arch-peace news and articles

3.11.08

APJP: campaign to prevent a "culture monster"

Israeli court OKs Museum of Tolerance's controversial branch
Photo source:
Los Angeles Times, 12:42 PM, October 29, 2008, (Artist's rendering of Frank Gehry-designed Center for Human Dignity-Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem; Credit: Simon Wiesenthal Center). Find this background article: here and APJP's article here.



Letter from APJP:

The recent judgement by Israel's Supreme Court to allow the construction of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's³ Museum of Tolerance², designed by world famous US architect Frank Gehry, on top of a Muslim cemetery of religious and historical importance in the centre of Jerusalem, defies all satire and irony.

This project started in 2004, was frozen due to public outcry and most especially by Muslim religious authorities, the Israeli Islamic movement and backed by orthodox Jews concerned about disturbing graves. The site near Jerusalem's Independence Park, in Mamilla in the centre of Jerusalem on disputed land that is claimed to be owned by the Islamic authorities, is a flashpoint for more conflict and hatred at a time when annexed East Jerusalem is being infiltrated by more Jewish settlements on expropriated land in the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods, that were to form part of the Palestinian capital in a now near defunct³ two-state solution².

To pursue this hideous (sorry Frank!) extravaganza that will include "two museums, a library-education centre, a conference centre and a 500-seat performing arts theatre", shows crass insensitivity, and a brash statement of Israel's hegemony over the Palestinians, rather than any expression of 'tolerance'. It will of course completely exclude Palestinians and thus is a further breach of ethics and professional codes in its subjugation of a conjoined though-imprisoned population. It will further inflame passions in an already combustible Middle East, and push any peace accord further off the horizon.

APJP (Architects & Planners for Justice in Palestine) joins IPCRI (Israel/Palestine Centre for Research & Information) in its campaign for a Jerusalem that³ is the one city in the world where there is a real potential to demonstrate that Jews, Christians and Muslims can live together in peace, understanding and real tolerance, where we can learn to celebrate the diversities of our civilizations.² We call on the Israeli Association of United Architects, the UIA and the UK government and all concerned citizens to prevail on the Jerusalem municipality, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Israeli authorities not to allow this architectural time-bomb to proceed.

Abe Hayeem, APJP

1 comments:

arch-peace said...

Opposition to Jerusalem museum

An extract of the letter was published by the Guardian, 15 November 2008.
The Guardian, Saturday November 15 2008 Article history

A recent judgment by Israel's supreme court will allow the construction of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Museum of Tolerance, designed by renowned US architect Frank Gehry, over a Muslim heritage cemetery of great historical importance in the centre of Jerusalem. It is a blow to peaceful coexistence in an already divided city.

This project, started in 2006, had been frozen due to public outcry and legal challenge, most especially from Muslim religious leaders and the Israeli Islamic movement, with the backing of Orthodox Jews concerned about disturbing graves. The site in Mamilla, near Jerusalem's Independence Park, is on disputed burial land taken over by the Israel's Land Administration in 1948, whose ownership is claimed by the Islamic authorities.

To pursue this divisive project that will include two museums, a library-education centre, a conference centre and a 500-seat performing arts theatre, would seem highly insensitive, a statement of Israel's hegemony over the Palestinians, rather than any expression of "tolerance". All the architecture in the world cannot engender harmony on the basis of trampling over people's rights and history. It is inflaming passions in an already combustible Middle East and will push any peace accord further off the horizon.

We call on the Jerusalem municipality, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre and the Israeli authorities not to allow this architectural time-bomb to proceed.
Charles Jencks, Richard MacCormack, Neave Brown, Abe Hayeem, Haifa Hammami, Hans Haenlein, Cezary Bednarski, Kate Mackintosh, Suad Amiry (Ramallah), Shmuel Groag (Jerusalem), Beatriz Maturana (Australia), Walter Hain, Ian Martin and 28 others
Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine

Post a Comment