In Memorial to War Dead, Israel Avoids Addressing Its Conflicts

Avoiding any hierarchy of prestige or loss, privates take their place alongside generals and national heroes. No battles are deemed more or less important than others.

“Once we introduced the concept of unity and equality, it solved all the problems and prevented the arguments,” said Aryeh Muallem, deputy director general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and head of its Bereaved Families, Commemoration and Heritage department.

Preserving morale is considered critical in a small country where most 18-year-olds are drafted for years of compulsory military service. Last Memorial Day, about 1.5 million Israelis, or roughly one-sixth of the population, visited military cemeteries around the country.

But Israelis cannot even agree on what to call some hostilities, like Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, which is criticized by many here as an unjustified “war of choice.” Officially called Operation Peace for Galilee, it is usually referred to as the First Lebanon War.


The National Memorial Hall for Israel’s Fallen is on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.

Loulou d’Aki for The New York Times

Mr. Muallem said the memorial was the outcome of a long dialogue with representatives of bereaved families. They presented the state with a challenge, wanting their dead to be remembered individually, on the day they had fallen.

So each inscribed brick has a light beside it, which is illuminated on the personal anniversary. At 11 a.m. every day, a brief remembrance ceremony is held for those killed on that date, as their names and images appear on digital screens mounted on 12 pillars. The screens, and a smartphone app, provide more information about the dead.

The wall begins with rows upon rows of blank white bricks, waiting ominously for more names; the design imposes no limit. The first names a visitor sees are the most recent fatalities, and then the wall spirals back to the 1870s, commemorating the earliest casualties of the Zionist struggle and the soldiers of Zionist militias who fought and died before independence.

“We decided to begin from the end, with what most speaks to us today,” said Michal Kimmel-Eshkolot of Kimmel Eshkolot Architects, which designed the monument. The inscribed bricks are no higher than about six feet from the floor, she said during a recent tour of the site, “so a mother can reach up and touch the name.”

Etan Kimmel, the chief architect of the project, wrote in the brochure that the challenge had been to create a space “in a way that touches everyone, but without imposing a uniform interpretation.”


Soldiers and visitors stood in silent respect during a moment commemorating the death of a soldier. Each soldier is to be honored on the date of his or her death, and not only on Israel’s Memorial Day.

Loulou d’Aki for The New York Times

That is at least partly because the issue of war dead still stirs painful debate in Israel.

When it was announced last month that Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons in combat and who then dedicated herself to Zionist education, was to be awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement, another bereaved mother, Nomi Miller, criticized the choice as a cynical glorification of suffering.

“We, the mothers, are not worthy of any prize,” she wrote in an impassioned Facebook post that elicited thousands of sympathetic reactions. “Our sons’ lives ended forever because our country continues to choose to live by the sword. Fight for peace.”

Before the Memorial Hall, most of Israel’s fallen had been commemorated in museums or monuments established by veterans of particular battles or military corps, or in private memorials scattered around the country. But about 3,000 soldiers were not memorialized anywhere.

The idea for a national monument goes back to 1949, when Israel’s leadership proposed erecting a tomb of the unknown soldier. But the location kept changing, and bereaved relatives had no interest in the idea, arguing that their loved ones were not anonymous, according to Prof. Maoz Azaryahu, director of the Herzl Institute for the Study of Zionism at the University of Haifa, Israel.

“When I go back, the whole story of commemoration here in Israel is about names,” Professor Azaryahu said. In the new hall, “metaphorically, the bricks — the names — are the building material of the whole structure.”


An art installation with moving images made by Michal Rovner showed scenes from different wars in which Israel has fought.

Loulou d’Aki for The New York Times

Mount Herzl became the focal point of Israeli memory, with its military cemetery and tombs of the founding fathers.

But the idea for a collective monument was quietly dropped until the 1970s, when a plan was developed to build a museum of war and military heritage and a memorial complex on Mount Eitan, outside Jerusalem.

Committees sat. Architects planned. Large amounts of money were invested. Historians, experts and intellectuals filled files with recommendations.

