To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.
One year after the second Lebanon War, Israel’s north is back in business. Where 12 months ago the region was shaken to its core by the impact of hundreds of missile hits from Hizbullah, traces of the damage are now hard to find.
Last year, the north was empty, as many of its residents fled south to safety and tourists were conspicuous by their absence. This August, it’s more or less life as usual.
But according to experts in the field of post-traumatic stress disorder, the effects of the Hizbullah onslaught are still there, under the surface. For adults and children alike, especially those who were already in difficult emotional circumstances, the impact of last year’s war remains enormous.
According to Professor Mooli Lahad of Tel Hai College and the Israel Trauma Coalition, “the houses are fixed,” but the question remains as to whether the souls of those who suffered through the bombardment and the displacement it caused are repaired.
In a presentation to American Jewish journalists visiting the country at the invitation of the United Jewish Communities, Lahad and his colleague, Professor Rami Benbenishty of Hebrew University’s School of Social Work, discussed research on the question of just how great the impact of the war was on the psyches of Israel’s citizens.
What they found was that even though the number of civilian casualties in last summer’s war paled in comparison to those inflicted by Palestinian suicide bombers and snipers during the four years of the second intifada, the conflict with Hizbullah devastated Israelis’ sense of security more than anything that had come before.
The failure of the government to prepare adequately for attacks on the north – and the fact that the evacuation of civilians was “too late and too slow” – eroded the sense of community and security.
To deal with these problems, several programs were funded by North American Jewry via the United Jewish Communities’ Israel Emergency Fund. The fund won the respect of Israelis for acting quickly to help people at the time of the fighting. And it continues to sponsor efforts that deal with problems that linger long after the rockets stopped falling.
Millions of dollars donated by friends of Israel via their local Jewish federations have been invested through the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee to deal with problems that experts such as Lahad and Benbenishty assert are not only serious but have been exacerbated by lack of faith in government.
The prime minister of Israel, however, when asked about this in a meeting with the journalists who were in Israel to learn more about the Israel Emergency Campaign, would have none of it.
Speaking on the record – with the ground rule that his statements were not be directly quoted – Ehud Olmert dismissed the notion that people in the north had been traumatized, and questioned the reliability of any psychologist making the claim. Moreover, he asserted that anyone who would make such a case for the impact of the war was attempting to construct a false sense of the nation’s state of mind.
Not only did he flatly contradict the studies commissioned by those tasked by Israeli and Diaspora philanthropic institutions to deal with the issue, he seemingly denigrated the value and importance of the work the emergency fund has been doing all this time.
When this was pointed out to him over the course of several follow-up questions, he backtracked to the extent of allowing that he valued the work of the UJC and its emergency fund, and acknowledged that some people somewhere in Israel might be traumatized.
But Olmert still insisted there was no crisis of confidence, no reason to be alarmed about the way the war may still be harming many Israelis.
The state of denial in which Olmert is living is hardly limited to his oblivious attitude to the facts about the need for aid to the traumatized.
When asked about any mistakes he might have made during last year’s war, Olmert reiterated a stonewall strategy all too familiar to Israelis. Though it was his own boast that he would eradicate Hizbullah and free the two Israeli soldiers whose kidnapping set off the fighting, Olmert blamed the press for inflating the public’s expectations of a clear-cut victory that he now acknowledges was always an impossibility.
About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
“Why do people get complacent with the things they’re told?”
Arab opposition to a Jewish State of any size was made known by word and deed in the form of terror
Operation Moses: First time in history that non-blacks came to Africa to free blacks from oppression
Perhaps attacking a terrorist’s legacy broadly and publicly would dissuade others from terrorism?
R’ Aryeh yelled “Run, I’ll fight!” Using a chair against terrorists to buy time so others could flee
Riot started when Muslim students wore the Pal. kaffiyeh and Druze students demanded them removed
The “Media” didn’t want us to know what a kind, giving, loving young woman Dalia was.
A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.
Maimonides himself walked and prayed in the permissible areas when he visited Eretz Yisrael in 1165
Having a strong community presence at the polls shows our elected officials we care about the issues
Israel’s Temple Mount policy prefers to blames the Jews-not the attackers-for the crisis.
When Islam conquered the Holy Land, it made its capital in Ramle of all places, not in Jerusalem.
I joined the large crowd but this time it was more personal; my cousin Aryeh was one of the victims.
Terrorists aren’t driven by social, economic, or other grievances, rather by a fanatical worldview.
Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.
One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]
How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.
Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.
Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.
“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/into-the-bunker-with-olmert/2007/08/22/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: