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The Association of Jewish Psychologists (AJP) strongly condemns the brutal and vicious Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel.  These barbaric attacks have included the torture, killing and kidnapping of innocent babies, children, women, and men, the elderly, disabled, as well as soldiers.  Since its inception, the stated intent of the terrorist organization, Hamas, has been to destroy Israel and kill its citizens of all ages, without discrimination.  This most recent series of terrorist attacks, that followed earlier ones, are all too reminiscent of the long history of genocide of the Jewish people, including pogroms and the Holocaust, with young children and babies’ being ripped from their parents’ arms and murdered.  

While our hearts cry out for the Gazans, who have and will continue to suffer from this unspeakable war, Israel must defend itself against annihilation.  Hamas has refused to accept any negotiated settlement to bring peace to this region and has insisted on a “river to the sea” policy of destroying Israel.  The re-traumatization inflicted on both Israelis and Gazans is horrific and harrowingThere are many who will never fully recover.

We wholeheartedly support the people of Israel and the people of Gaza.  We support the existence of an Israeli State as a Jewish homeland. Heartbroken, we grieve and pray for the innocent victims in Israel and Gaza and we pray for the restoration of human dignity and peace for all of our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers in this war torn region.

Beth N. Rom-Rymer, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and President

Steven Stein, Ph.D., C.Psych., LL.D. (Hon.)
Vice President

Ilene A. Serlin, Ph.D, BC-DMT
Co-Founder and Secretary

Dr. Lenore E. Walker, Ed.D. ABPP CL & Fam
Co-Founder and Treasurer

Ester Cole, Ph.D.

Sarah Landau Friedman, Ph.D.

Tara Liberman, Psy.D.

Lu Steinberg, Psy.D.

Susan C. Warshaw, EdD, ABPP

The Association of Jewish Psychologists (AJP) has received questions about our position on the APA Statement, addressing the most recent atrocities committed by Hamas on the Jewish people of Israel.

AJP does not approve the APA Statement.

Although we were consulted on an initial draft, our suggestions were not included in the final draft and the language of the published Statement is not acceptable to us. We were neither asked to sign off on the final version nor were we given a final draft to review.

 


We, in the Association of Jewish Psychologists, and many of our psychologist colleagues throughout our nation and the world, are deeply disappointed and terribly saddened that our professional association could not more forcefully and unequivocally condemn the horrific acts of barbarism against the Jewish people of the State of Israel.

Even as we write, increasingly horrifying details are emerging about the civilian massacres in Israel, the viciousness of which is unparalleled in recent history, but for the Holocaust.

First, by using the past tense, “condemned,” you back away from a statement of bold assertion.  Even more significantly, you have reduced the multiple, coordinated, horrific attacks to a single episode of violence against the State.  This was a series of barbaric attacks on more than a thousand children, women, and men, including elderly grandparents, people who were disabled, and infants.  Infants were beheaded.  Children were taunted, torn from their parents, and then maimed, mutilated, and murdered.  Yet, you reduce this devastating barbarism to “a violent attack” on a faceless State.

You also do not expound on what Hamas is.  Hamas is a terrorist organization, dedicated to the obliteration of Israel, as evidenced by its 1988 Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS).  Bruce Hoffman, in his article, “Understanding Hamas’s Genocidal Ideology,” in The Atlantic (October 10, 2023), categorizes the document’s 36 articles within four main themes:

“The complete destruction of Israel as an essential condition for the liberation of Palestine …
The need for both unrestrained and unceasing holy war (jihad) to attain the destruction of Israel.
The deliberate disdain for, and dismissal of any negotiated resolution or political settlement of Jewish and Muslim claims to the Holy Land and
The reinforcement of historical antisemitic tropes and calumnies married to sinister conspiracy theories.”

Bruce Hoffman goes on to say that if world leaders had read “Mein Kampf” in the 1920’s, these leaders may have prevented the murders of 2/3 of European Jewry.

At minimum, the APA could call out Hamas as a terrorist group that trains its children to hate Jews, a terrorist group intent on genocide.

