmanfarmaian 17 Cobyn fehlt die Fähigkeit Antisemituismus ausrechend zu verurteilen IMG_0333

Jungkonservativen Liam Sanderson 18, Keyvan Farmanfarmaian, 17 Cobyn fehlt die Fähigkeit Antisemituismus ausrechend zu verurteilen. Liam and Keyvan are young Conservatives and not Jewish. Corbyn lacks the ability to act against antisemitism, they told me.

Argumente am Rand dieEchten Opfer sind die Palästinenser sagt die Dame IMG_0417

Argumente am Rand die Echten Opfer sind die Palästinenser sagt die Dame.m während der Mann mit ihr gegenargumtiert. Arguments on the edge. Palestinians are the real victims, says the lady, whils the man argues back.

David Farber 83 Ich bin empört aber ich bleibe in der Partei man muss das von Innen bekämpfen IMG_0332

David Farber, 83: Ich bin empört, aber ich bleibe in der Partei, man muss das von Innen bekämpfen. I am outraged, but I remain a member. You have to fight this from within.

IMG_0407Argumente Austauschen

Austausch der Arugumente am Rand Der eine sagt Ken Livingstone ist ein Antisemit der andere Livingstone styte sich sehr für orthdoxe Juden in Stamford Hill ein IMG_0432

Austausch der Arugumente am Rand Der eine sagt Ken Livingstone ist ein Antisemit der andere Livingstone styte sich sehr für orthdoxe Juden in Stamford Hill ein. The man on the left calls Livingstone Antisemite, the man on the right states that Livingstone was very supportive of Stamford Hill Haredi community

Blumenbeet zwischen den Fronten IMG_0327

Trennlinien zwischen Hauptdemo und den Randprotestern. Srperation line between main protest on the right and counter demonstrators on the left on the Southwest edge of Parliament Square

 

Sajid Javis and Rabbi Drucker IMG_0404.JPG

Labour’s Rabbi Avraham Pinter & Communities Secretary Sajid Javid

 

Jonathan Goldstein JLC Vorsitzender IMG_0386

Johnathan Goldstein, der Vorsitzende des Jewish Leadership Council

 

Russia in London

 

Mein Text zu Russen in London in der taz ist jetzt online und ich schicke hier noch ein paar Fotos hinterher:   https://www.taz.de/!5489291/ Auf der Suche nach Russen in London, traf ich auch auf “Nieten.”  So entpuppte sich der CCCP Supermarkt als Laden der von einem Afghanen geführt wird, und der USSR Supermarkt in Hounslow hatte Ukrainer im Laden, die, na sagen wir, “nicht so enthusiastisch”  auf Putin zu sprechen waren.  Mitten in Ealing stieß ich zufällig auch auf Kaya Mar, den satiristischen und politischen Maler. Er hatte zufällig das richtige Bild dabei.

Ansonsten bewegte ich mich zwischen den Londoner Stadtteilen Islington, Mayfair, Fulham, Ealing, Bayswater, Knightsbridge, Hounslow und Soho und lies meine Oyster Karte glühen.

ENGLISH

I spent a good week trying to meet ordinary Russians in London, a.o. in shops. I met people who run away from politics, mostly.  In the midst of Ealing I also, by coincidence, met political satirist painter Kaya Mar, who was shlepping his latest work with him. Some of the places I went to revealed themselves as non-Russian, once there. An Afghan that run the CCCP supermarket and Ukrainians with little enthusiasm for Putin in the USSR shop.

I moved between Kensington Knightsbridge and Bayswater, Fulham, Ealing, Hounslow, Islington, Mayfair, Soho and Hammersmith, allowing my Oyster card to smoke…

A google translate will give you reasonable oversight.  Here the link to the pics below https://www.taz.de/!5489291/

IMG_0178

Kalinnka. Russian Supermarket Bayswater(c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

IMG_0179

Russian Supermarket Dacha  in Fulham (c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

IMG_0180

Maya Kar, met in Ealing whilst following a wrong hint of a shop called CCCP run however by an Afghan,(c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

IMG_0248

Musica Nova, Russian Music School (c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

IMG_0251

Zima Bar, Russian Streetfood Bar in Soho, (c) 2018 All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn

 

IMG_0171

Chris Watkins, Real Russia Travel Agency

 

Memorial Center to 1972 Olympic  Terror. A reflection on its opening.

