FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Elizabeth Berger, MD USA PalMHN
Phone: (215) 740-3090
Over 1000 signatures protest mental health group’s decision to meet in Israel
New York, NY February 12, 2018
Over one thousand mental health workers and professionals have signed a petition protesting the decision of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) to hold its 2019 international conference in Tel Aviv, citing human rights abuses by the state of Israel and discriminatory practices which render full participation of local and international clinicians an impossibility.
Holding the conference in Israel inevitably severely limits conference participation by Palestinian clinicians because of the longstanding imposition of movement restrictions, curfews, and checkpoints by Israel as well as its targeting of community leaders in Palestine–such as the arrest in January 2018 of Munther Amira, a former Secretary General of the Palestine Union of Social Workers and Psychologists. What’s more, the state of Israel has announced in January 2018 its redoubled effort to blacklist international persons suspected of criticism of Israel, who will not be permitted to enter the country. Members of the Jewish Voice for Peace, the American Friends Service Committee, and members of many other non-violent political action groups have been singled out by the Israeli government. Mental health workers belonging to these and other forbidden organizations will be blocked from entering Israel and deported. In addition, clinicians from a number of neighboring countries in the Middle East are prevented from entering Israel and thus cannot attend the conference.
The leadership of IARPP has responded to the protest with reassuring promises to create a forum for open debate at its Tel Aviv conference. But it is clear that open debate cannot take place in Israel, because of the ongoing human rights violations that preclude open debate. The IARPP accuses the protest of limiting “academic freedom,” but this claim is disingenuous. It is the state of Israel that limits academic freedom.
The choice of Israel as a conference location is a vote of support of the Israeli government and its apartheid policies.
The petition itself is here:
The petition was launched through the organizations USA-Palestine Mental Health Network and Jewish Voice for Peace, with support from the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network. Their websites are here:
The IARPP website is here: