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31 May 2024 - Social Work stands with Palestine: Statement of Support


Embedded within the ethos of social work practice and education are the core values of justice, dignity, equality, and the protection of human rights. For us, these values are the moral compass that guides our actions in addressing systemic injustices globally. In the Palestinian context, where the struggle against occupation, apartheid, and oppression has persisted for over seven decades, these values hold even greater significance as we endeavor to stand in solidarity with Palestinian people facing genocide at the hands of Israel.

Palestine: Past and Present Contexts

For over seven decades, Palestinians have suffered at the hands of a multifaceted system of oppression that has profoundly impacted every aspect of their lives. From the restriction of movement and access to essential services to the ultimate denial of basic human rights, the effects of Israel’s military occupation and apartheid in Palestine are felt acutely by individuals, families, communities, and our very own social work colleagues. The daily reality for Palestinians is defined by checkpoints, arrests, the constant threat of violence, and the targeting and killing of civilians.

Amnesty’s report entitled ‘Israel’s Apartheid against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime against Humanity, 2022’ details the mechanisms of oppression faced by Palestinians. It outlines the policies in place which favour the Israeli population over Palestinians – for example, the unlawful killing and kidnapping of Palestinians, movement restrictions, illegal Israeli Settlements, and the denial of nationality and citizenship to Palestinians. The systems in place in Palestine currently stand in stark contrast to the principles of equality, challenging institutional and systemic oppression, promoting social justice, and recognizing of the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings - some of the core guiding values of the social work profession.

Around 40,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the latest Israeli bombardment began in October 2023. Over 14,500 of these are children. Hospitals, universities, schools, community centres, homes, and religious places of worship have been destroyed as a result of 1 the Israeli occupation forces’ direct bombing campaign on Gaza. Palestinians across Palestine have been detained and held hostage - from men, women, and children to our own social work colleagues and their families. Social workers throughout Palestine continue to face significant restrictions on their work - at a time when families need their support most, social workers face ongoing threats of violence, unlawful arrests, and severely limited access to resources. Despite these challenges, our Palestinian colleagues remain committed to supporting the families, and communities they work in. However, this leaves us to question why our colleagues SHOULD be working in this environment? And why many social work organisations have been silent or have consistently parroted the ‘both-sides’ narrative.

Social Work Solidarity and Advocacy

A false balance within the social work community has failed to recognize the ongoing genocide in Gaza and the clear human rights violations across Palestine stemming from over 76 years of occupation and oppression. This narrative, although presented as ‘neutral’, wholly overlooks the disproportionate impact of the ongoing violence and oppression on Palestinian communities, and equates a ‘false-balance’ of power between Palestinians and the US and EU supported Israeli state. As social workers and agents of social justice and human rights, we must never be neutral in the face of genocide. A positive shift, however, comes from some notable voices of the social work community, including the Irish Association of Social Workers (IASW) and the Aotearoa New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW), who have begun to speak up against the genocide and have highlighted the need to stand in solidarity with Palestinian social work colleagues.

Additionally, positive change within the social work community comes from the emergence of smaller groups[i]1 of social workers dedicated to human rights and advocating for a greater understanding of the oppression and injustices faced by Palestinians and the underlying significant structural inequalities at play. Adopting an Indigenous, non-Westernized approach is crucial - we must recognize and honour the fundamental right of Palestinians to self-determination, while amplifying their voices and valuing their perspectives. And we must return to our core guiding ethical principles as social workers.

Call for Justice and Accountability

We call on our governments and institutions to take a stand for the people in Palestine - to take concrete actions to end the genocide and occupation and dismantle the apartheid. Actions must include: imposing targeted sanctions on Israel, divesting from companies complicit in genocide, and supporting initiatives for peace and justice, led by the Palestinian people themselves, are imperative. It is inappropriate to continue to accept the empty rhetoric of our governments and transnational bodies such as the EU, if they continue to provide, or possibly facilitate, in the case of Shannon airport, Ireland, military aid to Israel, or engage in ongoing trade agreements with Israel. As social workers, we call on our colleagues, educators, students, and organisations to continue to speak up against the genocide, oppression, and aggression against Palestinian people. We ask you to hold your and our organisations accountable for their silence on the genocide in Gaza - we can no longer stay silent.

Conclusion and Commitment to Palestine

As social workers, we reaffirm our commitment to standing in solidarity with Palestinian people in the face of the oppression and aggression they have faced for over seven decades. We stand in solidarity with our Palestinian social work colleagues in their pursuit of freedom, justice, and equality. We pledge to continue to advocate for the rights to justice and equality and to maintain the focus on the lived experiences of Palestinians while amplifying their voice in our advocacy.

 We have outlined a list of links and easy-to-undertake action items we can all do:

1) Complete Amnesty’s online course on ‘Deconstructing Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians’

2) Lobby your social work organisations to speak up against the genocide. Challenge social work organisations on their silence.

3) Invite Palestinian social workers to social work events.

4) Support the efforts of social work students, practitioners, and emerging smaller groups of social workers who have been taking stands.



 Karima Khadidja (Irish Social Workers & Social Care Workers for Palestine)

Ann Fitzpatrick (Irish Social Workers & Social Care Workers for Palestine/ Cork Social Workers for Palestine)

Kerry Cuskelly (Irish Social Workers and Social Care Workers for Palestine)

Paul McCarthy (Irish Social Workers and Social Care Workers for Palestine)

Alan Dettlaff (Social Work for Palestine)

Dr Kelly Bolton (Social Work for Palestine)

Mahasin Saleh (Social Work for Palestine)

Liz Beddoe

Links to Resources

Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Further Information: Palestinian Human Rights Defender is Released: Munther Amira - Amnesty International

 [i] 1 Groups: Irish Social Workers and Social Care Workers for Palestine; Network to Advance Abolitionist Social Work; Reimagining Social Work Collective; Social Workers for a Free Palestine; Social Work for Palestine