Raed’s last message to the IFSW

The letter below has just been mailed by Raed Amira, a Palestinian social worker, to challenge the neutral stance of the IFSW with regard to the genocide of Gazan civilians. Raed is based in Bethlehem and is a representative of the Human Rights Commission for the Asia Pacific Region, a member of the Palestinian Union of Social Workers and Psychologists, and a member of the Arab Federation of Social Workers. Raed wrote this as the death toll in the 2023 Israel-Gaza war approached 9,000, two-thirds of whom were women and children: these are not just statistics; they are loving family members lost, ambitions broken and dreams destroyed.

At the same time, in his community in Bethlehem in the West Bank, Raed’s colleagues, friends and families are being shot at by settlers and detained and tortured by the Israeli occupation forces.

The Reimaging Social Work collective stands shoulder to shoulder with our Palestinian brothers and sisters and we condemn the IFSW for its neutrality and complicity with Israel’s settler colonial war crimes.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Bishop Desmon Tutu

I fear not execution

Not torture and not hate

Not death from rifle barrels or

The shadows on the gates

I fear not restless nights with

Shooting stars of streaking pain

I fear but blindness from a world

Indifferent and insane.

Halfdan Rasmussam

My colleagues in IFSW,

I hope you are doing well. This will be my last message to you. Today, I will be more frank with you. I will share this message with our colleagues around the world.

First of all, it is not permissible for anyone in this world, especially when he calls for human rights, to equate the victim with the executioner, the oppressor with the oppressed. You are human rights advocates, and you are the ones who taught us that social work is about resistance, that social work is about sacrifice, giving, and freedom.

You are the ones who told us that you are committed to the United Nations and its institutions, the Security Council and its resolutions, human rights, international law, and so on, which all call for the illegality of the occupation and the Palestinian rights to self-determination and resistance.

Raed Amira, Palestinian social worker.

Today, you are called be the owners of a real cause and to take a clear position, otherwise, there is no need for your words and sermons. The truth is clear to you, and you know it very well. Many of you spoke to me and admitted that these are atrocities and crimes and that the occupation is criminal and brutal. Many of you tell the truth but cannot say it publicly. Who would have expected that in the year 2023, in which the world imagined flying cars, we would instead witness a genocide live on social media and in front of silent mouths?

You and your administration know that members of the Israeli Union of Social Workers participate in the killing of Palestinians because they, like most Israelis, carry a conscription ID, and support the terrorism of their government and their settlers among us. Yet, you still embrace this fascist, racist, and Zionist institution. This was acknowledged by the president of the Israeli Union of Social Workers in Dublin in 2018, where she said frankly and proudly that the members of the Israeli Union participate in the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), killing and arresting Palestinians. Including the repeated arrests of Palestinian social workers who were supposed to have received international immunity from you. The whole world knows that Israel kills doctors, paramedics, journalists, and children, yet no one acts to deter them?

Currently, the Arab Union of Social Workers are waiting for our opinion regarding your shameful and neutral statements. There is anger among social workers, not only in Palestine but also in many countries. We are waiting for your response. By the way, there are many social workers in Gaza. I wish we could communicate with them and be reassured they are still alive. But, the policy of collective punishment imposed on Gaza, cut both the electricity supply and the Internet. I do not know anything about my fellow specialists in Gaza. I do know that one of my colleagues was injured and lost her family in the frenzied Israeli bombing.

Nor should we forget the many Palestinian social workers locked up in Israeli prisons, sentenced to administrative detention and held without charge. I keep them in my prayers and supplications. The situation here in the West Bank is deteriorating every day, and one of our colleagues, Riad Arar (a well-known social worker) and his son have just been brutally arrested by the occupation forces.

For the sake of all this, do not be silent. For the sake of all the blood and the pain, do not be silent. Otherwise, I am ashamed to be a member of this union.

Free Palestine!

Best Regards


5 replies on “Raed’s last message to the IFSW”

Definitely the time to be counted. Zionism as Rashidi Kalhidi says is colonisation that does not connect back to the metropole unlike other 19th century colonies. But set up in the era of gaining geopolitical hegemony.
Verso Books have free ebooks on the Israeli Palestine histories which give context.

Thanks Neil,

I had the real honour of meeting and spending time with Raed in Dublin at one of our many SW conferences. A more humble, funny, witty and passionate human being you will never meet. I value and treasure those memories.

Raed and I were also colleagues on the IFSW Human Rights Commission. We shared the very large Asia Pacific space as IFSW Asia Pacific Human Rights Representatives. We worked closely together on the relevant quarterly reports that went up the food chain and spent many hours arguing for our reports to be submitted as they stood – without dilution or mincing.

It was during one of these reporting periods when we realised that the IFSW Human Rights Commission was nothing more than a tick box exercise. Our strongly worded condemnation of many atrocities across the world – especially in Palestine – was turned away.

I cannot remember who resigned first but it wasn’t a place for social workers.

It was a place for politicians.

Likewise the ANZASW statement yesterday. I am not sure about others but – for the sake of transparency – this was my response to them yesterday.
Kia ora Nathan,
Welcome to the role, I wish you well.
This statement from the board, while not surprising, turns my stomach.
To think that a board of social workers in Aotearoa would put out a statement like that without even mentioning the historical roots of why we are here – colonisation, apartheid, land confiscation, military occupation – shows how cowardly the profession has become.
At least the UNGS has more guts than the collective board.
Stop sitting on the fence!

“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral”
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Though we sit in what seems a world away watching chaos; as social workers our – ‘shared humanity’ is what binds us to all and any oppression here at home and across our shared globe.

If we are knowingly silent of oppression, then we are complicit partners in that oppression.

Fear breeds paralysis, and paralysis often stops us in the doorway of sympathetic platitudes. As we turn away and quietly close the door, our paralysis is the loudest silence in oppression.

The IFSW, ANZASW, you and I have not only a responsibility but an opportunity to truly engage with our shared humanity.

Social work can engage now! (Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa)

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