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Abe Hayeem's Comments

  • Comment on: Trade delegation mission to Israel and Palestine: profession reacts

    Abe Hayeem's comment 21-Nov-2014 5:36 pm

    While the UKTI may be doing good work in missions to many countries -it is not only the timing of this visit, which , as John van Royen says is grotesque, but the principle of this visit that is misguided. Seeing Tel Aviv, a thriving modern city as a business opportunity, when it already has its own high-tech industry, and a profusion of Israeli architects -many educated in the US and UK -is like visiting South Africa at the height of the apartheid days, eager to participate in its wealth, while the black population struggled for its freedom. Israel 's violence against the Palestinians has reached an unprecedented level, with the acceleration of dispossession of Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line, and repeated murderous assaults and urbicide in Gaza, still under an intensified blockade, in what is a high-security prison. Regular assaults and brutal repression and separation, with the ravaging of civil, political and economic rights, and the blatant acquisition of any land or estate that Israel wants by force epitomises the ongoing regime of oppression and occupation that can only be ended by adherence to international law, pressure and sanctions. Going on jaunts for business opportunities, as if we are all good friends together, is like fiddling while Rome burns. It is just not on -and sends the wrong message to Israel, and Israel's architects' association who are participating and giving physical form to the dispossession and subjugation of a whole people. This has all been profusely documented in the media, and condemned, and then turned upside down as if nothing has happened, because Israel is singled out for favoured nation status, especially by the US and UK, no matter what it does. This only add fuel to a Middle East already in utter turmoil. Daniel Rosenfelder's rosy picture of Israel as "the only free democracy in the Middle East", while possessing some trappings of democracy, has at its basis, an entrenched and legislated pattern of discrimination in housing, planning, land ownership and development, and some insidious racist laws governing citizenship and full civil rights. Israel's new "Nation State Bill" about to pass in the Knesset will codify that only Jews will have the right to national self-determination in Israel, which the bill defines as both a Jewish and democratic state and is liable to exacerbate conflicts within Israeli society. The RIBA took what could be a historic decision at Council which was meant to be implemented at the UIA General Assmbly -but deliberately fudged.Now it is in the process of organising delegations and visits like this UKTI one, defeating the whole intention of the 19 March Resolution. The IAUA should be shunned not engaged with - so the message that there is a price to pay, rather than being rewarded for professional misconduct embedded in its practice - is driven home. This visit and any others planned should be cancelled, and if not, architects here should uphold professional ethics and not participate in such an insult to the campaign for freedom and self-determination of the beleaguered Palestinians.

  • Comment on: RIBA councillor slams delegation to Israel

    Abe Hayeem's comment 17-Nov-2014 1:38 pm

    Brioche is revelling again his hysterical 'whataboutery' -the examples he gives are not relevant to this case, and are full of misrepresentations. This is a clear-cut, very legal issue of professional ethics that was democratically debated and decided on by the RIBA Council on 19 March 2014. It complies with all the UIA Resolutions and Articles, and is the responsibility of any member country to take up on the international stage, and has the back-up of international law. Not to take this up after a professional body has decided on it, is in fact professional misconduct, and a breach of professional ethics and a case of conflict of interest, and pandering to outside interest groups interfering in Council democracy and responsibilities. The RIBA must stop heeding all these threats and intimidation by outside lobbies and get on with the business of honouring its own Resolutions.

