Famed Jewish Architects Slam RIBA Anti-Israel Motion
The most renowned Jewish architects in the world are coming out to protest a motion to suspend Israeli architects from the International Architects Union, the UK’s Architect’s Journal reported on Thursday.
The sector magazine featured statements from Daniel Libeskind, who designed both the Berlin and Copenhagen Jewish Museums; Richard Meier, who created the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Center and the Getty Center, both in Los Angeles; and Rick Bell, executive director of AIA New York who worked in the public sector before heading the AIA national staff association, CACE, and representing it on the AIA national board.
The architects were protesting a motion approved by the Royal Institute of British Architects, and condemned last month by Jewish human rights group The Simon Wiesenthal Center for allowing “itself to become the victim of an extremist group of spoilers that use tactics redolent of the Nazis’ 1930s boycott campaign, ‘Kaufen Nicht bei Juden‘ – ‘Do Not Buy from Jews.'”
The motion, proposed by Angela Brady, RIBA’s former head, is against the Israeli Association of United Architects — comprising over 7,000 Jewish and Arab Israeli members — because members of the association work as architects in Judea and Samaria, known as the West Bank. The RIBA motion is being criticized for punishing architects who have no say in the outcome of Israel’s political affairs.
On Thursday, Architect’s Journal quoted Libeskind as saying, “I am disappointed to learn of this action, especially from such a well-regarded institution as the RIBA. This decision seems to be completely counter to the mission of the RIBA; these actions are short-sighted and appear to be an attempt to simplify a very complex issue.”
Bell, executive director of AIA New York, which has 5,200 members, described the motion as “absurd,” and said, “I wish this had not happened and, on behalf of the AIA New York, I wish it would go away.”
“The idea that RIBA and the UIA could actively influence events through a resolution is patently absurd. World politics is played out on a much bigger stage,” Bell said. “As a Jew and a non-Zionist this [RIBA motion] is regrettable and I strongly believe this is an issue that RIBA should not be pushing.”
Last week, Meier wrote to RIBA president Stephen Hodder: “I find this incredible that the RIBA which I thought of as being an extremely honorable institution would vote or agitate for sanctions against Israel. I and many, many other architects here in New York condemn this action and sincerely hope that it would be reversed.”
A RIBA spokesman said that Hodder would not be commenting on the situation and added that a reversal of the motion, which will be voted on at the UIA conference in Durban, South Africa in August, “was not being considered” and “was not something that Stephen would do.”