On Wednesday night I found myself sitting among 60 or so psychotherapists and mental health workers at the Guild of Psychotherapists in London for the launch meeting of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network.
The four panelists were David Harrold and Mohamed Altawil, both of the Palestine Trauma Centre UK, psychotherapist Martin Kemp and ubiquitous Israel-hater Jeff Halper of Israeli Committee against House Demolitions. Chairing the evening was psychotherapist Teresa Bailey.
The evening was supposed to be about helping the Palestinians but, as ever, it quickly dissolved into an evening of unmitigated attacks on Israel and Zionism, and calls for a boycott of the Jewish state. Contributions from panelists were very short so as to encourage comments from the audience.
First to speak was Altawil who discussed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffered by Palestinian children. He said the biggest trauma was when Palestinian children lost their houses and he accused Israel of “working to kill Palestinians from the inside”.
Harrold said Palestinians were in an “abusive relationship” shown by Israeli politicians talking about “putting Palestinians on a diet” and how they “must be made to feel a defeated people”. He said the Palestinians had been “reduced to a level of thinking only about the problem of survival, nothing else”.
Harrold continued “if you are sane you are going to resist” and he then listed certain ways of resisting which included “rockets and martyrs’ funerals”. He said he did not endorse such methods. He didn’t say he denounced them either.
Halper, who wishes to boycott Israel out of existence, called for the mobilisation of “civil society”.
Kemp criticised David Cameron for “declaring himself rock solid in his support of Israel”. Kemp described politicians who speak up in support of Israel as “hypocritical” and he invoked Ghada Karmi, Ronnie Kasrils, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Angela Davis and Judith Butler to support his notion that Israel has an “apartheid system”.
Kemp finished by saying that “the west’s embrace of Zionism is having a detrimental effect on our own political culture”.
For more on Kemp’s ideological hatred towards Israel read his article To Resist Is To Exist in Therapy Today in which he seems to compare Israel to Nazi Germany when he invokes Emanuel Berman who said:
‘The lessons from Germany… and from Chile… point… to the need for analysts in all countries to confront openly major issues in their country’s history… Israeli society, and more specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which it is engulfed, is a case in point…’
From the floor Derek Summerfield, a senior lecturer and another seemingly vicious anti-Israel polemicist said “boycott is the only tool” and David, a young social worker in London who didn’t give his surname, suggested they should “hit Israelis economically”.
Andrew Samuels, a founding member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, a psychotherapist, political consultant and professor of Analytical Psychology at the University of Essex, seems to be a master of the dark arts of which his ideological mentor Carl Jung would not have approved.
Samuels suggested the Jewish community would respond to a political move couched in terms of “mental health and therapy”.
He was “excited about setting up a line of influence that ends up in governmental circles” and the “prestigious meeting rooms in Parliament” which would be provided.
He said “histrionics, the worst case scenario, emotional blackmail and all that kind of thing” should be used.
He complained that “the psychotherapy world is two-thirds pro-Israel”. But, he said, “we have to have the fight…the question is how best to make a lot of noise because noise really does matter. Losing debates and resolutions doesn’t matter viewed in the context of historical time. You have to lose a lot before you have the remotest possibility of winning anything.”
Margaret McCallin, an elderly English lady and a retired psychotherapist, said that “the mental health of the Palestinians must be seen in the context of violation of human rights and the ongoing violence from which these people see no end”.
She said that despite the way the Palestinians live in Gaza “they don’t get up and start slaughtering the Israelis on the border or any of the others”. How delightfully generous of her.
Finally, Teresa Bailey took a vote to gauge support for the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network and quoted Martin Luther King’s “what is remembered are not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.
There were many other vicious comments about Israel from the floor, yet not one mention of Palestinian terror group Hamas and its real oppression of Palestinian women, gays and dissidents.
So expect a racist boycott of Israeli psychotherapists and mental health workers along the lines of the RIBA boycott of Israeli architects anytime soon.