A message from the editors

This issue introduces several members of Section IX and showcases their insights and contributions as American psychoanalytic activists working with Palestinians

By Ghislaine Boulanger, PhD, and Ruth Fallenbaum, PhD

At a time when the conflict between Israel and Palestine is becoming even more fraught in Israel, in Palestine, and in America, in this issue several members of Section IX report on their contributions as American psychoanalytic activists working with Palestinians who live under the harsh conditions of statelessness and occupation.

As Judy Roth puts it, as psychoanalysts each of them had to struggle against the “binary thinking and rhetoric that activism can trigger,” monitoring their own responses and attempting to remain reflective. They share that struggle and those reflections with us. Judy Roth, who spent two years supporting Palestinian mothers in East Jerusalem, moves her focus and empathic imagination between all the players, Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Nina Thomas describes the workshops she ran under the aegis of Palestinian Red Crescent Society, working with Palestinian psychotherapists who share a culture of shame and despair with their clients.

In a somewhat more hopeful vein, Warren Spielberg notes a shift over 12 years in “a new generation of young people displaying cautious confidence and optimism” in the West Bank.

Readers will notice a theme weaving through these essays: the confusion experienced by our contributors, Jewish American psychologists, who are providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the context of their differing ethnic histories and current political polarities.

Addressing this very issue, Nancy Hollander and Stephen Portuges answer the question ‘what is psychoanalytic activism’ by describing their participation in a seven-year group of international, multi-ethnic psychoanalysts who are struggling to discover simply how to talk to each other about the seemingly intractable tangle in the Middle East.

Contact the editors: Ghislaine Boulanger and Ruth Fallenbaum