War on the Mind

Trauma, Survival and Resilience in Palestine and Israel

Mental Health Conference – 15th May 2021, 10 to 5pm

Organised by Bradford-on-Avon Friends of Palestine


UK-Palestine Mental Health Network

10 to 10.15am Welcome and Introduction by Bradford on Avon Friends of Palestine

10.15 to 10.30am: Opening of Conference by the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network

10.30 – 11.10am: Dr Mohamed Altawil and David Harrold (Palestine Trauma Centre): “Trauma, Resilience and Resistance in Gaza”

11.20 – 11.50am: Q&A with Harry Fear on his film “Gaza: Still Alive”

11.50am – 12.10pm: A message from Gaza, by Dr Yassar Abu Jamei (psychiatrist and Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme) – followed by a break

12.10 – 12.50pm: Asrar Kayyal: “Psychological Services in a Colonial Context: Reproducing Oppression of The Colonised”

12.50 – 1.30pm: lunch

1.30 – 2.10pm: Dr Ruchama Marton: “The Impact of the Occupation Derivatives on the Zionist Israeli Collective (ZIC) Mind”

2.20 – 3pm: Maria Chambers (Firefly International): “PTSD and Children Affected by Conflict”

3 – 3.20pm: Break

3.20 – 4pm: Dr Samah Jabr: “Resistance To The Occupation As An Essential Element In The Recovery Of The Occupied Mind”

4.10 – 4.50pm: DrJohn Soos: “Resisting Political Violence in Palestine: Adaptive Coping in Face of Continuous Trauma

4.50 – 5.30pm: Panel discussion/Q&A with audience

5.30 – 5.40pm: Closing of Conference

Introduction followed by Dr Mohamed Altawil – Clinical Psychologist & Clinical Projects Supervisor with the Palestine Trauma Centre, co-presenting with David Harrold (teacher, writer and Chair of Trustees at PTC)

Mohamed Altawil grew up as a Palestinian refugee; his family was expelled from their village in 1948 during the Nakba. He spent his childhood in in a Gaza refugee camp, and as an adult, became an expert in trauma therapy, first working in Gaza, then going on to be the main founder of the Palestine Trauma Centre in the UK. The Palestine Trauma Centre is a charity which, through its specialist psychosocial and therapeutic projects in Gaza, works to support traumatised children and their families, and to raise awareness in the UK of the mental health situation on the ground there. Mohamed also works as a lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and, as a practitioner in the private sector.

Harry Fear – Journalist and Film-maker, who will be presenting his documentary “Gaza: Still Alive”

Harry Fear is an independent journalist and filmmaker best known for his reporting on the European migrant crisis and his coverage from inside the Gaza Strip (especially during the 2012 and 2014 conflicts). He focuses his films on the experiences of oppressed communities and individuals, stricken by conflict or crisis. His television, radio and documentary work has taken him to 29 countries across 5 continents. For 2 years, he worked as an UK as a Documentary Correspondent, setting up a production unit out of the alternative RT Channel in London. Harry also worked for four years as a freelance and staff news reporter for RT. His independent coverage throughout the 2012 Israel-Gaza conflict, pioneering the use of wartime video streaming, was nominated for a Next Century Foundation Media Award; his eyewitness testimony also appeared on the BBC, Al Jazeera and CBC. Harry is also a keen public speaker and had delivered three TEDx talks.

Dr Yassar Abu Jamei is a psychiatrist and the General Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme. He is also a father currently living through the horrors of Israel’s ongoing military offensive in the Gaza Strip. After one of this week’s nights of relentless attacks, he wrote about the horror of seeing the faces of his terrified children as bombs rained on the city. His letter also calls for action from the international community.

Yassar will be joining the conference to read us this letter, direct from Gaza.

Asrar Kayyan – Researcher in Community Psychology and Intern Educational Psychologist.

Asrar is originally from the displaced village of Al-Birwa and was raised in Kufr-Yasif village – both are located in the Galilee area in the north of the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948. She currently lives in Jerusalem.

Asrar provides educational and psychological services in the East-Jerusalem area, both in the public and private sectors. She is mainly interested in researching psychological wellbeing in colonial contexts (particularly education and violent crime withing colonised communities).

Dr Samah Jabr – Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist and Writer

Samah Jabr MD is a Jerusalemite psychiatrist, psychotherapist and writer. Since 2016, she has been the Head of the Mental Health Unit at the Palestine Ministry of Health; and Assistant Clinical Professor at George Washington University. Her research is published in both Palestinian and international peer-reviewed journals. She has published columns in newspapers, and her work features in the French documentary Beyond The Frontlines: Tales of Resistance and Resilience in Palestine.

Dr Samah Jabr is also a consultant and trainer for the the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime, and for ONGs such as Save The Children and Doctors Without Borders. Inspired by the work of Frantz Fanon, she has particular interest and expertise in how mental health intersects with colonialism and universal human rights. In the past year, she has been at the forefront of tackling the mental health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in Palestine.

Dr Ruchama Marton – Psychiatrist, Psychologist and Activist

Born in Jerusalem, Dr Ruchama Marton has written and lectured extensively on human rights, women’s rights, and mental health theory and practice connected to those issues.

Dr. Marton is the founder of Association Of Israeli and Palestinian Physicians for Human Rights, now (Physicians for Human Rights -Israel). The Association, established at the beginning of the Palestinian Uprising of 1987, worked to mobilise opinion in Israel and abroad against the occupation and its use of torture and abuse; documented cases of injustice; and offered free medical treatment to those denied and neglected by the authorities. Today, PHR-I continues its human rights activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and inside Israel.

Dr Marton is the recipient of several peace and human rights awards. She is one of 1000 women nominated for the 1000 Women Nobel Prize For Peace, 2005. In 2010, Dr Marton and PHR-I were the laureates of the Right Livelihood Award (aka the “Alternative Nobel Prize For Peace”). She is still actively involved in campaigning for Palestinian Human rights, and in feminist activism.

Maria Chambers – Project Coordinator with Firefly International, Trainer for ACT International, and Artist

Maria Chambers lives in the South West of England, but travels widely, particularly in the Middle-East, for her work with Firefly International and Action For Child Trauma, a charity which trains local healthcare workers how to treat children with PTSD. Maria also works extensively as Project Coordinator for Firefly International which provides educational and psychosocial support to Syrian children. As well as a humanitarian, Maria is an artist and uses art and creativity in her work with refugee children.

Dr John Soos – Clinical Psychologist and Activist

John Soos, PhD is a Vancouver-based consulting clinical psychologist in independent practice and a Palestine solidarity activist. He has travelled to Palestine on several occasions – as a pilgrim, marathon runner, to assist with the olive harvest, to conduct training seminars for mental health practitioners and as a human rights worker. John was a Psychology Consultant on the film “Gaza Still Alive”. His talk will include his work with mental health professionals in Gaza – whose “dual trauma” is borne of living under traumatogenic conditions of political violence, and the vicarious trauma which is secondary to their work as healers.