As we approach the anniversary of the Nakba, when three-quarters of a million Palestinians were terrorised from their homes and their villages destroyed, I thought I’d share three things that have crossed my radar over the past few days.

Of course I write this short post against the backdrop of a month’s worth of protests – known as the Great March of Return, by residents of Gaza, in which thousands of Palestinians have been injured by live ammunition and dozens have been killed, including several journalists. It was week two, I think, when the Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, defended Israel’s brutal response to this peaceful protest on the grounds that ‘there are no innocents in Gaza.’ The governments of the UK, Canada, the US and the EU have responded to these grotesque remarks and the events surrounding them with the usual chilling silence, confirming Israel’s smug certainty that it will face no consequences for this brutality.

First, there’s ‘Slouching Towards Salem’, a powerful piece by the psychoanalyst Martin Kemp who I know personally. It’s about the ferocious anti Semitism witch hunt currently assailing the UK’s Parliamentary Labour Party. Martin is a founder of the UK Palestine Mental Health Network and a longstanding advocate of Palestinian human rights. Here’s an excerpt from his essay, which appeared on the Psychoanalytic Activist:

“During that trip [to Palestine] I grasped, experientially, the meaning of ‘secondary trauma’[x]. It was not only the encounter with preventable suffering: it was coming to terms with the totality of a system consciously designed to inflict maximum fear and insecurity, distress and humiliation, grief and pain.

It seemed that no opportunity, no matter how petty or trivial, was let by to impress upon the Palestinians their status as non-humans.

What was and is happening there goes beyond any rationale that could be considered acceptable or sane. It had nothing to do with enhancing security – if that was the intention, one could hardly imagine a more self-defeating approach[xi]. What aggravated the difficulty in containing one’s outrage was the knowledge that Western politicians and journalists knew what was going on, or had made a conscious choice not to know.”

And here is a Tedx talk by the bold and brave Jewish American activist Anna Baltzer, on The Danger of Neutrality.

Finally, a short piece by Derek Summerfield on ‘The Maiming Fields of Gaza’ which appeared in the British Medical Journal.

“Medical personnel have been working on reduced salaries. Gazan health professionals find it almost impossible to get Israeli permission to travel abroad to further their training.The regular episodic military assaults on Gaza and the current targeting of unarmed demonstrators are part of a pattern of periodically induced emergencies arising from Israeli policy. The cumulative effects of the impact on healthcare provision for the general population have been documented in multiple reports by NGOs, UN agencies and the WHO.

This appears to be a strategy for the de-development of health and social services impinging on all the population of Gaza…

Whilst various UN and WHO agencies have condemned Israeli actions, Western governments have not uttered a murmur and thus bolster the impunity Israel seems always to have enjoyed in its treatment of Palestinian society. Others who seek to document and to draw attention to events like this, including in medical journals, are often subject to vilifying ad hominem attacks, as have journal editors. These are matters of international shame.”

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