The ‘Wounds Inside’: Giacaman, Jabr, Ziv And Others Explore The Mental Health/Politics Interface

1. ‘Reframing public health in wartime: from the Biochemical Model to the “Wounds Inside”’ by Rita Giacaman

A fascinating insight into the evolution of the Institute of Community and Public Health (ICPH) at Birzeit University, led by Professor Rita Giacaman, which has devised new research measures and approaches that challenge Western biomedical approaches to social forms of suffering.

Giacaman concludes: ‘Palestinians do not want charity, or medications and therapies to help them withstand injustice. While it is true that humanitarian assistance and relief operations are needed in times of chronic crises, those must be coupled with a serious attempt at resolving the root causes of ill-health, which, in the Palestinian case, requires a socio-political resolution: justice, freedom, sovereignty, and self-determination before good health and peace can be achieved.’

2. ‘A monologue with the ‘Other’: the inauthenticity of discourse under occupation’  by Dr Samah Jabr

In this article psychiatrist Dr Samah Jabr also touches on ‘the dialectical relationship between the psychological and political’. She exposes the arrogance and elitism that lies behind the arguments offered by the IARPP to hide its ‘subtle support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine’. Dr Jabr challenges the powerful who assume ‘ownership of the virtuous language of “dialogue,” the “third” and “empathy” while asserting that Palestinians who decline their kind invitation might be indulging in the reprehensible language of “splitting,” “non-inclusiveness” or “acting out”.’

By persisting with their plans, the IARPP, Dr Jabr concludes, ‘is losing a unique opportunity to respond to the voices that ask for a genuinely safe space for Palestinians and their supporters. We have had enough Israeli monologues with Palestinian “Others” who are merely decorative objects or sad examples of outright dishonesty. We need conditions in which Palestinians can bring their full authentic selves and share their true reflections. Only then can trust be established; only then can our real relationships and motivations be understood. In that safe space, we can all contribute meaningfully to political and psychological transformation that will bring a mutual emancipation and humanisation for both Israelis and Palestinians.’

3. ‘The Deportation of Asylum Seekers as an Ethical Challenge for the Medical Profession’ by Hadas Ziv, Physician for Human Rights-Israel

The Israeli Minister Health has attacked the position taken by PHR-I on the ethical issues raised by Israel’s plan to organise mass deportations of black refugees. Hadas Ziv responds here, in a paper that ‘will focus on the medical-ethical issue that is currently under discussion: can a physician play a role in such a deportation policy? What is the duty of a doctor for her patients who are asylum seekers? What is the unique role of the Ministry of Health given a government policy that is hostile to the undocumented who live among us?’ She concludes that ‘either you are a doctor, or you are a deporter.’ A paper that touches the roles of health workers in the UK and many other countries that have introduced draconian strategies against asylum seekers and refugees.

4. ‘Mental Health Support to Palestinians’: listen here to an 18 minute radio interview in which Dr Elizabeth Berger, founder member of the USA-Palestine Mental Health Network, discusses the interface between the Occupation and mental health, and the reasoning behind the call for IARPP to re-locate its conference outside Israel:

5. ‘Pressure mounts over psychoanalysts’ 2019 conference, slated for Tel Aviv’: a Mondoweiss article by Dr Alice Rothchild, of the US group Jewish Voice for Peace, providing further commentary on the IARPP’s controversial decision to locate its 2019 conference in Israel.

6. ‘Searching for Dignity’. With this video interview we commemorate the contribution of the late Dr Ahmed abu-Tawahina, clinical psychologist and Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Project, who died on 26thFebruary, 2018:

Searching for Dignity’ an article in the Lancet by Rajaie Batniji on his experience in Gaza, refers to the work of Dr abu-Tawahina:

7. Free Munther Amira, and all political prisoners! We publish this in support of the international movement demanding the release from prison of former Secretary General of the Palestine Union of Social Workers and Psychologists, Munther Amira. Munther was recently sentenced to 8 months imprisonment for participating in protests against the Occupation:

8. ‘How the Palestine movement taught me to confront anti-Semitism’
At the Western world descends into a bleak McCarthyism founded on a gross misrepresentation of the Palestinian solidarity movement, we share an article which accords more authentically with our experience of the diverse and global network that supports the struggle for Palestinian rights:

9. Opportunities for Research Grants to Palestinian Researchers
Information about scholarships available to Palestinian researchers at the Medical School, and the Centre for Ethnicity and Citizenship, at Bristol Univeristy:

10. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Last but not least… Click here to watch a brief video on former human rights leaders and organisations that have won the Nobel Peace Prize, and to add your name to a petition supporting the nomination of the BDS movement for the 2018 award: