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Trade delegation mission to Israel and Palestine: profession reacts


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.

Posted date

21 November, 2014

Posted time

5:36 pm