Some of Britainâs most prominent architects are considering an economic boycott of Apartheid Israelâs construction industry, in protest against the continued expansion of settlements, the ongoing construction of the Apartheid Wall and what it described as the Occupationâs use of architecture to promote an âapartheid systemâ.
Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine (APJP) met last week to condemn the Wall and the annexation of Palestinian land. Around 60 high-profile architects attended the meeting. They described Israeli architects, planners and engineers working on such projects as âcomplicit in social, political and economic oppression,â noting that âplanning, architecture and other construction disciplines are being used to promote an apartheid system of environmental control.â
Abu Hayeem, the Coordinator of APJP, said the group âhelps to reveal (Israeli architects and plannersâ) shameful participation in planning and designing the illegal settlements and the infrastructure of domination and control.â He said a boycott is the only way to effectively put pressure on the Occupation: âSince nothing seems to deter Israel, and western governments remain silent, civil society has to pressure Israel and those creating the physical reality of these injustices.â
Steven Rose â one of the leading figures behind campaigns for British academic boycotts of Apartheid Israel in recent years â lent his support to the architectsâ calls, describing architecture and planning as âan integral part of the fascist Apartheid state.â
âPossibilities for future action,â said Abu Hayeem, âinclude targeting the use of Israeli products, materials and equipment in our building industryâ¦ people involved in major building projects could make sure that anything manufactured by Israel can be excluded in their contracts.â The group also discussed the possibility of expelling Israeli architects from the International Union of Architects.
Eyal Weizman, director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmithâs College in London, described a boycott as a response to Israeli war crimes: âThe 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 and anyone facilitating these human rights violations and war crimes.â
Renowned architectural critic Charles Jenckes, who attended the meeting, said, âThere reaches a certain point where an architect canât sit on the fence. Not to stand up to it would be complicit.â
This move towards isolation of the architects and construction companies of the Occupation broadens the range of day-to-day actions available to civil society for ending the world’s complicity of ongoing expulsion, occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people.