Sunday, 16 June 2024

Traumata in Israel and Palestine

Gabor Maté in Conversation with Macartan Humphreys


With the events of October 7, 2023, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has once again become the focus of global attention. Approximately 1,200 Israelis were killed during the terrorist attack of Hamas, and more than 5,500 people on Israeli territory were injured—most of them civilians. 239 hostages were taken to Gaza, many of whom are still being held captive by Hamas. The war Israel has waged against Hamas since October 7 has caused catastrophic suffering among the Palestinian civilian population. More than 34,000 Palestinians have died, the majority of them civilians. Approximately 77,000 people have been injured, there is not enough food, and large parts of Gaza have been destroyed and are uninhabitable. Almost overshadowed by this war, there has been a new escalation of violence in the West Bank.

The long history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is closely interwoven with the many historical and current traumatic experiences within the Israeli and Palestinian societies. The Shoah and the centuries-old history of antisemitism have left a profound mark on the Israeli population over generations. The consequences of the Nakba and the experience of displacement, loss, and an existence under occupation have had a huge impact on generations of Palestinians. The violence of a decades-long conflict, war, terrorism, and life under a constant state of emergency shape collective and individual memory on both sides. The conflict also polarizes societies in other parts of the world as few other topics do—in many places, a nuanced discussion of the consequences of war and terror seems no longer possible.

The event is part of the WZB series "Starke Stimmen für Vielfalt", in which WZB President Jutta Allmendinger invites role models and people who encourage others in 2024. It is also part of the Barenboim-Said series of Wasmuth Lectures.

Gabor Maté, a retired physician, was born in Hungary just before the end of World War II and narrowly escaped deportation at the hands of the German occupying forces. He views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the lens of his own life story and from the perspective of a physician. The author of five books published in 40 languages, including the award-winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts, he is an internationally renowned speaker highly sought after for his expertise on addiction, trauma, childhood development, and the relationship of stress and illness.

Macartan Humphreys is director of the research unit Institutions and Political Inequality at the WZB and honorary professor of Social Sciences at Humboldt University and at Trinity College Dublin. His research has examined political violence, ethnic and race-based discrimination, and post-conflict development.