Israel as a country has been haunted with terrorist attacks and terrorist threats throughout its existence. Ever since Israel became a state after World War II, many of the countries that surround the Jewish state have refused to recognize its right to exist. No group feels this way more than Hamas, which is an Islamic organization formed by Palestinians. Hamas has been responsible for attempts thousands of terrorist attacks. Many of the attacks even involve suicide bombings and the usage of children in those suicide bombings. These terrorist attacks are bound to spread fear throughout the Israeli public and even cause significant issues. Many Israelis who have witnessed the attacks struggle from PTSD and many have come to form a negative stereotype of all Muslims because of the attacks. In 2008, a cross-sectional study was done to gage the opinions of Jewish Israelis and the opinions of Arab Israelis. This study provided insight to the impact of the terrorist attacks on Israelis and the attacks’ social implications.
In this study conducted by Acta Psychiactrica, researchers interviewed a sample of Arab Israelis and a sample of Jewish Israelis about the impact that the terrorist attacks had on their lives first after 19 months of terrorist attacks and again after 44 months of terrorist attacks. After nineteen months, there was not much of a difference between the opinions of these two groups. The majority of each sample disapproved of the terrorist attacks and seemed very much together. The researchers would later suggest that this was because in the beginning stages of the attacks, there was a nationalism that spread amongst many Israelis. This explained the little difference in those answers between the two groups. However, after 44 months, their reactions changed and the two groups’ reactions actually differed considerably. For the Jewish Israelis who has been studied, those with PTSD saw mixed results in the progression of their symptoms. Some claimed that their symptoms improved, others claimed they stayed the same, and some said they worsened. However, the Arab Israeli sample saw their reactions worsen. PTSD symptoms tripled, TSRS doubled, and resiliency practically disappeared.
Researchers have suggested multiple reasons of why Arab Israelis have had such a difficult time as the terror attacks continued in Israel. First, Arabs are the minority in Israel and Jews are the majority. Many Jews developed negative opinions of Islam and Arabs in general. The spreading of these opinions may have made Arabs feel like they were on the outside and may have led to the worsening of their stress. Another idea that was put forth was that Arabs held dual alliances. They were loyal to Israel because it was their home and the place that they lived, but they were also loyal to the Arab state of Palestine. These mixed emotions could have led to a subconscious or conscious cognitive dissonance and they experienced an increase in stress because of their conflicting emotions.
Essentially, what this study showed is that the Palestinian terrorist attacks of the 2000s had negative social effects on the entire Israeli population. Many people may have assumed that the effects were worse for the Jewish Israelis, but this study suggests that they may not have been in the case. The study shows that the Arab population may have actually been worse off than the Jewish population. They were seen as the enemy by Jewish Israelis and they experience inner tension between the country that they lived in and the country which was “representing” their religion. The most important thing that we can take from this study is that the terrorist attacks on Israel had negative social effects on the entire population.