15 Responses to How the Israel-Gaza war has affected social workers in the UK

  1. Nathan Servini April 27, 2024 at 2:31 pm #

    Thank you for raising this, and not ignoring the emotions and feelings coming from the war.

    Personally, I do think it is important that we are open about of opinions and feelings. I do not think it is healthy to skirt around the issues, and be indifferent, if indeed you hold strong emotions. I think some social workers can feel pressured into self censorship and not expressing their views, worried that they might come over as controversial, not matching the narrative of the wider establishment.

  2. Susie April 28, 2024 at 12:53 pm #

    Thank you for discussing this. I believe there is great suffering and loss for both Israelis and Gaza’s citizens
    As well as anti semitism at its highest impacts on Jewish people across the world.
    However the Hamas movement initiated this attack on young women and men who were simply at a music festival and then massacred children women and men at nearby kibbutz and kidnapped women children men, many of whom are still not released.
    I think it is important to acknowledge and note the facts of the loss and deaths of innocents on both sides.

    What is Hamas offering to the Gazan’s right now to support them?
    From a proud social worker whose parents were both refugees in the UK.

    • Sami April 30, 2024 at 3:25 pm #

      “Gaza’s citizens” are Palestinians, for us to have respectful conversations we need to start from acknowledging who people are. October was a Hamas atrocity but history does not start then. There are countless Palestinians being brutalised now, not just in the West Bank and soon in Rafah but also in Israeli jails held there without trial. Being relentlessly bombed and rounded up and shot at and crushed and killed aren’t exactly conditions for “offering support” whether by Hamas or NGOs who are themselves being brutalised and killed. I too am a proud social worker. I am also a refugee from Kurdistan. Sadly my parents died from Turkish bombs so never got the chance to seek refuge in the UK. I have empathy for all brutalised people. But where does someone like me who has been branded and anti-semite even when I condemn Hamas and believe Israeli hostages should be returned home get to be part of a respectful conversation? These are the discussions we need to have too.

  3. Jackie Mahoney April 29, 2024 at 3:36 pm #

    I feel so distressed by this situation and everyday gravely upset and powerless looking at images of adults, children, older people being killed. The thousands of children who have been killed and thousands more I see traumatised, lost, on their own.

    As a social worker I feel immense anger with the injustice, oppression, dehumanisation and discrimination being inflicted on a group of people especially given the high population of children involved.

    I think I have been surprised there has been a lack of continued conversation on what is happening I would suggest there was much more conversation with the Ukraine conflict. That said I am grateful that Community Care has written this article. More is needed to be able to shift and influence people in power to better actions to bring peace.

    This is going to have significant impact on the children of the area for years to come, deep trauma and absence of parenting, education, home, safety, health.

    I do feel worried speaking out and welcome the opportunity as there is so much discourse within social media, anger and polar opposite views in seems trenches have been dug and have to be in one or the other.

    There is a human element all humans have intrinsic value this is the essence of social work.

  4. Paula April 30, 2024 at 8:43 am #

    What doesn’t help the situation is people wanting to label you antisemitic for highlighting Israel’s ongoing atrocities in Gaza.

    • Miriam May 6, 2024 at 7:18 am #

      I am Jewish. Both of my parents were born in Yemen. Jews have now been ethnically cleansed from Yemen, having had roots there for hundreds if years. My children have dual heritage from their Ashkenazi father…I hope I don’t have to explain the horrors of Europe his family endured.

      I repeatedly see in the marches, people hold placards saying ‘ceasefire now’ in one hand and ‘from the river to the sea’ in another, I read this as being ‘Israel stop defending yourself and surrender to Hamas so that we can regroup and ensure that the Jewish state of Israel ceases to exist’. I live and work in the heart of the broad range of yhe Jewish Community and hear from a multitude of Jews who understand this to be the case too. Had I seen placards saying ‘lasting peace’ or ‘release the hostages’ alongside these placards, I would perhaps be more open to seeing things otherwise.

      So for me and most Jews (but not all), these marches are highly triggering of intergenerational trauma and deeply frightening. We live in a state of high alert and it consumes our thoughts and discussions in our community. I appreciate that many want an end to the death and destruction, as do I, but it isn’t coming through that this is for Israeli’s as well.

      I hope that this help you, Paula, to understand why we view these marches as fuelled with an underlying antisemitism, and I hope that should you be in a position to be supporting a Jewish family who may be feeling this way, you will be more open to having an understanding of ‘the others view’, even if it differs to yours.

      • Joe May 7, 2024 at 8:24 am #

        As one of the many marchers from the Jewish Block I’d challenge Miriam to listen to what we and others are actually saying rather than the motives and language attributed to us. No Palestinian devised a pogrom against Jews in Yemen, no Palestinian participated in the Holocaust. Why is that irrelevant when defending Israel and justifying the deliberate killing of Palestinians? No Israeli hostage has been rescued by the IDF yet we have hostages used as a pretext to killing more Palestinians in Rafah now. I’ve marched with children of Holocaust survivors who I respectfully suggest aren’t anti-Semites. This is a tragedy justified by cheapening anti-Semitism. Jews like me who ask for the end of deliberate killing of Palestinians are insulted by intimations that we don’t care about fellow Jews, we don’t care about the hostages, that we are not real Jews for not blindly supporting Israeli politicians who urge killing of “human animals”. I have no doubt that Paula is more than capable of supporting a Jewish family with understanding and professionalism while also criticising Israel for its actions. Miriam should reflect on what Sami wrote too. Jews aren’t a homogeneous entity and some of the more virulent critics of what is happening to Palestinians come from Hasidic Jews. The trauma I feel is seeing what I see, hearing what I hear and knowing that this unquestioning support of Israel and the justification of what it is perpetuating against Palestinians will be more pain for Jews. I march as a Jew because I am proud of the values my family taught me, I march as a Jew because I know what dehumanising people leads to, I march as a Jew because “never again” means something to me, I march as a Jew because people whose families were murdered in the Holocaust march too, I march as a Jewish social worker because I believe in justice, self respect and equality. If you regard Palestinians as something lesser, if you believe there are no Palestinians to start with, if you forget what history is, if you casually equate Palestinians to Hamas, if you think Palestinians live on borrowed time in the “territories”, then seeing people like me as “hate marchers” is an easy step. We are not and nor are Muslim, Christian and secular Palestinians.

