Open Letter to “Child and Adolescent Psychoanalysis in a Changing World” attendees 23 July 2019

An Open Letter

To those taking part in the Conference “Child and Adolescent Psychoanalysis in a Changing World”

July 23 2019

An invitation to our profession to reflect on an ethical issue.

As professionals and citizens, we can feel helpless when confronted with the severe physical and psychological suffering inflicted on children around the world, often the result of war or natural disaster. We can do little but hope that our Government and the major relief agencies take appropriate remedial action to address their humanitarian needs.  

The plight of Palestinian children is different. The extreme circumstances in which they find themselves are not due to natural events or war. Rather, they are planned and executed by the Israeli Government and its agencies. A focus on direct clinical treatments for these children will not deepen our understanding of their psychological suffering, nor do much to resolve their trauma. 

We are approaching you today because this conference is co-sponsored by the Israeli Psychoanalytic Association. It is thus an appropriate moment to consider the request of Palestinian civil society that we refrain from co-operation with Israeli institutions that have not expressed their opposition to the Occupation, and thus normalise the status quo. This is a means by which we can exert pressure for fundamental political change.  

Israeli State priorities find expression in policies that subject Palestinian society to unremitting pressure, undermining community life in all its aspects. Palestinian families are made targets for systemic abuse within their own land. Children are subject to the unaccountable and often indescribable violence perpetrated by the sniper and the bomber, the settler and the jailer, by the bureaucrats who manage the occupation and the officials who administer the siege of Gaza.

To achieve a world in which Palestinian children can be as secure as their Jewish Israeli neighbours, we need to press for equal political and civil rights as well as humanitarian assistance and the provision of adequate health care.

We hope that you have a rewarding day, and that the Conference succeeds in achieving its aims. We hope too that you will take note of those whose needs lie outside the scope of the subjects you will be discussing. All of us have a responsibility here. To redress the hurt and harm inflicted on Palestinian children, to work towards a society in Palestine/Israel in which every child enjoys equal life chances, requires our solidarity outside the consulting room. 

UK-Palestine Mental Health Network                     23rd July 2019