U.S. lawmakers, Jewish leaders drop opposition to architect

By Reuters


Adar 10, 5766

New York political leaders and an umbrella group of Jewish organizations on Thursday gave up their opposition to using British architect Richard Rogers for the $1.7 billion expansion of the Jacob Javits Convention
Center in Manhattan.

Rogers came under fire last month for his involvement with a recently created organization of British architects - Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine - that had supported an economic boycott of Israel.

Controversy erupted after Rogers allowed the group in early February to hold its first meeting at his office in London.

Although Rogers cut his ties to the group last week, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Democratic U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner sought to have Roberts stripped of his role at the convention center, which is named after the late Sen. Javits, a prominent New York Jewish politician.

Rogers is in charge of plans to nearly double the size of the convention center by the year 2010.

Concerns about his links with the British group were allayed after Silver, Weiner and Rogers met on Thursday in the Manhattan offices of the Conference of Presidents, which represents over 50 U.S. Jewish organizations.

"Rogers told us he regretted hosting the meeting with that group and that he would never have hosted it if he had known the organization might call for a boycott of Israel," Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents, said after the meeting.

Hoenlein said Rogers explained on Thursday that he had allowed the group to use his office at the request of a friend and that he had attended only the first 10 minutes of the meeting.

"He did it as a convenience to a friend and has disassociated himself from the group," Hoenlein said.

Rogers, best known for his design of the Pompidou Center in Paris, said on Thursday he had no idea the architect group's meeting would discuss an anti-Israel economic boycott, a spokeswoman for Silver said.