In the 1980’s, then just a young teenager, I graffitied singlehandedly and on my own initiative the walls of the Munich Olympic Village with “Vergesst nicht 5.9.1972 (don’t forget 5.9.1972 )”, some with a Star of David.

Shopping Centre Munich Olympic Village c.a. 1987 Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn

My smears were there for a few years, before they were removed. I had placed them in  various strategic locations, including in the heart of the shopping area. on the side of the pedestrian walk way from the underground station to the village, inside the underground car drive, and in front of the entrance of Munich university sports faculty, at the end of Connolly Straße, near where on the 5th. of September 1972 the drama of a terrorist hostage kidnapping unfolded with one man murdered straight away. The 5.9.1972 would end before the day was over with six dead coaches, five dead athletes, one dead German police officer, as well as five de0ad members of the terrorist group Black September, a group supported by the PLO.

entrance to university sports complex later c.a . 1987 photo: Daniel Zylbersztajn (c )

The Olympic Village was the place I had later grown up in. My father had purchased a mortgage there before the Olympic Games. Nobody was able to predict the unfolding drama there during the games when flats were being sold.

Unable or unwilling to change plans, we moved into the family’s flat in 1973.  I was only four years old.

I have memories of the 1972 TV coverage on the 5th of September, incidentally, also my mum’s birthday, at the tender age of 2 1/2. The images were re-enforced by countless visits to the memorial plaque at 31 Connolly Street, especially when our Israeli family members came to visit, but frequently also by myself. I would always leave a stone, the Jewish way of honouring the dead at a grave site.

In the Olympic Village, and to most in Munich, the memory of the terror of 1972 became a distant, even forgotten fact. For me, the child of possibly the only Jewish family there at the time, that was not the same case. I had a strong feeling of the village in the 1980s not adequately honouring its past. It is what let me to the act of writing on the walls of the village with black paint, my only such action ever (I got caught by a German passer-by on my last mission, who spilled the bucket of black paint over my head). By 1991 I had contacted Ankie Spitzer, the surviving widow of Andre Spitzer, the fencing coach who was murdered that night in September, on this lack of remembrance. She could not believe that a Jewish family could live there. From her perspective, this was not a habitable location. She was adamant that the history of the village must be remembered.

Four years later, in 1995, a sculpture to the memory of the victims was erected, but not in the village, but inside the Olympic Park. I was not there for its opening. I had already left Munich at the time for London, my home of choice. I don’t think I would have chosen the village as a home, as my parents did, but neither would I have chosen Germany as a home, where my father, a Jewish Shoah survivor from Poland settled after Germans had murdered almost all his family members.

Ankie Spitzer and other bereaved families of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team continued the struggle to get the terror acts adequately remembered, including at the London Olympic Games 2012.  It was refused then as it had been for a long time, in part due to false claims of upholding political balance and neutrality. But through the terror of 1972 the Olympic ideals too were attacked. Only at Rio 2016 the German IOC President Thomas Bach recognised that. He finally instituted an official remembrance inside the Rio Olympic Village, a breakthrough after a long 44 years of side-lining.

Finally, in September 2017, on the initiative of the Bavarian government, with support by the IOC, and the German Sports Federation, the memorial centre opened that is overlooking the Olympic Village in Munich. It finally documents and remembers the terror act and its victims in the way necessary.

Having visited the centre now, I can say it finally expresses that, what always was also part of my, if not most people’s association of the village across the world.

In the Olympic Village, the ambivalence about its past can now never happen again, one hopes.