APA writes: “We also are deeply disturbed by the crisis of human suffering and loss of life and liberty for civilians who are caught in this escalating conflict.” The Jewish people who were tortured, maimed, murdered; or tortured, maimed, and kidnapped, where further torture and probable death likely have been visited on them, were not “caught” in an “escalating conflict.” Barbaric, savage men specifically sought out Jewish people, sleeping in their beds or enjoying a music festival, or eating a meal, to ravage them.  We do not understand how APA, an association of psychologists, could not appreciate the unimaginably horrific trauma that was experienced by the hundreds of Jewish victims in this terrorist rampage.

APA writes: “There can be no justification for cutting off access to basic necessities, such as electricity, food and medicine.”  It seems terribly naïve for APA to write that “there is no justification” for defensive measures to be taken against a regime that has clearly told the world, again and again, that Israel and the Jewish people have no right to exist.

Does APA not understand that because Israel’s borders had been breached and Jewish people have been viciously attacked, that Israel is now in a declared war with Hamas?  Does APA not understand that nearly 200 hostages, many severely wounded, many of whom are elderly, many of whom are young children, were taken from Israel? When the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, was there no justification for our going to war with the Axis alliance?  Was there no justification for our attacking Japanese, German, and Italian warships and cities?  Does one genocide justify another genocide?  Absolutely not!  But, Israel has the right to protect itself against annihilation, the stated intent of the Hamas terrorists, and Israel has the right to try to negotiate for the return of its people.

APA writes: “We also condemn the rise of anti-Jewish and anti-Arab rhetoric as a result of this most recent conflict.”  The ADL has cited, since the barbaric murders of more than a thousand civilian Jews, a 488% rise in antisemitic online extremism threats and calls for violence against Jews and a 300% increase in antisemitic incidents. Since and because of the series of horrific terrorist attacks against Israeli Jews last weekend, people waved Palestinian flags over the Israeli Embassy in London, calling for genocide.  In Times Square, there were people celebrating a “victory for decolonisation” because Israel was so brutally attacked.  People chanted “gas the Jews” at the Sydney Opera House.   A “one settler, one bullet” Palestinian flag was hung over Grayson bridge in Johannesburg. Gerald Darmanin, Minister of the Interior in France, announced that police had recorded 1,000 antisemitic incidents in the 48 hours following the Hamas atrocities on October 7th.    Antisemitic incidents were also recorded in Porto, Portugal; in Glasgow, Scotland;  Madrid, Spain; Geneva, Switzerland; Berlin, Germany; Bogota, Colombia.  American Jewish parents are afraid to send their children to religious schools since last weekend.  American Jewish children and many American Jewish adults (including many of us) will no longer wear identifying Jewish clothing in public. Jewish students, at Stanford University, were openly chastised and forced to stand in a corner by a teaching assistant for being Israeli and/or Jews.  Jewish students, today, in the United States are afraid to take their meals with students they don’t know, fearing taunting, insults, physical assaults, and worse.  There was an international “Jihad Day” in major cities throughout our country (and the world) on Friday, October 13th, called by former Hamas leader, Khaled Mashal, sparking antisemitic confrontations with Jews and forcing an increased police presence and vigilance. In the United States, all synagogues and Jewish religious schools and University Hillels have had to upgrade their security measures, since the ferocious terrorist attacks last weekend. Jews all over the world have spent time in Israel and all of us have relatives and friends in Israel, some of whom have now been murdered, taken as hostages, or who have been called up to serve in the Israeli army to fight a terrible, bloody war. AMENA-Psy has shared Instagram posts that celebrate the Hamas terror in Israel.

Anti-Arab and anti-Muslim attacks and rhetoric have spiked in this last week, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).  A recent notable murderous hate crime occurred in Plainfield, just outside of Chicago, today, October 15th.  A 6-year old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death and his mother was critically injured with stab wounds.  Their landlord was charged, saying in the rampage:  “You Muslims must die.”  We are certain that Muslims and Arabs, the world over, are also suffering from taunts, confrontations because they are Muslim.  We know that Muslims, Arabs, Palestinians, are terribly suffering and grieving because their family members and loved ones are being killed and injured, right now, in Gaza.

No hate crime is justified or to be celebrated.  As our colleague, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, has said, “Hatred is the cause of much of medical disease.”  The Association of Jewish Psychologists condemns all hate and all hate crimes.