        • Paula May 13, 2024 at 7:42 am #

          My thoughts exactly Joe. You just got told there Miriam. Take heed and do better.

  5. Eirene April 30, 2024 at 12:58 pm #

    Social work establishment does not tolerate dissent from what it prescribes social workers should say and do. We were sent a global email telling us that discussing the “war” would be in breach of conduct standards and wearing “symbols” was not allowed. When a colleague in response used a peace symbol mug she was told to remove and stop using it with a veiled threat of a possible disciplinary. In a Labour LA. That’s the environment in which we work.

  6. Pauline May 1, 2024 at 10:32 am #

    If Sami said what he wrote in my London LA they would be slapped with a gross misconduct charge, disciplined and possibly threatened with dismissal. It’s commendable that CC yet again highlights issues our managers and sector leaders shut us up on. On a side note but not necessarily unrelated, I see the authoritarian law breakers at Westminster City Council and Social Work England refuse to apologise to Rachel Meade even after the hefty exemplary damages they’ve been ordered to pay. No accountability when public money is being squandered I suppose.

  7. Philip May 1, 2024 at 6:04 pm #

    The world is constantly exposed to brutality from leaders who never look at the consequences of their actions only because it does not affect them. It’s frustrating to watch innocent civilians on both sides who only want to live their daily lives without conflict die because of their leaders hatred for one another caused by historical events and wars which began centuries ago. Really, what is it all about. Social Workers who are from Muslim and of Jewish faiths must be exhausted mentally and spiritually about current events on the world stage when in the UK they already suffer discrimination, racism and prejudice. I believe that Service Directors should have something or at least a plan in place for those who’s origins are not from the UK to enable them to feel safe and secure and not feel unsettled in their workplace to enable them to manage their emotional health while at work. We/they do not need to feel the pressures of work life and listen to families who’s lives are mainly caused by their own life choices and circumstances when families in the Middle East are dying for no cause of their own. I’m not referring to families who are significantly distressed through no fault of their own or children who are significantly at risk, but those families who constantly make poor life choices when they have had plenty of support already from agencies. Also, Pauline, yes…..Social Work England refuse to apologise to Rachel Meade will never happen. They are the most despicable, authoritarian organisation I’ve ever known. They will not be around in a few years. Sadly, the following body might be worse if that’s possible.

  8. Lee May 2, 2024 at 9:26 am #

    Susie and Sami are perfect examples of how similar as well as how polarised the arguments on what’s being endured by Palestinians and the hostage families are shoehorned in social work. Actually it really doesn’t matter how nuanced, passionate and conciliatory positions might be because the accepted narrative is set. Namely anything acknowledging the suffering of Palestinians is shut down with “what about Hamas” invective and worse. When open discussion is shut down we end up in our of office arguments reduce some of us to being a terrorist supporting anti-semites. Social workers are as toxic in their respective positions as society on this. Ukraine gave us the same arguments with anyone daring to point out another view to the “we stand with” expectations branded as Putin dupes. This played out endlessly through management emails in our authority. The reality is the relationships that frayed with the incessant push to only validate one narrative have now been fractured by the shutting down of debate on the suffering of Palestinians. I fear that having normalised accusations of Anti-Semitism against even the mildest deviation from a supposed linear choice of pro or anti Hamas beliefs, there will never be a safe and respectful space in social work to discuss such issues. I would be proud to call Susie and Sami colleagues but I suspect in the real world I would be bullied into having to take a ‘side’. This is a “with us or not” moment apparently. Pity is no one is really allowed to articulate why we might not see it that way.

  9. Naomi May 7, 2024 at 11:34 pm #

    I stand with Miriam, in fact I go further than Miriam in saying that what Sami wrote isn’t even handed. If you see an equivalence between the murdering terrorists of Hamas and the justified actions of self defence by Israel I say that’s Anti-Semitism. There may well be people who regard themselves like Joe as Jewish on the marches but they/he do not represent majority of Jews. I refuse to be silenced by longstanding Anti-Semitism in social work.

    • Gemma May 13, 2024 at 7:50 am #

      Naomi, this reads to me like you look for antisemitism where it does not exist. Perhaps this explains your own misfortunes? You will only be silenced by your own hateful outlook on the world.

  10. Kathy May 8, 2024 at 11:44 pm #

    It’s not anti-Semitic to abhor State sanctioned indiscriminate killing of people. Dead children who’ve been killed after being told to move time and again at the last destination they can be should make us weep and rage and angry. It’s not anti-semitic to point out the obvious, that the hypocrisy that says Ukrainians must resist Russian aggression but that Palestinians can’t Israeli aggression is not just a double standard but racist dehuminising of an oppressed and brutalised people. It’s s not anti-semitic to agree with Sami and Joe. There is dignity, empathy, compassion and simple humanity in what they’ve said. A pity that for some sorrow expressed is seen as terrorism. Some of us are Jews irrespective of whatever angry vitriol is directed at us. Not lesser in any way but actually in humanity better. There will be a day when we will all have to answer why some us us saw dead babies and others only saw dead Jewish babies. “Never again” is not a slogan.

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