“The new left wanted it to begin in 1948,” said Udi Lebel, a professor of sociology at Ariel University in the West Bank and at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. “Others wanted it to begin with the Bible and Jericho.”

There were arguments about how to present the consequences of the 1967 war, with some viewing the newly occupied territories as a card for peace negotiations and others as the liberation of Greater Israel. Some wanted the Mount Eitan project to lift morale and encourage service. Others worried about presenting Israel as a militaristic, Sparta-like state.

The debates went on until the 1990s. By then, Israel was signing peace accords with the Palestinians and a treaty with Jordan, and many felt it was not the time to build a war museum.

The push for a memorial resumed in the following decade, finally leading to construction.

“What went up in the end is a place with one function only — to give the names of the fallen,” said Professor Lebel, who specializes in collective memory and the politics of bereavement, adding that even one sentence about how they died could be cause for argument.

“That reflects Israel,” he said. “The only consensus there can be here is empathy for the families and remembering the victims. There is no consensus over the past and we are still living the conflict.”

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Frick Collection, With Fourth Expansion Plan, Crosses Its Fingers Again

“The garden becomes the new center of the campus,” Mr. Wardropper said in a recent interview at the museum. “It’s a beautiful garden — always was. Now we’re going to make the most of it.”

The Frick ended the last design process feeling battered by — and somewhat bitter about — critics who raised concerns about protecting the museum’s intimate scale and preserving the garden.

“Gardens are works of art,” Robert A.M. Stern, the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, said in an interview at the time. “This one is in perfect condition by Russell Page, one of the pre-eminent garden designers of the 20th century, and it should be respected as such. It’s as important as a tapestry or even a painting, and I think the museum is obliged to recognize its importance.”

Had the museum been able to build its addition in the garden, Mr. Wardropper said last week, the Frick would have gained “a proper loading dock” and “we wouldn’t have to close” for an estimated two years during construction. (The museum is talking to other institutions about continuing its activities in borrowed spaces during that hiatus.)

But he said he doesn’t feel as if the museum is settling for less. Instead, he said, the Frick has had to be more resourceful in repurposing 60,000 square feet of existing space and surgically adding 27,000 square feet, in part by building in the rear yard of the museum’s art reference library on East 71st Street.

“We’re able to achieve everything we need,” Mr. Wardropper said. “I think we’ve come up with a more elegant plan and a more rational one.”

Construction, which is expected to cost $160 million, is to begin in 2020 and take about two years to complete.

Mr. Wardropper said he still firmly believes in the reasons behind the effort: to increase exhibition space and to improve circulation, amenities, infrastructure and wheelchair accessibility — trying to meet the needs of modern audiences while honoring the building’s jewel-box quality.


A rendering of the reception hall looking toward the Russell Page garden.

Selldorf Architects

The museum’s collection of about 1,400 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and decorative arts — including works by Rembrandt, Goya, Vermeer and Renoir — “has more than doubled since the Frick opened in 1935,” Mr. Wardropper said. “We haven’t added more than 700 square feet in 80 years.”

For the first time in its history, the Frick family’s private living quarters on the second floor will be open to the public, helping to create 30 percent more exhibition space — including a permanent gallery for the new Scher Collection of portrait medals — and highlighting the experience of seeing art in an elegant home.

“The Frick has always been one of my favorite museums because you get up close to the art and you can respond to the domestic spaces in your own way,” Ms. Selldorf said. “You’ll be able to come to the museum and do the exact same thing you do today, except that you’ll be able to go up the stairs and see these rooms.”

The new design seems less likely to prompt outrage, given that the garden will be preserved, the new second level will raise the height of the lobby by less than five feet, and the museum is adding just two more floors above the mansion’s music room. Moreover, both of these additions will be set back from the street.

“You will only see it if you’re all the way back at the corner,” Ms. Selldorf said. “The closer you get, the less you see of it.”

The building addition behind the library will be the same height as the library: seven stories.

The renovation’s aesthetic will also be understated and honor the original building’s aesthetic, using materials like Indiana limestone. “You want it to be part of the existing volume, but have its own identity,” Ms. Selldorf said. “It’s not apologetic, but at the same time it’s not about style.”