We hope and pray that the killings of citizens in Israel and Gaza stop quickly and that a path to coexistence can be created. We hope and pray that the families of those suffering in Israel and Gaza can begin to breathe a little easier.  We hope and pray that the stranglehold of Hamas on Gazans will end soon.  We hope and pray that the Palestinian people will no longer be forced to function as human shields and martyrs for Hamas.   We hope and pray that Hamas and all such terrorist organizations can be eliminated from our world. We hope and pray that when negotiations for peace are made, once again, in the Middle East, that all negotiating parties indeed commit themselves to consistent, long term efforts to maintain and keep that peace.

When we were asked to review the APA’s first draft of the public Statement about the attacks on Israel, one of the comments that we made was that a connection needs to be made between the Jewish experience of the Holocaust and the millennia of genocidal purges of Jewish societies and these terrorist attacks.  It is critical that you understand that our actual and vicarious experience is most similar to that of the experience of the Holocaust because of the naked brutality of the attacks, the ongoing nature of the attacks, and a great deal of visible, global support for these attacks.   We would have liked to have seen some recognition, by APA, of this replication of our intergenerational trauma.

In the APA letter, there are some general comments about psychological research on trauma and that we are experts in human behavior.  Other professional organizations (the AACAP, for example) has given specific advice and counsel to the readers of its statement.  We certainly could have done much more to address the specific needs of individuals, especially families and children, suffering from first-degree as well as secondary trauma, attributed to the terrorist attacks.

APA writes: “Psychologists are experts in the science of human behavior.  Problems cannot be solved without understanding their root cause.”  “Root cause” is a phrase that is being used by political groups to assert that the savagery in Israel was an “inevitable result” of Israel’s “violence” toward the Palestinians since Hamas took the reins of power in Gaza in 2006.  Is APA aligning itself with those political groups who do not decry the murderous, terrorist attack against the Jews, beginning on October 7th because, somehow, this violence was “justified?”

APA writes: “The psychology community stands in solidarity with all who are working to protect and safeguard human life during this conflict.”  Why did you not have the courage to say that “the Psychology community stands in solidarity with Israel and Jewish people throughout the world who are the victims of this terror?”  Did you not stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people when Ukraine was brutally invaded by Russia?  Did you not stand in solidarity with Asian communities when 6 Chinese women were attacked in Atlanta in 2021?  Do you not stand in solidarity with African American communities when black men and women are horrifically gunned down by police?  Why can’t APA “stand in solidarity” with the Jewish people who have had yet another atrocity committed against them?

President Biden, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, the European Union, New York Representative Dan Goldman, New York City Mayor, Eric Adams, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, the National Association of Social Workers, the NYU Law School, current President of the University of Florida, former Senator Ben Sasse, and the President of Princeton University, to name just a few professional organizations and political and academic leaders, have all delivered impassioned statements of outrage at the horrific acts of terrorism that occurred last weekend and continue to occur.

Why is APA, as the largest professional organization of psychologists, not able to stand up and deliver an impassioned statement of such outrage? Why can’t APA call for an end to all hatred, including a hatred of the Jews?

We, in the Association of Jewish Psychologists, have heard profound anger from psychologists around the country and around the world.  We, who have dedicated ourselves to our “One APA” because we share the broad social justice vision of our leaders and our growing culture of bold EDI initiatives. We are stunned by your muted response to the wanton murders of more than a thousand innocent, Jewish people in Israel, and by your lack of passion for and lack of commitment to the flourishing of Jewish families and communities.

 


 

Beth N. Rom-Rymer, President

Steven J. Stein, Vice President

Ilene Serlin, Secretary

Lenore Walker, Treasurer

Ester Cole, Director

Sarah Landau Friedman, Director

Tara E. Liberman, Director

Lu Steinberg, Director

Susan Warshaw, Director

Elena Eisman, Committee Chair

Alan Hack, Committee Co-Chair

Mark Kiselica, Committee Chair

Mayra Zoe Ortiz, Committee Co-Chair

Joanne Broder Sumerson, Committee Chair

 

October 16, 2023

Remarks at Harvard Hillel

Remarks as delivered by President Claudine Gay at Harvard Hillel Shabbat Dinner

It’s an honor for my husband Chris and I to be here tonight to celebrate Shabbat with you. I’m told that this week’s Torah portion recounts the story of Abraham, the founder of the world’s great monotheistic faiths. In this week’s reading, God tells Abraham that Abraham will “be a blessing” – not that Abraham will receive a blessing, but that he will be a blessing. He is tasked with becoming a blessing in the lives of others, taking an active role in bringing light into a world that is so often full of darkness.

