The word 'justice' implies fairness, and as an integral part of the 'Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine' (APJP) name, one might expect a fair response to the recent events in Lebanon and Israel. This is not the case when reading 'Israel must be held to account for destruction' (AJ 17.08.06), where blame for all the region's problems is placed wholly at the feet of Israel.
In the specific case of the recent Israel/Hezbollah conict, the United Nations resolved that the war was initiated by Hezbollah (UN Resolution 1701), and Jan Engelund, the UN under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs stated that 'Hezbollah must stop this cowardly blending? among women and children. I heard they were proud because they lost very few fighters and that it was the civilians bearing the brunt of this'. His reference is to Hezbollah members deliberately siting themselves in built-up civilian areas, and using them as a base for terrorist activities. There are no references to this use of architecture and the urban realm (and the people who live there) in the APJP letter.
The destruction and loss of innocent lives on both sides of the Israel/Lebanon border is lamentable, but it is disingenuous to put forward the biased view you published. The war started by Hezbollah has also resulted in the destruction of 6,000 homes and businesses in Israel, and the displacement of one million people.
The billions of pounds to which this amounts should be added to the bill, and the invoice sent to Iran and Syria, whose funding and encouragement of Hezbollah is proven and undisputed.
We would note that the APJP letter to the Guardian published on Thursday 17 August contained one glaring difference.
In the Guardian letter, the signatories acknowledged that '40 Israeli civilians also lost their lives', whereas in the letter in the AJ that reference to Israeli suffering had been omitted. To omit that reference was unfair, or in other words, an injustice.
As architects and planners who, in line with the United Nations, identify Hezbollah and their backers as starting the recent conict which has caused so much death and destruction to both Israel and Lebanon, we call for a truly just and fair assessment of the damage caused, and a reasoned discussion on the role of the built environment in such a conict. The letter published in the AJ does the cause of reason a disservice.
Kevan Fehler, Daniel Leon, David Rosenberg, Zoe Donoff, Winston Newman, Jennifer Singer