Abe Hayeem's Comments
It is the duty of architects internationally to take action, as the UIA requires, where a professional body does not make sure its members observe architectural and ethical practice, especially when it breaches international law and the 4th Geneva Convention. UIA Resolution13 quite clearly condemns such projects, and also where architecture erases another's culture within the country of one's citizens, and those under its occupation. We see the methodology of Israel's occupation and it's total control and dispossession of Palestinians unfolding with tragic and devastating consequences in Gaza -refusing to lift a nine year siege that has prompted such resistance. This has been met with a murderous onslaught killing mainly civilians and again massive destruction of homes, civic buildings, hospitals, schools and civic infrastructure, Similarly, mass demolitions of homes in the West Bank, and appropriation of Palestinian land accompanies every act of building of the illegal settlements repeatedly condemned by the world. Architects of conscience and ethical practice cannot turn a blind eye to this injustice, which strikes at the heart of our ethical conduct -and treat the RIBA resolution to suspend the Israeli Architects' Association as an annoying irritant. One of longest occupations in modern times by a 'democratic' country that holds the world record for breaches of international law and UN Resolutions cannot escape notice of the world body of a humane profession, that designs our homes and cities as the basis of a decent society.
Please note: This working group, whatever it turns out to be, is no substitute to the RIBA's firm and democratic 19 March Council decision to support the suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects from the UIA. Stephen Hodder has always says that the decision was now RIBA policy and still stands, yet he now mistakenly says that that by setting up such a group, the Motion is 'fulfilled'. He also cites that by sending the decision letter to the UIA, and receiving a reply that it is 'beyond the UIA' s political scope' that it relieves him of the responsibility of pursuing this Motion to be tabled at the UIA. This is certainly within the scope of the UIA, as a similar issue over South Africa in its apartheid days was made by the UIA, which expelled SA as a member. The RIBA too has a similar precedent in 1978, when it cut its links with South African schools of architecture as part of the boycott. In any case, this is an issue of the clear breaches of Resolution 13 by the IAUA since 2005, which condemns projects that are against the Geneva Conventions (considered as war crimes) and which involve ethnic cleansing and erasure of another people's culture. The building of illegal settlements since 1967 on expropriated Palestinian land, the whole enterprise of the architecture of occupation that continues with accelerated frenzy even during the recent peace talks, all involve Israeli architects -in a unique collaboration with the state and military policy. The evidence has been profusely documented, and the policies condemned worldwide. Further this is an issue of professional ethics and the breaches of the UIA's ethical Accords -again clearly documented. Stephen Hodder will still need to pursue this historic decision by Council at the UIA in Durban is he wishes the RIBA to retain its integrity as a truly professional Institute concerned with morality and justice.
It does look like a rather frobidding edifice for social housing. Lighten up David -all those rose embossed graphite tinted walls look too severe -why no balconies to soften the cubular mass -which suits the latest architectural monochromatic minimalist trends -but shows a lack of appeal to the masses and the softening of a harsh environment. Though the roof farm is good -why not dangle some trellises down the building for some greenery to trail down?
The reaction by the RIBA President is concerning and disappointing -includiing that of the Ritblats -since this whole issue of 'political scope' has been dealt with as a misleading misrepresentation by the UIA President Albert Dubler. Firstly, if the UIA has any political scope -this is exactly its remit, (as it was in the 1970s when the UIA and the RIBA expelled South Africa) since it is the UIA's own very political Resolution 13, passed twice, the last time in 2009, specifically in relation to projects involving Israel's breaches of the Geneva Convention and its ethnic cleansing and erasure of Palestinian culture and history. Since the IAUA's members continue ignoring this Resolution which actually involves serious professional misconduct and breaches of the ethical and professional UIA Accords -and the IAUA turns a blind eye to this with total detachment, any professional association whose members subscribe to a code of ethics yet suffers them to break the law is surely no longer strictly speaking a professional association. Ergo, they (i.e. the Israeli Architects Association) should be disqualified from membership in the UIA which is, at least ostensibly an association of professional memberships. By refusing to actively pursue the RIBA Council's democratically voted Motion on 19 March for Israel' suspension from the UIA, its President Hodder, and the UIA' s President Dubler are colluding and collaborating with the IAUA -whom Dubler had given firm assurances that the Motion will not proceed -without allowing all the UIA General Assembly to decide. This is disgraceful and scandalous -since the Palestinians, who are suffering the decades long occupation, violent oppression and dispossession resulting from Israel's massive real-estate enterprise built by Israeli architects, against international law, have requested that this matter of suspension of the IAUA is taken up urgently on the Agenda -as a sheer emergency. This is an historic opportunity to send a message to Israel that of it wants to be considered a democracy, it has to behave like one. Its architects, who build the physical reality of the Occupation need to learn there is a price to pay, until they change and condemn this unacceptable professional, unethical and immoral situation.
Comment on: Ian Martin: My ten favourite bits of London
Absolutely delightful, Ian. I agree with most of your 'likes' and your 'hate' -the Shard. I've aways hated it as it was going up -and now you can never miss it -it looms like a giant toothpick on the skyline. I always relish Paolozzi's mosaics at Tot.They look poorly maintained and need a clean up and listing so they can't be removed or taken away . Lubetkin too is great. All his stuff in Islington which I passed by regularly when working in the Architect's Dept there. Also missing in your list are some of Lambeth estates under Hollamby. Brutalism at its vastest. Now Eric Pickles want all these estates demolished when any of them have been cleverly renovated. Let' s have some more from Ian -I hope he is back as a regular!
Once again, the two doughty defenders of Israel's illegal occupation and well documented war crimes, Hoffman and Alderman, persist in turning facts upside down and inside out. No -the Jewish settlers and the settlements in the Occupied Territories are definitely illegal, under the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits a state moving its citizens into territory that it has occupied -and under 242, prohibits the acquisition of land by wars and by force. Like the Flat-Earth Society, they cannot ever perceive in their embedded misguided views and their dream world, that all the profuse documentation, the condemnation of Israel by the UN in over 65 Resolutions that Israel has flouted, innumerable reports by the UN and EU Human Rights, the Reports by Israeli human rights organisations like B'Tselem, ICAHD, ACRI, Adalah etc etc that every country in the world recognises that its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is illegal and the annexation of East Jerusalem is illegal, and that the Separation Wall, known by any well versed person on Israel's misdemeanors as the Apartheid Wall -has unequivocally been declared illegal, including the settlements in the OPTs by the International Court of Justice in 2004, and also emphasised that it was basically a land grabbing exercise rather than for security. Also read B'Tselem's excellent document called "Land Grab' which says that "Israel has created in the Occupied Territories a regime of separation based on discrimination, applying two separate systems of law in the same area and basing the rights of individuals on their nationality. This regime is the only one of its kind in the world, and is reminiscent of distasteful regimes from the past, such as the apartheid regime in South Africa" Almost every statement that is made above, twists the real facts. Thousands of Palestinians are imprisoned without trial are on hunger strike for over 40 days. Children are arrested and brutalised -and Israel has done everything possible to destroy any hopes for peace -as even Kerry, Cameron and numerous world leaders have stated. Even De Klerk says that Israel is becoming an apartheid state! Any Charity can speak out against the breaking of international law -even the RIBA. The Charity Commission specifically says so. This Motion is related to the ethical practice of architecture which is entirely the remit of the RIBA and UIA. Eminent Israeli and Palestinian historians, and the excellent work by Israeli archietcts Weizman and Segal, have set the record straight about the whole history of Israeli architecture, Zionism, using meticulously researched Israeli military archives, eye witness accounts and Britain's documentation of the Mandate while Hoffman and Alderman cling to Zionist mythology and propaganda (hasbara) issued by the Israeli embassy and Zionist historians - combined with the PR lobbies of AIPAC and BICOM that persist and being promoted in the media and to the world. But facts speak louder than sugar-coated words, and justice will be achieved sooner rather later.
