Jewish Chronicle called out on charge of RIBA antisemitism

March 30, 2014
Sarah Benton


The RIBA HQ in Portland Place, London

This posting has these items:

1) Statement from JfJfP;
2) Richard Kuper: Absurd, malign and plain wrong, unpublished letter from Richard Kuper for JfJfP;
3) JC letter: RE: “Architects of Hate”, letter from Abe Hayeem, published with one omission;
4) RIBA V-P: A complex decision but not antisemitic, letter from Peter Oborn, published;
5) JC: Israeli architects ask David Cameron to block RIBA boycott, Marcus Dysch on Israeli architects with misguided beliefs on powers of a British PM;
6) JPost: Israeli architects appeal to Foreign Ministry, Britain against boycott threat, ditto, though it’s a propaganda point as it also makes a rhetorical link to women’s rights;
7) Jews sans frontieres: Bar Mitzvahs and Boycotts, welcomes the RIBA decision and points out the popularity of their building (photo above) for bar/bat mitzvahs;
8 – JC editorial: Boycott hypocrites, having read the above, the JC calls on the faithful to boycott the RIBA ;

jfjfpX150  Statement from JfJfP

JfJfP applauds the British architects’ organisation (RIBA) vote to call on the International Union of Architects (IUA) to suspend Israel’s architects’ organisation, the IAUA, for the central role it, and its members, play in creating the “facts on the ground” that have set in concrete Israel’s takeover of the West Bank and the displacement of Palestinian. This vote comes after repeated reminders by the UIA to the IAUA of its ethical policy, and five years of unheeded requests for the Israeli body to answer for itself.

The siting, design, landscaping, infrastructure and building of over 120 exclusive and segregated settlements and towns, housing half a million Jewish Israelis and not one Palestinian, could not have happened without the full complicity of the professional organisation of Israeli Architects, in contravention of international architects’ ethical standards and international law. The Settlements are illegal and constitute a war crime.

We are appalled at the editorial in the Jewish Chronicle headlined “Architects of Hate” which says that “Jews” are to be “banned from joining” the IUA: “Be in no doubt” it declaims “the Royal Institute of British Architects is now officially antisemitic. … “

The RIBA did not, as the JC claims, arbitrarily “single out” the Jewish state, or individual Jews, for censure. It called for the IUA “as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects, until it acts to resist these illegal projects, and observes international law, and the UIA Accords ….”

No Jewish architect is to be censured or banned, nor is the Israeli architects’ union to be suspended for ever, or for being Jewish (or Israeli) but until it conforms with the same IUA standards that other countries’ associations are expected to meet.

The editorial accuses the RIBA of “Jew hatred” on the grounds of Israel’s claim to be “the Jewish state”. We do not accept that the State of Israel represents Judaism or speaks for the five-plus million Jews worldwide who do not live in Israel, or that Israel’s claim to be “the Jewish state” has any validity in international law, or that political action against those implicated in Israel’s abuses of human rights is anti-semitic.

Being unable to defend the IAUA you are reduced to howling “anti-semitism” and “Jew hatred”, to crying wolf, which devalues the most serious of principles.

JfJfP Executive Committee.

Absurd, malign and plain wrong

From Richard Kuper, unpublished

The Editor, JC

March 24, 2014

Marcus Dysch reported fairly (JC, 20 March) on the Royal Institute of British Architects’ (RIBA’s) resolution concerning the Israeli Association of United Architects.

This resolution concerns the building of illegal settlements in occupied territory in violation of Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention. It refers to previous resolutions, in 2005 and 2009, which the Israeli Association of United Architects has not complied with. As a consequence it calls for suspension of that Association from the international body, the International Union of Architects.

We have no problem with this resolution. You may not like the decision. You may even dispute whether the territories are occupied – though the overwhelming international consensus is that they are. You say it singles out Israel. If there are architects’ associations in other countries complicit in illegal projects arising from other comparable occupations we would welcome similar motions concerning them.

