UK architects petition against Israel
Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine signs dozens of leading British architects to petition condemning Israeli 'oppression of Palestinians'; group accuses Israeli architects of complicity in 'unjust action' as illegal settlements 'couldn't have been realized without their help'
The petition was initiated by a group calling itself Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP), which managed to recruit the Royal Institute of British Architects Jack Pringle as well as many of the UK's top architects to sign the document.
Referring to the construction of Israeli communities in places where there were previously Palestinian villages, the group writes: "Israeli architects and planners, knowingly or not, have become a part of this situation. Israeli settlements built after the 1967 War, considered illegal under international law, could not have been realized without their help."
In an interview with the Guardian published Saturday, a spokesperson for the group said the "complicity" of Israeli architects was "clearly unethical, immoral and contravene(s) universally recognized professional codes of conduct."
"We ask the Israeli Association of United Architects (IAUA) to meet their professional obligations to declare their opposition to this inhuman occupation," he said.
Architect Will Alsop told Building Design magazine that he and his colleagues felt compelled to act. "This is not against Israel, it's for Palestine," he said. "I think the Palestinians are living in a prison. I'd like fellow colleagues in Israel to feel some responsibility about this shabby treatment. Architects are a fairly humanitarian lot and perhaps they could help."
The petition was harshly received by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Its chief executive Jon Benjamin said: "What they are saying is that they have a certain view and that Israeli architects must publicly declare that to be their position as well."
Benjamin added that it would be more beneficial to "encourage the two sides to work together".
The architects' lobby is the latest in a series of petitions by British academics that have come out against Israel with severity, and even launched a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.