Mental Health Training in the Service of Israeli Violence Towards Palestinians

A statement issued by the Palestine-Global Mental Health Network

The Palestine-Global Mental Health Network (PGMHN) strongly condemns the recent decision of the Israeli Ministry of Health to award to “Ariel University” the bid for organizing and implementing a Continuing Professional Development program in mental health– a program which will be required for Palestinian psychologists who live in Israel, among others. “Ariel University” is located within the Israeli settlement of Ariel, a settlement built on Palestinian land within the town of Salfit in the West Bank that has been occupied since 1967. PGMHN finds it particularly egregious and cynical that one of the courses claims to address the issue of “cultural sensitivity” in the context of psychotherapy and mental health services. We view this as yet another attempt to entrench the racist and dehumanizing settler-colonial discourse.

It is hard to overlook the derisive contradiction apparent in locating a program ostensibly supportive of mental health and cultural sensitivity within a context of overt violence and human rights violations.

Furthermore, the promotion of this program violates several core principles of the Mental Health profession’s code of ethics, including, among other things, first do no harm; safeguarding individual dignity and justice; and maintaining integrity of practice. This program by its very nature legitimizes, normalizes, and white-washes the Israeli occupation and its escalating practices of political, racial, and cultural repression.

Against this backdrop, PGMHN is calling on:

  1. Our Palestinian colleagues to be alert and hold on to their moral compass in resisting the occupation of the Palestinian mind.
  1. Our colleagues internationally to condemn this hypocritical policy and to exert pressure on the Israeli government to reverse it.
  1. PGMHN further calls on our colleagues worldwide to support the right of Palestinian mental health professionals to obtain relevant training opportunities without assaulting their human, cultural, and political dignity and without forcibly involving them in a settler-colonial project which targets and mars the identity and consciousness of their people.

The Palestine-Global Mental Health Network