In May 1995 a Conference on Forensic Psychiatry was held near Tel Aviv, to which psychiatrists and other health professionals specialising in forensic psychiatry from Britain and Israel and Palestinians from the West Bank were invited. Participants at the Conference took part in discussions on forensic psychiatry and visited a maximum security prison with a hospital wing at Ramleh and an Arab psychiatric hospital in Bethlehem on the West Bank. On the days between Conference events, the British group visited Jerusalem and the Dead Sea and became aware of the almost unique interflux between Muslim, Christian and Jewish religion and culture which underlies the historical evolution of this area of the world. The modern social and political landscape is of course characterised by a violent confrontation between Arabs and Jews yet permeated now by a growing realisation of the need for peace and reconciliation, even if this has its ambivalent aspects at times. In this context the participation of Jewish and Arab health professionals together is a sign that ultimately medical and health care has its universal qualities which can bridge over or supersede the differences between nations that are so endemic to history.
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