Red Clinic stands with Palestine

Ian Parker reports on the 23 October ‘Speak Out/Talk Back’ online event.

 

The Red Clinic, a collective of communist mental health workers, has put much of its political energy over the past few years into supporting Arabic-speaking supervision groups in Palestine. On 23 October, the Red Clinic hosted an online solidarity event chaired by our good comrade Lara Sheehi. The video of the event is online.

The speakers were Hana Masud, Carter Carter, Hannah Zeavin, Avgi Saketopoulou, Razzan Quran, Ian Parker, Neve Gordon, Richard Seymour, Andreas Malm, Lamise Shawahin, Tareq Yaqub, Gabriel Tupinamba, Sahar Al-Najjar, Malcolm Harris, Eman Abdelhadi, Stephen Sheehi, Jeanine Hourari, and Farah Chamma. You will recognise some of the names; there are brief details about them at the YouTube link. There are extraordinary, powerful statements by academics, clinicians, and activists. The texts of the interventions are being gathered together, and this was mine:

Revolutionary psychoanalysts with Palestine

How do we revolutionary psychoanalysts respond to this crisis? There are a number of ways that we can think psychoanalytically about what is happening now in the ongoing genocidal attacks by the Israeli state against the Palestinians, and, remember, this is not only taking place against the Palestinians of Gaza but also in the West Bank.

A first aspect that we focus on is the space we inhabit as revolutionaries and psychoanalysts. Psychoanalysis is profoundly internationalist. It refuses to attach itself to particular nation-states. That is something very clear in Freud’s response to Zionist calls to support the nationalist project. Yes, he was subject to antisemitism, and yes, he valued his heritage and identity as a Jew, but he rejected attempts by colleagues who had emigrated to Palestine to construct Jewish nation-state institutions in the name of psychoanalysis. Furthermore, the main funder of Freud’s psychoanalytic publishing house in Europe, Max Eitingon, also moved to Palestine and funded psychoanalysis there, and, as a little-noticed fact, also gave significant funding to the Palestine communist party.

“Psychoanalysis is profoundly internationalist. It refuses to attach itself to particular nation-states.”

A second aspect concerns contradictions. We have a small group supporting the Red Clinic here in Manchester, a group of comrades from different parts of the world who have been active now in the Palestine solidarity protests. It is clear that not all Palestinians support Hamas, and not all Jews support Israel. Not all of us locals among them support the British state, by the way, and we aim to dismantle it. The point is that there is no such thing as a homogeneous identity—we are all divided subjects—and a culturally or ethnically homogeneous state is anathema to us. Our task is to oppose and replace nation-state structures here at home and act in solidarity with our comrades inside the Israeli state who are opposing that state.

“Our task is to oppose and replace nation-state structures here at home and act in solidarity with our comrades inside the Israeli state who are opposing that state.”

The third aspect concerns time. A potent ideological motif now is ‘condemnation’, what one colleague in the Red Clinic has termed the ‘condemnation discourse’ that freezes us and locks us into a permanent present. This has been voiced in recent commentaries in the mass media that explicitly refuse to step back from what happened in the Hamas attacks and insist that we stay, as they put it, ‘in the moment’, dwell on the event to do justice to it. Psychoanalytic approaches to trauma are very different, analysing instead the conditions that bring about such violence. We analyse how this past projects itself into the future, and as revolutionaries, we do not merely predict but act. In the words of Marek Edelman, leader and survivor of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising, it is a case of ‘always being with the oppressed, and never the oppressors’.

Now in 2023, after an event we could not predict and we were told to condemn and do nothing more, we are in the midst of a slow, drawn-out process of mass murder by a racist apartheid state, mass murder that we can prevent.

The Israeli state defines itself now in its nation-state law as a state of the Jewish people, nationalist, homogeneous, and set on condemnation and revenge. And it is dead set on continuing a process that commenced with the Nakba, wiping out the Palestinian people and driving them out of Gaza, as the next step in this vicious process. To be silent about this is to be complicit in repression and oppression. Standing with the Palestinian people now must go beyond sympathy for them as victims and build solidarity with them as active agents forging, with all of their contradictions, their own liberation.

So, the Red Clinic stands in solidarity with the Palestinians against Israeli state terror.


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Ian Parker is a Manchester-based psychoanalyst and a member of Anti*Capitalist Resistance.

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