But terror attacks are not at all absent here. Only in 2016 the nearby Munich Olympic Shopping Centre was the scene of a terror run by one man, who, it is thought, deliberately targeted migrants, exploiting the continued vulnerabilities of civil life. Munich went hysterical that night assuming a widespread terrorist attack. Nine people, many young, were shot dead before the assailant committed suicide.  Berlin saw another attack carried out by one man in December that year inspired by Daesh ideology that ended twelve civilians’ lives. There were smaller incidents in Bavaria of that nature too in the same year, whilst Germany continues to be the scene of far-right terrorism also. Munich, in fact, is the place of one of the most protracted and long-running trials against a former far rights terror cell, the NSU. It had executed ten people in the 1990s, who were all migrants to Germany.

I am pleased that in my life I have not only spent efforts to commemorate the terror of 1972, in part through graffities, articles and a lecture at a university but also worked for Israeli Jewish – Palestinian Peace Initiatives. Conflict can never be solved by terror and the taking of innocent lives. Terror delays ending conflict, it stops and disrupts the lives of innocent civilians and causes unnecessary pain.  The PLO itself had abandoned its violent terror attack resolute at the end of the 1980s, not that others failed to continue to use that method.

Peace can only be established by inter-human communication, exchange and compromise.

And peace must be secured by warnings and remembrance of past terror events and pointing out society’s vulnerabilities. This the new Memorial Center in Munich, created by Brückner & Brückner, does effectively, whilst honouring the murdered and explaining the events that led up to the 5th of September 1972. Alongside, we require a security system and service that protects civilians from overt violent interlopers and terrorists proactively. I would also argue for the provision of avenues and initiatives and generous resources for conflict reduction, conflict transformation and peace building as necessary.  The Olympic Games are one such initiative, in its aims to unite young people from all corners of the world by bringing them together through sport. But conflict transformation is an issues that is as local in need as it is in global demand

The opening of the memorial centre in Munich symbolises a late step towards truth for Munich and the Olympic Village in Munich. Both were in denial about the events for decades. Now all who visit this memorial can feel what I always knew to be true.

One hopes that its resounding message is a rejection of the ideology of terror.

  • END

See also on this topic:

My article during the row of where the memorial site should be erected https://dzx2.net/2015/01/11/terror-not-remembered-dont-kill-our-snow-fun-hill-a-sorry-tale-of-a-limping-democratic-intervention/

My academic lecture at Edgehill University  on the topic 

 

Daniel Zylbersztajn in front of the memorial site in January 2018

(c) Daniel Zylbersztajn

 

Daniel Zylbersztajn, 2017 Selektion

Dieses Jahr war als Journalist in Großbritannien ein non-Stop Erlebnis. Es ging vorallen um Terror, Brexit, Grenfell, und Gewalt. Nicht alles worüber ich im letzen Jahr schrieb findet sich hier wieder. Eher die wichtigsten nach meiner Meinung!  Damit das Jahr dennoch Süß endet kommt vor meiner Anreihung der besten Berichte des allgemeinen Jahres das Bild des Bäckers Sruli Ginsberg, über dessen Sufganiot ich schrieb.

This year was for me as London correspondent a non-stop event. The topics were above all terror, Brexit, Grenfell and violence. Not all articles I wrote are listed up here, rather those I felt were important for one reason or another. In order that the common year ends still sweet, I like to start with a picture of Sruli Ginsberg, a baker about whose Hanukkah Sufganiot I wrote. 

Most texts are in German, but there are some in English: 

Sruli Ginsberg vor seiner Baeckerei So Real in STamford Hill Lon don

All Rights reserved

Story: http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/30302

Messerverbrechen in London – Knife Crime in London

Alltagsgewalt in London: Tausende Messerangriffe pro-Jahr – taz.de

Dies war eines der wichtigsten Themen für mich, mindestens ein halbes Jahr in Planung, bis ich die Redaktion dazu bewegte es in die deutsche Zeitug zu stetzen. Es kam auch dann verspätet, wegen den Wahlen, und den Terroranschlägen.

Everyday violence in London: Thousands of knife attacks per year.

This was a piece I had wanted to write for quite a while and had to wait until the editors approved it. But even after I had researched and written it was delayed, due to the terror attacks in London and Manchester, and the surprise elections. 
http://www.taz.de/!5422090/

Literatur – Literature:

Besuch bei der nigerianischen Verlegerin Bibi Bakare Yusuf

Visiting the Nigerian publisher Bibi Bakare Jusuf

Für eine Sonderausgabe in Sachen afrikanischer Literatur besuchte ich Bibi Bakare Yusef.