The renovation will open the reception area, which currently becomes congested, by removing the existing circular stair to the lower level and relocating the gift shop to the second floor. A new staircase will lead down to the new coat check, bathrooms and auditorium. (The current 147-seat music room is acoustically challenged and so small that the museum must constantly turn people away.)

The newly configured underground spaces will eliminate the low-ceilinged galleries that could not accommodate certain works. The current show of life-size portraits by the Spanish master Francisco de Zurbarán, for example, had to be displayed on the main floor, displacing a portion of the permanent collection.

The Frick will also get its first dedicated space for the 100 school groups that visit every year. (They will enter the new education center through the library’s 71st Street entrance.)

Mr. Wardropper said the Frick’s $30 million operating budget is expected to increase by $1 million or $2 million after the renovation, and its $22 admission fee is likely to go up by an undetermined amount.

Given its three previous attempts to expand in recent years — in 2001, 2005 and 2008 — the Frick is hoping to get it right this time.

“This is the one,” Mr. Wardropper said.

Over the next few months, the Frick plans to meet with some 75 community organizations and others to present the project. Museum officials have already had initial informal discussions with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which has to approve the project since the Frick is in a landmark mansion, designed by Carrère and Hastings for the industrialist Henry Clay Frick.

Three former members of that commission opposed the previous plan, along with a coalition, Unite to Save the Frick, that included architects and designers. Facing what the museum called “protracted legal battles” in pushing its plan forward, the Frick decided to go back to the drawing board.

With this iteration, Mr. Wardropper said he expects some controversy, and he is steeling himself for another round.

“Are people going to have objections? Sure; it’s New York,” he said. “But I believe this is necessary for the Frick, and I’m willing to go up on the barricades one last time to make it happen.”

Correction: April 4, 2018

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a garden designer. She is Lynden B. Miller, not Millen.

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To Avoid More Racist Hoodies, Retailers Seek Diversity

In the aftermath, H&M chose a lawyer and company insider, Annie Wu, to lead a new four-person team at its Stockholm headquarters focused on global diversity and inclusiveness.

“We want to be held accountable,” she said this week in her first interview since taking the job.

“We didn’t recognize that in this now new age of transparency,” she added, “what the brand stands for is super important to people.”

Lost in Translation

Fast fashion companies, which specialize in low-priced, quickly produced clothing and have grown faster than the apparel industry as a whole for years, are under pressure to be more prolific and provocative as they sell across more borders.

H&M, which added 479 stores last year, now has more than 4,000 stores in dozens of countries. Inditex, the enormous parent company behind Zara, has more than 7,500 stores in 94 countries.


The H&M store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. H&M, which added 479 stores last year, now has more than 4,000 stores in dozens of countries.

Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Zara said it produces 20,000 designs each year, 98 percent of them created in-house, all sent through multiple reviews before being offered for sale. But some of the outsourced designs have proved problematic.

When fashion is contracted out, “there’s a lot less control, a lot less oversight and involvement from the company along every step of the process,” said Felipe Caro, a business professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has spent years studying Zara.

Last year, critics complained that images of frogs on a Zara skirt resembled a cartoon character called Pepe, which was designated a hate symbol of the alt-right by the Anti-Defamation League.

The skirt was designed by an independent Spanish artist based in London. In a statement at the time, he said that the frogs had “no connection at all with anything related to hate, violence or discrimination.”

Ricardo Cavolo, another artist who designed for the same collection, said in an email that the design process “was pretty fast.” He spent two days at Zara’s headquarters in Spain, creating paintings on denim that the company then reproduced without making any suggestions or changes, he said.

Supply chain experts urge more careful, decentralized vetting procedures that send designs through a central checkpoint at headquarters and also past gatekeepers in the country of sale.


Zara’s striped “sheriff” T-shirt. Customers complained that it appeared to be emblazoned with a Holocaust symbol.

Soon after shifting into her new role at H&M, Ms. Wu said, she visited South Africa, where the importance of soliciting local input quickly became clear.

