Local politicians and some Jewish organisations have demanded Lord Rogers be sacked from the project because of the group, which opposes the separation barrier that has sliced up the West Bank and the building of settlements in Palestinian territories. The group has also criticised Israeli building companies for their support of settlement building, and has called for an economic boycott of those firms.What a sad sight! But it doesn't seem to be working.
Such positions would ordinarily be controversial in New York, but they become even more combustible given Lord Rogers' project in the city: a redesign of a convention centre built in the memory of Jacob Javitz, a firm supporter of the Jewish state who spent more than 20 years in the US Senate - many of them as the sole Jewish senator. Boycotts of Israel are also illegal under US law.
Lord Rogers insists his involvement in the group is limited to lending his offices in London for its inaugural meeting last month. "There is a lot of discussion going on. There is no final decision on anyone's part yet," said Howard Rubenstein, a spokesman for Lord Rogers.
In the last week, Lord Rogers has severed his links with the organisation and stated explicitly that he does not support a boycott of Israel. He is also adamant that he spent only 10 minutes at the meeting.
"Hamas must renounce terrorism," he told the New York Post yesterday, attempting to shore up support. "Hamas must recognise Israel's right to exist. Just making a statement is not enough. They have to back it up."
The effort appeared to have little effect. "His position on Hamas is not relevant," said Malcolm Hoenlein, of the Conference of Major Jewish Organisations. "The relevant issue is a group that is convened for the purpose of activities detrimental to a democratic state ...It's true that making demands of Hamas to abandon some of their election promises is an affront to democracy, but then the PA isn't really a state and it never will be a state, at least not as we know it. Maybe Malcolm Hoenlein meant something else.