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Headline

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

Comment

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".

Posted date

11 November, 2014

Posted time

10:10 am

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