By Nancy Hollander
Many of the members of Section IX may already know that the Section Board met in a one day retreat before the Division 39 meeting in Boston in April 2013. We had a stimulating and exciting discussion of possible directions that the Section could go in during the year between our meetings at Division 39. We discussed a variety of concerns related to how we might become more effective during the year in implementing some of our passionately held commitments as psychoanalysts to community activism and social justice. One strategy involves members who live in the same geographical area becoming involved in already existing organizations that are working on issues we believe to be important to the social welfare of people and over time developing ways that we can contribute as mental health professionals. If you are interested in starting a local group to engage in this or similar projects, please invite others to join you on our Section IX list serve.
We have established a Media Committee, chaired by Lynne Layton, one task of which is to write editorials and op/ed pieces about the mental health effects of significant current events and policies. Interested members should contact Lynne if you haven’t already signed up for this committee.
Section IX has also participated in the creation of a new organizational collaboration, The Psychoanalysis and Community Network, which is composed of Division 39 groups that have overlapping interests. The Network includes Section 9, Section 5 (applied psychoanalysis), the Multicultural Committee, Psychoanalysis in the Community and Sexualities and Gender Identities Committee. At the 2014 Division 39 meeting in New York, the multicultural committee and Section IX are co-sponsoring a panel, and all the Network organizations are co-hosting a reception.
Because of Section IX’s commitment to social justice, the nonviolent resolution of conflict and the development of empathetic ways of learning to deal with difference, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a follow-up to the article, “The Psychoanalytic Work Group for Peace in Palestine/Israel” that Stephen Portuges and I wrote in a prior issue of the Psychoanalytic Activist. I recently had the good fortune to attend a meeting of Hand in Hand, an organization that has created schools in Israel with integrated student populations. Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel live separately in virtually all aspects of daily life, including the schools their children attend, and in this way the next generation of Israeli citizens, of which Arabs represent 20 percent, grow up living largely isolated lives. Israeli educational tracking contributes to Israeli Jews’ and Israeli Arabs’ mutual ignorance of each other that can only intensify anxieties and hatreds of difference. Hand in Hand schools teach Israeli Jewish and Arab children in both their languages, familiarize both groups with their respective histories and cultural traditions and teach students to examine and dialogue about issues from different perspectives. In this way, the organizers, staff, faculty and parents involved in Hand in Hand hope to create citizens of tomorrow with an empathic capacity to build a society based on equality of opportunity and shared resources. To date, Hand in Hand has created five schools (including new pre-schools in Haifa and Tel Aviv/Jaffa) and mobilized the parents of the Jewish and Arabic students in activist communities. These families have chosen to live important parts of their daily lives through the values of a shared, inclusive and equal society. I find this project and the individuals who have created and operated these schools to be an inspirational example of citizen activism on behalf of social justice. If you want to access more information on Hand in Hand in Israel, see their website: www.handinhandk12.org or contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’d like to end this column by inviting all of you to attend Section IX functions at the 2014 Division 39 meeting. Our invited panel, “Racial Dialogues: Rupture and Repair,” will be on Thursday, April 24, 1:00-2:50 pm in Liberty 5. Panelists will be Sue Grand, Janice Gump, Kimberlyn Leary and Jill Salberg. Our co-sponsored reception will be on Saturday, April 26, 6:30-8:30 pm in the Metropolitan Ballroom West.
If you would like to attend our Board Meeting and learn first hand about how the section works, please come as an observer on Thursday, April 24, 3-5 p.m., in Park 1. Perhaps you will be motivated to run for the board next year!