That responsibility to be a blessing – to bring light, to each other and to the world—resonates with me, and with my hopes for Harvard.

The past few weeks have been full of darkness. First came the horrific terrorist attacks on October 7th, in which 1400 Jewish people were murdered by Hamas, and more than 200 others were taken hostage. Then came the escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Here in the U.S., we are witnessing a surge in anti-Jewish incidents and rhetoric across the nation — and on our own campus. The ancient specter of antisemitism, that persistent and corrosive hatred, has returned with renewed force. According to one report, incidents of antisemitism, nationally, have almost tripled over the past six years. Here at Harvard, I’ve heard story after story of Jewish students feeling increasingly uneasy or even threatened on campus. We should all be alarmed by this. I am.

I want to acknowledge the profound toll this has taken, especially on our Jewish students, faculty, and staff. Your grief, fear, and anger are heard and felt deeply.

As we grapple with this resurgence of bigotry, I want to make one thing absolutely clear: Antisemitism has no place at Harvard.

As President, I am committed to tackling this pernicious hatred with the urgency it demands. Antisemitism has a very long and shameful history at Harvard. For years, this University has done too little to confront its continuing presence. No longer.

Harvard’s mission, and legacy, is the pursuit and dissemination of truth. And the core of antisemitism is a lie – specifically, the denial of Jewish identity and experience. This lie has taken many forms, from Holocaust denial to the blood libel to conspiracy theories to the denial of the Jewish peoples’ historical ties to the land of Israel. Harvard is a place for inquiry and vigorous debate about our world’s greatest challenges. A place to reveal truth, not to deny facts.

To begin the vital work of eradicating antisemitism from our community, I have assembled a group of advisors whose wisdom, experience, and counsel will help guide us forward. These trusted voices include faculty, staff, alumni, and religious leaders from the Jewish community, and some of them are here tonight. I am enormously grateful for their conviction and generous spirit, and for the hope and high expectations for Harvard.

In the weeks ahead, these advisors will work with me, Provost Garber, and the School deans to frame an agenda and strategy for combating antisemitism at Harvard. They will help us to think expansively and concretely about all the ways that antisemitism shows up on our campus and in our campus culture. They will help us to identify all the places — from our orientations and trainings to how we teach — where we can intervene to disrupt and dismantle this ideology, and where we can educate our community so that they can recognize and confront antisemitism wherever they see it. They will help us find opportunities to foster the empathy, literacy, and understanding across identities and beliefs that we need to be the Harvard the world is calling for and that our community deserves.

Our Jewish students have shared searing accounts of feeling isolated and targeted. This shakes me to my core – as an educator, as a mother, as a human being. Harvard must be a place where everyone feels safe and seen. It is just the right thing to do.

The amount of work before us may seem daunting. And I know the goal that I have set for this institution will not be achieved tomorrow. Any problem that has been allowed to fester for this long will defy easy remedy.

Where we go from here will require courage, humility, and perseverance. It will demand fearless self-reflection about our own assumptions and biases. But we have done this before. We have the wisdom and resilience to meet this challenge. We have confronted legacies of injustice in the past and emerged stronger for it. Guided by our shared values, and our love for Harvard, I have faith we can turn pain into durable, hard-won progress. By lifting each other up and speaking truth even when difficult, the light of justice will scatter the shadows of hate and antisemitism.

I ask for your partnership in this effort. There is so much important work for us to do, but I have never been more hopeful that Harvard can lead the way. I am confident that we can rise to the challenge once given to Abraham, to become the blessing needed for our shared future.

 


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Statement on Terrorist Attacks by Hamas Against Israeli Citizens on October 7, 2023

Dear SRCD members,

I am writing to share more thoughts on the horrific, violent terrorist attacks by Hamas against Israeli citizens on October 7, 2023.

I have heard from several of our members who are terrified, angry, and hurting. I want to be clear that SRCD unequivocally condemns the terrorism and violence perpetrated by Hamas, including the brutal capture of civilian hostages.  

My original statement was not intended to minimize the horror that was unleashed in last week’s attacks, or the unique circumstances of this terrorist incident. Our Jewish communities have suffered too many times at the hands of terrorist groups seeking their destruction. We grieve with you and share your shock at these atrocious acts.

