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Architecture professors and students criticize ‘state-sponsored apartheid’ in Israel

‘We recognise that architecture and urban planning are both the means and the ends of Israeli settler colonialism and state terror’

So far, 150 architecture and urban planning professors, students, institutions and companies have signed onto a letter condemning Israel and accusing it of a number of human rights violations.

“In Jerusalem, state-sponsored apartheid planning aims to expel the remaining Palestinian residents from the city,” the signers said. Supporters include the architecture school at London’s Royal College of Art, Felicity Scott and Mark Wasiuta of Columbia University and Michael Askin, chair of Cornell’s department of art.

“We recognise that architecture and urban planning are both the means and the ends of Israeli settler colonialism and state terror,” the letter said. “As architects and planners, it is our moral and ethical duty to acknowledge that the tools of our profession have been co-opted to violate the legal rights of the Palestinian people.”

The supporters said that “architecture and planning continue to be used by Israel to consolidate and extend its illegal occupation of Palestinian land.”

Examples cited include, “state-sanctioned execution of Palestinian people,” “violent expulsion and dispossession of Palestinian people,” and “deliberate maiming of Palestinian bodies.”

Employs anti-Semitic trope

The maiming charge is a common accusation used against Israel by opponents of the state. Its proponents argue that Israel experiments on Palestinians and that Israeli Defense Forces try to wound Palestinians and then harvest their organs . Self-described “queer theorist” Jasbir Puar, a Rutgers University professor, is a frequent advocate of this theory.

Recognition of the role their fields have played in oppression has led to change, the signers said. “A recognition of our complicity in settler colonialism, incarceration and white supremacy is resulting in calls for decolonisation, abolition, indigenous rights and class consciousness,” the letter said.

“We welcome this change and its impact on curricula, studios, and lecture series across the world as architects and planners begin to center anti-racist, social justice and political liberation movements,” the architects and urban planners said.

MORE: YouTube twice removes, reinstates video of professor defending Israel

IMAGE: KelseyJ/Shutterstock

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