The Architecture of Apartheid Cannot be Sustainable

We, the undersigned, Concordia Art History Department alumni, historians, architects, artists, curators and planners of Montreal, are circulating this statement to voice our opposition to the “Sustainable Architecture Exhibit” and the panel “The Ethics of Sustainability in Israeli Art and Architecture,” and more generally to the participation of the Concordia Art History department in the “Sustainable Israel” conference, taking place May 31-June 3, 2015 at Concordia University.

Gaza

The Concordia Art History department has always positioned itself as a center for the critical study of art and architecture, boasting among its faculty, professors who work on feminism, post-colonialism, space theory and anti-racist and anti-oppressive analyses. For those of us who have graduated from its programs, we know that the department offered a privileged space to explore issues such as social justice, equality, and diversity in art and architectural history. In our art history studies at Concordia, we were taught to think critically about the built environment and about spatial justice.

As members of the arts and architecture communities in Montreal, we are shocked and disappointed to learn that the department is participating in the panel titled “The Ethics of Sustainability in Israeli Art and Architecture.” Panels such as this one, which does not appear to question the fundamentally unsustainable nature of art or architecture realized on stolen, illegally-occupied land, ultimately serve to obscure the reality of Israeli apartheid and occupation by assessing this work primarily from a sustainability perspective.

In any case, collaborating on such a panel within a conference sponsored by the Israeli Consulate in Montreal and the Canadian Centre for Israeli and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), whose mandate is to “increase support for Israel,” and which boasts other panels featuring speakers from the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) Command and Staff College and the Israeli Knesset, clearly locates the discussion within the perspective of those who seek to systematically deny Palestinian human rights.

Along with the panel, the department participated in the organization of the “Sustainable Architecture Exhibit” entitled “Envisioning the Israel of Tomorrow: Technion Presents Student Projects in Sustainable Architecture and Design.” This exhibit presents the work of students at Technion University in Haifa, an institution which plays a significant role in the Israeli military-industrial complex. It is an important hub for the research and development of technologies destined for use by Israeli military technology manufacturers and, ultimately, the Israeli army.

Indeed, architecture is a key weapon of Israeli settler-colonialism, facilitating Israel’s colonisation of Palestinian land and the forced displacement of Palestinian people. Flying in the face of international law, the Israeli government continues to encourage the construction of new settlements on stolen land as part of its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. Palestinian houses are bulldozed; entire villages and neighbourhoods are destroyed; Palestinian vernacular architecture is eliminated. Forests and parks are used to cover the ruins and erase the indigenous Palestinian presence on the land under the cover of “sustainability” and “greening.”

Israeli architecture and design are also used to limit the mobility of Palestinians, whether they are Israeli citizens or living in the Occupied Territories, through the infamous wall, checkpoints, roads and other infrastructures of movement-control and apartheid.

Illegal occupation of stolen land, displacement, colonialism and apartheid cannot be and are never sustainable. So-called “sustainable” Israeli architecture is nothing but the greenwashing of this state’s racist policies.

The Concordia Student Union (CSU) recently voted to join the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli apartheid, which includes an academic boycott of Israeli institutions. We encourage our fellow scholars in art history and architecture, as well as planners, architects, and artists to join the BDS movement, launched by more than 175 Palestinian civil society groups in 2005, by refusing to attend this event as well as similar events in the future, until Israel complies with the main demands of the BDS movement:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

References:

“Structures of Oppression: Why McGill and Concordia universities must sever their links with the Technion University,” April 2011, http://www.tadamon.ca/post/8105, 2-3.
Visualizing Palestine, “Israel’s System of Segregated Roads,” infographic, http://www.visualizingpalestine.org/visuals/segregated-roads-west-bank
“Academic Boycott,” Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, http://www.bdsmovement.net/activecamps/academic-boycott
Palestinian Civil Society Call for BDS, 9 July 2005, http://www.bdsmovement.net/call

***

Signatures :

1- Noémie Despland-Lichtert, B.F.A Art History, Concordia, 2011. M.Arch, McGill, 2013.

2- Dounia Salamé, B.F.A Art History, Concordia, 2011. M.Sc. Études urbaines, INRS-UCS, 2015.

3- Stéphanie Laoun, B.F.A Art History, Concordia, 2011.

4- Erika Brandle Mouton, B. Arch, McGill, 2013. M.Arch, McGill, 2015.