To treat this decision as “Jew hatred” as your editorial in the same issue does and to accuse Riba of being “now officially antisemitic” is absurd, malign and plain wrong. It is also dangerous. If concerns about violations of international law expressed in careful and measured tones over many years are to be called antisemitic, it is hard to know what isn’t. You deprive the term of all meaning and thus undermine the struggle against genuine actually existing antisemitism which is a concern to us all.

Richard Kuper

Jews for Justice for Palestinians

RE: “Architects of Hate” and “Architects back suspension of Israelis from international union”

From Abe Hayeem (Published March 28 except for phrase in italics)

23 March 2014


Israel’s impunity to worldwide condemnation of its ongoing breaches of international law [and demands for exceptionality in its continuing war crimes against the Palestinian people] is well known. Israel’s architects’ association (IAUA) has ignored its members’ decades-long complicity in pursuing Israel’s state and military policy in the vast illegal settlement enterprise in the Occupied Territories, breaking international law and contravening the professional ethics and accords laid down by the International Union of Architects (IUA).

The IUA (and the RIBA) suspended South Africa’s Association of Architects during its apartheid regime. For the JC editorial “Architects of Hate” to accuse the RIBA to be officially anti-Semitic, and of Jew hatred because the Council voted to support the suspension of the Israeli Architects’ Association (IAUA) from the (IUA) is ridiculous.

It willy-nilly conflates all Jews with Israel, irrespective of nationality and identity. It’s more or less saying that Israel can never be held to account for its illegal and immoral behaviour, because any criticism is anti-Semitic, because it’s against Israelis and thus Jews (forgetting that 20% of Israelis are not Jewish) It also implies that the IUA is seeking to ban all Jews from its organization.

Instead of these wild conspiracy allegations, the JC should make its readers aware that the RIBA has among the highest reputation as a democratic, multicultural and professional organization in the world. The suspension decision was democratically debated and a creditable outcome that is salutary for Israel to hear and to alter its unacceptable behaviour. It has prominent Jewish architects as members, and in Council. This Motion for the IAUA’s suspension also has the support of many Jewish and Israeli architects concerned with Jewish and universal moral values and ethics.

Abe Hayeem, RIBA

Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine.

A complex decision but not antisemitic


From RIBA Vice-President (published)

In response to your article “Architects vote to bar Israel” (News, March 21), I should like to explain the context in which this motion came to be debated at the RIBA Council.

The motion was brought to Council by past president Angela Brady, following previous resolutions within the International Union of Architects. The proposal had been discussed by our international committee some weeks previously and the committee had concluded that such a sanction would not be appropriate and was unlikely to make a constructive contribution to the wider discussion.

Despite the fact that I and several others spoke against the motion at Council, it was carried with 23 members voting for, 16 against and 10 abstentions, perhaps reflecting the complexity of the issue and the variety of views held.

While I was disappointed that the motion was passed it is simply wrong of you to have written that the Institute is in any way antisemitic, as your leader suggests. This is certainly not the case. I intend to engage with the Israeli association in order to better understand its position on this important matter.

Peter Oborn

RIBA Vice-President

Israeli architects ask David Cameron to block RIBA boycott

By Marcus Dysch, Jewish Chronicle

March 27, 2014

Israeli architects have appealed to David Cameron to intervene in the row over British efforts to have them thrown out of their international union.

The Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has also approached Israel’s Foreign Ministry for assistance.

Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) members last week voted through a proposal by its former president Angela Brady urging the International Union of Architects (IAU) to suspend Israeli members until “illegal projects” in the West Bank cease.

Itzhak Lipovetzky, head of foreign relations at the IAUA, said: “When the British prime minister was here, he promised not to boycott Israel. This was his statement in front of the Knesset.”

Riba’s move was condemned by the British Council, which said the motion did not reflect the views of the profession.

