Steadfastness is a very distinct Palestinian idea, and represents a path to survival and prosperity in the homeland despite the hardship under the practices of occupation (Shutterstock)

The "Al-Aqsa flood" still reverberates strongly within Israeli society, while it seems that the days of the truce were able to draw attention to the psychological effects of the resistance attack on October 2023, <>, and the subsequent Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip inside Israel, which seems to be suffering from a "deep psychological crisis" that will not be easy to overcome.

In this context, Haaretz (1) published a report on the scenes of the release of Israeli prisoners during the exchange deal between the Palestinian resistance and the Israeli occupation state, describing it as "necessary psychological torture." Every evening, Israel is divided between those who spend the evening crying on the couch while watching the release of a daily slice of prisoners from Gaza (because their expected prisoner was not one of them), and others comforting them, before switching roles the following evening.

In turn, (2) Maccabi Health Maintenance Organization stated that the number of prescriptions of medical tranquilizers, psychiatric drugs for the treatment of depression, and anti-anxiety and anti-trauma drugs increased by 20% during October 2023 compared to the previous month, while the chief psychiatrist at the same institution stated that "not everyone who visits the doctor will necessarily leave with a prescription, there are those who are satisfied with a reassurance call or referral for treatment over the phone, and there are also those who will be directed to use natural tranquilizers." This means that the actual number of people in Israeli society is in crisis far exceeds that declared.

In the same context, Clalit health services, the largest health service institution in Israel that specializes in treating more than half of Israelis, announced that the number of psychiatric prescriptions increased by 11% during October 2023, and the foundation said that the increase is most evident in antidepressants, panic and anxiety, such as citalopram, sertraline and fluoxetine, which belong to the family of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), as well as drugs from the benzodiazepine group such as: Alprazolam and clonazepam.

The superiority complex. When the myth of occupation backfired backfired

The attack of the Palestinian resistance succeeded in revealing the illusion of Israeli superiority over the Arab East, and removed its export of the principles of democracy, human rights and peace agreements. (French)

One assumption that may shed light on the psychological trauma inside Israel is the theory of the "superiority complex", formulated by the Austrian psychologist Alfred Adler in his book Understanding Human Nature. Adler refers to the superiority complex as a behavior in which a person believes that he is superior to others, and people with that complex often have ostentatious attitudes towards their surroundings. Adler explains that this complex is in fact a defense mechanism against feelings of inferiority and a sense of self-inferiority, as he sees a close link between the superiority complex and the inferiority complex, and that a person who behaves in a way that suggests superiority over others and considers them less worthy is basically trying to conceal his sense of inferiority.

The superiority complex of Israelis stems from slogans and theological vocabulary such as "God's chosen people" and "the Promised Land" (3), and is consistent with the current claims of the occupying power regarding its superiority in all fields over neighboring countries, and presenting itself as the only democratic state in the Middle East, while the Jewish memory has a long history of persecution and diaspora talk, which are promoted by the Zionist media machine. In order to gain Western sympathy and support, it can also generate feelings of inferiority and inferiority in the subconscious of individuals.

Psychological counselor Michael Schreiner (4) points out that knowledge is dangerous for those with a superiority complex, because it allows feelings of inferiority to creep into the collective consciousness. The seventh of October can be seen as a compulsory kind of knowledge for Israel, as the attack of the Palestinian resistance succeeded in uncovering the illusion of Israeli superiority over the Arab East (5), and removed what it was paying lip service to by exporting the principles of democracy, human rights, peace agreements and the rules of war, just as it caused panic and loss of confidence inside Israel, manifested in the Israeli media's invocation of the prophecy of the eighth decade (6), which predicts the demise of the Jewish state, which indicates the extent of pessimism. And the anxiety that afflicted the occupied interior.

This collective pessimism clearly reflects the deterioration of the psychological state at the level of individuals, which is confirmed by the data of the Israeli institution "Natal" specialized in the field of psychological trauma treatment (7), as the sociologist "Neera Kaplansky", supervisor of the hotline at the institution, reported that calls requesting psychological support increased from 25 calls per day to about 1200 per day, and the institution had to train more volunteers to accommodate the huge amount of psychological consultations that come online.

A people plowed to the seeds of fear

Jews' enduring fear of "genocide" highlights how Israel views the world, responds to threats and favors violent solutions as seen in its brutal assault on the Gaza Strip. (French)

"The world has many images of Israel, but Israel has only one image of itself: a people on its way to extinction."

Jewish philosopher Shimon Ravidovich

The pessimistic image in invoking the prophecy of demise is part of the deep-rooted fear within Israeli society, while the enduring fear of "genocide" among Jews highlights how Israel views the world, responds to threats and favors violent solutions,[8] as seen in its brutal aggression against the Gaza Strip. Israeli academic Daniel Bar-Tal (9) questions why fear trumps hope within Israeli society, and Tall argues that the emotion of fear often derives from the preserved past "in reference to biblical sources and narratives of oppression," which leads to what he defines as "preventive aggression, which is something that the occupation does from time to time when it bombs Palestinians." Tal points out that hope, in turn, requires cognitive activity and new ideas, which is hampered by the spontaneous and unconscious intervention of fear, because the links from the emotional system (where fear is centered) to the cognitive system are stronger than those in the opposite direction.