5- Michel Despland, PhD, Harvard, 1966. Dr. Honoris Causa, Uqam, 2014. Société royale du Canada.

6- Lama Sfeir, M. Arch, Belgrade Institute.

7- Claire Hurtig, MA, Art History, University of Toronto, 2006.

8- Godefroy Desrosiers Lauzon, BA et MA Histoire UQAM, PhD Histoire Université d’Ottawa.

9- Sarah Galarneau, B.F.A Art History, Concordia, 2011.

10- Marie-Ève Desroches. M.Sc. Études urbaines, INRS-UCS, 2014.

11- Sarah Nesbitt.
Comment: Though I think it is possible that the voices of the professors in art history can productively add to the conversation about Israel’s actions, especially since canada is similarly politically dubious, our participation does go against the vote for bds, as this conference directly supports organizations involved in Palestinian occupation. I hope that in the future any decision to participate in something like this will be very carefully considered.

12- Feras Al-Assafin.

13- Claire Forsyth BFA Studio Arts 2012.

14- Tala Al Jabri, B Com, McGill, 2011.

15- Tarek Lakhrissi, MA, Art History, UdeM.

16- Sorraya Guembhyt, BA Film Studies, Minor Art History, UdeM.

17- Laurence Desmarais, BA Art History, UQAM 2012.

18- Geneviève Rail.
Comment: I would like to stay that I am all for Israel studies, Jewish Studies and the like. For five years our Institute had as a Principal the late Dr. Lillian Robinson. Lillian was a Jewish feminist and our Institute benefited greatly from her presence and interest in Jewish issues. We have offered a course called “Jewish Women in North America,” we have named scholarships that we still distribute on a yearly basis in her honour, and currently have a successful visiting professor program with her name. In brief, our Simone de Beauvoir Institute has, in its own way, demonstrated commitment to understanding Jewish identities and experiences. That said, I am concerned that by supporting a “Sustainable Israel” conference, our university is aligning itself with academic institutions that are deeply complicit in oppressive policies against the Palestinian people (through institutional links such as university exchanges, joint programs and research initiatives). In light of CAUT and CUPE positions on the cultural and academic boycott of Israel and in light of the world-wide Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel (until it complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights), I feel that, at a minimum, we need to have reassurances that any event hosted by Concordia would be committed to and promote peace and anti-militarism, that it would have Jewish and Arab-Palestinian scholars, and that a diversity of Israeli experiences would be in focus. Since that is not the case, I denounce the participation of the Art History Department in the “Sustainable Israel” conference.

19- Abby Lippman, PhD, Professor Emerita.

20- Camille Larivee.

21- Alexandra Laverdière.

22- Freda Guttman, B.F.A. Rhode island School of design; past part time professor in Fine Arts, Concordia.

23- Heather Mclean.

24- Mathieu Gagnon.

25- Xenia Benivolski.

26- Sue Ferguson, Wilfrid Laurier University.

27- Amina Joober, B.F.A Art History, Concordia, 2011, LL. B. UdeM 2015.

28- Sabine Friesinger.

29- Chadi Marouf.

30- David Comedi, Professor of Physics, National Research Council and National University of Tucumán, Argentina.

31- Mariah Gillis.

32- Katherine Garven, BA, International Development, McGill University, Graduate Diploma in Communication Studies, Concordia University.

33- Wilser Canel.

34- Katie Nelson, Philosophy Major & Human Rights Minor.
Comment: Apartheid is not sustainable. Let’s create communities that are cooperative and at the same time reaffirm Palestinian human rights.

35- Rami Yahia.

36- Jack Mc Laughlin.

37- Jasmin Cormier, UQAM.

38- Mary Ellen Davis.

39- Michelle Gagnon-Creeley.

40- Jeremy Tessier, BA, Human Environment & Urban Studies, Concordia University.

41- Seán Amir Hayes, Political Science and Israel Studies Undergraduate Student, Concordia .
Comment: As a student of Israel Studies, I wrestle with the implications of engaging with institutions that are complicit in the Occupation often. This event unfortunately seems to have squandered an opportunity to have a real conversation about the implications of asymmetrical development and discrimination in Israel and the Occupied Territories; opting instead for an approach of greenwashing. Israel’s ethnocratic character creates adverse systematic barriers to the collective rights of development and self-determination for Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. I welcome efforts that highlight that a sustainable Israel is one that isn’t engaged in an self-destructive occupation, and I fear that this event contributes little to nothing on that front.

