We are writing to ask you to sign an Open Letter calling on mental health professionals to think carefully before attending a psychotherapy conference due to take place in Israel this summer.Our intention is to collect the signatures of colleagues within the mental health community who support this initiative, and then see if we can publish the letter in a national newspaper. If you wish to sign, please do so by Sunday 21st June, by replying to this email, with your name and profession or position.
(Our email:firstname.lastname@example.org)The letter is copied below this message. Background information is contained in this attachment.
Please bring this letter to the attention of as many colleagues in the mental health community as you can, giving them a chance to take this minimal step in solidarity with our Palestinian counterparts. However, please do not circulate by facebook, twitter or online blogs as it is not yet to be made public.
There is understandable anxiety about taking a position in support of civil liberties and ethnic equality, international law and human rights when it comes to Israel. If you feel uncertain about this, we recommend that you explore the website of the group Artists for Palestine, and particularly the page ‘Reasons not to boycott’, which can be found at http://artistsforpalestine.org.uk/reasons-not-to-boycott/. Please contact us if you wish to discuss the matter directly with us.
As we say in the letter, psychotherapists instinctively support efforts at conflict resolution through the medium of the spoken word and interpersonal connection. It is the failure of the international community to exert any real pressure on Israel that explains why the ‘peace process’ has not produced peace, but has instead acted as a fig leaf behind which the process of ethnic cleansing has relentlessly continued. While our governments protect and defend Israel, it is left to ordinary people to mount an effective challenge.
Please forward this request by email to other individuals and networks concerned about mental health and human rights.
Teresa Bailey, Christine van Duuren, Martin Kemp, Mohammed Mukhaimar, Eliana Pinto, Cathy Troupp, Adrian Worrall
Last summer over 2,200 persons, including over 500 children, died in Israel’s appalling assault on Gaza. We can only imagine the ongoing physical and psychological suffering of those who survived.
Just one year on, the European Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Therapists (EABCT) has chosen Israel as the location for its 2015 annual conference.
Rather than help participants acknowledge the dire psychological consequences of the Occupation, the organisers invite overseas participants to regard Israel as a successful, vibrant, multicultural tourist destination.
Therapeutic work is an ethical practice that protects against the possibility of replicating or legitimising abusive power relations between unequal participants. While psychotherapists instinctively endorse efforts at conflict resolution through interpersonal contact, to promote ‘dialogue’ in the abstract shows a deplorable lack of attention to these principles.
The British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists passed a critical resolution on this issue at their 2014 AGM. The Palestine Union of Social Workers and Psychologists have also condemned the choice of venue. We therefore call on the EABCT to re-locate to another country or cancel this Conference. We hope that clinicians who are seriously considering whether or not to attend will reflect on the realities of life in Jerusalem, and ask themselves if attending such an event is consistent with their ethical responsibilities as mental health professionals.
Teresa Bailey, M.A. Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, UKPMHN
Christine van Duuren, Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Specialty Doctor in Psychiatry / Psychotherapy UKPMHN
Martin Kemp PhD, Psychotherapist UKPMHN
Mohammed Mukhaimar, MSc Psychotherapist, founder of Sumud Palestine UK, UKPMHN
Eliana Pinto, M.A., Consultant Psychotherapist (Retired) UKPMHN
Cathy Troupp, M.A., M. Psych. Psych., Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist, UKPMHN
Adrian Worrall, DOccPsy, Researcher, UKPMHN