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Architects threaten to boycott Israel over 'apartheid' barrier

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    Architects threaten to boycott Israel over apartheid barrier By Oliver Duff, Rob Sharp and Eric Silver in Jerusalem 10 February 2006 The Independent
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2006
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      Architects threaten to boycott Israel over 'apartheid' barrier
      By Oliver Duff, Rob Sharp and Eric Silver in Jerusalem
      10 February 2006
      The Independent
      fosna.org


      A group including some of Britain's most prominent architects is
      considering calling for an economic boycott of Israel's construction
      industry in protest at the building of Israeli settlements and the
      separation barrier in the Occupied Territories.

      Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, whose members
      include Richard Rogers and the architectural critic Charles Jenckes,
      met for the first time last week in secret at the London headquarters
      of Lord Rogers' practice. He introduced the meeting, and the 60
      attendees went on to condemn the illegal annexation of Palestinian
      land and the construction of the vast fence and concrete separation
      barrier running through the West Bank and Jerusalem.

      The group said that architects, planners and engineers working on
      Israeli projects in the occupied territories were "complicit in
      social, political and economic oppression", and "in violation of their
      professional code of ethics".

      It said that: "Planning, architecture and other construction
      disciplines are being used to promote an apartheid system of
      environmental control."

      The meeting discussed a boycott of Israel - targeting Israeli-made
      construction materials and Israeli architects and construction
      companies - as well as possibly calling for the expulsion of Israeli
      architects from the International Union of Architects.

      A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy said: "Whoever supports a just
      solution should refrain from any manner of boycott. It just puts more
      obstacles in the way of reconciliation in our region.

      "If these people care about the Palestinian cause they should help to
      build bridges not destroy."

      Israeli architects denounced the initiative. Ofer Kolker, a leading,
      London-trained Israeli architect, said it would target a whole group,
      whether or not individuals were involved in the occupied territories.

      "What will they boycott?" Mr Kolker asked. "British architects have
      never cooperated with their Israeli colleagues. British architects
      have always had a preference for the Arabs."

      There have been several attempts to organise boycotts of Israel, from
      the virtually defunct Arab League boycott to the attempts to organise
      an academic boycott at the height of the Intifada. Amnesty
      International has campaigned against the Irish cement company CRH,
      which it claims held a large shareholding in a company supplying
      cement to build the separation barrier.

      Earlier this week, the Church of England's general synod voted to
      divest church funds from companies profiting from Israel's illegal
      occupation of Palestinian territory. The main target of the plan will
      be Caterpillar, whose diggers have been used to demolish Palestinian
      homes. Caterpillar says the US military sold them to Israel, but the
      church which sell its £2.5m of shares anyway.

      Any boycott would aim to embarrass Israel into halting the building of
      the barrier and settlements, and the "unrestrained destruction" in
      historic West Bank cities.

      Members said that final tactics were not yet decided but they stressed
      that all options up to an industry-wide boycott were open.

      Eyal Weizman, the Israeli director of the Centre for Research
      Architecture at Goldsmith's College in London, urged action. "A
      boycott would be totally legitimate," he said. "The wall and the
      settlements have been deemed illegal by the International Court of
      Justice and we should boycott any company which does business, any
      architects that participate - anyone facilitating these human rights
      violations and war crimes."

      Charles Jenckes told The Independent: "There reaches a certain point
      where an architect can't sit on the fence. Not to stand up to it would
      be to be complicit."

      He said the separation barrier built by Israel was "a contorted,
      crazy, mad, divisive, drunken thing".

      "In 10 years' time its builders will see it as a great folly," he
      said. "Architecturally it is madness. I understand fully that security
      is the problem for Israel and they have the right to protect
      themselves. But this is not the solution.

      "It is an extremist measure which forments extremism, by incarcerating
      and intimidating Palestinians." He called for architects to gradually
      increase pressure on Israeli. George Ferguson, former president of the
      Royal Institute of British Architects, who was not at the meeting,
      said: "It is right that architects should not play a part in building
      communities and structures that drive people apart."

