Photo Credit: Oleksandr Ratushniak / UNDP Ukraine
A woman stands near her shelling-damaged house in the village of Novoselivka, Chernihiv Oblast, Ukraine.

Who comes up with these things?

A first-of-its-kind study was conducted by Tel Aviv University to determine which civilian population showed greater fortitude in a time of national stress: the Ukrainians facing a Russian invasion, or the Israelis facing violence from all over – rockets from Gaza and Molotov cocktails and knives from their Arab neighbors on the block.


The study found that the national resilience of the citizens of Ukraine has been comparatively very high: 4.35 on a scale of 1 to 6, significantly higher than the national resilience that characterized Israeli citizens at the height of Operation Guardian of the Walls in May 2021 – only 3.89.

This reminds me of the joke that in France there are only two levels of alert: Surrender and Collaborate.

The researchers explain the difference with the fact that Ukrainian citizens now find themselves fighting for their homeland and are ready to do anything to win the war, while the rounds of fighting in Gaza have become a kind of a recurring nuisance for the citizens of Israel, accompanied by a moderate level of national resilience.

They didn’t mention the frontal assault by the Israeli government on Jews who attempted to defend themselves against armed Arab rioters, and a mad hatter’s set of rules of engagement imposed on IDF soldiers regarding the treatment of terror suspects.

Also, the suggestion that for the residents of the Gaza envelope settlements, getting hit by rockets and mortar shells is a kind of daily nuisance could only be conceived in north Tel Aviv, where the TAU campus is located.

The study was led by Prof. Bruria Adini and Prof. Shaul Kimhi of the ResWell Research Center at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine. They say the uniqueness of their study is that it constitutes the first attempt by academic researchers to assess Ukrainian citizens’ positive and negative coping indices during wartime. The study indicates that in such conditions of conflict, a population may experience high levels of stress and, simultaneously, high levels of societal resilience and hope for the future. In the current situation in Ukraine, the population has also demonstrated a great deal of support for their government.

They back it up with facts:

The study surveyed about 1000 Ukrainian citizens, constituting a representative sample of Ukrainian society, as well as a sample of about 650 Israeli citizens using data collected during Operation Guardian of the Walls. The study’s findings suggest that the danger, in the eyes of Ukrainian citizens, is perceived as much more tangible (3.7 on a scale of 1 to 5) than Israelis’ perception of danger in the rounds of fighting against Hamas in Gaza (2.45). The perception of threat amongst Ukrainians is also more significant (3.29) than among the citizens of Israel (2.79).

It’s interesting to note, however, that despite the significant dangers and threats they face, Ukrainian citizens have not lost hope, with their “hope index” being higher (an average of 3.95) than that of Israelis (an average of 3.5).

I’ve been telling you, people, to keep your hope index high, but do you listen? Noooo.

Regarding demographics, the conclusions emerging from the study are that the younger population, those between the ages of 26 to 30, presents higher levels of stress and post-traumatic stress symptoms compared to other age groups. In addition, women report higher levels of negative coping mechanisms in comparison to men.

Those women with their special anatomy and the anxiety it generates – why can’t they be more positive, like the men who lurk on their block?

Prof. Adini and Prof. Kimhi said in a statement: “The perception of a threat as existential to the survival and sovereignty of the state and society is likely, under certain conditions, to enhance the population’s societal resilience and sense of hope. This is the case even when the population feels anxious and threatened by the situation. Moreover, it appears that the war launched by Russia against Ukraine has actually contributed to the process of Ukrainian identity-building, which also leads to increased levels of resilience, as well as an extremely high sense of hope.

“The Israelis, unlike the Ukrainian people, do not feel that their country is under a direct existential threat and have, to a certain degree, adapted to an ‘emergency routine’ due to the recurrent conflicts. In light of this, they present lower levels of resilience relative to Ukrainians, but at the same time higher levels of well-being and morale.”

Give me higher levels of well-being and morale any time, especially over watching my cities collapse under Russian bombardments.

And with all of the above in mind, may your Yom Kippur fast be easy and useful, and may you emerge on the other end, well, more resilient, I suppose.


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