As developmental scientists, we know the impact that war can have on our children for generations. Our role at SRCD is to try to help elevate our scientific knowledge and bring this into our common discourse. We are not experts in international relations, with answers on what should be done, but we know with certainty that the impacts of this violence will be long felt. As the war wages, our hearts are with all parents, both Palestinian and Israeli, who are terrified for themselves and their children, and who are witnessing and experiencing trauma and the death of their loved ones. The right to live safely and free from the threat of terrorism or violence should not be a privilege.

For SRCD members in Israel and Gaza and for Jewish and Palestinian families around the world, know that we stand with you and against all hatred and terror.

Sincerely,

Vonnie C. McLoyd, Ph.D.
SRCD President
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Copyright © 2023 Society for Research in Child Development, All rights reserved.
 
1825 K Street N.W., Suite 325, Washington, D.C. 20006
Telephone: 202-800-0677 | Email: info@srcd.org

Over 150 Jewish Groups Unequivocally Reject Islamophobia and Anti-Arab Hate

For Immediate Release
October 17, 2023

Media Contact:
jcpa@westendstrategy.com

At a Moment of Rising Hate and Bigotry, Statement Organized by JCPA Underscores Urgency of Fighting Hate Against Muslim, Arab, and Jewish Americans: “All of Our Communities’ Safety and Futures are Inextricably Linked”

In the wake of the attack in which a six-year-old Muslim boy was murdered and his mother critically injured by a man who targeted them because of their faith and the Israel/Hamas war, over 150 Jewish groups released a statement today condemning the attack and rejecting any effort to exploit the situation in Israel and Gaza to spread hate and bigotry.

The statement, which was organized by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and signed by 155 national and local groups, explicitly rejects “Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate, antisemitism, and all forms of bigotry”:  

“We stand in solidarity with all our neighbors under threat, and urge our elected and civic leaders, law enforcement, schools and universities, and employers to make clear there will be zero tolerance for any act of hate.”

“As Jewish leaders, we want to be very clear: we unequivocally reject those targeting our Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian American neighbors with bigotry, threats, and violence,” said Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA). “This is a moment of profound pain for our community – and we refuse to allow some to exploit that pain as an excuse to spread bigotry or extremism of any kind. Our communities’ safety is inextricably linked, and only by coming together and calling it out can we defeat the forces of hate and violence.”

You can read the full text of the statement here and below:

Since Hamas’ terror attacks in Israel on October 7th, we’ve seen bigots and extremists exploit the crisis to spread hate, disinformation, and extremism.

This is a moment of deep Jewish pain, mourning the lives taken and praying for the safe release of the hostages in Gaza – and this pain and fear is compounded by a horrific rise in antisemitism here in the United States and around the globe.

We also know that we are not the only ones being targeted in this moment. Our Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian American neighbors are facing bigotry, threats, and violence – including the despicable murder of a six-year-old child this weekend outside Chicago, by a man who reportedly espoused anti-Muslim hate.

Let us be unequivocally clear: The Jewish community rejects Islamophobia, anti-Arab hate, antisemitism, and all forms of bigotry. Particularly as extremists continue to exploit this moment, we are reminded that all of our communities’ safety and futures are inextricably linked — and recommit ourselves to fighting hate in all its forms.

We stand in solidarity with all our neighbors under threat, and urge our elected and civic leaders, law enforcement, schools and universities, and employers to make clear there will be zero tolerance for any act of hate.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs
A More Perfect Union: The Jewish Partnership for Democracy
Ameinu
American Jewish Committee
Americans for Peace Now
Anti-Defamation League
Avodah
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Cultural and Secular Jewish Organization
Democratic Majority for Israel
Derekh
Hadar
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America
HIAS
Israel Policy Forum
J Street 
Jewish Democratic Council of America
Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish on Campus
Jewish War Veterans (JWV)
Jewish Women International (JWI)
Jewtina y Co.
Keshet
L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty
MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
Moving Traditions
National Association of Jewish Legislators
National Council of Jewish Women
National Education Association’s Jewish Affairs Caucus
National Ladies Auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans
National Museum of American Jewish Military History
Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
New Israel Fund (NIF)
Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructing Judaism
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
The Haberman Institute for Jewish Studies
The Jewish Education Project
The Shalom Center
The Workers Circle
Tree of Life Center
T’ruah
Union for Reform Judaism
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

Association of Jewish Administrators of the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators
Atlanta Jewish Film Society
Atlanta Jews of Color Council
Baltimore Jewish Council
Bnai Keshet
Charleston Jewish Federation
Chicago JCRC
Chicago Jewish Labor Committee
Cincinnati Jewish Community Relations Council
Coastal Roots Farm
Congregation Bet Haverim
Congregation Beth David
Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia
the Den Collective
Detroit JCRC/AJC
Educator’s Chapter of the Jewish Labor Committee
Greensboro Jewish Federation
Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council
JCRC Bay Area
JCRC for Tucson & Southern Arizona and the Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center
JCRC of Greater Charleston
JCRC of Greater Washington
JCRC of Jewish Silicon Valley
JCRC of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation
JCRC of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio
Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action
Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island
Jewish Committee, New York State Public Employees Federation
Jewish Community Action
Jewish Community Center and Federation of Augusta
Jewish Community Federation of the Mohawk Valley
Jewish Community of Amherst
Jewish Community Relations Bureau| AJC Kansas City
Jewish Community Relations Committee of Northern New Jersey
Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond
Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey
Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta
Jewish Community Relations Council of Broward County
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Hartford
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Mercer County, New Jersey 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater New Haven
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix
Jewish Community Relations Council of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest, NJ
Jewish Community Relations Council of Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County
Jewish Community Relations Council of Jewish Federation of Springfield, IL
Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville
Jewish Community Relations Council of Milwaukee 
Jewish Federation 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York
Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Birmingham Jewish Federation
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Sacramento Region
Jewish Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater
Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
Jewish Federation of Delaware/JCRC
Jewish Federation of Detroit
Jewish Federation of Dutchess County
Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne
Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor
Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton
Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles
Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville
Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh
Jewish Federation of Greater Portland
Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo
Jewish Federation of Howard County 
Jewish Federation of Lane County
Jewish Federation of Reading/Berks
Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York
Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey
Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass
Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region
Jewish Federation of Tulsa
Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts
Jewish Heritage Committee, District Council 37, AFSCME
Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ)
Jews United for Justice
jGirls+ Magazine
Kesher Pittsburgh
Levine Center to End Hate, Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester
Memphis Jewish Federation
Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation
Milwaukee Jewish Federation
Mishkan Chicago
Mitsui Collective
Mt. Sinai Health Foundation, Cleveland
New England Jewish Labor Committee
New Jersey Jewish Labor Committee
New York Jewish Agenda
Philadelphia Jewish Labor Committee
SAJ – Judaism that Stands for All
Springfield Jewish Community Center
Tampa JCCs & Federation
The Well
Tikkun Chant Circle
Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center
Tzedek Georgia
United Hebrew Trades – New York Jewish Labor Committee
United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula
Westchester Jewish Council
Youngstown Area Jewish Federation

WAIMH Statement on the Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East

Friday, October 20, 2023   

Statement on the Humanitarian Crisis in the Middle East

The horrors of war are ever-present and have been throughout human history. But when they include the deliberate killing of infants and children and violation of women and taking innocent people as hostages, as was done by Hamas in Israel on October 7th, they represent the most evil and despicable acts human beings are capable of committing.

We, as a community of professionals involved in the enhancement of care for infants and young children, condemn the brutality and violence that babies, young children, and their families are enduring at the hands of Hamas terrorists.

This horrendous and evil attack against innocent civilians in Israel will inevitably lead to even greater suffering for the innocent families and children in Gaza. The effects of these acts of inhuman hatred and violence will be transmitted for generations to come with devastating consequences for the mental health of innumerable individuals.

WAIMH is committed to working alongside all relief organizations, professionals and those who care for infants, young children, and their families through this catastrophe. This extreme humanitarian crisis and time of intense despair and darkness requires us as health professionals to reach out across all barriers to our fellow human beings to support each other in our efforts to try and secure a safer and humane future for all our children.

Associate Prof Campbell Paul,
President, World Association for Mental Health

Prof Emerita Astrid Berg,
President-Elect, World Association for Infant Mental Health

Community,

I am filled with sadness, anger, and outrage at the blatant display of hate that has hit our community. Last night messages of hate were projected onto the Gelman Library wall during a pro-Palestinian rally.  My heart aches for those affected by the conflict – the brutally murdered and captured Israeli hostages, and the Palestinian civilians who are suffering as a result of the conflict. However, what transpired last night on our campus is not support of the Palestinian cause. The messages projected last night are a manifestation of glorifying murder and of hate targeting a specific ethnic group.

