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December 5, 2014 9:39 am

British Architects Reverse Israel Boycott Motion, in Severe Blow to BDS Movement

avatar by Ben Cohen

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RIBA Headquarters in central London: the institute has reversed a policy calling for the suspension of Israeli architects from an international body. Photo: Wikicommons.

In a major defeat for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, the leading association for British architects has rescinded its call for their Israeli counterparts to be suspended from an international association representing the profession.

“We got it wrong,” said Stephen Hodder, the president of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA,) after he confirmed that a RIBA motion passed in March urging that Israelis be barred from the International Union of Architects (UIA,) in protest at the building of “illegal settlements” in the West Bank, was no longer RIBA policy.

According to the London-based Jewish Chronicle, RIBA’s change of heart was triggered by warnings from its lawyers that the endorsement of a boycott of Israel could compromise the institute’s charitable status.

Financial concerns were another factor, as the boycott is said to have cost the institute  around $150,000 in lost revenue; many Jewish supporters of RIBA have cancelled bookings to use the institute’s impressive central London building for Bar Mitzvahs and similar events.

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Hodder emphasized that the policy change signaled a new, positive approach to international affairs on RIBA’s part. “For the Institute to have engaged in this issue in a confrontational way – by seeking suspension of the Israeli Association of United Architects from the UIA (the International Architects Union) – was wrong,” he said.

The pro-boycott motion passed in March was based, its proponents argued, on a motion passed by the UIA in 2009 condemning building on “ethnically purified or illegally appropriated” land. At a RIBA Council meeting yesterday, Angela Brady, one of the instigators of the original motion, argued that “refusing this motion would send a clear message to the world at large 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 vote to reverse the boycott motion carried by 23 votes to 16, the Jewish News reported.

RIBA spent much of November embroiled in a row over the boycott. Pro-Palestinian activists loudly protested the visit to Israel and the West Bank of RIBA international officials Peter Oborn and Sumita Sinha, which led Ahmed Edaily, the chairman of the Engineers Association Jerusalem Centre, to accuse the institute of “participating in war crimes.”

But Daniel Leon, a Jewish RIBA councilor who has actively opposed the boycott, accused Brady and other pro-boycott RIBA members of “prejudice,” pointing out that RIBA does not advocate a boycott of serial violators of human rights like Qatar, where over one thousand migrant workers have been killed constructing stadiums for the 2022 World Cup, with thousands more continuing to labor in appalling conditions.

“The motion was one-sided and prejudiced, singling out Israel as the biggest villain in the world, while RIBA members continue to work in China and Russia, and indeed Qatar and Syria, without sanction,” Leon said.

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  • Pingback: Israel’s right to live in peace – BDS and the big lie()

  • Tom 100

    Its about time to wake up against those Arab Muslim Palestinian who are working and together with that ISIS !
    They are trying to sale us only lies about Israel !
    The Arab Muslim world, they have 23 countries with more than 350 millions of people ! Israel is the only Jewish small country in that region with 8 million people only ! The Palestinian came into Israel from those Arab Muslim countries !

    think about that !

  • BDS against a professional organization speaks for pure bigotry unmitigated by objectivity or fairness. Likewise, when protestors attack the entire State of Israel, they are attacking each and every person within it, implicitly making the claim that they are each guilty of all the offences alleged, most of which have not been proven, and none of which apply to everyone. Are we to blame and boycott the entire UK for the imperialistic excesses of Britain around the globe? BDS is only another crude form of stereotyping.

  • Rifka Grace

    I thought about vacationing for the first time in London in the coming year, but I’m happy to revisit Israel instead.

  • Jews must continue to boycott them.

  • Paul Goodman

    Unfortunately this change is for the wrong reasons. RIBA is obviously scared of the repercussions to itself and has not had a change of heart regarding the legitimacy morality of the BDS.

  • Sylvia Adler

    money talks! One-sided and isolationist policy regarding Israel. Delighted the boycott has been rescinded

  • BUTSeriously

    What a sham. Briton will of course keep demanding never ending 2-states in the same tiny landmass and continue charging Israel as illegally occupying Israel. Hebron’s 4,000 year Hebrew name is now West Bank and a new place called EAST Jerusalem has been discovered. The truth is, unlike Britain, Israel has never occupied another peoples’ land in all her 4,000 year history. Britain is dumping bad baggage on otherwise good Christians.

