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Haaretz claims HaKol HaYehudi Report led to Cancellation of Azrieli Prize for Architecture

The paper states that HaKol HaYehudi’s report on the plan to award the prize to an Arab architect for a nationalistic design led the foundation to cancel the award.

  • Hakol Hayehudi
  • ד' אדר ב תשפ"ד - 15:37 14/03/2024
גודל: א א א
betzalel. (קרדיט צילום: מיכאל יעקובסון)
betzalel. (קרדיט צילום: מיכאל יעקובסון)

<<<לכתבה בעברית

The “Haaretz" newspaper claims that a recent report by HaKol HaYehudi led the Azrieli Foundation to cancel this year's architecture prize. This prize is considered the most prestigious award in Israel for students in the field of architecture.

Haaretz journalist Naama Riva alleges that the decision to cancel the award this year was because of a HaKol HaYehudi report that led to public outcry several months ago.

At the time, we exposed that among the projects nominated for the Azrieli Foundation award, which comes with 100,000 NIS in prize money, is one by Lubna A-Saniya, an extremist activist and student at the Betzalel Academy. She was nominated for a project aimed at expediting illegal Bedouin construction in the Negev.

Haaretz states that about 30% of architecture students in Israel are Arabs, and that several projects of a nationalistic orientation were submitted to the competition.

Another submission highlighted by Haaretz is the project of Hamda Khidr from the Technion entitled "One City, Two Peoples." The project proposes redesigning downtown Lod following the riots in 2021. “This project proposes a new downtown with a spatial separation. The new separation is based on the intersection of the historical Palestinian infrastructure with other aspects of the conflict."

The project proposed to redesign the city center with the intention of “trying to open up the conflict rather than presenting a false form of coexistence." To this end, it proposes to establish central areas of protest, along with religious centers for the three Abrahamic religions, and houses in the style of an Arab village. Haaretz also said it would include "statements from both sides such as 'There is no democracy under occupation' and 'Pure Lod forever'." It also suggested integrating images of Palestinian flags with flags of the ‘Kach’ movement and the State of Israel.

Another project is entitled “Midan." The project page states, "This project asks how one can support and live the Palestinian resistance on a daily basis in a physical space that changes in accordance with the unstable reality? It also explores how to increase unity among Palestinians in all parts of historical Palestine.”

The website of the Betzalel School of Architecture, which is named after David Azrieli, also describes a project redesigning the Jalameh checkpoint, and described it as separating between Israel and the West Bank.

According to Haaretz, the Azrieli Foundation wanted to avoid a crisis if one of the listed works was selected to receive the award and therefore canceled the prize.

According to the Azrieli Foundation itself, the prize and the competition were canceled this year because of the war, and a desire to divert the money to other projects related to the war.

In addition to the article, Haaretz also published an oped by its editorial board titled "Who's Afraid of Arab Architects?" which criticized the Azrieli Foundation’s decision.

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The oped states that "the unspoken truth is that the prize was canceled for fear that pro-Palestinian projects would win, such as two projects that incorporated Palestinian flags into their visual material, one that proposed a redesign of the Jenin-Jalameh checkpoint, and a non-stationary theater that would move between places in the West Bank and Israel to connect all Palestinians in the region.”

The oped states “Bibi and his supporters are afraid,” and that “Israeli Academia has a problem wherein it silences Palestinian students and their opinions.”

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