Vicky Richardson, the Council’s director of architecture, design and fashion, said: “Many architects rightly see this as divisive and unhelpful.

“It’s better to let architects choose who they want to work with and keep international links and communication open. Boycotts close off discussion and debate.”

Stephen Games, founder of the New Premises architecture think-tank, said Riba would face calls for it to be stripped of its royal charter as a result of its actions.

Mr Games wrote to Riba president Stephen Hodder following the vote and described the institute’s actions as both “antisemitic” and a “disgrace”.

“The Riba is not a political body, it has no special insight into the dispute, nor is there anything in its constitution that should lead it to be partisan. The proper role is to preserve neutrality. To do otherwise is to act outside its mandate as a royal body,” wrote Mr Games.

He said the organisation risked “emerging not as a body that supports Palestinians but as a body with an in-built and unprincipled prejudice against Israel and legitimate Jewish aspiration”.

Riba denied the organisation was “in any way antisemitic” and said in a statement that its international committee would discuss the issue with the IAUA “in order to better understand its position on this important matter”.

Mr Hodder is expected to meet Mr Games and pro-Israel architects next month.

Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre wrote to the IAU claiming Riba had “allowed itself to become the victim of an extremist group of spoilers that use tactics redolent of the Nazis’ 1930s boycott campaign”.

He questioned why similar action had not been taken against IAU members from countries with poor human rights records and ongoing political disputes, including China, North Korea, Sudan and Turkey.

Dozens of British architecture firms work in those countries. Riba itself signed an agreement with two Libyan groups earlier this month.

Dr Samuels said the IAU should reject Riba’s campaign and avoid being “hijacked by political agitators”.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland passed a similar motion the week before Riba.

Abe Hayeem, chairman of Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP), which supported the motion, said Riba and Rias had “sent a clear message and struck a blow for the integrity and ethical practice of our profession”.

The IAU did not respond to requests for clarification on whether it would suspend Israeli members, or what action it would now take.

Israeli architects appeal to Foreign Ministry, Britain against boycott threat

It’s hypocritical for the Royal Institute of British Architects to suspend Israel’s participation when it works in countries without women’s rights.

By Tovah Lazaroff, JPost

March 25, 2014

Israeli architects have appealed to the Foreign Ministry and the British government to help prevent the International Union of Architects from suspending their membership in the worldwide organization over the issue of West Bank settlements.

The Israeli Association of United Architects has turned to the two governments after it was targeted by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

“When the British prime minister [David Cameron] was here, he promised not to boycott Israel. This was his statement in front of the Knesset,” Israeli architect Itzhak Lipovetzky said.

Lipovetzky is in charge of foreign relations for the Israeli association and is sending a letter on its behalf directly to Cameron.

The letter comes in response to a March 19 vote by the Royal Institute of British Architects to call on the International Union of Architects (UIA) to suspend Israel’s membership.

In a statement it posted on its website, the institute said it had called for the suspension because the Israeli architects had failed to “act to resist projects on illegally occupied land and [failed to] observe international law and accords.”

The vote was 23 to 16 with 10 abstentions.

This request, the Royal Institute of British Architects said, was in line with UIA Council resolutions approved in 2005 and 2009 to condemn “development projects and the construction of buildings on land that has been ethnically purified or illegally appropriated, and projects based on regulations that are ethnically or culturally discriminatory.”

In both years it also condemned “all action contravening the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Last week the British institute said Israel had disregarded these resolutions.

Lipovetzky said that the British institute had sent the Israeli association a letter last month in advance of the vote.

His organization is targeted by international groups wanting to boycott Israel, because they are involved in the construction industry, Lipovetzky said.

“We are getting a lot of letters of this kind,” he added.

Lipovetzky said he had been in touch with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, which had helped the Israeli architects thwart a similar threat from their British counterparts a number of years ago.