Tal touches on an interesting point in Israeli literature that has turned the Arab man into an evil nightmare, allowing the reader to project his fears and horrors on him. What is worse is that the presence of the Arab individual also in children's books from the fifties to the early eighties of the last century, according to Tal's vision, was characterized by dehumanizing him and considering him an entity that represents a threat, which reveals the methodology of instilling fear early in young people, and later the same fear remains inherent to these young people in their different stages of life through the media. Tal accuses the Israeli press, arguing that it has contributed to the development of collective fear and the spread of the siege mentality by repeatedly referring to an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel world. In this context of rampant intimidation, we can understand the reasons for the remarkable psychological fragility that has hit Israel since the beginning of the "Al-Aqsa flood".

Palestine and psychological resilience. An invitation to meditate without exaggeration

The spirit of interdependence is strongly present in the Palestinian context, where exposure to chronic violence has become a shared experience, contributing to mutual support among Palestinians (Shutterstock).

On the other hand, Palestinian psychological resilience has been surprisingly present since the 1948 Nakba, and a research paper entitled "The Social Environment of Resilience and Resilience among Palestinians" (10) asserts that steadfastness is a Palestinian idea intertwined on a personal and collective level, and it refers to ways of survival in the context of occupation, chronic adversity, lack of resources, and limited infrastructure. The research draws attention to the fact that the roots of psychological resilience in Arab history start from the biography of the Prophet Muhammad - may God bless him and grant him peace - as a role model in psychological resilience, while the idea was consciously founded through the views of the Arab scientist "Abu Zayd al-Balkhi" in the tenth century AD, through his book "The Interests of Bodies and Souls". Al-Balkhi was the first to speak about the concepts of mental health and psychological safety in Islamic psychology, and proposed strategies for dealing with life's adversities. In the modern era, it is worth mentioning the PLO's emphasis in 1978 on the idea of steadfastness in order to prevent the policy of uprooting practiced by the occupation, which was reflected in the presence of steadfastness as a basic national concept and strategy for Palestinians.

Another study published in 2006 (11) monitors the importance of spiritual vision and its link to enhancing psychological resilience among Palestinian youth, as a sample of 114 Palestinian young men and women, aged 16-21 years, confirmed that religious beliefs are a source of strength for them, and young people explained that their experiences in the face of adversity shaped their resilience. The study states that these young people were significantly different from the other young people surveyed, as they did not use the pronoun "I", but rather referred to the entire community when they indicated their identity using the phrase "we are Palestinians."

Rita Jaqman, a professor of public health at the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University (12), asserts that this spirit of interdependence is strongly present in the Palestinian context, explaining that exposure to chronic violence is a shared experience, which contributed to mutual support among Palestinians, giving people a sense of recovery. Young and old alike are surrounded by networks of supportive relationships with families and neighbors, which also help access a range of resources that make them able to withstand and resist abuses and reshape daily life, another trait of endurance and resistance. But Jaqman draws attention to a focal point, arguing that overestimating Palestinian steadfastness is sometimes used as a way to avoid acknowledging the grave injustice inflicted on them. If psychological resilience and steadfastness is a very distinct Palestinian idea, and represents a path to survival and prosperity in the homeland despite the hardship and under the practices of the occupation (13), it should not be relied upon and forgotten the need for a just solution with humanitarian and international support.



1) Haaretz, November 26, 2023, "For Israelis, the Hamas hostage release are necessary nightly psychological torture."

2) Haaretz, November 27, 2023, "Use of Anti-anxiety Medicine Soars in Israel Amid War with Hamas in Gaza Strip."

3) An analysis of Israeli mentality, new age, Nov. 2023.

4) Feelings Of Superiority and Neurosis, Maichael schreiner, evolution counseling, Aug. 2015.

5) "Flood" Reveals Israel's Supernatural Lie and the Democratic West, Center for Palestine Studies, October 28, 2023.

6) The curse of the eighth decade and the prophecies. Are We on the Brink of Israel's Demise?, Al Jazeera, November 2023.

7) The Middle East crisis is stirring up a 'tsunami' of mental health woes, NPR, 25 Oct. 2023.

8) An ever-dying people: The existential underpinnings of Israelis' perceptions of war and conflict, 2010.

9) Why Does Fear Override Hope in Societies Engulfed by Intractable Conflict, as It Does in the Israeli Society, Daniel Bar-Tal.

10) Social ecology of resilience and Sumud of Palestinians, Mohammad Marie, Ben Hannigan and Aled Jones, Jan 2018.

11) Resilience across Cultures, Michael Ungar, Feb. 2008.

12) Reflections on the meaning of 'resilience' in the Palestinian context, Rita Giacaman, 2020.

13) Teeffelen T, Bitar H, Al-Habash S (2005) Resilience in the Palestinian occupied territories

Source : Al Jazeera