Open letter to members of the International Neuropsychoanalytic Association (NPSA)

Open letter to members of the International Neuropsychoanalytic Association (NPSA)from the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network

We write to protest the decision of the NPSA to locate its 2023 Conference in Tel Aviv.

It is common knowledge that Palestinian civil society has courteously requested that the international community refrain from acts that collude in a denial of the social injustice, military occupation and oppression to which they are subject. 

To ignore this request is to side with a colonial system of ethnic erasure; a society that the international, Israeli and Palestinian human rights community have declared – in detailed and fully documented reports (see notes below) – to exemplify the crime of apartheid. Apartheid is a crime against humanity under international law: it is our collective responsibility to work to dismantle it. The NPSA’s decision means turning a blind eye to Israel’s deplorable record of human rights abuses and multiple infringements of international law.

The NPSA is asking you to ignore reality: a regime that has for decades (through the use of torture, house demolitions, the plunder of land, the abuse of children, repeated massacres, the routine illegal use of lethal force etc) inflicted mass trauma on the Palestinian people. This is not a place to locate a ‘civilised’ conversation about ‘Play’.

The NPSA may protest that it is neutral, that its presence in Tel Aviv should not be taken as supportive of the regime or its racist ideology: that the NPSA does not intend to ‘normalise’ apartheid.

The evidence suggests otherwise, and is there on its website for everyone to see:

When we open this page, we are immediately presented with a series of photographs that, however naïvely or unwittingly, portray Israel as an unproblematic location for scientific work. The snapshots show a country of beauty, a multi-ethnic oasis with a rich cultural heritage, at the same time historic and spiritual, vibrant and forward-looking.

This is illustrative of a profound splitting expressive of the regime’s supremacist fantasies. Israel is not a safe, law-abiding country. The privileges that the NPSA invites you to enjoy – of comfort and security, freedom to travel (and by the quickest and most economical means), access to the beach, of not being targeted due to your ethnicity or religion – are denied to millions of Palestine’s indigenous population. You will be enjoying the privileges afforded by apartheid.

The reality is of relentless state violence and repression; racist laws; and a shocking toll in the maiming and killing of mainly young Palestinian civilians. To get a sense of how distorted a view is being offered to NPSA members, please spend some time exploring the Israel-Palestine Timeline website.

We call on you, as a member or supporter of the NPSA:

i) to protest to your regional associations and to the international leadership, calling for the postponement of this congress until such time as a full assessment of Israel as an appropriate location can be made. Please request that this assessment includes proper consultation with Palestinian mental health professionals and associations.

ii) to refrain from attending this conference, should it go ahead, and to indicate to the organisation your reasons for taking this decision.

The UKPMHN welcomes any contact with individuals or groups belonging to the NPSA, or enquiries from those considering attending this conference, or members of other organisations that are being asked to participate in similar events.

See: Human Rights Watch 2021; B’Tselem 2021; Amnesty International 2022; Al Haq 2022.