Once again Jonathan Hoffman, like a broken record, recommends the vile rubbish and libellous poison on his hate- enciting website CifWatch - riddled with his own ignorance and the gross misrepresentation using Israeli propaganda(hasbara). This is all in defiance of the whole panoply of the highest world authorities and eminent world figures, the UN, the EU and human rights organisation from Amnesty to Israel's B'Tselem's documentation and condemnation of Israel's crimes, especially related to land-grabbing and laying facts on the ground, all illegal under international law.These deny any possibility of a Palestinian state, their self determination and their human rights. What the RIBA has done with its historic Motion of 19 March, democratically debated at Council, and supported by eminent architects like Charles Jencks, Ted Cullinan, Peter Ahrends, Will Alsop, Neave Brown, and other hugely respected figures, is to uphold the ethical and moral basis of architecture, which is the very context and the duty of all professional institutions and architects. As the UIA Accords state "Architects have obligations to the public to embrace the spirit and the letter of the laws governing their professional affairs and should thoroughly consider the social and environmental impact of their professional activities" also "Architects shall respect and help conserve the systems of values and the natural and cultural heritage of the community in which they are creating architecture." Further:Article 10. (1) The common objectives of all professional organizations are to establish and promote the highest standards of ethical conduct and excellence in the practice of the professions, to regulate the professional conduct of the members of the professions and to cooperate with their allied professional organizations. (2) In line with the foregoing objectives, it shall be mandatory upon a professional organization to take appropriate action on any formal complaint for unethical conduct filed against any member of its profession by a co-professional, a client, a professional organization or a government regardless of the residence of the complainant." The RIBA Motion is also in line with these UIA Accords on professional ethics and Resolution 13 condemning the practice of architecture that involves the breaches of human rights, international law, the Geneva Conventions and the erasure of Palestinian history and culture. This is the practice of all trade unions, mentioned by Jill Ritblat, if one understands anything about them! The RIBA has a precedent of acting like one, in its cutting of links with the South African Schools of Architecture in 1978, as part of the boycott action against apartheid South Africa. Any literate and aware professional must know in their bones that architecture is one of the most political professions -an especially as practiced, almost uniquely by Israel, from the very first colony established by Zionist settlers in Palestine in 1907. with the 'Wall and Tower" model still applied to this day in all the Israeli settlements and the construction of the illegal Separation Wall condemned by the ICJ in 2004. Understanding the whole issue of the political nature of Israeli architecture, so eloquently exposed by Israel architects and academics Eyal Weizman and Rafi Segal, their publications 'A Civilian Occupation' and 'Hollow Land', would be educational and cultural enlightenment of the highest order, and is heartily recommended to the Ritblats and other decriers of the RIBA's 19 March Motion. Weizman' s remarkable statement published by the AJ says it all. http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/news/israeli-architect-defends-ribas-motion/8661310.article Whether wilfully not, Israeli architects are building in the occupied Palestinian Territories and illegally annexed East Jerusalem, and also within Israel on new towns and neighbourhoods to carry out the state's policy to Judaise the Negev, the Galilee, and the Arab neighbourhoods of Israel's cities- all this involves participation in human tragedy, the dispossession of Palestinians from their homes, the refusal of planning permission to build or extend, the lack of services to 'unrecgnised villages', the obscene Apartheid Wall, the thousands of house demolitions and the unbridled violence by the Israeli state, the IDF, and the terrorist settlers -all condemned in Amnesty's latest reports, and also the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. One must not forget the discriminatory laws against Palestinian citizens of Israel like the Absentee Property Law in the area of housing, property and development, that limit Palestinians to less that 7% of the land, the other 93% sequestrated by Israel after 1948, and no new Palestinian towns ever built, except for the 7 substandard slum townships for Negev Bedouin -compared with upto 1000 Israeli new towns and settlements. For I and many other architects around the world not to speak out against such extreme behaviour is to be nothing less than complicit in these activities. Eminent Israeli journalist Esther Zandberg, writing on this issue in Haaretz says that the IAUA's "insistence on claiming that it is an exclusively professional organization with no political agenda has led it to this point... that it does not concern itself with political issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and that each of its members behaves according to his own world view, sounds hollow in the international arena. The mantra “I personally do not build in the territories” is no longer a solid defense. After all, being apolitical does not mean being neutral; rather, it is tantamount to taking a stance supporting the status quo. Since architecture is a tool through which political policy is implemented, even if not all the members of the IAUA are involved in planning and construction in the territories, the local organization representing them is now being asked to take a moral stance and use the profession as a tool for implementing it – with or without a decision by RIBA or other agencies.The RIBA’s call to expel the IAUA from the international club sparked a lively debate in the professional and public international arenas, but no such discussion took place in Israel. The subject stayed in the corridors of the IAUA, which has adopted the stance of the innocent, apolitical victim against the political, scheming, anti-Israel world. The view is that "the whole world is against us. From that point of departure, the IAUA has been waging a public relations campaign, lobbying and calling upon its members to mobilize “for a mission on Israel’s behalf” instead of looking in the mirror, as they ought to be doing." Instead of such enlightened action, it is sad that the Ritblats have joined the likes of Jonathan Hoffman in promoting this CiF Watch hate site, and in urging inactivity and neutrality in the face of decades of injustice and oppression, and saying this has nothing to do with the RIBA. In fact -this Motion is entirely the remit of the RIBA and especially of the UIA as a professional and moral world body of architects related to the UN, involving the humans practice of architecture for all in the community and not for the domination and preference of the oppressor against the oppressed who are under occupation. Both institutions will ultimately have to face this urgent issue of uncontrolled violence, arrests and killings of Palestinians, since after the failed peace talks Israel will be unrestrained in its brutal colonisation, as expressed by its housing minister Uri Ariel, and its accelerating settlement expansion and annexation of the West Bank. This Motion must be placed prominently on the General Assembly agenda for all the members to decide -rather than succumb to the bullying and intimidation of the Israel lobby. The integrity and the reputation of both these institutions are at stake.
