LONDON (JTA) — British Prime Minister David Cameron said he will establish a national commission to ensure that Britain has a “permanent and fitting” Holocaust memorial.
On Monday, speaking at a dinner marking the Holocaust Educational Trust’s 25th anniversary, Cameron said he would personally chair the first session of the commission.
“At a time when anti-Semitism is returning in some parts of mainland Europe, it is more important than ever that as a whole country, we do everything possible to make sure that the memory of the Holocaust is preserved from generation to generation,” he said.
Cameron cited the legacy of the Holocaust as a reason he had pushed for military action in Syria, although he lost a crucial parliamentary vote in late August authorizing an intervention. He suggested that those who opposed him would come to feel “shame.”
“It’s an extraordinary human emotion, but somehow when genocide is taking place, the shame of not acting sometimes doesn’t quite register properly until afterwards,” he said.
“When we look back at Srebrenica and Rwanda, we wonder now why we didn’t do more at the time. When something truly terrible happens, it’s as if we put up a defense mechanism and try and rationalize why we are powerless to act. The same could so easily be true of Syria.”
Cameron promised to visit Auschwitz in 2014 and committed an additional $477,000 to a Holocaust Educational Trust program that takes two students from every U.K. high school to Auschwitz each year, bringing the total government funding to $2.95 million.