Ex-British Land boss Ritblat urges RIBA to rethink Israel stance
Former British Land chairman John Ritblat and his art-patron wife Jill have told the RIBA ‘to stay out of politics’ in an attack on the institute’s resolution against the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA)
The pair, who are both RIBA honorary fellows, said the institute should not become ‘an engine for political manipulation or bias’ and criticised the recent motion calling for Israel to be suspended from the International Architects Union (UIA).
Adopted on 19 March, the motion tabled by past president Angela Brady followed the IAUA continued failure to punish architects breaching the UIA’s 2005 Resolution 13 which condemns the building of settlements on occupied land.
In an open letter sent to, among others RIBA president Stephen Hodder, Jill Ritblat said: ‘We both feel that the RIBA is not and should not be a political organisation.
‘My understanding is that it is meant to be a cultural and educational stronghold representing the best of British values in its field, and as such should not engage in actions that may be the opinion of some of its members, but are beyond its remit. It is an institutional ‘trade union’ for its members, and it is not an arbiter of either morality or opinion on race, creed or colour, or an engine for political manipulation or bias.’
Jill Ritblat, who is a former member of the RIBA British Architectural Trust Board, and her husband join a growing list of objectors to the resolution.
In April the institute’s own Solo Practitioners Group (SPG) came out against the motion (see AJ 03.04.14) as did the American Institute of Architects (AIA) – the US equivalent of RIBA (see AJ 17.04.14).
In response ex-institute president Brady said: ‘Some people see the RIBA as a club, others expect the RIBA to stand the moral ethical ground and be responsible architects for the good of society.’
Meanwhile it has also emerged that the resolution would not be debated, as hoped by the RIBA, at the UIA’s forthcoming annual congress in Durban, South Africa.
A spokeswoman for the UIA said: ‘[The expulsion] of the Israeli Association of United Architects, is not part of the next UIA General Assembly’s agenda.’