  • Comment on: Row over RIBA's Israel trip escalates

    Abe Hayeem's comment 14-Nov-2014 5:55 pm

    Well done by the Palestinians to demand that the RIBA honour its democratically decided 19 Council Resolution to call for the suspension of the IAUA (Israeli Architects association) for its casual disregard of its members breaches of ethical codes, UIA Resolutions and international law. This is all grave misconduct which the IAUA should have taken action on by its architects as per UIA Article 1.4 which states that "to maintain public confidence in the integrity and the ability of architects by demanding that Member Sections of the Union ask their architects to act with the highest moral and professional standards;" The International Committee, and indeed the RIBA President had publicly opposed their own Council's decision, and have acted with inertia and passivity and done everything to obfuscate and divert from the Resolution, even at the UIA General Assembly when they had a chance to pursue it, and despite Desmond Tutu making an appeal to support the suspension of architects who create the apartheid infrastructure and facts on the ground of Israel's illegal occupation. Decades of attempts at 'dialogue' and peace talks have failed -since Israel has no intention whatsoever from relinquishing its illegal and continually escalating land grabs, despite world condemnation, and the refusal of the big powers to stop the ethnic cleansing, in Israel itself with the displacement and forced removal of Palestinians and Bedouin from the Negev and Galilee and the main cities and the West Bank. Once again we have the same chorus from Dan Leon, recently appointed to the RIBA, and representing the Constructive Dialogue group, talking about "using architecture as a positive force for bringing people together, rather than being divisive through boycotts" when he knows full well that this is the usual distraction employed by Israel lobbyists to neutralise any required action being taken, allowing Israel a free reign to continue its frenzied settlement expansion, using architecture and its applied apartheid legislation to ensure the separation of the Israeli and Palestinian communities, while stealing their land and homes, and confining them into enclaves and in the case of Gaza, a high security prison. This is not the time for the RIBA "to promote dialogue and mutual recognition between parties" when one party is the oppressor intent on keeping the other party in a state of perpetual oppression and under its iron fist.This is not a case of "communities in civil conflict or natural disaster". It is a brutal unending occupation and a series of horrendous man-made disaster that must be ended. In fact those behind the 19 March Resolution are answering the call from the Palestinian civil society for the international community to send a message to the recalcitrant Israelis that there is a price to pay for the decades of impunity and their devastated lives, by proposing that " exclusion and sanction" is the only non-violent means left to change the situation, ultimately achieving justice and peace. Those Israeli architects who do not work on projects in the occupied territories, still work within a very discriminatory set-up for Palestinian citizens of Israel, in housing, planning, home ownership and development, and as a body have never stopped practising or objecting to this scenario. If they were sincere, they would welcome such a move to suspend their ineffective association, and support the Palestinian architects in achieving true equality for their community. Instead of this delegation, which was set up to appease the Israel lobby, and is an arrogant and colonial approach to a very clear cut situation that needs urgent action, the RIBA and its council should move forward to fulfil its real remit, and progress the 19 March Council Resolution, based on very clear cut and expert opinion and overwhelming evidence by Israeli architects like Eyal Weizman, Israeli human rights organisations like B'Tselem and ICAHD, and of course international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions. It is Dan Leon, the Constructive Dialogue crowd, and the International Committee who are the amateurs in this case, out of their depth in this serious case of needing upholding the professional ethics of architecture and the RIBA, instead of producing counterproductive measures that waste the resources of the RIBA, and prevent rather than enhance progress.

  • Comment on: RIBA Council members travel to Israel and Palestine for talks on settlements

    Abe Hayeem's comment 12-Nov-2014 2:11 pm

    Lior Broche -as usual perpetuating a discussion by leading off into irrelevance and distortion. There is no precise prescription that the RIBA has to follow. It can indeed look at reform of the planning system as well as its international responsibilities -that is why it is a member of the UIA. It must promote good architecture anywhere, and especially professional and ethical codes, which Israeli architectural practice is fundamentally in breach of, since it based on the privilege and benefit of one section of the population, to the detriment and dispossession of the other half. This extends to 1948, and before, where Israel's cities and towns are built over the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages and 93% of land owned by Palestinians that now constitute Israel. The discriminatory planning system that prevents Palestinian citizens of Israel from extending their homes, or even building outside 'blue-line' designated areas, or even to bring services to unrecognised villages have never been protested about by those architects not building in occupied (not disputed) territories. Stop projecting them as victims. It is the Palestinians in Israel and the OPTs and blockaded Gaza who are under siege -who are the victims and targets of the 'campaigns of hate' by Israel's extreme ultra right government and its rampaging settlers and the IDF. It is difficult to see where one could reason with you - I suggest you best spend your time reading Eyal Weizman, or check some of the Israeli websites like ICAHD, IR Amim, B'Tselem to get your facts straightened out -instead of projecting Israeli hasbara.

  • Comment on: RIBA Council members travel to Israel and Palestine for talks on settlements

    Abe Hayeem's comment 11-Nov-2014 10:10 am

    Lior Broche: this is not a delusional campaign at all. It is very clearheaded, and carefully considered, and not directed to 'bash Israel" but because the RIBA has to answer the call of Palestinians to support them in their impossible struggle for justice in taking a stand on the issue that is at the heart of this ongoing crisis, which is the land-grab and settlement-building in which architects and planners are directly involved. The usual "whataboutery" citing all the countries with human rights abuses, is used to divert the issue with accusations of anti-Semitism, absurd when so many of those who support this action are Jewish and many are Israelis. In fact it is Eyal Weizman who has been most eloquent on this, and his statement was published in the AJ. To quote him "The duties of professional organizations such as the International Union of Architects and the Royal Institute of British Architects are not only to promote design excellence but also the political and ethical implications of architecture, in the UK and internationally. Such organizations must thus confront violations of human rights and international law, especially when these violations are undertaken by architects and through architecture. The Israeli regime of military occupation is in violation of international law including the Geneva Convention and human rights laws and regulations. This is accepted by virtually all international bodies including the International Court of Justice, the UN, the EU amongst others. In the context of Israel’s occupation, architecture — employed for the construction of settlements, segregated roadways, industrial zones, and the wall — is the very means by which these violations are perpetrated. Israeli construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is undertaken upon land illegally seized from its private or public owners. It squeezes out Palestinian communities, robbing them of their resources and water, and cutting them apart from each other. The architecture of Israel’s occupation is an ongoing form of violence that must be stopped. While not all members of the Israel Association of United Architects are involved in building in Occupied Palestinian Territories and many may be against such actions — as an organization it must take an ethical and legal stand, but it has not. Anyone who has seen the built realities of Israel’s occupation would understand that this stand is also professional. Architects should be pained to see the beautiful and fragile landscape of the West Bank ruined by a form of architecture that is as careless as it is criminal." Israel's architects are uniquely involved with state and military policy -more than any country in the world. It is singled out because it claims to be "the only democracy in the Middle East" and yet behaves as a brutal police state -becoming even more out of control, because the US and UK have re-inforced their complete impunity to international law, while paying lip-service in condemnation of its war crimes and land-grabs -stolen from Palestinians, making their supposed state impossible.The UK too bears a responsibility for creating the Zionist state, starting from the Balfour Declaration. So it seems quite logical now for the RIBA to do something, and for those Israeli architects, who oppose the illegal actions of its government, to actually support this action -which in fact against the AIUA as an institution, and not individual architects. As Eyal Weizman says, echoing Desmond Tutu "Non-intervention in this context is not neutral but the taking of a political position for the violent status quo by default".