  • Eliot Schickler

    Nice they could reverse course, but they need to make up for their actions! Stuff they can do is give Israel and Jews great deals, possibly free money to apologize for their misdeeds, and places sanctions on Qatar among other nations!

  • Josephine Goldman

    Good for you. Fight back!!

  • steven L

    Where is the BDS in the treatment of The Tibetan’s people? Where is the BDS on the treatment of Kurds by Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. Where is the BDS in Nigeria where Boko Haram is killing, raping etc. Where is BDS when it comes to ISIS? Where is the Western hypocritical world. Antisemitism has become for more than 2,000 years a core value of the white race and for 1,300 years a core value of the Muslims.
    We do not see that among Chinese, Indian, Korean, Japanese; only in people who have been contaminated by “Christianism” and Islam. It says something about these two religions and those who naively believe that they have escape their influence when becoming secular. Many among them also carry the genocidal antisemitic “gene”!

    • David Cohen

      Bravo. Well-reasoned response.

    • j thakray

      Oh such rubbish.

      Seriously.

      Half the organisations/ countries you mention are pariahs/ terror states/ criminal gangs.

      How do propose protesting Boko Haram? Boycotting Nigeria? That’s going to help.
      Iran et al, already have trade boycotts in place.

      Israel has the sponsorship, trade links and relations with the ‘Christianist’ West but like everything it comes with conditions. And we’re all subject to those terms, they’re not targeted at Israel.

      When South Africa created Apartheid they were boycotted by their white, ‘Christianist’ cousins, including, even, the Dutch.

      Anti semitism has nothing to do with it. It is about a feeling that Israel could go down a route which puts us I an untenable position. And we don’t actually want it to.

  • Abraham Lincoln

    To Angela Brady & Friends:

    “land grabs”-All of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, given by G-d as an eternal inheritance to Abraham, Isaac & Jacob and their progeny. And if you’re looking for land grabs—Arabs plant olives onto Jewish lands, put up buildings without any legal registrations, and commit murder of innocent civilians, Christians, Jews and Muslims!

    “forced removals” – removing thousands of Jewish families from Gush Katif and other Jewish communities has been an on-going ploy to trap Jews into sacrificing ‘land for peace’, which is a lie, since Arabs have never upheld any peace treaty ever. They are not interested in land at all–read their articles of incorporation: they only want to kill every Jew and push them into the sea. But note: in the meantime, they also slaughter Christians by the hundreds of thousands as well as kill their own moslem people, women, children in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, etc. Anyone who is in their way.

    “killing the state and human rights”-what does that even mean, ‘killing the state’? Anyone knows that arabs have the greatest human rights in Israel and the worst human rights in the moslem countries! Shame on the world; standing by silently while Christians are murdered in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon!

    “and reinforcement of apartheid”-I dare her to come to Israel and investigate the ‘apartheid’ going on there. Fool! There is no discrimination against anyone–except for terrorists. We DO discriminate against people trying to blow up or knife others in our country–don’t you???

    • Baba

      Well written, well said. Most of these naysayers are great repeaters of Muslim propaganda, but really are not that knowledgeable on the REAL issues and history. They remain ignorant due to their inability to learn both sides and make a decision that is worthwhile. You have one society that values life and liberties and the other, which is the Palestinians, that believe in death of their own and subjugation under a fascist rule.

      Those that believe in terrorism or support the terrorist will be very surprised and disappointed when or if these terrorist organizations may come to fruition and they continue to kill the “infidel”, which they are, and their so-called friends step all over them. Time will tell. They will be persecuted just as much as the Jews and Christians that don’t support the terrorist’s cause. BDS are hypocrites and their main call is actually for anti-semitism and not civil liberties. If they were for the latter, you would be hearing them discredit all the Arab nations and the wars that are going on in the Middle East. They are nothing more than shills for the radical Muslims.

  • Joseph Rosen

    Perhaps soon these states will be prepared to also form a ‘COALITION’ against Israel – along the lines of the Gog and Magog model…!

    Dear Friends,
    It’s clear that the American Administration is giving Israel only TWO alternatives:
    1 – To surrender to the Sunnis of Hamas, a branch of the future Islamic State, or
    2 – To surrender to the Shiites of Iran.
    We all hope that the Government of Israel will save the State of Israel.

    Joseph Rosen
    Author of ‘Why a Jew?’
    [ISBN 9781616672300]

  • mary mueller

    bless Israel be blessed

  • Ron

    Yet another example of a supposedly educated group of “professionals” opening their mouths before engaging their brains! Once again a bunch of self-important ignoramuses assume they hold the moral high ground.