To those who identify with the Jewish community, please know that we stand united with you against hate. If there are things that I can do to be of assistance or support in that regard, please let me know. And otherwise, please know that I stand against hate of any kind toward any group of people and will do what I can to support you.

To those of you who are instructors, I understand that people feel differently about action in times of unrest, personally, and professionally.  But I do feel that regardless of our ideas about the conflict in the Middle East, we share some options, and perhaps responsibility, for what we can do now and moving forward.

Those of us teaching or working with students have the opportunity to publicly express or show that we condemn the rhetoric of hate and violence. We have the power and voice to say that we support and stand behind our students who may be feeling fear for themselves and those close to them.  These are small things that we can do that can have a big impact on our students who may be feeling fearful and at risk. Saying and doing nothing sends a message that we accept, condone, or do not recognize the hateful meaning of the projected messages.  For those that do not feel comfortable sharing those topics or having those conversations, there are indirect ways to express those sentiments in ways that can communicate to students that we support them and are invested in their feeling safe.  

 

Dear colleagues, friends,

You will be aware that the Society for Emotion and Attachment Studies has not, generally, been an organisation that writes statements about world events. As an organisation dedicated to the dissemination of attachment research, SEAS does not have political aims, and, for better or worse, it has generally used its influence cautiously and in areas most closely aligned with its core mission. Indeed, we do not have an agreed upon process for gaining a consensus and making statements on behalf of the board or the Society.

So, this letter that I am writing to you is not written on behalf of the Society. It is not a position statement. It is a personal letter, reflecting my own feelings at this time, although it has been written with the invaluable support of my colleagues on the Board.

We have all had to bear witness to the most appalling violence committed by Hamas against innocent Israeli men, women and children. The monstrous violence has affected many members of the Society very directly. Our field has been so fortunate to have the most remarkable, thoughtful, creative colleagues working on attachment in Israel, so this atrocity impacts our community very profoundly. Our colleagues—our friends—are in agony right now, experiencing the most unimaginable grief for what has happened and fear for the future.

I struggled to write this letter, oppressed by the feeling that words can’t really articulate what has happened, or my own feelings or thoughts about it, or that my words might be inadequate. On the other hand, as a disparate community of academics and practitioners stretched across the globe, I guess words are all we have. And words matter. And so I write this letter to express my great shock and sadness at what our colleagues In Israel are facing and as an expression of resolute support; that we care and we stand by you. I wish there was more that any of us could do to help. But what we certainly can do as a community—which is what we are—is stand by our colleagues and their families and send them our love, solidarity and friendship in these most desperate times.

It is with some regret, I have to say, that while I have many friends and colleagues in Israel, I personally don’t have colleagues in Gaza or the West Bank that I can write to. There is, I know, a lot of wonderful work that goes on there to support children and families, in ways that are very closely aligned with the mission of SEAS. I also know that many Israeli colleagues, including members of SEAS, have been passionately involved in inter-community projects and bridge-building between Israelis and Palestinians, and I am so grateful to them for that and applaud what they do. I hope, and believe, the Society can do more in the future to support that.

It is impossible for me, from where I stand, to not recognise that children and families are suffering terribly in Gaza as well at this moment and that there are hostages in Gaza who are in great danger, including babies and children, some without their parents. People from both communities live in fear and have lost loved ones in the most traumatic circumstances. Bowlby of course taught us about the deep connection between loss, anger and rage, and I worry about where those feelings lead. We also know from much work in the attachment field that our ability to mentalise and to hold on to empathy is most difficult when you are struggling and in pain, even though it is a vital part of what makes recovery and reconciliation possible.  And in a situation like this it feels more or less impossible to do that alone. Perhaps our ability to mentalise can only be maintained in the face of trauma when we do it as a collective. We talk, we vent, we grieve, we listen, we reach out, we share perspectives, we step in to mentalise when someone else is unable; we try to make sense of the incomprehensible together. I am so grateful to the people who have shared conversations with me already about their experiences of the Hamas atrocity and its aftermath. So, I write this letter to you all in that spirit; after all, connection is what binds us all together in this particular association, above all else.

