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Interruption of lecture at Cornell

  • 1.  Interruption of lecture at Cornell

    Posted 12 days ago
    Dear Fellows,
    I am copying below a letter I have sent to Professor Meejin Yoon, Dean of the School of Architecture Art and Planning at Cornell. I have written in response to a report of the disruption by the Chair of the Architecture Department of a lecture being given as one of a series on the occupation of deserts, a perfectly legitimate subject for architects to think about. Read on:

    Dear Dean Yoon,
    I am writing in response to the report that a lecture being given this last Monday October 5th, at the Cornell Department of Architecture by Arianna Aïsha Azoulay on the subject of the occupation of the Palestinian desert was interrupted by a message reportedly from the Chair of the Architecture Department (but from close inspection it seems to have originated from Professor Hafner which is why he is copied here).
    Quite apart from the general observation that such a message is in violation of academic freedom, it is also the case that in its particularity, it is an assault on legitimate commentary. The documentation of the continuing assaults of the Israeli Defense Forces on the Bedouin camp in Al-Araqib is just one example justifying the thesis Professor Azulay was presumably trying to convey. I have visited that camp and talked with those affected. I am also working with Palestinian colleagues on building within a refugee camp and hear the accounts of elders and the forced displacement of their families. Even as I write, the residents of Battir, heirs to a 4,000 years old landscape of irrigated terrace farming are being harassed by armed settlers with the backing of the IDF with the clear intent of "annexing" that land.
    Professor Azoulay is recognized in the wider world as a reliable authority on the subject of the colonisation of the Palestinian desert and her interpretation of historical facts has documented legitimacy. It is unconscionable that a distinguished institution such as Cornell should see fit to interrupt a lecture in the manner reported by the head of department or a professor. This type of behaviour does not serve the students well and it demeans the reputation of your school. I very much hope that you can address the issue and make it clear to the entire academic community that such reckless usurpation of academic protocols will not be tolerated.
    Sincerely,
    Hubert Murray FAIA

    If any of you are moved to write to the Dean I invite you to do so. As Fellows I see that a major part of this honorific is that we uphold the values of our profession and of the schools that are training tomorrow's professionals.

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