  • Comment on: RIBA Council members travel to Israel and Palestine for talks on settlements

    Abe Hayeem's comment 8-Nov-2014 11:10 pm

    In answer to Lior Broch above, this is a matter of professional ethics that is the responsibility of architects internationally to take up, as the UIA Article 10(1) explicitly requires. Yes it has political implications, because this is a unique case where architects are carrying out state and military policy of building illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land against international law and the 4thGeneva Convention -these are equivalent to war crimes and constitute grave professional misconduct. Despite the UIA spefically condemning such projects in its Resolution 13, repeatedly at General Assemblies, Israel's architects association (IAUA) has insisted (again contrary to UIA Article (1)4 which states that an architects' institution must ensure its members do not practice illegally) that it will not interfere or censure its architects building in illegally occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank on land acquired by force and violence. This has all been well documented by Eyal Weizman and Rafi Segal in their iconic books "A Civilian Occupation" and "Hollow Land" and exhaustive reports by B'Tselem, Israel's human rights organisation. The 19 March RIBA Resolution was based on a deep understanding of the history of the Region, was strongly supported by many influential architects and was democratically debated in voted through by Council, It was the responsibility of Council to see it through at the UIA General Assembly in Durban, and it was backed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu -no less. Instead, due to pressure both from Israel and the Lobby here, both the UIA and the RIBA neglected their duty and responsibility to take action on suspending the IAUA from the UIA, not because it is "fashionable to bash Israel" but because of its 5 decades-long occupation and horrendous brutality and racism -perpetrated by the architecture and planning of the land grabs and illegal settlements, and the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and Bedouin in the Negev and the West Bank. While Palestinian citizens of Israel posses some of the trappings of democracy, they are also subject to apartheid laws that in fact prevent them from living or owning property in 93% of Israel due to the Land Aquisition Acts and the Laws of Absentee Property . They cannot live in Israeli community housing, by the recently passed Admission Laws, and are constantly subject to harrasment, accused of being 5th Columnists, and its MKs subject to threats of expulsion. The Palestinians on the Occupied West Bank are subject to a more serious form of apartheid than South Africa, as has been well documented worldwide. Yes other countries like China need investigation -but that does not prevent the RIBA from taking up one of the most unjust crimes against a people of our time. Apropos the misguided delegation of the International Committee, this relates to, and tries to deflect from the 19 March Resolution, which is about the unacceptable professional practice of architecture. Israelis and Palestinians are not equal stakeholders in this issue . The RIBA should not be setting itself up as a 'mediator' which brings this into a political field which was so decried when the Motion was proposed. This is muddying the waters in what a clearly defined professional issue. In fact this delegation and its proposal are very damaging to the solution of this situation by neutralising it - in essence making sure that Israel's architects, who have collaborated and are an integral part of the occupation and colonisation, and who have never protested as an association against these crimes, are let off with 'dialoguing', and keeping the Palestinians in the same servitude -but offering them a few scholarships or educational advice -in effect accepting status quo of the occupation and making sure that real change, as requested by the Palestinians in applying pressure, boycotts and sanctions, will be made more difficult. Taking the previous action that the RIBA took against South African schools, it is as if instead of cutting its links with the schools, it made them more secure by visiting them and also the ANC and trying to 'mediate' between the two unequal sides, while ignoring the call for Boycotts by the ANC. This delegation is a colonial and arrogant approach which should be exposed, and it made clear that it is completely misdirected and damaging to the cause of helping the Palestinians to self-determination by applying world pressure on the intractable Israelis, by breaking institutional links with those professionals who are creating and underpinning the whole basis of the occupation, which is creating the facts on the ground. The 19 March Resolution still holds and must be pursued.

  • Comment on: Growing pressure on RIBA over 'dismissed' Israel motion

    Abe Hayeem's comment 23-Jul-2014 4:21 pm

    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.

  • Comment on: RIBA sets up global ethics group following Israel controversy

    Abe Hayeem's comment 23-Jun-2014 12:45 pm

    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.

  • Comment on: Adjaye's $60m Harlem affordable homes close to completion

    Abe Hayeem's comment 12-Jun-2014 3:40 pm

    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?

  • Comment on: Stephen Hodder in bid to draw a line under Israeli settlements row

    Abe Hayeem's comment 12-Jun-2014 1:34 pm

    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.

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