Challenging anti-Palestinian racism in Social Work and Academia; Fatherhood in Occupied Jerusalem and more

Dear friends and colleagues,

Join us in Palestine in October: click here for details of our 2022 study tour

1. On the front line: professional collusion in anti-Palestinian racism:
    a) Social Work (BASW) and
    b) Occupational Therapy (Brunel University)
2. This is the Story of Ahmad Manasra: video, new poster…
3. ‘Father-child connectivities in Occupied East Jerusalem’: webinar with Abeer Otman
4. Why it’s Apartheid: Palestinian human rights workers explain
5. ‘How the UK government has bought into Israeli hasbara’ by Gwyn Daniel

 1. On the front line: professional collusion in anti-Palestinian racism:

Faced by an increasingly influential solidarity movement, lobby groups have sought to protect Apartheid Israel by deliberately conflating Judaism with Zionism, attempting to present critics as anti-Semites. Unfortunately, this fallacious argument has been embraced by the Establishment. Activists within our profession face censure, and censorship, often by officials with a duty to uphold academic freedom and freedom of speech. If you have personal experience of similar incidents in your workplace or professional group, do let us know (at
a) BASW (British Association of Social Workers)

Our last mailing included a letter  from a number of Palestinian organisations protesting at BASW’s endorsement of the anti-Palestinian IHRA ‘definition of anti-Semitism’ without consulting the membership.

A number of BASW members have now made public their own detailed criticism of a BASW podcast that smears campaigners for Palestinian rights, and seeks to conflate criticism of apartheid Israel with anti-Semitism. The UK-Palestine Mental Health Network is appalled that a professional association representing British social workers has produced such a podcast and is refusing to remove it from the public domain. BASW’s Code of Ethics proclaim it to be a promoter of human rights. However, just at the moment when the international human rights community establishes a consensus regarding Israel’s apartheid status, BASW steps in to discourage solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Their complaint can be read in full here. 

If you are a member of BASW and wish to join in the protests about BASW’s actions, please email us at 

b) Brunel University censors interview with Palestinian psychiatrist Dr Samah Jabr

Meanwhile… the lobby group UK Lawyers for Israel is boasting that they have pressured the Dean of Brunel University, Professor Paul Hellewell, into preventing Occupational Therapy students from reading an interview with the head of Mental Health Services in Palestine, Dr Samah Jabr. Samah herself has shared her reflections on this, concluding that ‘the entire process of mainstreaming knowledge overlooks the colonised and oppressed’.

In this case, the lobbyists disturbingly suggest that the interview – concerned with the traumatic impact of house demolitions, the bombardment of Gaza etc – ‘abused’ academic freedom. The UKPMHN has sent a letter of protest to Professor Hallewell (copied at the end of this newsletter). We have received an acknowledgement, and await a further response from the University authorities.

2.  This is the Story of Ahmad Manasra

The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) has produced a podcast about Ahmad Manasra, a 20 year old Palestinian youth, currently imprisoned by Israel since he was 13 years old.    

In less than nine minutes, the podcast gives a detailed overview of the shocking events in 2015 leading to Ahmad Manasra’s arrest, imprisonment, and its harrowing impact on his emotional and physical well-being. 

Look out for further opportunities to support Ahmad in future mailings…

3. ‘Father-child connectivities in Occupied East Jerusalem’ with Abeer Otman (online webinar)

We are delighted to promote this online-webinar in which Abeer Otman, Research Fellow at Birkbeck’s Centre for Research and Embedding Human Rights (CREHR), asks how relationships between fathers and their children ‘interrupt state violence as a way of resisting an ongoing wounding and oppression and insist on the rights of fathers and children to a safe family life, protected  home, dignity and the maintenance of love amidst dismemberment’.

This webinar takes place on 23 May 2022, 13:00 — 15:00pm (UK). Register here.

4. Why it’s Apartheid

In this 20 minute video Palestinian human rights workers explain precisely why the international human rights community has belatedly reached a common view. Creating and maintaining an apartheid society is a crime against humanity. The existence of an apartheid society creates a shared and universal responsibility to work towards its fundamental reform.

