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Sunday, 29 April 2018

A Modern ‘Massacre’ at York’s Clifford Tower?

I have already publicised and shared this story on social media but consider it important enough to repeat the details here:

CLIFFORD'S.TOWERAn investigative feature and report by The Guardian newspaper's Dalya Alberge focuses on how a legal challenge to proposed excavation work at the English city of  York’s medieval Clifford’s Tower could restrict development at heritage sites.

I suggest it is of much greater significance and concern to anyone desperate to conserve a hugely important Anglo-Jewish monument and memorial.

Clifford's Tower was the scene of the English 12th century 'Masada' where in March 1190, at the instigation of the community's French-born rabbi, Rabbi Yomtob of Joigny, most of the city's Jews who had fled there for safety against a violent antisemitic mob, chose suicide rather than conversion to Christianity.

The victims' bodies were surely reduced to cinders in the flames of the fire ignited by community leaders as they killed their wives and children before committing suicide. So I am convinced any extant human remains would be further desecrated by archaeological excavation.

This horrendous incident happened exactly a century before the official expulsion of all Jews from England in 1290. Now, this modern story is taking shape against ever escalating antisemitism in the contemporary U.K.

I find it ironic also that no thought has been given to this aspect of the tower's history as there was great controversy in the early 1980s when archaeologists from the York Archaeological Trust discovered the lost Jewbury Cemetery housing the remains of the city's medieval Jews on the site of what is now the multi-level car park at Sainsbury's supermarket The remains were later reinterred in a ceremony conducted by the late Chief Rabbi Lord Immanuel Jakobovits.

© Natalie Wood (29 April 2018)

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