42- Jason Butters, MA History, Concordia University.

43- George Szypulewski, Human Being, Planet Earth.

44- Christopher Bacon, Print Media major, Concordia.

45- Wassim Kassir.

46- Kyle Ritchie, BA political science, Concordia.

47- Samuel Vanzin.

48- Adam Riga.
Comment: For the victims.

49- Jon Milton.

50- Norma Rantisi.

51- Kerri Flannigan, BFA Studio Arts, Concordia University.

52- James Cairns, Wilfrid Laurier University.

53- Nina Patterson, Film Studies and Art History Undergraduate, Concordia.

54- Mohammed Abdul Rahman.

55- Kashif Mahmood.

56- mohammed abdul lateef

57- Douglas Smith, MA Hispanic Studies, Concordia University

58- Jess Dorrance, MA, Art History, McGill University.

59- Chloe Boone.

60- Deema Emad.

61- Anonymous

62- Waed Elaarag.

63- Katie Moroney, BA, Philosophy.

64- Heather Holdsworth, BA History, McGill.

65- R. MM

66- Tanis Franco, MA, MLIS.

67- Faisal Joudah.

68- Simon Mercier-Nguyen B.D.I., M.Sc. Aménagement, University of Montreal.

69- Patrick Blair, BFA Film Studies.

70- Joachim Despland.

71- Dorian Valérie Lebreux, BA Honors University of Toronto, MA York University.

72- Phillipe REVAULT, Prof.architecte et ACT Consultants.

73- Kevin Gould.

74- Miguel Mesa del Castillo Clavel.

75- Marie Simard, MLIS.

76- fanie villemaire.

77- Viviane Saglier.

78- Thien Viet Quan, BFA, Photography, Concordia University.

79- Said Yassin.

80- Ayanna Dozier, Graduate Student in the Dept. of Art History and Communication Studies, McGill University.

81- Audrey Dahl, Concordia.

 

If you’d like to add your signature, you can do it at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1E_js_YGyvNRto15djfL0b9No7XprLB_JrX6rDcUdOzw/viewform

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Press Release: After historic win for the BDS movement, Concordia undergraduates invite all students to action

Version Française
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Montreal, December 8, 2014

Students voted ‘Yes’ to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel’s occupation and segregation of Palestinians

BDS-demoConcordia undergraduate students voted ‘Yes’ to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian people and land, and now invite fellow students to participate in the BDS committee. “By joining this grassroots global movement for Palestinian human rights, students are highlighting the commitment of our campus to social justice and collective moral responsibility,” said Javier Hoyos, Chairperson of the Yes to BDS Committee.

“We thank students for their depth of character and their courage to contest our university’s complicity with violations of international human rights,” added Hoyos. “We’re glad that students were given the opportunity to read the information accompanying the altered question at the voting booth, as this allowed them to make an informed decision in spite of the opposition’s defamation of the BDS and their move to change the question hours before polls opened.”

The initial question proposed by the Yes Committee stated that the BDS stands against Israel’s occupation of Palestine until Israel respects International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights. Israel violates a number of United Nations Resolutions as well as the Geneva conventions through its occupation and settlements; and the International Court of Justice ruled Israel’s wall to be illegal. Concordia’s successful BDS vote is another step towards effectively and non-violently pressuring Israel to meet its obligations under international law, as exemplified in the global boycott movement to abolish apartheid in South Africa.

The BDS thus calls for the end of Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land and the dismantling of the wall; full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel; and respect for the right of return of Palestinian refugees as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

The BDS stands fundamentally against all forms of racism and does not target individuals, but rather institutions complicit with Israeli apartheid. “The next step is to invite Concordia students to join the BDS committee and continue in-depth research into Concordia’s ties to institutions complicit with Israel’s occupation,” said Hoyos.

Friday evening’s referendum results mean that Concordia’s two largest accredited student unions now officially support the BDS campaign; the Concordia Student Union (CSU; representing over 30,000 students) now joins the university’s Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), which endorsed the BDS in January 2013.

Contact:
Javier Hoyos, on behalf of the Yes to BDS Committee
concordiabds [at] gmail [dot] com / https://yestobds.wordpress.com

Photo: Demonstration in Solidarity with Gaza, Montreal, August 2014.

