One of four speakers, Dr Martin Kemp, a psychotherapist and a leading member of the Steering Group of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network, lecture entitled ‘History repeats itself: How dehumanisation and defences against guilt silence the West’s moral response to Israel’s occupation of Palestine’ made a powerful impact on everyone who heard it. Judging by Martin’s response to the day, the event had no little effect on him also. Commenting below he writes:
‘I left the Sumud Palestine day conference exhausted and uplifted, with the feeling that I had participated in a powerful collective act of resistance to Zionism and to Britain’s collusion in its crimes. The day had included so many rich and unexpected ingredients. I had been torn apart by Musheir’s depiction of the atrocity committed on the people of Gaza, and then lifted in admiration by Tom’s civil disobedience activism. Haim’s historical overview was full of new information and insights, and provided an essential context, and to learn of his background and his journey was so affirming of the values we all share.
But these contributions were made in a very special context, a community that came together – if only for one day, including me for only one day anyway – of people from different backgrounds, different ages – united in their commitment to standing up against racism and the cruelty and harm it generates. We thought feelingly that day, a draining activity when focusing on such terrible circumstances, that involves us directly – and others who were there so much more directly – but which was made possible undertaken with friends who are somehow not overwhelmed nor in despair. Being away from London was important, though I can’t say much as to why… Thank you Sumud Palestine…’
Invited to offer his reflections on the day having travelled up from Brighton, Tom Anderson, a researcher for Corporate Watch and the co-author of Targeting Israeli Apartheid: a boycott, divestment and sanctions handbook, responded as follows:
Yes, the trip was definitely worth it.
In the workshops we split up into working groups and discussed in more detail the Sainsburies campaign and the possibilities for campaigning against Elbit and their investor, Barclays PLC.
One group discussed the possibility for health workers and others to campaign to prevent Teva, the Israeli generic drug manufacturer, from supplying its products to local pharmacists. Teva is the largest company on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and boasts that it supplies 1 in 6 tablets prescribed on the NHS. People suggested that local pharmacists may be supportive as many of them are Muslim.
We also discussed campaigns against G4S, Hewlett Packard and Veolia.
I took people’s emails to add to the national mailing lists for the campaigns against G4S and Barclays, Teva and Sainsburys. If anyone else wants to join these lists they are welcome to email me.
In general it was a great day. I think the one improvement that could have been made is that the workshops might have been more productive if we had a little longer.