For a special feature on African Literature, I visited Bibi Bakare Yusuf.

14_10_17_HP_Gesellschaft_6_ffm_10

IMG_0154.JPG

GRENFELL

Dies sind noch nicht mal alle Berichte, die ich hierüber schrieb.

These are not even all the Texts I wrote about Grenfell. They include translations into English.

14-6-2017 Das Inferno von Grenfell Tower – The Inferno of Grenfell Tower

http://www.taz.de/!5420761/

 

Flugblatter mit Namen vermisster Vermisste PersonenIMG_0131links Sarah Abdullah, 39 mit Tochter und Dermot zweiter von Rec hts kamen um Hilfe zu bringen, sie haben Wasser und Kleidung

06-2017 Nach dem Inferno, viele Frage bleiben offen – After the inferno, many questions remain unanswered

http://www.taz.de/!5418584/

Justice for Grenfell vor einem Mosaik zur Erinnerung an die Opfer Frankos

06-2017 Es schwefelt weiter – The sulphur continues to fall

http://www.taz.de/!5418736/

07-2017 Die Wut der Überlebenden – The anger of the Survivors

http://www.taz.de/!5428612/

IMG_0518

 

08- 2017 Zwischen den Welten – Memorial to Human Dignity (FEATURE)

German: https://www.taz.de/!5436291/ 

English: https://dzx2.net/2017/08/26/memorial-to-human-dignity/

09-2017 Tränen löschen kein Feuer – Tears don’t extinguish fire https://www.taz.de/!5444821/

12- 2017 Grenfell sechs Monate Später – Grenfell, six months later

Deutsch:  https://www.taz.de/!5467719/

English: https://dzx2.net/2017/12/14/grenfell-six-months-later/

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Terror in Manchester

05-2016 IS bekennt sich zum Anschlag – IS claims attack

http://www.taz.de/!5412304/

Salam! Arabische Botschaft im St Ann's Square Schrift aus Kreide

(C) ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED

05-2017 Höchste Warnstufe – Highest Alarm Level

IMG_0511

(C) ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED

http://www.taz.de/!5412550/

05-2017 Manchester United?

Nach dem Attentat fuhr ich nach Mancheste und sprach mit den Leuten vor Ort.

Following the attack I travelled to Manchester and spoke with people there. 

http://www.taz.de/!5409852/

Union Jack als Hijab, es drückt aus wie ich mich fühle sagt Manchesterin Gulnar Bano Khan Qadri, 48

All Rights Reserved Daniel Zylbersztajn (c) 2017

Brexit

Elke will Britin werden – Elke wants to become British

Ich habe Elke über vier Monate verfolgt. Ihre Bewerbung war übrigens erfolgreich.

I followed Elke for four months. Her application has been approved by the way.

http://www.taz.de/!5430297/

Elke am Wohnzimmertisch zu Hause

Elke at home in Hackney Photo Daniel Zylbersztajn

04-2017 Unter Europafreunden – Amongst Europe’s Friends

Southwark, der EU begeisterteste Wahlkreis in Großbritannien  hatte die Wahl zwischen einem pro EU Kandidat der Liberal Demokraten und der anti-EU Labour Veteranin Kate Hoey. I ch machte mich vor Ort schlau.

Elections in Southwark, the most EU enthusiastic area in Great Britain had the choice between a pro EU Lib Dem candidate and the anti-EU Labour veteran Kate Hoey MP. I spent several days on the ground.

http://www.taz.de/!5411289/

01-17 Das Publikum vor dem Supreme Court

The spectators in front of the Supreme Court

Gerichtsentscheidung zum Brexit: Das Publikum vor dem Supreme Court
http://www.taz.de/!5374542/

IMG_0053

All Rights Reserved, Daniel Zylbersztajn (c) 2017

London Terror

Hier gab es drei Attentate, nicht alle Berichte von mir sind hier aufgelistet.

There were three attacks in London. Not all reports, I wrote are included here.

