From the Editors Desk- An open letter to the Liberal Professions

From the Editors Desk


            An unwritten Talmud fable tells the story of the architects of the Tower of Babel who protested the naming of the fruits of their labor as the "The National Lottery Tower of Babel". Rather timidly, they suggested that if the tower were named in honor of a public institution set up to lure the poor into parting with their hard-earned pennies, people would think that ‘Luck’ is the landlord, and God will refuse to come to its gates.


            The people of authority heard this, and threatened the impudent architects that architects-from-distant-lands would be brought in to do the job. Seeing that they would be deprived of what little payment they got anyway, and in order to avoid embarrassment amidst the gentiles, the architects set about establishing a non-profit organization of their own, to promote their interests and to protect their rights. God doubted that it work, although he thought it was worth a try, after all, he said to himself, what do they have left but their good name? 


            Nevertheless, the architects did not succeed in finding a common language to establish an agenda. Some thought it was a good idea to recruit as many members as possible, including donkey drivers, and oil company workers, there being no electricity at the time. Others pinned their hopes on the power of exhibitions, seminars, and awards. And others yet doubted their relations with the craftsmen, something like engineers, who have indeed posed a threat to their livelihoods ever since.


            Alas, getting to the point, not one among them thought to turn the organization into a proper professional society like the Royal Institute of British Architects or the American Institute of Architects. If only they had done so! If only they had done so, today no one would insult their good names, harm their prestige, nor threaten their livelihood. If only they had done so, today architects could be working for a decent living, in a respected profession, and they could even be supporting their own poor organization.


            Even in the times of Joseph the Dreamer and long before Sigmund formulated psychoanalysis, it was clear to all that dreams express one’s deprivations and fantasies. You dream about what you can’t have. If  you are thirsty, you dream about a cool glass of water; if you need to pee, you  dream of relieving yourself in a green field. But, until you wake up from the dream, you still don’t get rid of your problem.


            On autumn days like these, when a new leader is about to head the so-called "Society of Architects, Liberal Professions, and other Designers", when sixty percent of its members do not have the money to pay their membership, and when any landowner can hire any Tom, Dick or Harry (or Yossi, Moshe, or Danny) to design a building, and after six years of bullshitting around in the name of promoting the profession – it’s about time we woke up from the dream.


            The National Planning and Building Law practically grants permission to plan any type of building to all other professions besides architects. If we could only understand the magnitude of this historical mistake and activate pressure to change this ‘minor’ detail, no one would dare to dispense of our hard-earned, honorable diplomas and many years of experience. Let the engineers engineer, the designers design, and give the architects the chance to produce better architecture.


P.S. My wife says that if she only had half of my optimism, I would be eating her dust a long time ago. I am not sure that in such a reality I should remain optimistic, or wake up from my dreams.


            Dr. Ami Ran.

חזרה לגליון 55    back to issue 55