Building understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health




A €741,286 (US$820,246 – CAN$1,O87,200 – A$1,193,650) grant by the European Union (EU) will expand the work of the Binational School of Psychotherapy (BNSP). This is a unique training program based at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. The award is a remarkable milestone for Project Rozana.

With funding from World Vision Australia (WVA), the BNSP was established in 2016 as a pilot program to train Palestinian and Israeli child psychologists in the latest strategies and techniques for dealing with children suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The first cohort comprised eight Israelis and eight Palestinians (six from the West Bank and two from Gaza).

The success of the pilot and the resulting professional and personal outcomes encouraged Project Rozana to submit an application for funding under the EU Peacebuiliding Initiative (EUPI). Hadassah Hospital was the lead, together with Hebron-based Green Land Society for Health Development.

The grant is an endorsement of Project Rozana’s approach to people-to-people relationship building. It also meets the EU’s priority for professionalized programs that offer measurable outcomes and scalable models.

Prof. Esti-Galili Weisstub. Hadassah Hospital opening the first session of the 2016 BNSP

The program has three objectives:

  • To contribute to achieving cross-border learning and cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian mental health professionals to enhance psychosocial healthcare to children and adolescents.
  • To improve the mental health of conflict-affected children and adolescents.
  • And to increase professional interaction between Israeli and Palestinian mental health professionals to promote co-existence, to build up mutual trust and enhance shared experiences.

Noting the successful outcomes of the pilot in increasing the professional interaction between the participants, Tim Costello AO, former CEO of WVA, said cross-border cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian mental health professionals is critical to the psychosocial health of children and adolescents.

He also said that the BNSP is contributing to women’s empowerment by ensuring that no less than 50% of students are women.

The EU grant will enable 60 Israeli and Palestinian psychotherapists working in the field of child and adolescent mental health to complete the course. It will also fund the BNSP to undertake curriculum development and accreditation by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to Ron Finkel AM, Chair of Project Rozana International:

“The decision is an endorsement of our work, our values and the importance of building cross-border professional networks. It also recognises Project Rozana’s support for children from Israel and Palestine, who are dealing with many trauma-related issues resulting from the ongoing conflict. These include issues like bullying, domestic violence and sexual abuse.”

John Lyndon, Executive Director of Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP) welcomed the EU’s decision to support Project Rozana. He noted that the EUPI is now the largest pot of resources available to projects with Israeli and Palestinian cooperation at their core.

The BNSP is an important element of Project Rozana’s training programs, all of which will have the long term benefit of lessening Palestinian dependence on the Israeli healthcare system.

Dr Shafiq Masalha and BNSP pilot participants in 2016