Thanks for nothing, RIBA. Zero.
AFEW years ago I was mugged at the bottom of the escalators at Charing Cross Station. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the young men responsible. They could so easily have gone further and slashed me with a knife, or given my head a kicking. As it was, all they did was push me over and grab my wallet.
And I’d also like to thank the two London Transport employees who saw everything — they were standing about 10 feet away when it happened — but when I asked them to intervene afterwards and stop the train my assailants had boarded, they claimed that they’d seen nothing and didn’t know what I was talking about.
And now I’d like to introduce you to two Stephens, Games and Hodder. Mr Games is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and one of the most eminent writers and thinkers about architecture in the country. Mr Hodder is President of RIBA.
In March, RIBA voted to become antisemitic. It didn’t put it like that, of course, but in voting to demand that the International Union of Architects (UIA), the international umbrella body of architects’ associations, bar all Israelis from membership it was singling out Jews —or Israelis, as the motion put it – for collective discrimination. RIBA wasn’t interested in whether those Jews it wanted to ban were settlers or campaigners for Palestinian rights. It wasn’t interested in anything about them other than that they were citizens of the Jewish state – and thus to be barred from membership.
And that is where RIBA stands today, July 4. Nothing has changed. Nothing will change; there are no plans for any rerun of the vote or attempt to overturn it. And Mr Hodder, the president, says he considers the matter closed.
The vote remains RIBA policy. RIBA officially discriminates against Jews.
So it is puzzling, to say the least, why last week Mr Games, who was one of the unofficial leaders of the campaign to have RIBA change its stance and drop its official antisemitism, issued a statement thanking Mr Hodder. Remember: RIBA is still officially committed to discrimination against Jews. And the same Mr Hodder who has been thanked by Mr Games, willnotattempt to change that stance, will not condemn it and considers the issue closed.
Mr Games said that “on behalf of the many architects who opposed recent unconstitutional efforts to politicise the Institute, we wish to thank the president of RIBA, Stephen Hodder, for resolving this issue in a way that all parties can now feel satisfied with.”
RIBA will do nothing. Why thank them?
Since all parties can apparently now feel satisfied, you might have thought that, as a bare minimum, this supposed resolution would include overturning RIBA’s official commitment to barring Jews (who happen to be Israeli) from membership of the UIA. You’d have thought wrong. The resolution of the issue for which Mr Games and his associates are so grateful involves Mr Hodder and his RIBA officials doing precisely nothing. Literally, nothing.
Indeed, doing nothing is the very thing for which Mr Hodder is being thanked. He has said that he will not push for the UIA to adopt the policy advocated by RIBA. He will do nothing.
But as for changing that policy — as for changing RIBA’s formal commitment to having Jews (who happen to be Israeli) barred from membership of the UIA — well, he won’t lift a finger. He and RIBA will do nothing. Nothing. This is one of those stories that is so utterly bizarre, so Alice-in-Wonderland, that you cannot believe what you are reading.
I can think of not a single valid reason – and it’s a stretch even to think of an invalid reason – why anyone except the antisemites behind the BDS campaign should be grateful to Mr Hodder, who has refused to condemn RIBA’s policy of barring Jews (who happen to be Israeli) from UIA membership and who seems to me to be a man who should be widely and repeatedly condemned by anyone who does not believe in official antisemitism. And yet Mr Games has thanked him. Go figure.