Jewish centre postpones talk from writer Brian Sewell due to ‘anti-Holocaust remarks’
08:10 01 February 2013
A Jewish community centre has said it postponed a guest talk from prominent arts critic Brian Sewell because of “anti-Holocaust remarks” made by the writer six years ago.
The London Jewish Cultural Centre (LJCC) pulled the plug on Mr Sewell’s appearance at the Golders Green centre in North End Road after comments in an Evening Standard article, written in 2007, were brought to its attention.
Mr Sewell, 81, one of the country’s foremost art critics, was due to talk about his new autobiography, Outsider II, at the LJCC on January 22 with tickets for the event, costing £12 on the door, advertised in copies of the centre’s spring 2012 programme.
However, after seeing Mr Sewell’s 2007 article, in which he describes Jews in Manchester as “greedy” for wishing to extend space devoted to the Holocaust in the Imperial War Museum North, LJCC chief executive Louise Jacobs postponed last week’s planned talk.
She said: “When I looked back at some of the comments it would have been irresponsible and disrespectful for us to run this event and I don’t regret the decision to postpone it.
“It specifically [relates to] anti-Holocaust remarks. He talks about the ‘greedy’ Jews of Manchester relating to how a Manchester museum wanted more space to commemorate the Holocaust.”
Ms Jacobs insisted the talk and book signing, jointly organised with the Ham&High as part of the Hampstead and Highgate Literary Festival 2013, would still go ahead at the centre in the near future.
She explained that the original plan to hold the talk five days before Holocaust Memorial Day on Sunday would have been insensitive.
“People make these kind of remarks all the time and we don’t have an agenda against these people – it was just a matter of timing,” said Ms Jacobs.
Following an announcement in 2007 that the Imperial War Museum North was planning a joint venture with the Manchester Shoah Centre, Mr Sewell wrote the piece criticising a “bandwagon” effect.
He said: “Can we not say to the Jews of Manchester that enough has been made of their Holocaust and they are too greedy for our memories?”
Mr Sewell was unavailable for comment as the Ham&High went to press.