“I thought I was very culturally aware,” said Ms. Wu, who was born in Taiwan, grew up in New York and speaks Mandarin. “I learned so much more just by being in that office.”

A Homogeneous Work Force

A few months ago, during a long day spent styling and photographing products for H&M’s website, no one on the Stockholm set appeared to raise concerns about one more item to process, the hoodie with the offensive message, according to a person familiar with the shoot.

Critics said the garment might have been flagged if H&M’s team was more diverse.

“It’s so easy to avoid this kind of controversy,” said Angel Sinclair, the founder of the advocacy group Models of Diversity. “If you care about being culturally sensitive, just be more culturally inclusive of talent and managers in the business.”

H&M has more than 100,000 workers worldwide. But the fashion giant’s board is entirely white. And retail experts said that much of the creative process takes place in and around its European home office, handled by young employees who are often oblivious to societal sensitivities in markets oceans away.

Ms. Wu, who reports directly to H&M’s chief executive, Karl-Johan Persson, said she did not know the ethnic or racial backgrounds of the employees and contractors involved with the monkey hoodie. But an internal investigation of the incident — which she declined to discuss in detail — showed “how important awareness-raising is generally,” she said.


The Zara store on Fifth Avenue in New York. Inditex, the parent company of Zara, has more than 7,500 stores in 94 countries.

Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

“There are hundreds of steps of getting a product to market — it’s never one point in time where we can say, ‘It’s your fault,’ because there are teams at work on things, there are approval processes throughout,” she said. “It’s really hard to pinpoint when.”

A Need for Speed

H&M and Zara used to stun the industry with their ability to move garments from design to store floor within weeks, when other retailers required more than half a year. But some brands can now perform the same feat much faster, while others, like Amazon and Adidas, are experimenting with on-demand manufacturing.

ASOS, an online fashion retailer, adds 4,500 new products to its website each week, according to a recent report from the Fung Global Retail & Technology research firm.

H&M, which has suffered a string of gloomy earnings reports and said this week that it is sitting on $4.3 billion in unsold goods, plans to invest in its supply chain to make it “faster, more flexible and more responsive.”

“This is a low-tech, low-profit, low-growth industry that is being turned upside down,” said John S. Thorbeck, an expert on retail supply chains. “Each of these companies would rather get something as rapidly to market as possible and retract a mistake.”

Prioritizing speed means fewer checks and balances, said Adheer Bahulkar, a retail expert at the consulting firm A. T. Kearney.


Critics complained that images of frogs on a Zara skirt resembled a cartoon character called Pepe, which was designated a hate symbol of the alt-right by the Anti-Defamation League.

“When you have two hours to approve a line versus two months, things go unnoticed,” he said.

Bulwarks Against Bad Taste

Fast fashion has produced tone-deaf products for more than a decade, passing them off as a rounding error given the enormous volume of items the companies generate each year.

But more shoppers have begun calling on retailers to take a stand on social and political issues, such as sexism and gun control.

“These incidents are happening in a climate where marginalized communities are feeling more targeted, more under attack, so they’re more in tune with these issues,” said Melissa Garlick, a lawyer with the Anti-Defamation League. “Fashion companies have a responsibility to the public and to consumers to ensure that they’re being sensitive in designing and marketing products — they have to be aware of what lines not to cross.”

Several companies have pledged to diversify hiring, retool corporate guidelines and initiate other measures to prevent mistakes from going out the door.

Zara now uses an algorithm created to scan designs for insensitive or offensive features. In 2016, it hired a committee of diversity officers. Diversity and inclusion training has become mandatory for all new employees.

At H&M, Ms. Wu said she was organizing workshops to help employees recognize unconscious bias and was also reaching out to anti-racism groups and other organizations. In North America, H&M is planning to hire a New York-based diversity manager.

Ms. Wu’s first two months on the job have yielded commitment from executives but, so far, few specific measures. She acknowledged that raising awareness is not “the Band-Aid” that can fix all of H&M’s problems.

“We are a very large corporation, and mistakes do happen,” she said. “It starts with us scrutinizing all of these different processes.”

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