19 November 2014
An open letter to the Israeli Association of Social Workers
Dear colleagues, Shalom
This year IFSW responded to the offensive against Gaza by leading the global campaign: Social Work for Peace and Self-determination. The key messages of this campaign were that the blockade and the occupation are the drivers for sustained conflict and that peace negotiations must include the removal of these obstacles to begin working towards a positive solution. These negotiations must be established on the principles of equality and respect of all peoples, a message that comes from the core of our profession’s Ethical Statement. We urge social workers on all sides in any conflict to play a role in promoting peaceful dialogue as our professional experience demonstrates that conflict only leads to further conflict.
The IFSW position has been widely supported by all of its regional structures and many country-members have actively supported the principled social work position. We therefore continue to urge the Israel Association of Social Workers to play its part in building peace for all peoples of Palestine and Israel. IFSW asks the social workers in Israel to adhere to the Ethical Statement and take an active stance with your own government to pursue peace. The question arises about the incompatible roles of being at one moment an active soldier and another moment a social worker. IFSW therefore seeks that the Israeli Association of Social Workers support its members not to take up armed and any other military roles that bring the denial of rights, harm, violence and death to others. The international community of social workers through IFSW will support your Association and the social workers that take such a stand. This appeal is based on our professional principles and experience – as conflict only seeds despair and more conflict.
We understand that taking such an action will be a courageous step for the Israeli Association of Social Workers and there maybe repercussions from within Israel, but there are times when we as social professionals must stand up against oppression and play our part in peace building. Your colleagues from around the world say it is your time to take a stand and demonstrate to the politicians and the wider community that social work is a powerful profession equipped with principles and skills to make positive change in communities. Your efforts will be regarded as ethical and IFSW and many of its other worldwide country-level members will support you in your efforts for peace.
In solidary for peace and self-determination,
Ruth Stark, IFSW Global President, & Rory Truell, IFSW Secretary-General