A powerful group of prominent British architects have demanded that apartheid Israelâs architects and planners âend their indifference and blindness to the political implications of their professional work and ethicsâ.
In a petition presented to the Israeli Association of Architects (IAUA) leading names in British architecture, including RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) president Jack Pringle and celebrated architects Will Alsop and Terry Farrell accused their Israeli counterparts of complicity in the social, political and economic oppression of Palestinians through their contributions to the design and construction of Israeli settlements and the Apartheid wall.
The petition specifically focuses on three cases highlighting some of the core policies of Zionism with the example of Jerusalem, the Palestinian capital. The village of Silwan in East Jerusalem is focused on as the Occupation threatens massive home demolitions to the historic Palestinian population with the aim of replacing them with Jewish settlers as part of its plans to ethnically cleanse the city of its native population. It further denounces the E1 plan for the expansion of the settlement Ma’ale Adumim and thus the continuous theft and colonization of Palestinian land. Lastly, the case of the former Palestinian village of Lifta in the surroundings of Jerusalem is raised. Lifta was ethnically cleansed during the large scale expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 which entailed the destruction of some 530 villages. While many of its inhabitants are living only miles away, its Palestinian population was barred from their right to return and now the ruins of the village are to be turned into a luxury suburb for US Zionist settlers.
The petition was organised by the group Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP; www.apjp.org), an international pressure group of design professionals. Last year the group considered a boycott to target Israeli-made construction materials and Israeli architectural and construction companies.
Against the rebukes from the Occupationâs architects association, the petition organiser and APJP chair Abe Hayeem, a London-based architect, said architects would not be deterred from backing causes they supported.