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US Psychoanalytic organisation attempts to block meeting on mental health in Palestine

Palestinians women are seen as they live under difficult conditions due to Israeli occupation in their lands during the holy month of Ramadan in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 16 May, 2018 [Abed Zagout/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians women are seen as they live under difficult conditions due to Israeli occupation in their lands during the holy month of Ramadan in Khan Yunis, Gaza on 16 May, 2018 [Abed Zagout/Anadolu Agency]

The International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy (IARPP) has recently, and unsuccessfully, attempted to prevent a meeting of the USA-Palestine Mental Health Network (USA-P MHN) from taking place later in June. The conferences were scheduled to take place at the same hotel.

According to the USA-P MHN, the IARPP, while purportedly a non-political professional organization, has consistently acted to defend the behaviour of the Israeli government while presenting a false façade of encouraging “open dialogue.”

According to a press release from the USA-P MHN, “When the IARPP announced in December 2017 its plans to hold its 2019 annual meeting in Tel Aviv, the USA-P MHN and a noted Palestinian psychiatrist wrote the IARPP Board requesting that they reconsider the venue; the plea for a different venue was rooted in a protest of Israeli human rights violations as well as the practical fact that Israeli policy would severely limit conference access by Palestinian mental health professionals, clinicians from several other countries, and clinicians who are known to belong to various human rights organizations.”

However, the IARPP rejected this request and refused to consider alternative venues.

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The statement continues, “In response, the USA-P MHN with Jewish Voice for Peace and the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network circulated an on-line petition asking for reconsideration of venue that has now gathered over 1400 signatures from mental health workers and professionals globally.”

The USA-P MHN again attempted to engage the IARPP Board by renting space at its conference in New York. However this was denied. The USA P MHN then contracted with the New York hotel to rent a separate conference room for an independent symposium of scholars, professors of medicine, senior clinicians, and other academic dignitaries entitled “Voices on Palestine” during a lunch-time break within the main IARPP meeting activities and invited the entire IARPP Board of Directors to attend.

However, according to the statement, “Instead of responding to the invitation, IARPP instead complained to the hotel’s Managing Director that the “Voices” forum had been scheduled to “interfere” with the IARPP conference and that its goal was to “disrupt” the IARPP conference. IARPP further informed the hotel that it had hired its own private security forces to be present at its conference. Alarmed by these statements, the hotel’s Managing Director arranged for there to be a NYC Police Department presence in the hotel to maintain order. He then contacted the USA-P MHN and asked for the “Voices” event to be postponed or moved elsewhere.”

In spite of this, the USA-P MHN managed to elevate the hotel’s concerns and to clarify the true intent behind the symposium. The hotel was therefore able to allow both meeting to take place.

The statement concludes, “The USA-P MHN goes on record as objecting most vigorously to IARPP’s underhanded, dishonest, and hysteria-fanning manipulations, which are especially distasteful in an organization allegedly devoted to professionalism and human dignity. The parallels with the behavior of Israel are all too apparent: hypocritical claims of innocent victimization and a disingenuous eagerness for “dialogue,” concealing a brutal ruthlessness in silencing all genuine debate.”

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Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
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