Thanks for noth­ing, RIBA. Zero.

The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT - Stephen Pol­lard

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.

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