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Israeli architect defends RIBA’s motion


Israeli architect and professor at Goldsmiths University Eyal Weizman has defended the RIBA’s decision to call on the International Architects Union to suspend the Israeli professional body

Weizman is one of 65 academics, cultural and political figures backing the RIBA’s stance on the motion calling for the suspension of Israeli architects from the International Architects Union (UIA).

Comment in full

Eyal Weizman

‘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 rather 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 such 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 pain 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. 

‘At a time when political negotiations seem to be shipwrecked, forms of civil non-violent action are the only avenue left to help Israelis and Palestinians escape this pathway of mutual destruction. 

‘The accusations of antisemitism against RIBA, predictable as they might be, are offensive to both Jewish and non-Jewish signatories of this initiative, to those of us committed to peace there and those of us working for social and spatial justice in other places. Worse, they willfully invert perpetrator and victim, divert the discussion from the ongoing suffering, theft and violence enacted through the architecture employed in the context of Israel’s occupation, and close an avenue for a better and more hopeful future.

‘Our initiative is undertaken by people closely familiar with and deeply respectful of the place and its people. Non-intervention in this context is not neutral but the taking of a political position for the violent status quo by default.’ 

The motion which was adopted by RIBA Council on 19 March, claimed that the IAUA had paid no regard to the UIA Resolution 13 of 2005 and had failed to condemn Israeli architects who helped sustain Israel’s policy to allow Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory.



Readers' comments (4)

  • I can't recall the last time I read such unadulterated garbage. Mr Weizman is either ignorant of the facts or is prejudiced. Either way, he is simply a PPP (Palestinian-Propaganda Parrot).

    He claims that the Geneva Convention is an international law. It isn't. It's a convention. The hint is in the title.

    He makes broad claims about the EU, the UN and the International Court of Justice - none of which have international law-making powers - but he neglects to mention that not everyone accepts what these bodies have to say on various matters.

    But the worst element of his rant is that he fails to place the situation in context. Israel only has security control of the West Bank by agreement with the Jordanian government (1994) who ruled it until Israel captured it in the 1967 war when Israel was attacked by 5 Arab nations who were hell-bent on the total destruction and elimination of Israel - a sovereign state established by the United Nations ratification in 1947 of the 1924 League of Nations San Remo Agreement which divided up the Ottoman Empire and created other states such as Syria and Transjordan.

    For an Israeli not to know this demonstrates ignorance beyond belief. To know it but to fail to mention it is nothing more than pure prejudice.

    Mr Weizman also fails to mention that Israel has offered to hand back land captured in war in return for peace and security on several occasions - in keeping with UN Resolution 242 - but the Arab nations have rejected it. Hence a continuing state of war

    And of course he makes no mention of the statements made by President Mahmoud Abbas in which he refuses on behalf of the 'Palestinian' people to allow Israel to exists; where he makes it quite clear that no Jews will be allowed to live in the state of Palestine should it ever become a reality as opposed to an aspiration. But perhaps Mr Weizman supports ethnic cleansing if it's Jews that are being cleansed.

    And there's no mention of the Hamas Charter which calls for the total destruction of Israel and the murder of all Jews worldwide. But again maybe Mr Weizman is prepared to support genocide as long as it's Jews who are being killed. (Is he one, I wonder? If so, will he be safe if Hamas gets its way?))

    Mr Weizman claims to be concerned about the abuse of human rights but is strangely silent on the subject of the persecution of Christians, the execution of homosexuals, the stoning to death of 'adulteresses', paedophilic marriages etc etc - all of which are commonplace in the Arab/Muslim world. And I don't recall him speaking out against China's occupation of Tibet or Turkey's occupation of Cyprus or any other such land-grab..

    As for him finding the accusation of 'antisemitism' offensive, let me explain. There is one country - and only one country - in the world designated by the League of Nations and ratified by the United Nations as the homeland for the Jews. When you attack that country and only that country to the exclusion of all others where iniquities and atrocities are part of daily life, it's quite reasonable to regard the rationale behind such attacks as antisemitism. What other reason could it possibly be? I'd love to know how Mr Weizman and the RIBA can condemn and call for action against Israel while staying silent on Syria or Saudi Arabia or Iran or any other country where human rights are abused on a daily basis.

    by Not That Ed Miliband

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  • "The Israeli regime of military occupation is in violation of international law".

    Arrant nonsense from Mr Weizman.

    Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention states “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. No court of law has ever found Israel to be in breach of this Article. The Article was written after WW2, when German and Russia forcibly transferred populations. Israel has not forced anyone to move into the West Bank, nor has it displaced local populations. In fact, the Palestinian population within the territories has increased dramatically.

    The International Court of Justice found in 2004 that Israel was in breach of the Geneva Convention. But this is not a conventional 'Court'. It is a creature of the UN General Assembly which has a permanent inbuilt anti-Israel majority. Israel has no representation among the Justices of this body.

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  • Has the real "Ed Miliband" been informed that the now "anonymous" person above, now calling themselves "by not that Ed Miliband" who fraudulently used Ed's name with his photograph, when we first saw this comment posted on line for over 24 hours? Can this anonymous person now name themselves please? or shall we call on AJ to name them? Why are AJ not taking this mockery seriously?

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  • Anyone passing themselves off as someone else should be exposed and identified for who they really are - the AJ is usually mercifully free of the 'faceless ones' so, please, could we have a bit of honesty?

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