Comment on: Libeskind and AIA join RIBA Israel row
@Tony Brohn You say "complicit with theft". Just to clarify, theft from whom?
@Malcolm I forgot might be an idea to swot up on the Ottoman Law which applied to the Province of Southern Syria ('Palestine') for 400 years prior to 1917.
@Malcolm Obviously, you have never lived in a tough neighborhood where your neighbors want to kill you! As for illegal have you read the Treaty of Versailles and the Geneva Conventions? @Alex Are you suggesting that the other 43,967 members of the RIBA would have supported the 23 Council Members who voted in a secret ballot?
Dear RIBA Council Member, With reference to your call for the Israeli Association of United Architects to be suspended from the International Architects Union, I am sure that you think that you are only making a stand against the policies of the ‘apartheid’ Israeli government so for contextual purposes consider the following. Firstly Israel’s treatment of it’s Arab citizens. There are 1.5m Arabs living in Israel who have one man one vote, who are represented by duly elected political parties and have all the freedoms of any Israeli citizen. Many are qualified Architects and members of the IAUA. Meanwhile there are 300m Arabs living in 22 sovereign states worldwide, all of whom would give their right arm to live under the freedoms enjoyed by the Israeli Arab. When you take on board reference by IAU to ‘illegal projects’ and ‘settlements’ you are referring to building in an area that was illegally occupied by Jordan in 1948. To get this into some perspective The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the East Bank of the Jordan River is a country that consists of most of Mandated Palestine and the present King Abdullah is from a tribe of Arabs who come from Saudi Arabia not the local area but he rules a country where 60% of the population are ‘Palestinian’ Arabs. In 1948 Jordan took control of the ‘West Bank’ of the River Jordan and Jews were kicked out of all those areas including Jerusalem. Their religious sites were desecrated and the area was made ‘Judenrein’ for the first time in 2000 years. Jordan’s occupation was never internationally recognized at the time, even by the Arab League, and therefore, the ‘ceasefire lines’ established after the Six Day War in 1967 are just that. They are not borders and are by no means set in stone. It is really sad when affluent Western do-gooders think they have an understanding of the politics and history of the region and cannot understand the way those matters impinge on the present situation, but what is really shocking is when a group of so called professionals succumb to the propaganda of the Socialist Workers Party and various so called human rights activists, and convince themselves that they are only being fair. I know that it is a mystery to the international community that Jews wanted to return to their homeland in Israel and were not satisfied with the alternative places that were offered to them over the years in Argentina, Uganda and indeed Russia. I am sorry that all of these places were rejected in favor of the area known for the 400 years prior to 1917, not as Palestine, but as the Ottoman Province of Southern Syria, an area of land, by the way, over which no Arab nation had ever claimed sovereignty and over which the only people who had ever exercised national and historic sovereignty were - the Jews. I assume that the Council believes that it has the right to judge and punish Israel for it’s behaviour towards the Palestinian Arabs. Strange, that the RIBA did not call for the suspension of the Sri Lanka Institute of Architects over their government’s treatment of the Tamil Tigers over the last 26 years even when 20,000 civilians were killed a couple of years ago. Yes only 20,000 civilians, yet somehow you cannot sleep at night over the fact that Jews build houses in their historic homeland. Still, of course you are not anti-Semitic but I am sure you feel better for lobbying against the only free, democratic and pluralist nation in the Middle East. I suppose, as you know so much about the Middle East, and that you think that the settlements are an obstacle to peace. Maybe then, I can just disabuse you of the notion. At a political level, there are broadly three categories of settlements 1) suburban population growth over the green line 2) security settlements in the Jordan Valley and 3) other settlements in Judea and Samaria. The solutions to these three categories are well understood by both parties. Yes, you heard me, both parties. The first can be resolved by a mutually agreed exchange of land and the second will not be retained after security confidence has been established between the parties. As regards the third category, those settlements are built on land that has been legally appropriated under Ottoman Law, which, believe it or not, is actually the previous and most relevant legal system in the area. Ah, you will say what about ‘International’ Law. Well, you are an academic who studied for so many years to become an architect, why not spend a few days (or even hours) researching International Law and you will learn something. As a member of an Institute with a Royal Charter you will have heard of His Majesty’s Foreign Secretary, Lord Balfour who understood all this in 1917 and made his famous declaration on behalf of the British Government “His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people….”. Lord Balfour read the Bible, and for anyone who reads the Bible, even if they are not religious but merely regard is as a quasi historical document, it is pretty clear that the Jews are connected to the area including, by the way, Judea and Samaria (ie the ‘West Bank’) All this was contained in the preamble to the Treaty of Versaille of 1919 and thereby passed into International Law. Palestine at that time comprised the whole area from present day Jordan to the sea but was subsequently truncated by Winston Churchill who, at the stroke of a pen, gave 76% of Mandated Palestine to the Emir Abdullah (the present King’s grandfather). Obviously you would also be looking at the Fourth Geneva Convention (Articles 2 and 49) which were established after the World War 2 which articles refer to the ‘forceable’ transfer of populations to or from ‘sovereign’ territory. Guess what, despite what you read and see in the media there has been no ‘forceable’ transfer of any populations and the area is not sovereign. Anyway don’t worry, the ‘Palestinian’ Arabs don’t really want peace because if they did, they would have accepted the 95% deal they were offered by former prime minister Ehud Barak at Camp David. They also know that Israel could and would dismantle those settlements in the third category in exchange for peace but since they know that no one, including your goodself, is bothered that the proposed Palestinian State would be completely ‘Judenrein’, their aspirations are greater and they want the whole area free of Jews because even that will not, apparently, offend anyone’s sensibilities. Still, I get it, you are not antisemitic, just against the policies of the Israeli government. Derek Lewis