Trending Topics:

British architects vote to ban Israeli group from industry association over expanding settlements

on 18 Comments
The Israeli settlement of Har Homa in East Jerusalem – Riba says the IAUA is complicit in 'land grabs, forced removals … and reinforcement of apartheid”. Photograph: Mahmoud Illean/Demotix/Corbis

The Israeli settlement of Har Homa in East Jerusalem – Riba says the IAUA is complicit in ‘land grabs, forced removals … and reinforcement of apartheid”. Photograph: Mahmoud Illean/Demotix/Corbis

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the UK’s leading architectural association, has passed a motion calling on the foremost architectural union in the world, The International Union of Architects (UIA) to suspend Israel’s Association of United Architects (IAUA) over Israel’s continued illegal settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The motion was based on a previous 2005 RIBA resolution condemning  “projects and the construction of buildings on land that has been ethnically purified or illegally appropriated”.

Harriet Sherwood reporting for The Guardian states this is an indication the boycott movement is growing and quotes BDS spokesperson Rafeef Ziadah:

…(Riba) has demanded the suspension of … (IAUA) from the international body, saying it is complicit in the construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and other violations of international law.

The former Riba president Angela Brady told a meeting of its council on Wednesday that failure to back the motion “would send a clear message to the world that we as an institution turn a blind eye or by inaction support what’s going on – land grabs, forced removals, killing the state and human rights, and reinforcement of apartheid”.

The motion – backed by 23 votes to 16, with 10 abstentions – was welcomed by the Palestinian BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement. It claims there is mounting international support for a boycott of Israel and points to an increasing number of companies disinvesting over fears of damaging their reputations.

“Architects and planners are central to Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land and the forced displacement of Palestinian people,” said Rafeef Zaidah [sic], of the Palestinian BDS national committee. “Given the complicity of the [IAUA] in Israel’s construction of illegal Israeli settlements, it is only right that it is excluded from international forums.”


Angela Brady

Angela Brady

The motion, initiated by RIBA’s former president Angela Brady, already has backing from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

RIBA’s Press Release:

RIBA Council motion calls on UIA to suspend Israeli Association of United Architects

RIBA Council yesterday (19 March 2014) passed a motion for the Institute to call on the International Union of Architects (UIA) to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects’ membership until it acts to resist projects on illegally-occupied land and observes international law and accords.

The RIBA Council vote was passed with 23 for, 16 against, 10 abstentions.

The full RIBA motion, proposed by RIBA Immediate Past President, Angela Brady, was:

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, and the UIA Accords and Resolution 13.

The UK’s Architectural Journal (AJ) claims Brady was “angered”  Israel’s association of architects hadn’t backed RIBA’s earlier resolution* nor had they condemned Israeli architects who “help sustain Israel’s policy to allow Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory”. But contrary to media reports Brady claims this is not a boycott.  Architectural Journal  quotes Brady:

 ‘It’s a great day for RIBA ethics in architecture. This was a focused motion at a key time -when the world wants this illegal building on occupied land by Israeli in Palestine to stop now – as it contravenes international law and Cameron, Obama and many others including all UN state this.

‘We have added our voice in a strong way. This was a sensitive debate for justice and to add positive value.

‘This is not a boycott this is the affirmation that in terms of the UIA code of ethics and professionalism, architects should not practice in occupied territory.

‘We as architects need to stand up for what is right. This will open the way for other similar issues to come forward.

….This is an instance where architects are culpable, perhaps they will listen to their fellow architects.’

Others see it differently.  The Guardian:

Prof Baruch Baruch of the IAUA said the decision was “astonishing”. He added: “I don’t think architects can be blamed for government policies. I don’t think boycotts will help to solve any of the problems in the Middle East.”

His organisation, which includes Israeli-Arab architects, was not complicit in settlement construction. “A lot of members are against settlements and building in the West Bank. They won’t be helped by a boycott.”

Calls to boycott Israeli institutions have bitterly divided academic bodies in the UK, US and elsewhere. European governments are under pressure from trade unions, NGOs, churches and other organisations to take a tougher stand on Israeli settlement produce.

Scarlett Johanssen’s celebrity endorsement of SodaStream, which has a factory in a West Bank settlement, caused an international furore earlier this year.

*UIA’s Resolution 13 passed in 2005 and 2009 states:

“The UIA Council condemns 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, and similarly it condemns all action contravening the fourth Geneva Convention”.





About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

Other posts by .

Posted In:

18 Responses

  1. MHughes976
    March 21, 2014, 1:47 pm

    It will be very interesting to see what the countermeasures are. The insistence that it is ‘not a boycott’ must be uttered with an eye on the now widely known advice from an eminent legal source to the Universities and Colleges Union that a boycott would be an illegal form of discrimination on grounds of nationality. Someone will be thinking of arguing in court that it does amount to a boycott and is illegal on those grounds. Someone else will be thinking that maybe at last this famous and highly influential legal advice, the main thing that has stopped British (perhaps to some extent pan-Euro) BDS in its tracks, will be discredited.

    • seafoid
      March 21, 2014, 1:59 pm

      RIBA RIBA andale

      • just
        March 21, 2014, 2:03 pm


        Super news– thanks Annie, and hurrah to Angela Brady!

      • annie
        March 21, 2014, 2:07 pm

        hurrah to Angela Brady!

        totally just ;)

    • March 22, 2014, 2:12 am

      good news just keeps rolling in.
      i just wish the brits had gone a step further and demanded the israeli architects have the ethical responsibility to tear down the illegally built structures that they have helped build

  2. Citizen
    March 21, 2014, 1:56 pm

    Re: ” a boycott would be an illegal form of discrimination on grounds of nationality”

    I guess they mean, unless the US government does it?

  3. American
    March 21, 2014, 1:59 pm

    Sometime soon there wont be enough courts to sue all the BDS’s in or enough prisons to hold us all.
    But I love the Zionist hubris in all this BDS squawking –the more they try to impose their will on populations the more populations will attack them for it.

  4. Chu
    March 21, 2014, 1:59 pm

    The house of mirrors is collapsing for Israel.

  5. seafoid
    March 21, 2014, 2:01 pm

    Israel’s architects and its torture doctors have done so much for the occupation.

  6. pabelmont
    March 21, 2014, 2:03 pm

    Boycotts inevitably cut too wide a swath. Innocents will be hurt. Same thing happens, BTW, when Israel (or USA) bombs specific targets and kills and injures and destroys so-called collateral victims. At least boycotts are non-lethal, even non-violent.

    Suppose the Israeli architects were now, as a consequence of boycott, to call (perhaps very secretly) on government for an end to new construction in occupied territories, or to openly refuse to work on such projects. As a single profession, their efforts would not be enough to make much difference. But if BDS cut more widely, then Israel might experience a sort of attack-by-1000-small-cuts. And, ohh!, those paper cuts do sting.

    And meanwhile, if a lot of Israeli architects did refuse to do work in OPTs, then the work would go to other, likely higher-priced, architects, and the business of building in OPTs would become that much more expensive initially (and of course, in a sense, more expensive when the time comes — if it does — to tear all the settlement buildings down).

  7. Ecru
    March 21, 2014, 2:20 pm

    Interesting comment by the Prof Baruch there,

    “…I don’t think architects can be blamed for government policies…

    True enough, at least if they don’t actually, you know, vote for them; but they can be blamed for helping carry those policies out.

    Would he I wonder be so quick to defend Karl Bischoff for example? After all he didn’t decide on the extermination of Jews, that was left to a much higher pay grade but he did work to make the policy a reality.

    • Philip Munger
      Philip Munger
      March 22, 2014, 1:10 am

      Baruch opens the door to:

      I don’t think prison guards can be blamed for government policies

      I don’t think cattle cars can be blamed for government policies

      I don’t think TNT (or thermonuclear bombs) can be blamed for government policies

      …. and so on

  8. libra
    March 21, 2014, 2:37 pm

    Judging from the photograph, Israeli architects should have long been banned purely on professional grounds.

  9. DaveS
    March 21, 2014, 2:58 pm

    It’s easy to get lost in this alphabet soup, but it appears that RIBA did not suspend IAUA from anything, but only recommended that UIA do so. As for the astonished Prof. Baruch, perhaps if the IAUA had not ignored the UIA’s resolution, but actually took a public stand against Israeli architects operating in the OPT, RIBA would not have made this recommendation. Instead, he apparently thinks that his organization’s lack of “complicity” in the settlements, which apparently means no more than taking no position, should insulate it from consequences. Wake up call.

  10. American
    March 21, 2014, 3:38 pm

    ”Time to silence BDS movement”

    Cleveland Jewish News: Op-eds (Ben Cohen) –

    “Let there be no ambiguity about this: The BDS movement is rapidly reaching a point where its violent, anti-democratic rhetoric could easily transition to physical violence. Many BDS supporters look like vegan hipsters, but don’t be deceived by appearances. That is one of the many reasons why I was glad to learn of the emergence of a new Jewish student movement named “Safe Hillel.” Founded by Boston University student Rafael Fils and Brandeis University student Daniel Mael, the group is a counterweight to the so-called “Open Hillel” movement – a group of leftwing Jewish students, including many anti-Zionists, who want campus Hillels to violate their established guidelines by hosting speakers who advocate BDS and other strategies that seek the destruction of Israel.”
    “In the final analysis, just as the vast majority of us would not include a Ku Klux Klan representative in a debate about race relations in America, neither should we accept the BDS movement as legitimate participants in debates about the Middle East. And as the storm clouds again gather over the Middle East, Jewish communities need to commit to shutting down the BDS movement as a foundational principle of our response in the Diaspora. As British Prime Minister David Cameron said in his March 12 speech to the Israeli Knesset, the delegitimization campaign against Israel is “abhorrent… together, we will defeat it.” Fighting words, and much-needed ones in the current environment.” >>>>

    o.k…do your best tubby.

    • ritzl
      March 21, 2014, 4:51 pm

      @American- Your link went to the home page, not to the article you cite, but as a an indication of what get’s published there:

      Gross Schechter Day School in Israel – Camel Riding (2013)

      Raw privilege. Zero circumspection. Zero self-awareness. Amazing how hermetic the cocoon is.

      • oneof5
        March 21, 2014, 5:47 pm

        ritzl sez:

        “Raw privilege. Zero circumspection. Zero self-awareness. Amazing how hermetic the cocoon is”.

        Is it any wonder ?

        From the Betar Wiki page:

        “Betar maintains a Shaliach in New York City and Cleveland, Ohio. The Cleveland chapter offers a fall and spring camp that is open to all cities. Betar offers summer and winter tours of Israel. It is one of the few movements that offer students a chance to visit the West Bank. Both programs allow students to spend time at Kedumin, Itamar, Alon Moreh, Sderot, East Jerusalem, and Hebron. They have officially adopted Kedumin as a sister city and spend an extensive time volunteering there. The winter tour is for college-age students and runs in late December.”

        They probably ain’t goin’ to the West Bank to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians …

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      March 21, 2014, 6:04 pm

      LOL. A fan of the ethnoreligious Apartheid state has the gall to compare people seeking freedom from oppression for Palestinians to the KKK. HA!! Cohen and his ilk are Klansmen in kippas, nothing more, nothing less.

      He is a disgrace to the USA.

Leave a Reply