      The biologist Steven Rose, who led the British academic boycott of
      Israel from 2002, said: "Architecture and planning are an integral
      part of the fascist apartheid state."

      A group including some of Britain's most prominent architects is
      considering calling for an economic boycott of Israel's construction
      industry in protest at the building of Israeli settlements and the
      separation barrier in the Occupied Territories.

      Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, whose members
      include Richard Rogers and the architectural critic Charles Jenckes,
      met for the first time last week in secret at the London headquarters
      of Lord Rogers' practice. He introduced the meeting, and the 60
      attendees went on to condemn the illegal annexation of Palestinian
      land and the construction of the vast fence and concrete separation
      barrier running through the West Bank and Jerusalem.

      The group said that architects, planners and engineers working on
      Israeli projects in the occupied territories were "complicit in
      social, political and economic oppression", and "in violation of their
      professional code of ethics".

      It said that: "Planning, architecture and other construction
      disciplines are being used to promote an apartheid system of
      environmental control."

      The meeting discussed a boycott of Israel - targeting Israeli-made
      construction materials and Israeli architects and construction
      companies - as well as possibly calling for the expulsion of Israeli
      architects from the International Union of Architects.

      A spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy said: "Whoever supports a just
      solution should refrain from any manner of boycott. It just puts more
      obstacles in the way of reconciliation in our region.

      "If these people care about the Palestinian cause they should help to
      build bridges not destroy."

      Israeli architects denounced the initiative. Ofer Kolker, a leading,
      London-trained Israeli architect, said it would target a whole group,
      whether or not individuals were involved in the occupied territories.

      "What will they boycott?" Mr Kolker asked. "British architects have
      never cooperated with their Israeli colleagues. British architects
      have always had a preference for the Arabs."

      There have been several attempts to organise boycotts of Israel, from
      the virtually defunct Arab League boycott to the attempts to organise
      an academic boycott at the height of the Intifada. Amnesty
      International has campaigned against the Irish cement company CRH,
      which it claims held a large shareholding in a company supplying
      cement to build the separation barrier.

      Earlier this week, the Church of England's general synod voted to
      divest church funds from companies profiting from Israel's illegal
      occupation of Palestinian territory. The main target of the plan will
      be Caterpillar, whose diggers have been used to demolish Palestinian
      homes. Caterpillar says the US military sold them to Israel, but the
      church which sell its £2.5m of shares anyway.

      Any boycott would aim to embarrass Israel into halting the building of
      the barrier and settlements, and the "unrestrained destruction" in
      historic West Bank cities.

      Members said that final tactics were not yet decided but they stressed
      that all options up to an industry-wide boycott were open.

      Eyal Weizman, the Israeli director of the Centre for Research
      Architecture at Goldsmith's College in London, urged action. "A
      boycott would be totally legitimate," he said. "The wall and the
      settlements have been deemed illegal by the International Court of
      Justice and we should boycott any company which does business, any
      architects that participate - anyone facilitating these human rights
      violations and war crimes."

      Charles Jenckes told The Independent: "There reaches a certain point
      where an architect can't sit on the fence. Not to stand up to it would
      be to be complicit."

      He said the separation barrier built by Israel was "a contorted,
      crazy, mad, divisive, drunken thing".

      "In 10 years' time its builders will see it as a great folly," he
      said. "Architecturally it is madness. I understand fully that security
      is the problem for Israel and they have the right to protect
      themselves. But this is not the solution.

      "It is an extremist measure which foments extremism, by incarcerating
      and intimidating Palestinians." He called for architects to gradually
      increase pressure on Israeli. George Ferguson, former president of the
      Royal Institute of British Architects, who was not at the meeting,
      said: "It is right that architects should not play a part in building
      communities and structures that drive people apart."

      The biologist Steven Rose, who led the British academic boycott of
      Israel from 2002, said: "Architecture and planning are an integral
      part of the fascist apartheid state."

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