With much warmth and hope for better times,
Pasco   

What the Hamas massacre triggered in people like me

In Jewish communities, intergenerational pain has been reactivated by the terrifying events in the Middle East

On the night of Oct. 8, the day after the Hamas massacre that killed more than 1,400 people in Israel, I was woken in Vancouver by a knock on a door. “This is it,” I thought. “They’ve come for me.”

“They” were the Hamas terrorists, the latest version of the shadowy Jew-haters – Nazis, previously – that I have feared my whole life, as the child of Holocaust survivors. In recurring nightmares, but also in conscious moments, such as when I allow myself to contemplate what will happen if “never again” becomes “again” – another mass extinction event targeting Jews.

And on that night, Thanksgiving Sunday, roused from a fitful sleep, this was my first very real thought. (What was actually going on: my kid was having a birthday sleepover and it was a friend knocking on his bedroom door.)

I know this imagination-leap sounds ridiculous. But as I wrote in my book about intergenerational trauma, this is where my brain goes, without fail. “Stressful event, Holocaust. Joyful event, Holocaust.” It’s visceral. But an event like an actual massacre of Jews – well, I had never experienced anything like it when I wrote those words.

For many people like me, these irrational fears have been severely triggered by the events of Oct. 7. It wasn’t just the largest number of Jews killed in a single day since the Holocaust – although that would be traumatizing enough – but the horrific way in which civilians including children and babies were murdered.

“When the mind was groping to find what this horribleness was like … very quickly there was a total connection with the Holocaust,” says Yael Danieli, the founder of the International Center for the Study, Treatment and Prevention of Multigenerational Legacies of Trauma, told me this week by phone. “The connections are absolutely unmistakable. Fear for survival, fear of annihilation. The vulnerability, the helplessness.”

Also triggering has been much of the response to the Hamas massacre of Jewish people: synagogues vandalized and, in Tunisia, burned down. In Toronto, pro-Palestinian protesters harassing patrons of a Jewish-owned restaurant. Around the world – in Vancouver, too – we see people tearing down “Missing” posters meant to create awareness of the children who were abducted by Hamas.

This is not just repulsive. For some of us, it is terrifying. Our cellular memory has been activated by current events. The intergenerational trauma in our genes is raging.

French author Anne Berest, whom I interviewed at the Vancouver Writers Fest last week, describes her own intergenerational trauma in The Postcard, a literary sensation about her family’s Holocaust history.

“I carry within me, inscribed in the very cells of my body, the memory of an experience of danger so violent that sometimes I think I really lived it myself, or that I’ll be forced to relive it one day. To me, death always feels near. I have a sense of being hunted.”

Yes, yes, exactly. Discussion with festival attendees often turned to how scary the world feels right now; one person commented that this moment we are in feels like the early 1930s. That’s a terrible thing for anyone to imagine. But for a Jewish person, it is beyond chilling.

The existential dread is exacerbated by what we’re seeing around us. The antisemitic comments and atrocity denial, the open letters by students at TMU and other universities openly dismissing – and in many cases justifying – the barbarism committed by Hamas.

“It’s what we call the trauma after the trauma,” says Dr. Danieli, a clinical psychologist who works with Holocaust survivors and their children as well as other severely traumatized people around the world. “The judgmental indifference of the onlookers.”

This response has been extremely triggering for people like me, who have spent years imagining what it would have been like had we been born near the beginning of the last century instead of closer to the end. And which of our non-Jewish friends would hide us if it did come to that.

The intergenerational trauma is also affecting Palestinians, who have dealt with displacement, oppression and worse for decades – and, in Gaza, as they are being pummelled by Israeli air strikes. Gazans “feel as if their lives are this horrible movie that just gets rewound and started all over again,” former CNN foreign correspondent Arwa Damon told NPR.

This war is not merely a triggering event for those of us already suffering. It is an inciting event for people today and future generations of Palestinians and Jews. “Forget everything you thought you knew or you learned about dealing with trauma, because this is different; this is an ongoing event,” Israeli author and clinical psychologist Ayelet Gundar-Goshen told CNN.

So people like me are confronting another one of our worst fears. After working to prevent our inherited trauma from migrating down into the next generation, we see that our children will be suffering from a new event, one that will be remembered – consciously and on the cellular level – long after our own nightmares have ceased.

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