“But now the Foreign Ministry is on strike,” he said.

Both he and the Israeli organization’s president, Prof. Baruch Baruch, said the organization does not have a project in the West Bank. But its membership is diverse and represents all segments of Israeli society, including those living on both sides of the pre-1967 lines.

“This is a democratic and nonpolitical organization. There are members of the organization who are working in the West Bank, and of course there are others who are not. There are a lot of opinions for and against,” Baruch said.

The energy that has been invested in boycotts as a political tool should be spent instead on mutual Israeli-Palestinian projects, Baruch said.

Lipovetzky said that the Israeli organization’s members had good relations with their Palestinian colleagues.

He recalled that five years ago it tried to bring French architects to Gaza, but that Hamas had blocked its efforts.

Baruch added that it was hypocritical of the British institute to focus on suspending Israel’s UIA participation when its own members work in countries that do not offer women rights.

The UIA said it was unclear what action, if any, would be taken. But it added that the Israeli architects could be suspended from the universal organization only by a vote of the 130-member body, which is next scheduled to meet in August in Durban, South Africa.

Bar Mitzvahs and Boycotts

Jews sans frontieres

March 24, 2014

First the good news: the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has voted to call on the International Union of Architects (UIA) to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA). Here’s the resolution:

Since the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) has paid no regard to the UIA resolution 13 of 2005 and 2009, the RIBA calls on the UIA, as the international guardian of professional and ethical standards in our profession, to suspend the membership of the Israeli Association of United Architects, until it acts to resist these illegal projects, and observes international law, the UIA Accords and Resolution 13.

The Jewish Chronicle’s report on the motion was surprisingly factual but the editorial is lunacy itself:

Be in no doubt. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is now officially antisemitic. On Wednesday, it voted to support a ban on Jews from joining the International Union of Architects. It didn’t put it quite like that, of course. The wording of its motion referred to ‘Israelis’ rather than ‘Jews’. But in singling out the Jewish state for opprobrium, over and above every other nation on earth, and in seeking to ban Jews — sorry, Israelis — from membership, the driving force behind both the BDS campaign and its RIBA conspirators is clear. Jew hatred lives on in RIBA.

Actually the motion doesn’t refer to “Israelis” but to “the Israeli Association of United Architects” and for reasons it makes clear.

Now it’s no surprise to see false allegations of “Jew hatred” in the JC but when I looked for RIBA in the JC’s search bar look what I found:

JFS student celebrates his barmitzvah with an art exhibit

By Zoe Winograd, January 11, 2013

Some barmitzvah boys ask for Beyoncé. But JFS pupil Ethan Djanogly is marking his barmitzvah next month with an art show — at the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Ethan is a passionate photographer and his parents have helped him stage his first exhibition, with 25 of his pictures going on show at RIBA in central London. His barmitzvah reception will be held at RIBA, too.

Some Jew haters they turned out to be. I gather RIBA is still open for bar and bat mitzvahs, it just won’t be collaborating with war criminals in future. Apparently some, probably most, people at the JC can’t tell the difference.

Boycott hypocrites

Editorial, Jewish Chronicle

March 27, 2014

Last week we pointed out that the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is now officially antisemitic, having voted to support a ban on Jews — or Israelis, as the motion put it — from joining the International Union of Architects.

Needless to say, those who supported the vote leapt up and down with indignation that we should dare confuse their singling out of the Jewish state for a boycott, alone of all the nations on the planet, with antisemitism. We print two such letters on this page.

Readers will, of course, judge for themselves the motives behind the boycott campaign. But we venture to suggest that the “light and airy spaces [which] are perfect for your Bar and Bat Mitzvah”, as RIBA’s website advertises its facilities, may not see many more bookings.

[The] RIBA, it seems, is still happy to take our money — and even to let Jews through the front door. It just doesn’t want Jews who happen to be Israeli to be allowed to join.

© Copyright JFJFP 2024