The story is now unravelling, with the Palestinians' voice being heard at last. With all the intrigues and pressure going on behind the scenes, we must now hold the UIA to account for neglecting to do their duty as the world body of architects, to take action on Resolution 13 (condemning projects against the Geneva Conventions) which they have confirmed several times at various Councils and Assemblies. It is absurd, as they say that it is beyond their political scope, or it does not meet the suddenly emerging 150 day rule (5 months!) for submitting a Motion. Where a country is so flagrantly breaking international law in its whole architectural practice in the Occupied Palestinian Territories -(and its discriminatory property and building laws within Israel itself ) -one simply cannot dismiss any action at all and propose 'dialogue' between the oppressor and oppressed -since experience shows the IAUA just refuses to acknowledge its role in this oppression and would be delighted in the UIA never taking a stand. In all fairness, this Motion must be treated as an emergency, where the settlements, the violence, the de- facto annexations and ethnic cleansing is proceeding at an accelerated pace with the breakdown of the so-called peace talks. Come on UIA, have the guts to uphold justice and ethical standards of our profession and send a clear message to Israel that there is price to pay for its decades-long impunity!
I am surprised that Paul has not grasped that Israel's architects work willy nilly as partners with the state and its military regime in a huge real-estate enterprise that is based on ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population, the Palestinians, and the dominance and supremacy of Jewish Israelis. Israel is built over the ruins of 530 destroyed Palestinian towns and villages, and 93% of the land in Israel, that was sequestered from the Palestinians, is now out of bounds for them to live in or build. This is a unique case that replicates the situation of apartheid South Africa, in the field of housing, planning, property ownership and development, even though Israel does have many trappings of democracy. South Africa was expelled from the UN and UIA in the 1970s, and Paul as BD editor at the time, must remember the RIBA cutting its ties with the South African schools of architecture in 1978, and also BD holding a competition for Trafalgar Square in conjunction with UK Architects Against Apartheid, the forerunner of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine. With the never-ending expansion of settlements on both sides of the green line, and the building of illegal settlements in the West Bank, all against international law and the Geneva Conventions - this, over decades of expansion and expropriation of land on which Palestinians can almost never get permission to build, this is architecture used as a tool of occupation, and constitutes participation in war crimes. The UIA and RIBA have a responsibility to carry this Motion through as a salutary message to Israel's architects' association, that their detachment and impunity has a price -if they wish to be considered as participants amongst the world's democracies.
No Jonathan Hoffman -it is your hate-sites like CiF Watch, that are full of factual errors and libellous nonsense. The real facts are the myriad reports from Israel's own human rights organisations like B'Tselem, ICAHD, Adalah and BIMKOM and the EU, the UN , Amnesty International whose umpteen reports have condemned Israel' breaches of international law and human rights, its racism, and its misdemeanours, including 65 UN Resolutions that Israel has flouted since its inception. As far as CiF watch goes all this evidence is turned inside out and upside down, Black is white and white is black. This is the sort of 'hasbara' (propaganda) pervaded by the Israel lobby- who are trying very hard to intimidate, bully and divert the democratic processes of the RIBA and the UIA which will have to act according to the ethical standards and Resolutions laid down by them, and not the dictates of the Israel lobby. Justice and ethics will win- but these are concepts that are beyond the sort of misrepresentations that you present.