5. ‘How the UK government has bought into Israeli hasbara’ by Gwyn Daniel 

In this excellent article Gwyn exposes the circular ‘thinking’ that justifies the Government’s collusion with Israeli Apartheid. ‘Hasbara’ has been translated as ‘propaganda’ – sometimes outright lies, sometimes a warped selection of ‘facts’ that completely distort reality.

‘That the UK government’s foreign policy on Israel/Palestine is in a state of impasse and moral bankruptcy is hard to deny. One visible sign is that its communications are characterised by the reiteration – ad nauseam – of a few empty mantras. The favourite is that of being “firmly committed to a two-state solution”, which is “to be achieved by meaningful negotiation between the two parties”. Read on…

Appendix: UKPMHN’s letter to Professor Hellewell, Brunel University
 Professor Paul Hellewell,
Dean, Brunel University,
Kingston Ln,
Uxbridge UB8 3PH29th April 2022
 Dear Professor Hellewell,
We are writing as representatives of the UK Palestine Mental Health Network, which has occupational therapists among its members, to express our deep concern on learning that you have acceded to UK Lawyers for Israel’s blatant interference in the internal affairs of your department
We understand that UKLFI demanded that an article featuring an interview with our Palestinian colleague Dr Samah Jabr be removed from the curriculum of the Occupational Therapy course on the grounds that some students had complained to them of feeling “upset and insulted” by the article. Although in February UKLFI reported that you had not agreed to their demands, by April you had reassured the students (and UKLFI) that the article would not be used again. We can only assume that you came under enormous pressure if you decided to override the academic judgement of one of your own staff that this article was relevant to her course and valuable to her students. 
We wish to draw your attention to the fact that UK Lawyers for Israel have a track record of this kind of interference, in which they attempt to bully academic and other institutions into compliance with their own declared pro Israel agenda. We have many examples of this – from their efforts to change school textbooks on the Middle East, to singling out academics who voice support for Palestinian rights for ostracism and censure.
If universities give in to this kind of bullying, they are complicit in the silencing of those who, like Dr Jabr, name oppression and human rights abuses and write about their effects. It also brings universities such as yours into international disrepute, as described by Dr Jabr herself.
We wish to draw your attention to the irresponsible conflation made by UKLFI between critiques of Israel and the well-being of Jewish students as in their contention that “the article was liable to promote hostility towards Jewish students”. This assumption is both misleading and mischievous and, by implicitly implicating Jewish students in the abuses perpetrated by Israel, UKLFI contributes to the very processes to which it claims to object. 
Moreover, we wonder whether you have considered the impact on any Palestinian students taking the course of having a representation of their collective experience denied space and legitimacy? This amounts to discrimination. Do you think it will contribute to harmonious relationships between Jewish and Arab students if the former are able to involve a body like UKLFI which has the power, via your offices, to exert such influence over their curriculum? This is likely ultimately to prove harmful to the University’s Jewish students.

Finally, we would like you to consider how insulting it is to a person of Dr Jabr’s stature and intellectual distinction to remove an article featuring her profound analysis of the political contexts for trauma, at the behest of an organisation which openly acts as an arm of Israeli state propaganda. Are you aware that Dr Jabr is the senior clinician responsible for mental health service provision in Palestine?  
We ask you to reconsider your decision and to demonstrate to your own university and the wider academic community that UK Lawyers for Israel has no part whatsoever to play in the university’s function of welcoming a full range of intellectual perspectives, including decolonial thought. We assume that Dr Jabr’s interview was selected by the course tutor because it provided a critique of those psychological theories and practices which ignore multiple forms of systemic oppression. By suppressing this interview, the University therefore runs the risk of colluding with a discourse in which oppressive practices are not named and the victims of oppression are treated as if they are aggressive and partisan. This only allows lobby groups such as UKLFI to normalise explicitly racist practices which are now recognised by the international human rights community, including Amnesty International and the UN Human Rights Commission, as examples of the crime of apartheid. 
Yours sincerely
Teresa Bailey, Gwyn Daniel, Christiane van Duuren, David Harrold, Martin Kemp, Eliana Pinto and Guy Shennan
UK-Palestine Mental Health Network