    They didn’t really think this one out, did they? Well trained in their own field they may be, but knowledge in one discipline doesn’t automatically endow them with knowledge (or commonsense) in politics or moral equivalency. The legal and financial ramifications obviously did not occur to them in the first place. Fair play on a level playing field also seems to be absent from their psyche. When contemplating their charges of illegal building, human rights, et al, they might do well to recall the Conditions of Omar (2nd Caliph – Omar bin-al Khattab – 634 AD to 644 AD)forced on conquered Christian communities by invading Muslims, and still enforced to a greater or lesser extent in Islamic majority states or communities:

    The Christians had to agree to: –

    1. Not to build a church in our city – nor a monastery, convent, or monk’s cell in the surrounding areas – and not to repair those that fall in ruins or are in Muslim quarters.
    2. Not to clang our cymbals except lightly and from the innermost recesses of our churches.
    3. Not to display a cross on them (churches) nor raise our voices during prayer or readings in our churches anywhere near Muslims.
    4. Not to produce a cross or (Christian) book in the markets of the Muslims.
    5. Not to congregate in the open for Easter or Palm Sunday, nor lift our voices [in lamentation] for our dead nor show our firelights with them near the market place of Muslims.
    6. Not to display the signs of polytheism, nor make our religion appealing,nor call or proselytise anyone to it .
    7. Not to prevent any of our relatives who wish to enter Islam.
    8. Not to possess or bear any arms whatsoever, nor gird ourselves with swords.
    9. To honour the Muslims, show them the way, and rise up from our seats if they wish to sit down.

    Churches are being wrecked, burnt, crosses thrown down and congregations and Christian communities attacked (often on Fridays after the Imam’s “sermon”)in Egypt, Syria, Nigeria, Sudan, Thailand, Malysia….

    Perhaps RIBA would like to take stand on that!

  • Pierre Elie Mamou

    great news and good evident argument by Daniel Leon refering to Qatar and others violators of human rights

  • tomm

    Judean Palestinians building on legally owned land.

  • Bullfrog Europe

    A realisation that the BDS movement is a farce.

  • Michael Fox

    Money is a powerful motivator. No enlightenment of character here.

  • Linda Golden

    No surprise here…it all comes down to $$$. However the last part got it quite right…how hypocritical of all these people to single out Israel and conveniently forget about Russia, China, Quatar, Saudi Arabia, Libya etc. When it comes to human rights , land grabs, apartheid and the rest of the tot the divestment group comes up with.

  • Ivan Gur-Arie

    There is a saying that money speaks louder than words.People have big mouths until the mouth has an effect on the pocketbook. This shows the dedication and principle of those who retreat with the high costs of a big mouth. Now there is a challenge to the tax status of the Presbyterian Church USA. Let us see if the same dedication to principle exists in the said church.

  • Paul Cerar

    Good for you. Do not stop now. Continue to identify, and boycott, the fascists.

    Paul Cerar
    Toronto, Canada

  • Emily f. Korzenik

    Israel is treated unjustly so often that this repudiation of the BDS movement by RIBA is a notable and hopeful sign.

  • Reuven

    That’s great!!!

  • Jo Offord

    Like the saying goes: not your circus, not your monkey

    None of your business but if the RIBA want to do some good, how about boycotting Qatar, or Saudi Arabia or Abu Dhabi – where women’s and gay rights are non existent, rather than picking on the only democracy in the middle east.

    Not boycotting Qatar….? H’mm wonder why that cou£d be…..?

  • Jo Offord

    Like the saying goes: not your circus, not your monkey

    None of your business but if the RIBA want to do some good, how about boycotting Qatar, or Saudi Arabia or Abu Dhabi – where women’s and gay rights are non existent, rather than picking on the only democracy in the middd east.

    Not boycotting Qatar….? H’mm wonder why that cou£d be…..?

  • NCS

    Every victory counts.

  • Julian Clovelley

    As a person who has friends who are members of the RIBA, I am pretty certain that most architects would be unlikely to have had any inkling about this dispute

    It is all rather as if an Association of Raspberry Jam Manufacturers had become embroiled in a similar controversy – my response to it would have been “did it result in better jam?”

