The Volokh Conspiracy

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Volokh Conspiracy

British architects conclude Israel boycott was illegal


Earlier this year, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) voted to recommend barring their Israeli colleagues from the international architects' association. The action, naturally, proved both divisive and expensive. Now RIBA has reversed its earlier action, on legal advice. Apparently, "lawyers warned that such a policy was outside its charitable remit and could lead to Charity Committee censure."

Architect's Journal reports: "According to the institute, the motion calling for the IAUA's suspension, was beyond 'the powers of [RIBA] council' and 'was not in furtherance of the chairtable objects of the RIBA and should not have been placed before RIBA Council'." RIBA came to these conclusions without being prodded by litigation. Here in the U.S., a public interest group has brought a suit making similar arguments about the Presbyterian Church (USA)—that its BDS activities go beyond its legal remit.

RIBA is of course not the first association of a learned profession to walk back a boycott resolution in recent months. The American Studies Association did the same when faced with litigation.

Finally, on the subject of academic boycotts, it is worth noting a new book, The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, a collection of essays by scholars generally not of rightward political leaning. Here is a thoughtful review.