3-2017 Get up and Carry On

http://www.taz.de/!5395219/

06-2017 Attack(e) in London

http://www.taz.de/!5417661/

06-2017 Nicht Nachgeben, – Don’t Give Up

http://www.taz.de/!5417678/

19-6-2017 Attacke bei Londoner Moschee. Jetzt könnt ihr mich umbringen.
http://www.taz.de/!5418939/

DISKRIMINIERUNG – DISCRIMINATION

Gleichberechtigung an britischen Unis: Die einzige schwarze Direktorin

Equality in British Higher Education: The only black director.

Dies war ein wichtiger Bericht über Gleichberchtigungshürden an britischen Universitäten. ch Sprach nicht nur mit Baronin Amos, sondern auch anderen bekannten akademischen Personal.

This was another important report about the glass ceilings at UK universities. I did not only interview Valerie Amos but also several other senior UK academic lecturers, including Robert Beckford and Paul Gilroy.

03-2017 http://www.taz.de/!5384497/

Atomkraft im Nordwesten Englands: Im Schatten der Strahlen

Nuclear Energy in the North West of England. In the Shadow of the rays

In Nordkumbria gab es Nachwahlen. Labour verlor hier de Sitz, wegen der Atomkraft. Ich recherchierte hier einige Tage mit Atomkraftgegnern und Opfern. Die Politiker bis auf einen, wollten sich nicht der Presse stellen.

In North Cumbria Labour lost their seat due to nuclear power. I conducted several dazs research amonst anti nuclear actvists and victims. The politicians were not available to be interviewed, bar one, one the Green Party.
http://www.taz.de/!5382462/

Wolle über den Augen, Sellafield.JPG

 

 

Shoah Survivor – Holocaust

Dies war eines der letzen Interviews die Sam Pivnic, Überlebender zahlreicher KZs und Arbeitslager, daruter Auschwitz, bevor er im August verstarb.

This was one of the last interviews of Sam Pivinic, survivor of multiple concentration and work camps, a.o. Auschwitz,  before he passed away in August.

Einer der Letzten http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/29528

20170508_135625

Berlin Terror

1-17 Spendenappell für polnischen Lkw-Fahrer: „Einer wie ich“ –

Mitten im Januar begab ich mich auf kalte und dunkele Lasterparkplätze um mit Brummifahrern zu reden,

Collecting Money for the victim of  Berlin terror. One like myself

In the midst of January, I travelled to dark and cold HGV parking lots next to the motorway to discuss the terror attack in Berlin with the drivers.
http://www.taz.de/!5366413/

UK POLITICS

Labour? No thanks!

Britische Juden geben Labour auf –

British Jews are giving up on Labour

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/28751

4-2012 Gelbe Karte für den roten Ken

Yellow card for red Ken

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/28333

UKIP gegen Labour. UKIP against Labour

http://www.taz.de/!5382334/

Paul Nuttall Herausvorderer gegen Labour fuer Ukip in Stoke on Trenty bei Debatte an der Staffordshire Uni

Photo Daniel Zylberszajn (c) 2017

 

Antisemitismus – Antisemitism

Kommentar: Großbritannien: Was tun gegen Judenhass?

Commentary: What is there to do against hatred of Jews?

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/27767

Flüchtlinge – Refugees

Project Abrahams Zelt. Eine Synagoge baut für Flüchtlinge um

A London synagogue restores its caretaker flat to accommodate refugees – Project Abraham’s Tent

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/27943

 

London

 In London machte in Herbst ein U-Bahn Tunnel der Royal Mail seine Pforten als Museum auf. Ich fand das skandalös. Der Bericht  ist in Englisch.
In London, the postal rail network opened as a museum. I strongly objected and called it scandalous. Must read for Londoners and Tourists.

Gleichberechtigung Fußball – Equality Football

Lewes FC ohne Gender Pay Gap: Gleiches Geld für gleiches Training –

Lewes FC without Gender Pay Gap: Same money for same training!
http://www.taz.de/!5429959/

FAWPL Plate Final victory celebration.jpg

Photo: With kind permission by Lewis FC