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Re: ORCA Board Message on Israel-Palestinian Conflict

16 May 2024 11:26 AM | Anonymous
We thank the many voices who have reached out to us regarding the May ORCA statement on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. We had previously made a statement to our community at our Fall Conference following the devastating events in early fall as well as the violence that occurred on October 7th, but see and acknowledge that this initial statement was not posted publicly on our website or social media. We apologize that this message was not available to our members and have sought to rectify this - it is now visible on our website blog.

We followed up with our May 8th statement after considerable feedback from our members regarding our lack of communication after the initial statement, especially following the changing landscape in this conflict since the October conference. 

The purpose of ORCA's statement made on May 8th, 2024 are as follows: 

• Awareness of Hostility: ORCA acknowledges the increase in hostility between Israel and Palestine.

• Impact Statement: The most recent statement indicates a strong stance on the part of ORCA regarding the current nature of the conflict. This is following our statement, made in October of 2024, where we condemned violence from all parties - including violence against Israel as a result of the attacks of Hamas. 

• Concern for Safety: ORCA has expressed again concerns for the safety of Palestinians and Israelis alike, particularly those with direct ties to individuals living in the areas of conflict. 

• Call for Peace: ORCA has expressed a desire for an end to violence and persecution based on ethnic and religious identities, both locally and internationally, underscoring our position as a helping organization committed to peace and the wellbeing of all communities.

• Role of Helping Professionals: The statement describes our organization’s stance against war and violence, emphasizing our role as counselors in addressing and mitigating trauma, including that caused by the conflict.

• Personal and Professional Call to Action: The statement encourages its members and the broader community to support victims of the conflict, either directly or through humanitarian efforts, while also taking care of themselves and their loved ones. 

We hope this message provides clarity on the intentions of the statement. We want to acknowledge that posts to our Instagram and Facebook pages regarding our statement were removed. As a volunteer led organization, we lack capacity to moderate our members on these forums, and were compelled to remove these posts due to some of the comments that were posted, both by members and the community at large. As therapists, we appreciate opportunities for supportive and constructive discourse, and hope that our members contribute on these platforms with respect and consideration to all community members.

We would like to share our support of our Jewish members and those who have reached out to us with fear and anxiety following the statement. We hope all members of our community can consider the historical and intergenerational trauma that affect all who are connected to the current conflict. Denouncing actions that cause harm or violate human rights, such as genocide, is a principled stance that seeks justice and accountability. Criticizing specific actions or policies of the Israeli government, like any other government, does not speak to how ORCA feels about our Jewish community members. ORCA aims to protecting the dignity and respect of all, including our Palestinian, Israeli, and Jewish community members, which we believe is crucial in advocating for human rights and peace. 

We would also like to refer you to ACA’s general position statement regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which, in addition, ORCA fully stands with and supports: 

"As an organization that advocates for the emotional needs of all people and holds close our commitment to social justice, the American Counseling Association (ACA) condemns the ongoing Israel-Palestinian conflict — including the violent attack on Israel that took place on October 7, 2023 — and the violence, displacement, deprivation and loss of life that pre-dated and has ensued since October 7. We acknowledge the collective trauma of the Israeli and Palestinian communities following decades of conflict and condemn the rise of anti-Jewish and anti-Arab rhetoric due to this current war.

Unfortunately, we live in a time with no shortage of violent conflict — both large and small scale — at home and abroad. The mental health effects are profound for those living in areas under the constant threat of violence. But the effects also ripple to those with direct connections to a region in conflict and even those who witness and absorb war-related death and destruction from a distance via the news and social media.  ACA has curated trauma-informed resources to assist counselors who are part of or who serve conflict-affected populations.

We believe that mental health is a human right and that citizens of this region deserve to live in an environment free of fear and violence. ACA appeals to leaders on both sides of this war to take immediate steps to end the violence and work toward sustainable peace and collective healing.”

We continue to stand in solidarity with all affected by this conflict. We hope that this clarity is helpful to you in understanding ORCA’s position and statements made by our organization. We encourage all members to reach out to our Human Rights Chair ( with any concerns that may affect the safety and well-being of our members.

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