Britain’s Royal Institute of British Architects, has recently passed a motion calling on the International Union of Architects (UIA), to suspend the Israeli Association of United Architects’ membership.
In its press release of 24th March 2014, is at pains to state that:
“It is not the case that the RIBA is in any way anti-Semitic”
Well that’s alright then.
Unfortunately for RIBA, it is on their actions not their words that they must be judged and their singling out of Israel for censure is hard to understand in any other context.
Anti-semitism is easy to spot, not so much in the carefully phrased and oh so reasonable wording of such motions, but in the way these bodies come to single out Israel in the first place.
We learn from this same press release that there had been earlier discussions by the RIBA International Committee about how architects might raise awareness about the plight of communities affected by civil conflict and natural disaster around the world.
With civil conflict currently in bloody evidence throughout the Arab world, and persecution of minorities rife, one would have thought that RIBA might have felt that some of these communities would be at the head of the queue. Saudi Arabia and Syria have architects bodies which are members of the UIA.
RIBA’s press office, so quick to send me information on the resolution when I complained about its discriminatory nature, has been silent when I repeatedly asked them what other motions RIBA had passed to raise awareness about the plight of communities affected by civil conflict elsewhere.
Scanning the web confirms the impression that RIBA’s interest in raising awareness is, in fact, limited solely to passing a motion against Israel.
Last week, the UK’s Education Secretary Michael Gove, questioned why RIBA was not taking a similar stance in Syria and in China, calling RIBA’s behaviour nothing more than “selective outrage” – as good a description of anti-semtisim as any other.
Of course, if RIBA had had any intention at all to do good, it might have felt that bringing Palestinian and Israeli Architects together to work for peace on the ground, would have been a great way to “raise awareness”.
Instead their motion now positions RIBA well away from any chance to do anything constructive in this area and its cynicism is revealed in the following declaration of intent with which it signed off its destructive motion:
“The RIBA International Committee will now engage with the Palestinian and Israeli associations in order to better understand their positions on this important matter.”