    As far as the RIBA is concerned therefore, my response would be, “did it do anything to improve the truly awful standards of British Architecture? Did it result in any improvement in the architectural living conditions of the British people, any improvement in the quality and availibility, for example, of Public Housing?”

    There are political and economic issues that the RIBA arguably should in fact be passing opinions on. One example, closer to home, might be the purchasing of long established housing trusts by overseas investors (particularly American investment trusts) in Britain’s Capital and other major cities, for the purpose of gentrification, and renting out at rates that the present occupants have no hope of ever affording.

    I have little doubt that actual RIBA members are involved in such projects throughout the UK.

    To take the core issue – the appropriation of particular land for a purpose that may be considered malignant to the existing inhabitants, there has been a colossal tradition of such appropriations within the UK for all the period since the second world war. And British Architects and Developers have – in their own interest – been part of most of such projects, over-riding through bullying legal process, or simply ignoring, all protest. If it came to a choice of arguing with determined Architects and Developers or stepping into Hell and disputing with the Devil, I’d take the Devil any day. At least, by definition, he has some concept of what moral activity is – even if only to undermine it.

    Compulsory purchases and concerted and orchestrated commercial purchase of properties have displaced ordinary people in their thousands and hundreds of thousands in the UK – ripping apart whole communities, many of which had existed for generations since the early days of urbanisation and industrialisation.

    Is there a “policy” on this “evil” in the RIBA? – I sincerely doubt it. There is a Hackney London project that they might like to look closely at for a start. And if they are unaware of it they might like to commence their awareness with the Guardian articles on the project – commencing with:

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/21/westbrook-partners-new-era-flats-hoxton

    Morality begins closer to home – where it can hit your own pocket in fact…

  • Yona

    Wow, they only reversed their decision because they were loosing money, not because they decided to find out if any of the accusations were true or not, and go by verifiable facts. So, they’re not saying that they were wrong to believe any of it, and not in the wrong to sanction Israel, they’re just saying that they were wrong…because their decision (that move) cost them lots of money… Sheeh…

  • A little crack in the BDS spear head? Shurat Hadin, the Israeli legal group, has been pursuing legal attacks that challenge the very status of nonprofits initially chartered for charitable purposes but later hijacked by extremists into supporting the anti-Israel BDS movements.

    None of these so-called apolitical nonprofits can withstand the truth when they shift their funds and attention to supporting various and sundry BDS movements. Never do they go after the countries truly deserving of BDS.

    But radical “Progressives” always find Israeli or Jewish groups to attack and rail against.

  • Jackie Stringham

    Good Call Guys!!!

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    Justice be served.

  • Pierre Herve Bocquee

    Money talks. Is this the real reason and motivation of the British architects to reverse their decisions regarding the BDS.If it is as it appears to be, all I can say is SHAME on you.

  • AlanB
  • I really, really thank God that common sense and honesty has won the battle. I hope and pray that other organizations will follow this example; It is very distasteful to hear that normal, educated people can accuse Israel of heinous apartheid, I do not think they understand the word. The Jewish nation-state, Israel does not fit apartheid neither does apartheid fit Israel.

    It is wrong and immoral for anyone to openly practice and call for others to join the anti-sematic movement in this day and age. Either, they have conscience or they believe in their own lies.

  • How far all these antisemitic boycotts sound from this side of the ocean. Don´t forget and don´t forgive!

  • CGG

    It’s too bad that it took financial concerns for RIBA to do the right thing.

  • Mickey Oberman

    It is hard to believe that some Brits are actually beginning to think.

    Mickey Oberman

  • Noah Levine

    In other words: “It is all about money.”

    *”endorsement of a boycott of Israel could compromise the institute’s charitable status.”

    *”Financial concerns were another factor, as the boycott is said to have cost the institute around $150,000 in lost revenue”

    Looks like everyone has a price. I wonder, and I hate to pose this as it could come true, if:

    ISIS, PLO, Hamas, Arab League, NY TIMES, or other groups paid both $151,000 & assured charitable status/costs to losing it…would they keep Israel out.

    My guess 500% YES!

  • citizenstat

    OK. So, it took a hit to the pocketbook to change their minds. I’ll settle for that. I guess it’s too much to expect them to realize that they’d been hornswoggled by cynical, dishonest propagandists.

  • rachel robinson

    Apparently they could not find any Moslem architects and so their gesture was empty.

  • Vittore

    They may not like the Jews, but they sure like Jewish money. There’s nothing new under the sun.

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