Communiqué de presse : Suite a une victoire historique pour le mouvement BDS, les etudiants du premier cycle a Concordia invitent tous les etudiants a l’action

English version
POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE
Montréal, le 8 décembre 2014

Les étudiants ont voté ‘Oui’ aux boycotts, désinvestissements et sanctions contre l’occupation et la ségrégation des Palestiniens par Israël

BDS-demoLes étudiants du premier cycle de l’université Concordia ont voté ‘Oui’ aux boycotts, désinvestissements et sanctions contre l’occupation illégale du territoire palestinien et l’oppression de son people, et invitent tous les étudiants à se joindre au comité BDS. “En participant à ce mouvement global de la société civile pour les droits humains des Palestiniens, les étudiants soulignent l’engagement de notre campus pour la justice sociale et la responsabilité morale collective,” a dit Javier Hoyos, président du comité ‘Oui aux BDS.’

“Nous remercions les étudiants pour leur force de caractère et leur courage en contestant la complicité de notre université avec les violations des droits humains internationaux,” a ajouté Hoyos. “Nous sommes ravis que les étudiants aient eu l’occasion, au moment du vote, de lire l’information accompagnant la question modifiée, car ceci leur a permis de prendre une décision informée en dépit de la diffamation du mouvement BDS par l’opposition et de son changement de la question à peine quelques heures avant l’ouverture du scrutin.”

La question initiale proposée par le comité pour le Oui affirmait que le mouvement BDS s’oppose à l’occupation de la Palestine par Israël jusqu’à tant que ce dernier respecte la loi internationale et les principes universels des droits humains. Au travers de son occupation et de ses colonies, Israël transgresse de nombreuses résolutions des Nations Unies, tout comme les conventions de Genève. Rappelons aussi que la Cour internationale de justice a décrété que le mur d’Israël est illegal. Le vote pour les BDS à Concordia représente un pas en avant dans la pression efficace et non-violente pour qu’Israël remplisse ses obligations à l’intérieur de la loi internationale, en suivant l’exemple du mouvement global de boycott pour abolir l’apartheid en Afrique du Sud.

Donc les BDS visent la fin de l’occupation et la colonisation du territoire palestinien par Israël et la démolition du mur; la pleine égalité pour les citoyens arabo-palestiniens d’Israël; et le respect du droit au retour des réfugiés palestiniens tel que stipulé dans la résolution 194 des Nations Unies.

Le mouvement BDS s’oppose à toute forme de racisme et ne vise aucun individu, mais plutôt les institutions complices de l’apartheid israëlien. “Notre prochain pas sera d’inviter les étudiants de notre université à se joindre au comité BDS et à continuer de mener une recherche approfondie au sujet des liens de l’université Concordia avec des institutions complices de l’occupation israëlien,” a dit Hoyos.

Les résultats du référendum de vendredi soir veulent dire que les deux plus grandes associations étudiantes accréditées à l’université Concordia appuient dorénavant la campagne BDS; la Concordia Student Union (CSU; qui represent plus que 30 000 étudiants et étudiantes) se joint maintenant à la Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) qui a endossé le mouvement BDS en janvier 2013.

Contact:

Javier Hoyos, président du comité ‘Oui aux BDS’
concordiabds [at] gmail [dot] com / https://yestobds.wordpress.com

A win for BDS : Concordia undergrads say Yes to BDS! –

big flag

BDS WINS!!!!

Concordians, we are SO overjoyed to tell you that all of our combined dedication, passion and determination has paid off!!!

Despite tough opposition, we did it! We thank you on behalf of the Palestinian people who we are in solidarity with – thank you!

The unofficial results were released a few minutes ago that BDS for Palestinian Human Rights won at Concordia University’s CSU referendum last week!!!!!!!!!!!

We have been given the official go-ahead by the CEO to give you the news & the official results will be released after 7 p.m. tonight.
Here is the initial tally from the Chief Electoral Officer:

https://www.facebook.com/csu.qc.ca/posts/1001394086541246

BDS Ballots have been counted and here are the official results:

Yes – 1276
No – 1067
Abstain – 237

Thank you everyone for your participation.

Photo: Demonstration in Solidarity with Gaza, Montreal, July/August 2014.

A statement by YES to BDS Committee

The Yes to BDS Committee is saddened once again by recent news about the BDS referendum. Whether or not we win or lose, it is now clearer than ever that dishonest violations of elections procedures on the part of the No Committee have been treated with a light slap on the wrist, and the issue of serious human rights violations recognized by the United Nations is trivialized.

