Success stories of Palestinian achievers from all over the world

Samah Jabr

Personal Info

  • Country of residence: Palestine
  • Gender: Female
  • Born in: 1976
  • Age: 45
  • Curriculum vitae :


Samah Jabr ( born 8 August 1976) is a Palestinian Jerusalemite psychiatrist, psychotherapist and writer. Since 2016, she has been Chair of the Mental Health Unit at the Palestinian Ministry of Health, and has written columns about the psychological consequences of the Israeli occupation in Palestine since the 2000s. Inspired by anticolonial psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, her areas of interest include mental health, colonialism and universal human rights.

Samah Jabr was born to a Jerusalemite family on August 8, 1976. She graduated from Al-Quds University (Jerusalem) in 2001, a member of the first cohort of the Faculty of Medicine.She gained advanced training in psychiatry in France and the United Kingdom, as well as in clinical research in the United States. She specialized in psychotherapy and was trained at the Israel Psychoanalytic Institute of Jerusalem. Jabr is one of 22 psychiatrists practicing in the West Bank, and among the first Palestinian women in this profession.

Jabr serves as Palestine Medical Director for the Palestinian Medical Education Initiative (PMED), and practices as a psychiatrist and a psychotherapist in the private and public sectors. Her research is published in both Palestinian and international peer-reviewed journals. She co-wrote, with American child psychiatrist Elizabeth Berger, a study focusing on "clinical transference and countertransference across the Israeli/Palestinian divide" and one on "the survival and well-being of the Palestinian people under occupation".

Jabr has taught at various Palestinian universities and is a supervisor at the George Washington University (Washington). She is a fellow at the Centre for Science and Policy (University of Cambridge). She works as a consultant and a trainer for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders (MSF).

A volunteer for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI), Jabr contributes to establishing reports based on the testimonies of victims. In the documentary Beyond the Frontlines: Tales of Resistance and Resilience in Palestine (Alexandra Dols, 2017, France), she explains that the objective is to let the perpetrators know that their acts of torture are known, reported and filed, so that they may be held accountable.

Jabr distinguishes between the act of suicide, driven by despair, and the act of sacrifice, drawn by hope.

Suicidal actions are often egocentric because the individual’s spark of life has lost its meaning in interpersonal terms. In contrast, the self-sacrificing person–even on the pathway to death–may be full of hope, indeed perhaps too much so. The act of self-sacrifice often involves an altruistic dedication to others and an eagerness to improve their future chances. Their hope is to extinguish their own soul in the service of giving light to others and brighten the road ahead.

Regarding mental health statistics for Palestine, and post-traumatic stress disorder data specifically, Jabr questions the methodology and definitions given by the World Health Organization. "It’s important to develop your own mental health standards", she says.


Achievements and Awards

Jabr's research in biochemistry was granted the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Award in 1998. In 1999, she benefited from the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Program at the Iowa State University, and later received a scholarship from the Dubai Harvard Foundation for Medical Research (DHFMR) in 2014. She is a fellow at the Centre for Science and Policy (University of Cambridge).

In 2001, Jabr received the Media Monitors Network's Award for her articles on the Second Intifada, and she was elected “Personality of the Year” by the readers of French Muslim website in 2015.


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