As per the recently released CEO’s sanction report, actions taken by the No Committee were in direct violation of several CSU Standing Regulations. These violations allowed an imbalanced campaigning playground: misinformation was used in various forms to dissuade the public from voting Yes to the BDS motion based on falsified information, as cited by the CEO. The No Committee used propaganda tactics restricting the Concordia undergraduate population from making an informed decision, in an attempt to shift the vote in their favor. The Yes to BDS Committee strongly condemns the insufficient reprimand on the part of the CEO against the No Committee, given the severity of the violations committed.

The sanction issued by the CEO for these violations is a fine totaling $150. Precedent has been set in previous election years, where candidates were given harsher sanctions, including disqualification for similar violations. As early as March 2014, the current CEO sanctioned an ENCS candidate for violating similar regulations such as the misrepresentation of facts, campaigning after the designated campaigning period, and intent to sabotage the election by not following the rules of fair play.[i] All of the above have been cited as direct violations undertaken by the No Committee.

While CSU regulations allow for disqualification of a candidate who violates an election regulation, the regulations lack in stating clear consequences for violations of referendum rules. At this point we have thus completely lost any remnant of faith in the CSU regulations.

The CEO’s report released December 4th outlines merely a few of the many regulations broken by the No Committee. The Yes Committee has compiled a comprehensive report of these and a myriad of other violations witnessed by its members, and will present it as part of the Judicial Board appeal for further investigation and sanctions.

[i] http://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/5814

Concordia’s BDS Referendum Fraught with Calculated Corruption and Broken Bylaws

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Montreal, December 1, 2014

Concordia’s BDS Referendum Fraught with Calculated Corruption and Broken Bylaws

The Yes to BDS Committee condemns the failure of the democratic process surrounding the referendum on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) of university ties to Israel’s illegal occupation

The Yes to BDS Committee at Concordia University condemns the No to BDS Committee’s multiple violations of referendum rules and the problematic nature of the regulations themselves. The No Committee’s actions are calculated tactics that have precedent at other universities and show contempt for the democratic process:

  • Hours before polls opened on November 25, the Yes Committee’s referendum question was altered by parties other than the Yes Committee itself. The final question was misleading and omitted the essential elements of the BDS demands: to cease Israel’s violation of international law and human rights.
  • The No Committee spread lies to the student body, notably that BDS is anti-Semitic and would strip Jewish students and professors of their rights within the university.

“They campaigned using misinformation, scare tactics, and caused confusion around the issue,” said Javier I. Hoyos, chairperson of the Yes Committee.

The Yes Committee also condemns the Concordia Student Union (CSU)’s incomplete referendum regulations that allowed the No Committee to violate the rules and derail the referendum process without any consequences to them. The CSU bylaws fall short in upholding the principles of the democratic process.

“This process has been undemocratic and Concordia students deserve better,” said Hoyos. Due to the undemocratic and calculated tactics employed by the No Committee, student voters’ ballots may never be counted, despite this student by-election bringing out more than 2,400 voters — compared with only 818 last year.

“Concordia’s current electoral process does not account for parties whose main priority is not to win the question but instead to sabotage it,” said Hoyos. The Yes Committee thus calls on the CSU to embark in a student-wide consultation process to reform the student union bylaws.

“Given the number of violations committed on the part of the No Committee, it is crystal clear that they did not fear sanctions nor the possibility of being disqualified, since that could result in the referendum results being called off.”

The BDS movement is rooted in the student resistance to apartheid South Africa. Like the Concordia Graduate Students’ Association’s already existent BDS mandate, the undergraduate BDS campaign targets Israeli companies and institutions complicit with the occupation of the Palestinian people and land, such as Concordia’s bilateral agreement with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, which has cooperative research programs with two of Israel’s leading weapons developers, Rafael and Elbit.

Contact:
Javier I. Hoyos, Chair of the Yes to BDS Committee

concordiabds@gmail.com

https://yestobds.wordpress.com/

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BDS Quebec endorses “Yes to BDS” campaign at Concordia University

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This summer, the world witnessed yet another massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Those massacred were men, women and children who are occupied, besieged and, since 2007, subject to a total blockade by the armed forces of Israel, the occupying power.

This blockade is illegal, immoral and inhuman.

But the immorality of the collective punishment Israel is inflicting on the Palestinian people goes well beyond the borders of Gaza. Israel is an apartheid state, as defined by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Suppression of the Crime of Apartheid. Continue reading